Family & Relationships

11 Tips to Regain Control After a Divorce

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Recovering from a divorce is difficult. You have to learn how to be yourself again. You have to deal with finances in a different manner. You have to learn how to move forward emotionally and mentally.

It may seem impossible, but you can start a new life after divorce. Begin with these 11 tips to regain control of your life and get back to living.

1. Don't drag out the legalities of a divorce.

In order to be able to truly start that next phase of your life after divorce, you need to make sure all the paperwork is finalized. It might seem easier to avoid it. Or maybe you are afraid of losing your belongings or afraid of acknowledging that this is really happening. No matter the reason you are avoiding the paperwork, it is probably only making things worse for you. Dragging things out unnecessarily can cost you — financially and emotionally.

So, if you still have paperwork in front of you or loose strings to tie up, get it taken care of now. This includes separating assets and writing them all down as well as signing the finalized papers. The quicker you get this part done, the faster you can move on with your life after divorce.

2. Know that it's okay to mourn.

A divorce is the death of life as you knew it. It doesn’t matter whether you initiated the divorce. It doesn’t even matter how long you were married. Your life is changing. You might think that the best thing to do is put up an emotional wall, the more you put up dealing with your emotions about this change in your life, the harder it will be.

The emotional stages of divorce are much like the emotional stages of grief. You have lost something, so let yourself experience those different stages of grief. Experiencing those feelings now will ensure you can accept life after divorce in the long run.

3. Create a budget.

Most married couples share finances, and as a result, everything ends up in turmoil when they go through a divorce. Once you are living on your own, one of the most important first steps is to create a budget.

You need to assess how much money you have coming in, what living expenses you will be facing and what bills and/debts you are responsible for. Create a budget that will get things paid for and that will give you room to live as well.

4. Know when it's time to sell your house.

The shared home and property can be extremely difficult to deal with during a divorce. Maybe you went through an argument with your ex-spouse about who gets to keep the house. If you and your spouse are splitting the property, then it’s best to sell quickly so that everything can be finalized and settled.

Maybe you got to keep the house. Then you need to create your budget and determine if you can truly afford it. If you can’t afford it on your own, then it may be time to sell.

5. Be willing to lean on friends and family for support.

They are in your life for a reason, and they want to be there for you not just during the divorce, but after it as well. If you have children and you are learning to juggle changed schedules and responsibilities, ask friends and family to help you with childcare or carpooling. In addition to logistics, be sure to find at least one person you can use for emotional support after your divorce.

6. Be on your own for a bit after it's official.

People who were married for a long time have the most trouble with this. They may not remember how to be alone, and the very idea of it can be terrifying. However, jumping into a relationship right after a divorce could spell more trouble in the future. Once you learn to stand on your own, then you will be ready to move forward and consider other relationships.

Find new ways to occupy yourself and your time in your life after divorce: volunteer, take up a new hobby, read books or take an adult education class. Focus on reconnecting with your individual identity.

7. Live within your means.

As mentioned in Tip 3, a solid budget is a must. That’s because learning to live within your means can be somewhat difficult, especially if you have grown accustomed to living in a two-income household. Avoid the temptation some divorcees succumb to; don’t spend money frivolously by buying a new car right away or changing up your whole wardrobe. While a little “retail therapy” isn’t going to hurt, you don’t want to get yourself into (or further into) debt. That could damage your finances for years to come.

8. Recognize transitional relationships after a split.

“Transitional relationships” are fairly normal and healthy to experience after a divorce. These relationships:

  • Most likely won’t go anywhere.
  • Will help you get back in the dating world.
  • Can help you stretch your dating horizons.

Notice that these relationships are not serious. Take your time before jumping into something long-term.

9. Consider divorce counseling.

Divorce can take an extreme emotional and psychological toll on you, and divorce and depression often go hand and hand. Friends are great for venting to, but you should consider talking to a professional to work through everything that is happening in your life. Post-divorce counseling can be extremely beneficial to you mentally and emotionally. Talking with a mental health professional about your experiences is only going to make you stronger — in no way is it a sign of weakness.

10. Take a workout class.

Working out is a great way to relieve the stress from your changing life. Plus, staying physically active will help you avoid the temptations to overeat or sit on the couch. Join a gym or look into local classes. You’ll improve your health and maybe make some new friends in the process!

11. Work on cleaning up your credit.

Divorce can wreak havoc on your credit history for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Unpaid bills.
  • Credit checks for a new place to live, vehicles or credit cards.
  • Higher debt-to-income ratios.

Focus on your credit history now, before it spirals out of control. Watch how much debt you build up, avoid putting things on credit cards and always pay your bills on time.

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