It’s natural to want to bury your head in the sand when something bad is happening, but when it comes to a divorce, doing so can hurt you in the long run. Are you avoiding your divorce due to heartbreak? Much like other forms of grief, divorce often follows five different stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Unfortunately, many people get stuck in the denial stage for a lot longer than they should. They try to avoid the pain of their divorce but willing it away won’t make it stop. It just prolongs the process- and it could also end up hurting your divorce case.
Some parts of your divorce could be settled without your participation.
If your spouse files for divorce and you try to avoid being served, they may have ways to resolve the divorce without you even having a say. If your state is a no-fault divorce state, this is even easier for them to achieve. Some things that could potentially be settled without your participation include division of assets and debts, selling of the marital home, and child custody and support.
While you can do your best to evade being served, you can’t run from it forever, and once you are served, the case can be finalized without you doing anything. In some cases, there is only a short time where you can object to the terms of the divorce, but it’s much harder to do after the fact. It’s best to accept that the divorce is happening and surround yourself with experienced divorce professionals to help you through the process.
Your healing process can take longer and be more painful.
The saying, “Don’t sweep things under the rug” holds true when it comes to the divorce process. If you are constantly avoiding your feelings about the divorce, they are just going to continue to build up until you explode. It might look like anger (another one of the five stages of grief) or put you into a deep bout of depression (yet another one of the stages). It may even cycle between the two, affecting not only your life but the lives of those around you.
To move on and build a new life, you will have to get to a place of acceptance, and that can’t happen unless you deal with your feelings. There are some steps you can take to make the process a little easier:
Making rash decisions or acting out in anger towards your spouse can make the situation much worse for you. You want to think rationally as you navigate these difficult decisions to set yourself up for success after your divorce. Talking things through with a divorce coach or therapist can be very helpful during this time.
Consider a non-adversarial process
Your divorce is going to happen whether you participate or not, so you may as well choose a process that will be the most cost-effective and the least stressful. There are many advantages to using a mediator or an attorney that practices collaborative law, including saving you money, allowing you more control over the decision-making process and the timeline of your divorce, keeping things more private than if you were to go to court, and laying the foundation for a positive co-parenting relationship if there are children involved.
Validate your feelings
Allowing yourself to feel is just one part of healing; learning to validate those feelings on your own is the second part. Going through a divorce is incredibly difficult and life-changing. It’s more than okay to feel sad, lonely, uncertain, etc. While it helps to speak with a divorce coach, therapist, or others who have gone through a divorce, looking to yourself for that validation is the key to fully letting go. There will always be feelings that come up about your divorce- even years down the road- and being able to validate your feelings on your own and remind yourself of your ability to sort through them will be crucial to your long-term success.
Replace avoidance with focus.
Instead of avoiding your divorce, focus on what’s ahead. You know that you can’t stop it. You can’t bury your head in the sand and make it all go away. What you can do is focus on creating a new life for yourself. Be involved in the decision-making part of your divorce so that you end up with the best possible situation for yourself moving forward. Focus on your healing journey and embrace all the new parts of you that you’ll discover along the way. Imagine what you want your life to look like five- even 10 years- down the road. You can’t go back and change the past but can choose not to avoid the present and focus on all the possibilities that the future holds.