Overcome Your Top 4 Divorce Fears
In the United States, there’s one divorce approximately every 36 seconds. That's nearly 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces per week, and 876,000 divorces a year, according to USA.gov data. Plus, the probability of a first marriage ending in separation or divorce in the first five years of coupledom is 20% and in 10 years is 33%, the CDC reports. That means the likelihood of you or someone close to you divorcing is relatively high.
When you’re facing a split, there are way too many unknowns, since your life as you’ve known it is about to shift dramatically. Even when a divorce is for the best, most people face lots of fears about what’s next, and how they’ll handle new challenges and opportunities.
We tackle four fears that people face most often when they’re dealing with a divorce, whether it’s expected or not.
#1 Fear of the Future
Of course, you’ll wonder what your life will be like after your divorce has been finalized. You’ll probably think about it way more than you want to: How will I help my kids cope? Where will I live? How will I pay my bills? What if I start crying in front of my boss? Will I ever find love again? You may even experience divorce insomnia when these hard-to-answer questions start plaguing you as soon as your head hits the pillow.
What You Can Do: Get educated about what the divorce process involves. Whether you review the process with your attorney or a divorce coach, learn exactly what you need to do every step of the way, so you’ll be ultra-prepared. It’ll also help if you get a whole picture of your financial situation. You can gain more confidence when you assemble a team of professionals who’ll guide you through the process: an attorney, a mediator, a financial analyst, and a therapist or coach.
#2 Fear of Being Alone
It’s natural: When you’ve been part of a “couples” unit and have kids in the mix, the thought of being alone in your house for a weekend can be terrifying. The quick solution is to stop relying on others or outside forces to make you happy. What if you could create your own contentment and joy in life?
What You Can Do: This is where you should buy into the power of positive thinking. Instead of focusing on all the ways your life will be miserable or hard as you become newly single, what if you imagined the life of your dreams? What if you could create the kind of life you’ve always wanted? Find a therapist you vibe with to help you envision that new life and really work toward achieving it. Also consider joining a support group with people who’ve gotten divorced and come through the other side, even happier. Listening to their stories can be empowering and uplifting. Plus, you might just make some great new friends.
#3 Fear for Your Children
Yes, divorce is stressful for kids. We’re not going to sugarcoat that. About half of kids in the United States will experience a parent’s divorce, and of these, another half will witness the breakup of a parent’s second marriage, according to American Sociological Review.
However, in the long run, children with divorced parents don’t differ greatly in their educational achievements, self-esteem, relationships, behavior, and emotional health than those who haven’t experienced a parental breakup, according to a summary of studies in Scientific American Mind. The research also indicates that most children who’ve lived through a divorce adapt well, and grow into well-adjusted, functional adults.
The reality is that if you and your co-parent avoid fighting in front of your kids, work together to provide stable living environments and talk to them about their feelings, you can minimize your split’s effects on them.
What You Can Do: One of the smartest things you can do for your kids during your divorce is prioritize your kids’ needs and feelings. Consider working with a therapist from the outset to help your kids process their emotions, along with using stress management and mindfulness techniques. In addition, your attorney can help you actively use a child's bill of rights, which is a list of what they should be able to expect from their parents even when that parental relationship ends.
#4 Fear of Failure
Many people going through an uncoupling play the regret and guilt game: “I thought getting married was for life.” “I spent so many years of my life in a relationship that can’t be fixed. What a waste.” “My kids will grow up with divorced parents, and it’s so unfair to them.” “My parents must be so disappointed in me.” Unfortunately, going down this path can leave you feeling like a victim. The reality is that you’re not powerless and you’re not a failure. Marriages don’t last. Businesses don’t last. The quicker that you can absolve yourself of playing the failure/guilt game, the quicker you can make a realistic plan for moving forward in a positive direction.
What You Can Do: Tap into your inner power—that place your best, confident self lives. That could mean your religious faith or spiritual center. Or, it could be your network of family of friends. Maybe it’s reconnecting with the reasons you wanted a divorce in the first place, and visualizing your life post-split. This is another area where a therapist, divorce coach, trusted clergyperson or support group can help. In addition to up your self-confidence quotient, prioritize your self-care: Eat healthily. Start a workout regimen. Try out a yoga or gratitude practice.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all way to get through your divorce, confronting your fears head-on is a surefire solution. By unpacking what’s at the root of each fear and taking action to push past it, you’ll grow into the person you’re meant to be on the other side of your split.
If you need help with a family law matter, our attorneys at Smedley Law Group can provide you with the professional advice you need to make an educated decision. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.