Life After Divorce: 3 Survival Strategies
How ex-spouses and their kids can cope after divorce and move beyond the pain.
1. Seek Out a Support Network continued...
Finding support is not just for women. While women tend to seek and find support rather easily while coping with divorce, men are more likely to hesitate to reach out to others, despite having equally strong emotional needs. Consider David Wood, a handyman who recently went through a bitter divorce. "I was embarrassed, even ashamed. I thought people would think less of me," he says.
It wasn't until a neighbor started sharing his own story about a difficult divorce that Wood felt comfortable enough reciprocating with his own woes -- and finding it incredibly cathartic. "You've got to open up," he says.
While emotional support helps people navigate the initially painful hurdles of divorce, the importance of shoring up assistance for practical purposes post-divorce cannot be overstated. Even before the clouds of her divorce lifted, Susan Perrotta knew she had to be a strong presence for her children, who were barely school age at the time. She made immense sacrifices to be there for them, sometimes pulling all-nighters to complete art projects for clients, then seeing her children off to school in the morning.
A single mother with no family in town, Perrotta essentially raised her children on her own. But she strategically sought and took advantage of support resources available to her. "I made friends with teachers and administrators at my kids' schools. They were fantastic," she tells WebMD.
She also chose to move to a close-knit neighborhood where she could call on neighbors for help in a pinch. She used her pediatrician as a sounding board, recalling him as "a wonderful pediatrician who knew the kids well." And she looked beyond differences with her ex-husband to get him involved. "I pulled him in when I needed his help. I made him work with me," she says.
2. Redefine Yourself
Going through a divorce means no longer being part of a couple, a reality that can come as a relief or a frightening prospect. "For the person who sees him or herself as multifaceted, it's generally a lot easier. But if someone has been nothing but a spouse and saw that as the most important role, it can be pretty crushing," Coleman tells WebMD.