IS A BAD MARRIAGE REALLY BETTER THAN A GOOD DIVORCE?

Posted on July 13, 2019 by


Janice Della Badia, Life/Divorce Coach Extraordinaire

July 2019

 When I was going through the divorce process, someone said to me, “…you know, Janice, a bad marriage is better than a good divorce…”   [Whaaat?]    My response, “…it’s kind of you to be concerned, but really, I’m quite sure this is what I want.”  I truly believe she meant well, but she was living a life that she believed was right for her.  It was not what I wanted.

I cannot remember anyone saying, “I want a highly contested divorce, with disputes over child custody, co-parenting, alimony, assets…”    Everyone wants an uncontested divorce (amicable) divorce – hoping it’ll cost less and create less stress.  I’m sure those divorces exist, unfortunately, I know of perhaps one or two…maybe?   There were no children, each party had their own career, their own income (comparable to the other’s) they owned real property but were happy to sell and split the proceeds.  Each party kept their retirement plans, intact.

If you’re one of those, I am truly happy for you and wish you all the best!

If you are not one of them, you were (are?)  likely worried, stressed, anxious, perhaps a little depressed.  Financial issues, co-parenting, health insurance, retirement accounts, etc.  It does not matter if your level of income is high or low, it is always a concern to the parties divorcing.  This is the stuff that keeps you up at night.

Once all is settled, and at long last, the process has come to an end.  There may be a few loose ends to tie up, but for the most part, you’ve made it through intact.  Congratulations!   

Where your days had been filled with the divorce process, now the “crisis” has abated.  The daily calls with your lawyer, accountant, real estate agent, financial planner, mediators, parenting coordinators, are at an end.  Perhaps all of these experts were necessary in your case, perhaps only one or two.  Nevertheless, the process that had been on your mind almost 24 hours/day 7 days/week, every month for the last year (or two) is done.

Life should be settling down, right? But, your mind and body may still be in “crisis” or “fight, flight or freeze” mode.   So what comes next?

What, indeed?

Your life has changed a full 360 degrees.  The transition can be almost as daunting as the divorce.  Most, if not all, of your relationships, friends, family, co-workers, maybe where you live, how you live, how you work, what you drive, has likely changed considerably.  It may be a long time since you may have been part of the workforce.   Perhaps you were engaged in other things, or you were busy raising children, keeping a home, playing taxi service for the kids, and so on (a busy full-time job in an of itself).  Many realize that they will need to find a job.

Doing what?

If you were employed before your marriage, you may wish to look into returning to that profession.  It may or may not be easy depending on your age, your skill set, and your experience.

Finding a job means learning to navigate internet employment services, writing up not just one resume, but several (depending on your interests) …job interviews, preliminary ones are generally over the phone, then face-to-face, (maybe more than once).   Over the last 10 years or so, women (and men) in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s are having difficulty finding gainful employment, or at least not quite what they expected they’d find.

It doesn’t necessarily matter if you were a professional prior to your divorce, worked as a paraprofessional, or were unemployed while you were married.  The fact is, you’ll need to budget differently, have less help with the kids (if they’re minors) balance all of the areas of your life differently and maybe on your own.    Feeling vulnerable, unsure of yourself and where to start can be disquieting.  You’ll have to “step outside of the box” and get creative.  Whatever you need to do to balance your life, it can worrisome, stressful.

You may experience loneliness, especially if you are sharing parenting with your former spouse.  When the kids are not around, you may find its a little too quiet.  You’re not distracted by the kids, their activities, etc.    You may realize you’re actually mourning.  Again, part of that transition process.   Even if it was you who pursued the divorce, you are still experiencing a loss.  A loss of the life you knew, your routines, your home, maybe more.  Allow yourself to mourn, it’s natural – be warned:  getting stuck in it, is not.

Divorce recovery isn’t easy for everyone. Friends, family, may say, “it’s over, relax, why are your still so stressed…”  They’re very willing to tell you what you should or should not do.  They mean well, but they don’t get it.

Are you ready to take control of your own life?  Ready to be revitalized and energized?  Ready to restyle and redesign you, and live on your own terms?   Good!

Here are some basic first steps in your recovery:

Take care of you – this is an absolute priority – numero uno!  No excuses!  If you don’t, who will?  There are somethings only you can do.

Example, hygiene, very important.   Yes, take a few dollars and make sure your hair is neat and styled.  See your dentist, get a checkup, take care of any potential trouble areas.  Get a full physical.  Yes, with bloodwork and other tests your physician may recommend (for women a mammogram and/or bone scan).   Make sure your doctor includes testing your thyroid when he/she orders your bloodwork.  (Thyroid can contribute to your mood, if that’s out of balance, your mood may be).

How is your physical health?  Chronic stress can (and usually does) significantly affect your physical well-being as much as emotional.  Is there anything that needs your immediate attention?  Perhaps you have gained a little weight, or lost a bit.   Eat healthy, clean.   Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate (with water, not wine!)

Not quite ready to recover?  Maybe you’re still holding onto the loss, the pain.   Maybe  you have thought “why me?” If you’d like to take a little time to sit on the pity pot, that’s fine.   Plan it.  When will you start, how long will you sit?   Will you need a little “push” to get off, and if so, who’ll do it?   I can guarantee sitting there and singing the “woe is me” song for more than a day or two will do you absolutely no good.   Of course, you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Maybe feel guilty (likely needlessly), lost your confidence, believe nothing good will ever happen to you again.  Careful, you may be stuck!   If you can pick yourself up, then do it.  If you find you’re having difficulty, then ask for help!

