Relationships are difficult — for everyone. Even when things are going great, marriage and relationships are tough to successfully maneuver. Toss in a global pandemic like the COVID-19 crisis, and they can seem virtually impossible. That’s not the case. And even the happiest of marriages have their problems. However, sometimes two people just are not meant for each other — and that can be one of the hardest pills to swallow. But it’s worth getting out, even if it adds to immediate stress, if it’s going to be better in the long run.
Divorce is a scary term that no one ever wants to be involved with — but it happens. No one ever dreams of one day marrying someone and then going through a messy divorce. That’s just not the case. Unfortunately, divorce is extremely common in the U.S. due to a variety of reasons. In fact, researchers estimate that between 40% and 50% of all first marriages will end in divorce or permanent separation. Here are some of the main reasons for divorce in the U.S.:
- Marrying too young — Simply put, people are getting married before they know who they are or what they want out of life, or at least out of a partner. Marriage at a young age — early 20s and even early 30s — increases the likelihood of divorce.
- Financial issues — Whether it’s not having enough money as a couple, one person earning a significant amount more than their spouse, or just differing views on money, finances are the main reason for divorce in the United States. There is no stress like financial stress and when coupled with marital problems, these can often spiral out of control fast.
- Infidelity — Though most Americans admit that they would end their marriage if their spouse cheated on them, as much as 60% of married couples continue to deal with infidelity and are, at least for now, staying together. These issues can certainly be rectified and a happy couple can be the result, but it’s a difficult path that requires a lot of work.
- Addiction and abuse — Abuse is one of the most common reasons for divorce. Sadly, this happens in far too many couples across the country. Sometimes, ending a relationship with an abusive spouse can be dangerous — but help is out there. If you suspect that you or someone close to you is in an abusive relationship, give the National Domestic Violence Hotline a call at 800-799-7233.
Similarly, addiction can wreck an otherwise happy marriage. Addiction can come in many forms, including alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, and so much more. In some instances, the person suffering from addiction can recover and the relationship can be salvaged — but this requires plenty of work, as well. Again, there are helpful organizations out there that can help you or a loved one get a better handle on addiction and move on.
There are plenty of other reasons for divorce. But no matter the reason, they are still difficult. If children are involved, that difficulty is significantly higher. From dealing with child custody laws and legal services, be sure to seek out professional legal counsel to assist you. Here are some great tips that should help you throughout a difficult divorce:
Handling a divorce
Here are some general tips for handling a divorce:
- Hire a divorce attorney — No one should have to go through a divorce by themselves. Your close friends and family members are a great support team, yes, but you need a little more. You need some legal counsel so this already stressful process isn’t more stressful than it has to be. Start by researching law firms in your area that are experienced in divorce law.
You should be able to find a dedicated legal team that can help you every step of the way. From the moment you contact a divorce attorney, they will help you maneuver this overwhelming situation and do everything in their power to help you through and move on with your life.
- Get a therapist — No matter your situation, therapy can help. Even if you and your spouse are completely on the same page about ending your marriage, it’s still a stressful situation that will need to be addressed in order to preserve your mental health. You will need someone who can help you deal with your emotions so you can think clearly and a therapist (or a divorce coach) can help you a great deal. As soon as you even start thinking about divorce, it’s best to start looking for a therapist who you feel comfortable with. Again, your close friends and family will be crucial during these times and will offer plenty of great support, but you need a professional if you really want to get through everything.
- Set goals and develop a succinct plan — No matter your age, financial situation, or general feelings about marriage, you need to have a plan in life. It’s imperative that you put the time and effort into your divorce so you can hit the ground running once it’s finalized. If you’re unsure about what you want out of this divorce, be sure to discuss these concerns with your divorce attorney, therapist, and support system.
Dealing with child custody
Every divorce is complicated. But when children are involved, no matter their age, things are so much more difficult. Working with a child custody attorney is recommended so you don’t feel overwhelmed and your child or children can be taken care of every step of the way. Child support is crucial during divorce, here are some tips that should help:
- Educate yourself on your state’s child-custody laws — These laws vary from state to state, so it’s important to become familiar with them. Reading legal fine print is never fun, but it will help you find up what you’re up against once the child custody hearing process begins.
- Gather up all the right documents — The worst feeling in the world is being unprepared — especially when it comes to your children. Take some time off work if you have to since you’ll need the energy to fight for your kids’ future. Work alongside with your family attorney to figure out what exact documents you should bring to your child-custody hearing and whether your personal records will be admissible. You might have to bring a detailed phone log, annotated visitation schedule, proof of payments, financial documents, and other notes.
- Dress appropriately — If you want to win custody and make a good impression you need to maintain proper courtroom etiquette and dress appropriately. You only get one chance to make a good first impression so discuss what you should wear and how you should act in court with your attorney.
Dating after divorce
Dating after you go through with a divorce is tricky. Here are some tips that should help you along the way:
- Figure out what you want — Whether you want to admit it or not, you’re a different person now. You might want someone who shares a lot of similarities with your former spouse. Conversely, you might want someone who is completely the opposite. It’s up to you — but it’s crucial that you take some time for yourself and figure out exactly what you want.
- Don’t talk about your ex too much — It’s going to come up — and that’s fine. But your date doesn’t want to hear about how your ex is a bad person or isn’t adhering to the terms of your divorce agreement. Instead, ask a lot of questions about the person you’re on a date with, in a friendly manner, of course. You’ve been married, you don’t have time to waste so find out what your prospective dates are hoping to get out of life. If there are some similarities and a connection, see where it goes but take it slow.
Whether you want to continue dating or not in the months and years after your divorce, you’re going to move on and it’s important to move forward with your life, for your sake, and for your kids’ sake. Here are some things to consider that will help you truly but your divorce behind you and allow you to move on with your life:
- Do something fun with your kids — Whether you have sole custody of your kids or only see them a few days a week, take advantage of your time with them while they’re young. Do as many fun things as you can! You can find bicycle rentals and go on a ride around town, you can have a picnic, you can build a fort with your little ones, and so much more. Have some fun! It’s important.
- Travel the world — If you can, do it. You don’t have to go to every city in the world. You don’t even have to leave your state. But seeing new places can give you a new perspective on life. If you and your kids can get away for a weekend or two — go for it! You won’t regret it!
- Start a journal — It’s recommended to start writing down your feelings as soon as your divorce begins — or even as soon as you start thinking about divorce as an actual option. But you might want to start a new journal for your new life post-divorce. There is no doubt about it, you’re going to be experiencing all kinds of emotions in the days, weeks, months, and years after your divorce. That’s totally normal. Writing out those feelings can truly help and will allow you to become a more complete version of you.
This can’t be stressed enough, divorce is painful, awkward, horrific, annoying, stressful, frustrating, and overwhelming — but it can be handled. Make sure you have a great support system in your corner and that includes a competent divorce attorney, therapist, and friends and family members. Similarly, make sure you’re thinking of your kids every second of the day since they are the most important people in your life; and finally, know that no matter what… you’re going to be okay.