01 December 2011

Facing Divorce - Segment #1

(Photo by Jonathan Canlas)

Getting divorced feels like you had the rug ripped out from under you.  Everything you thought your life was, suddenly isn't.  It is the strangest feeling.  I remember feeling like someone had died.  It was the death of a marriage and a life together.

There are so many things you will need to consider if you get divorced such as legal advice + finding a divorce attorney (highly recommended), custody issues, assessing financial status, figuring out how to even file a divorce, changing your locks, dividing belongings, changing accounts, reviewing documents and signing papers, packing for yourself & possibly your spouse, possibly finding a new place to live and moving, figuring out the value of everything you own, dividing assets (or debt), possibly changing your name and all I.D.s, possibly buying or selling a car, refinancing your home, perhaps finding a new job + daycare for your kids, possibly buying a new computer & transferring photos and I-tunes music & all computer files, changing passwords on everything, um - possibly defriending your ex-spouse on fb?, trying to interact graciously with former in-laws and mutual friends, trying to hold it together for your kids (if you have them), figuring out how to behave honorably in the worst moments of your life & above all, figuring out how to forgive, one of the hardest things we ever have to do in life.   Phew!

In case you can't tell, getting divorced is like the biggest full time job you could imagine.  I had no idea what was involved.  I didn't know ANYTHING about divorce prior.  And frankly, I don't like it.  I wish that no one would ever have to go through it.  Sometimes divorce is out of your control, I know.  But I can't recommend enough to do your part to hold your marriages sacred. 

Today I want to give you a few practical tips that can help you & uplift you if you do find yourself facing a divorce.  This will be the first segment, actually, as I have way too many things to share with you.  (Note that this list is in no particular order.)  I just want to offer anything I can to help you out during this crazy time.  These tips come straight from the trenches.  And by the way, most of these tips can also apply to ANYONE facing a trial or break-up with a partner....

-CALL IN THE TROOPS.   It was strange to find myself underneath my kitchen sink one day with a screwdriver, trying to fix my garbage disposal (which I DID fix, thank you very much.) But on most occasions, I was so lucky to have people helping me as I transitioned back to being a single woman.  One time a couple of months after my husband left, some friends were visiting and the whole family offered to take my recycling down to the recycling room as it had been piling up in my recycling closet for weeks.  I cringed....cause it really did take a whole family to get it out the door, there was just so much (!)  Ugh.  But off they went, happily.  I really just felt so grateful.  PLEASE do not be a martyr.  Please accept the help of others whether it comes in the form of advice, elbow grease, childcare, financial planning, meals, a visit or phone call, etc.  And if people don't know what to offer, speak up and ask for what you need.  We're all in this life together.

-PILE UP CLOTHES ON YOUR EX'S SIDE OF THE BED.  haha.  Yep.  Try it!  :)  You see, I hated sleeping in a big empty bed when my ex-spouse left.   It just felt way too empty.  Talk about a major void when you had been used to sleeping by your husband for 7 years.  So one day I had some clean laundry piled up on his side of the bed.  I didn't really plan on this, but that night, when I crawled into bed, it turns out that the bed just felt less empty.  So I kept those clothes hanging out there for a while until I no longer noticed the emptiness.

-PREPARE YOUR "STORY". When I was very newly single, it was so awkward to tell people I was divorced.  In the very beginning, I almost couldn't do it without tears.  I was mostly sad for our best friends finding out the news for the first time - it was just the worst news to share.  Anyway, you will be faced with sooo many situations where you will need to explain that you are no longer married.  There will be waves of situations, depending on how close the associations are.  And it may continue on for about a year.  After you've told your core people, it helps to start thinking in advance what you would like to tell the next round of people, and also consider how much info is appropriate.  Otherwise you might be caught off guard when you run into that former coworker or you see some old friends (and boy oh boy, they WILL be caught off guard if you run into them and they haven't yet heard the news and they see you on a date with another guy!!  Hahaha - I don't know how on earth this happened, but it sure did - more than once.  It turns out that even Manhattan is like a small town sometimes!)   And, for people that you barely know, you can have a quick, one-liner explanation ready.  Also, in most cases, I recommend just sticking to the facts.  People will be able to read between the lines.  And you'll be better off letting them do that instead of you bearing every detail.

-MEET WITH A SPIRITUAL HEALER OR LEADER FOR SUPPORT. (Bishop, Rabbi, mentor, teacher, holistic/spiritual healer...anyone you admire and trust & who gives sound advice.)  During my divorce, I had some of the most beautiful moments of my life with some of the people I consider spiritual leaders.  I would scramble to write down every word they said afterwards, because they were so dang uplifting & inspiring.  You see, if someone is in this position, it will usually be their main goal in life to love everyone around them and help those in need & to help them achieve greater peace & joy in their lives.  They are gifts to our communities.  Be proactive and seek this out!  There are so many people available to you, if you seek it.  In the Mormon church, there are Bishops that offer counsel.  And I have yet to meet one that is not one of the most solid & truly loving people I have ever met.

