The first Monday in January is known for being “Divorce Day”, the day you are most likely to search for a lawyer after getting through the heightened emotions of the festive period. The stress of trying to create the perfect Christmas and issues with money are the main reasons why couples decide to break up at this time of year. There is nothing more painful than the agony of Christmas and the New Year if you are feeling miserable and lost, especially if there are children involved, but there is also a lot of strength to be found in finally taking control of a situation that is not working.
Divorce Day, coupled with “Blue Monday” in a few weeks time makes January a very depressing month to get through. Maybe we should try and look at January in a more positive light? A time for change? I mean everyone wants change in January for lots of reasons. Your house probably looks horrendous, you’re properly disorganised, you’re heading back to work and you have lots of New Year’s Resolutions to fail. Maybe we should all hold fire until the Spring when green shoots start making us all feel better and more hopeful?
If it’s any consolation, pre my Divorce Day advice is that this is what my house looks like post Christmas (I think there’s a child somewhere in amongst the mess):-
The Sitting room:-
The wash basket:-
The wash basket extended to the bedroom:-
The hall, where we now appear to have an array of non-matching shoes and slippers:-
Personally I think that “How To Cope With Divorce (and Separation) should become part of the school curriculum – or at least how to cope with relationships that are not working. This module should be included along with parenting skills, life saving skills, mental health issues, financial skills, how to be happy skills, meditation and how to love being on your own skills. When I was at school the only thing I was taught was how to make a crappy buoyancy aid out of a pair of pyjama bottoms whilst treading water in a swimming pool, which I wouldn’t be actually wearing if I did find myself inadvertently drowning at sea.
So, some Divorce Day advice for anyone searching for help to get through the agony of divorce? Don’t f*ck it up by adding a smoking gun to distract you from your true feelings as to whether you can make the marriage work or not. Be honest with yourself and your partner. Communicate. Get advice. Talk to friends. Be fair and reasonable. Don’t use the children as weapons of mass destruction. Don’t rush into it without serious planning. Remember to consider your pension pot rather than just the family home. If you’ve made your decision, then try and do as much as possible without lawyers. They take a lot of time and money from you and you end up feeling under immense pressure to settle, even if mentally you are not ready. That said, sometimes seeking professional advice is the only way to get the fairest outcome and provide the distance you need to manage an incredibly emotional and stressful situation.
Whilst my divorce years were the hardest years of my life, there are still positives that I can pluck from the wreckage of our marriage and ultimately over time everyone can be happy again. The children become closer, not only to each other, but (if you’re fortunate) to both parents individually. Being a single parent effectively means that you have the privilege of growing up with your children in close proximity without having to focus on another adult. There are a lot of children who would agree that it is healthier to live in two separate households, rather than staying in one resentful, argumentative sullen household bursting with toxicity. The early years of battling over who should have the children and when, coupled with the pain of having to let them go is immense (sometimes it still is), but there are many coping strategies to help relieve this most painful side of divorce (mainly involving friends, travelling and alcohol).
So if you are thinking about change, I wish you the best of luck. Keep a clear head, don’t hurt anyone more than you have to, be fair and reasonable (even if you’re the injured party), keep an eye on the kids and try not to lose your sense of reality. Stay grounded and make sure you surround yourself with the right people. They are not always the ones who agree with you by the way, but they are the ones who care about you and will tell you when you’re behaving badly. Family and friends are an essential part of your basic toolkit. Do not underestimate that. You need your family circle to provide that safety net for you:-