Every now and then, we encounter things that we didn’t see coming. Take my friends, for instance, who believed she was in a happy marriage, only to be served with divorce papers a day before her fortieth birthday. First, the narcissistic behavior of her ex-astounded us. How could he serve her such a shocker a day before one of the biggest days of her life?
Our first duty as her friends were supporting her morally so that she could land on her feet. We decided uniformly not to cancel her celebration s it was too late but on hindsight, we should have after the scene the now ex-husband caused when he brought his new love interest – half her age, no less. The story for another day.
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It took our friend over a year to really get over the fact that her seemingly normal marriage was over, but she finally did.
Here are some of the lessons we all learned.
Retreat and Regroup
When bad things are happening to your left, right and center, the last thing you need to do is react in a way that could fuel them. If you can, get away for a while and be alone to recollect and cry without worrying about showing weakness. Our friend left her kids in my custody – mine and her parents’ – and retreated to an island in East Africa where she says her soul healed. She came home a much calmer and sun-tanned woman, ready to face the divorce and her uncertain life.
Seek Help Immediately
Don’t wait for the storm to pass. If you have established that the marriage cannot be salvaged, then hire a mediation law specialist to help the kids cope. My friend’s divorce was quite hard on her from the beginning but it helped so much that she had an able lawyer from the get-go. If you can amicably agree on terms, then your counsel will not have much to do.
Do not allow an angry spouse to bring the worst out of you especially if it is evident that is their intention. Be the straight-headed one that looks for solutions instead of allowing yourself to be dragged into unproductive arguments.
Surround Yourself with Love
The company you keep during this hard time will either make or break you. Loved ones who share your burden will make it lighter and bearable while assuring your kids whenever needed. My friend had me, three of our mutual friends, and her amazing parents checking in and sending her on mini vacations so that she could sort things out without the kids being dragged into the mess. Her hard time brought all of us together and also helped her deal with the divorce in a much healthier way than she would have.
Most of us forget staying fit and eating healthy is key to our sanity. Don’t miss the gym as you wallow in your misery and also, eat your veggies. This too shall pass.