-GET YOUR BUTT OUT THE DOOR & SERVE SOMEONE. :)  This is my #1 tip.  I cannot recommend it enough.  Charity is love.  And love is the greatest power on this earth.  I can think of no greater power strong enough to uplift you out of the darkest moments of your life. There is no greater power that can bring deliverance to you as you face one of the hardest trials of your life.  Serving others really is the secret to life & the secret to happiness.  I know this firsthand.  The week before my husband left, I was asked to take on a position serving some of the youth of Brooklyn.  And serving those girls during that time was the single greatest thing I did.  So - go find someone you can serve regularly.  If you are a member of a church, ask to be put to work.  Or find an organization in your area where you can dedicate a lot of your time to serving.  You might have good days and bad days when your motivation to do this might fluctuate, but overtime, if you can increase your tendency to think of others instead of yourself, your life will be blessed.

-FILL YOUR HOME WITH FRIENDS & FAMILY. This will take the edge off the loneliness.  I was lucky.  My home was filled with those young Brooklyn kids several times a week, starting when my husband first left.  So I know how powerful this can be.  In fact, the very day I found out my divorce went through (which took many months to process), I happened to have a Christmas party for many of the kids already scheduled in my home that night.  I could have cared less that my divorce had become final earlier that day.  I was busy making baked ziti.  Trust me, it's hard to mope about being alone when you have a night of laughter, cooking, and a freaking awesome hip hop dance-off in the works.


Sending love
to each & every one of you,



  1. Divorce is difficult and, yes, you're right to suggest that an individual should surround themselves with people and kep themselves busy, but the most important thing that a person caught in the midst of a divorce can do is behave reasonably and do all that they can to ensure that the process is amicable.

  2. This is brilliant.

    One of my dear loves was divorced, newly and while he handled it with grace everyone has a difficult time regardless.

    You are so wonderful. I love what you said about going to your spiritual leaders.

  3. If you're thinking about divorce because you think your spouse is cheating, I found this great site that can help you know FOR SURE!


  4. Wonderful as always!! I would like to chime in here- having had my parents divorce when I was 23, (meaning similar awkward situations with friends and acquaintances, holidays completely altered, etc, etc). Make sure and give yourself plenty of space to rest and recoup. I love the idea of serving and sometimes that needs to be directed first at yourself. Giving your heart space to adjust to a new world- giving your heart time to catch up w/ your soul, just resting in God and letting him/her work true healing w/in no matter how long it takes.

  5. I love the advice on service. Service is something I could really work on.

    When I had my 4th miscarriage in a row, I was asked to help be in charge of a youth conference backpacking trip. I had a lot of experience backpacking and working with young people from a job I worked as a wilderness instructor/mentor at a therapeutic wilderness program.

    I felt drained and was worried I would not have it in me to offer these kids what I knew I was capable of offering. It ended up being one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It was life changing for the kids, but even more so for me. It was a deeply healing experience. I was so grateful that I didn't allow my grief to keep me from that experience.

    It allowed me to regroup and realize what was needed to find joy in the journey. Wilderness does that to me. It rejuvenates me and reconnects me to my Father in Heaven. When that is combined with service, incredible leaders and young people...it's just magic!

  6. i think you're marvelous--truly a woman to be reckoned with. so of course i linked to you! and will continue to read...

  7. I'm so glad you have each other! And can I say, that might be my favorite picture of you ever!!!

  8. that's great!

    I appreciate your idea but it is not possible for everyone. divorce is a death of marriage I agreed.

  9. Children of divorced parents are also more likely to experience conflict in their own marriages, and are more likely to experience divorce themselves. They are also more likely to be involved in short-term cohabiting relationships, which often dissolve before marriage

  10. I know I'm going back into ancient history reading this post... But to me it's pretty new. I read it for the first time just over 2 months ago right after my husband told me he wants a divorce. Now I'm reading it again and I am wishing I could go to dinner with the person who wrote this and find out exactly how to make all of these things happen. I am forever grateful for your loving email. I am finding this whole separation from my husband to be the hardest and most freeing time...and those are very contradictory feelings.
    I feel bad for feeling happy without him, and I feel bad for wanting to be with him and hoping for change. You said it felt like someone had died, but honestly, it would be easier if someone had died. It is so hard to find closure, especially since I'm the one who moved out.
    Can I borrow your supportive friends? Though my friends are wonderful, they don't call me or text me or have time to hang out... And I feel needy even wanting those things. Even the strongest people need friends, right?


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