Exercise.   If you never exercised, well, just think of all the fun you’ll have finding the kind you’ll enjoy the most.  Whether you are a fitness person or hate the idea of a gym, we’ll find something that clicks for you.[1] Take a walk, check out a yoga class, Pilates seems to be the rage now, spin classes, or my personal fav, take a hike!   No matter where you live, there is somewhere not too far where you can get into the woods, breathe in that wonderful smell, and enjoy the peace.[2]  It’s not a good idea for anyone, especially new hikers, to hike alone.

I usually recommend a site:   MeetUp.com – set up a profile for yourself, and check out various activities. Most are free.  There are hiking groups, book clubs, dinner clubs, clubs for women only, some for men only.  Some for people under the age of 40, and others for people over the age of 40 or 50! Singles groups, divorce groups – Just about any interest or activity you can imagine, you’ll find it on MeetUp.com.

It is important you make a plan to do at least one social thing each weekend.  See a movie, lunch with a friend, drive to the beach, something to get out of the house.   Don’t feel like it? Force it.  (really – sometimes you need to “act as if…”)

A bit of info you may not know;  smile, even if you have nothing to smile about.  The act of smiling sends signals to your brain and endorphins are released.   Endorphins are natural and have many functions, the most important one (as far as I’m concerned) it makes you feel good.  Endorphins are released in a variety of ways, physical exercise (used to be called the “runners high”) But smiling takes little effort and can give you a bit of a reward.  So smile, even if you don’t feel like smiling!

Stepping outside of your comfort zone is imperative.  Feeling vulnerable, a little awkward?  Not unusual.   I’m not suggesting you should drive a Maserati blindfolded through NYC, but something you may have thought of doing, but never acted on the idea.  Now’s your time.

Find a Coach!  Find someone who “gets you.”  Knows where you are, is lively, and inspiring.  Working with a divorce/divorce recovery coach can help you decide what you want, how you will get it, motivate you, hold you accountable, offer support, and more.

This is important:  coaching isn’t therapy.

If you worked with a divorce coach during your divorce, you know it is a flexible, goal-oriented process designed to support, motivate, and guide and help you make the best possible decisions for future, based on your particular interests, needs, and concerns.

Recovery coaching, not too dissimilar.  As a divorce recovery coach, I have collaborated with a diverse team of professionals, including pastors, psychologists, counselors, mediators and lawyers who regularly work with clients during the divorce process.  There are many resources you may be able to take advantage of that you may not have thought about.

Recovery requires you to transition from being married, perhaps with kids, to being “single” learning to balance life, dealing with loss.  The best part is learning what you are capable of, learning to use your strengths, finding your own solutions that actually work for you.  Feeling excited to try new things?   As we work together, you will begin to feel revitalized, energized, motivated, and begin to be your own best self.

I recommend one-on-one coaching; however, I also recommend my divorce recovery, coaching group.  You’ll be able to discuss and share ideas, offer support and receive support from others who are in recovery and discovering.   A coaching group is a great supplement to your individual coaching, and can really enrich your recovery experience.  Who knows, maybe make a few new friends?

If you had a therapist (or are continuing to see a therapist) that’s wonderful.  I fully encourage you to continue to work with your therapist as long as you feel you need that level of support.  If healing is what you believe you need, time to process and realize where you are, then perhaps a little therapy can be helpful.

Recovery from divorce is about you. This is not being selfish, or self-absorbed, it’s about you being you the best you, and it’ll only get better.  This is your time to recover, restyle, redesign, and by all means thrive!

Some say there are no “do-overs in life” — nonsense!  This is your chance to “do over” and transition to the life you want.   (We don’t get many of these opportunities in life, grab it while you can!)

Before you know it, you’ll be a whole new you, a terrific role model for others, for your kids, for your friends.  Take it, it’s yours!

As always, I have a few books in the “literature” corner, take a look.

Janice Della Badia, LCSW

Professional Coach/Psychotherapist

 

 

LITERATURE CORNER

 “Relax, You May Only Have Minutes Left…”  LaRoche, Loretta [Random House, NY 1998]

“The Four Agreements, Wisdom Book”  Ruiz, Don Miguel [Amerblin Publishing, CA, 1997]

The Big Leap – Taking Life to the Next Level” Henricks, Gay [Harper Collins, NY 2009]

You Are a Badass…” Sincero, Jenn [Running Press, Philadelphia, PA 2013]

how to Move On After A Divorce – an Essential Guide to Coping with Divorce, Moving on and Creating a Happy New Life.   Novak, Janelle [Miafu LLC, 2015]

(I’M ALWAYS LOOKING FOR BOOKS, ARTICLES, WEBSITES, ETC., AS RESOURCES, SO PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE ANY YOU MAY HAVE!)

 

[1] If you’re concerned about what level of activity you should engage in, check with your doctor first, of course.

[2] If you’ve never hiked before, I suggest a flattish spot, that’s well traveled.  Take a map, take a friend, take your dog.  Take water and a snack and your cell phone (just in case).  Serenity guaranteed.