Change is scary for a lot of people, especially sudden, unexpected or unwanted changes that impact our core needs. Unfortunately, those going through a divorce will experience great uncertainty in various aspects of their lives all at once, which explains the dramatic rise in situational depression or anxiety among those dealing with a separation. Here are 5 key areas of concern that need to be addressed as soon as possible to reduce the stress caused by this major life transition:
1. Financial Security– For anyone to feel safe, s/he must be sure that his/her basic financial obligations such as shelter, food, clothing, and transportation will be met. Being financially dependent on the other spouse is a terrible position to be in, and becoming financially literate and independent is an important part to a successful future post-divorce.
2. Identity– Everyone needs to feel secure in who they are as a person. Unfortunately, many during a marriage tie their identity to being a good spouse and/or involved parent, and these roles will change upon divorce. Returning to single life and not seeing the kids each day are huge adjustments that people have to make during the separation process, and it will take time to develop a new identity outside the former nuclear family unit.
3. Socialization– Many people have their entire social life revolve around family. Without a spouse or kids to come home to each night, divorced individuals need to develop a whole new social network. For many, it will require some effort to form new connections and rebuild a close circle of friends.
4. Purpose– We all need something to make us feel like life is worth living, and that we have a reason for being here. Often during a divorce, people will question their past choices, the path taken thus far, and what their real purpose should be going forward. The questions are all great, but not having all the answers readily available can be a little unsettling at first.
5. Structure & Time Management– To some extent, we are all creatures of habit, who derive some comfort in knowing how our days or weeks will be structured. However, in the divorce process, schedules often get altered and new demands are made on parents’ time with their children. Until some new norms and a regular schedule can be established, many will feel very unsettled.
It is critical to understand all the upheaval created during a divorce, and to remember that while some may adapt easily to change, many do not, especially those that never saw the end of the marriage coming.
While the legal process itself may be rather straight-forward, the financial, emotional and social devastation caused by a divorce cannot be overstated, particularly for those in an economically vulnerable position. To start over after such an immense setback is indeed going to be scary– but it will be far less daunting for those receiving sound financial advice and strong emotional support or guidance.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.