We’ve all heard the saying “the light at the end of the tunnel,” but when you are going through a divorce, it can feel like your journey through that tunnel is endless; when on earth will you ever see the light again?
As a financial coach, oftentimes I work with recently divorced women who struggle to find themselves and learn how to cope with essentially living on their own, many for the very first time. Here are the top five struggles that I see over and over again, together with a few tips on how to find the light at the end of these struggles.
Struggle #1 – Taking over the financial responsibilities
Many times married women leave many, if not all, of the financial concerns to their husbands. Often when they first divorce and are faced with balancing the money coming in with the expenses that need to be paid, they really don’t know where to start. Many that are used to living very well off with very little financial concerns now need to watch their pennies. The number one thing I stress with each of my clients is to first establish a budget and then stick to that budget each and every month. When you take the time to account for every penny coming in and going out, it can be very shocking to learn just where your money is going. But, when you do create a budget, it can go a long way in reducing financial stress caused at bill payment time.
Struggle #2 – Losing your friends
We all understand the necessity of arranging custody situations for our children, but what about the friends? Who should get the friends in a divorce? Your newfound single status almost always puts a halt to invitations to couple-type engagements. This can be very hard, especially if you had a busy social calendar when you were married. The most important advice I always give to my clients is to learn to become your own best friend. Although, for many, this is the time that they need that social support network the most, many of your friends will shy away from you and struggle to come to terms with the “new you.” I always say that divorce is a great time to “clean house” because your true friends will stick with you. I also guarantee that, as you begin to move in new circles, you will attract new friends that will become your new support system. Just remember to give it time and don’t be afraid to be by yourself and learn again how to love yourself for you.
Struggle #3 – Eating for one
When your children are with their father and you are left on your own, eating for one can be a very difficult transition. I have seen it time and time again that the choices women make immediately after divorce are not the best choices, but made more out of convenience. Remember it is important to take care of yourself and to continue to make healthy food choices even when you are eating alone. Today many stores are catering to people that eat on their own because there are so many who are faced with this from time to time. In today’s health conscious society, it has never been easier to eat healthier on your own if you choose to. Keep that in mind and don’t allow yourself to make poor decisions based more on convenience than health.
Struggle #4 – Significant weight change
So many times, as a result of the stress, women experience a significant, and often unhealthy, change in their weight immediately following divorce. It is so important to take care of yourself physically after divorce by not only eating healthy, but continuing to exercise and stay mentally healthy. Oftentimes the stress leads us to “pleasure” eat or the exact opposite by losing our appetite altogether. We also tend to put our physical health on the backburner and forget to continue with a good exercise regime. Exercise is a great and natural way to release endorphins that can help us to combat the stress and continue to make healthy choices. Make sure that you continue to incorporate exercise each and every day in your schedule to allow you to combat significant weight changes and to increase the natural endorphins you need to stay mentally healthy.
Struggle #5 – Depression
Studies show that divorce is the second most stressful situation anyone will ever have to face in their lifetime; second only to the death of a loved one. If you are not careful, this stress can lead to anxiety, depression and other mental and emotional illnesses that will ultimately put your health in jeopardy of serious and harmful illness. The best advice I give to my clients is to fight depression and anxiety naturally first. The best way to do that is through acceptance and acknowledgement. I guarantee you are not the first to have the feelings you do and definitely will not be the last. When you acknowledge the feelings of loss, pain and hurt, and allow yourself to learn from them, this will be the first step in healing.
Rebuilding your life after divorce will not be easy and it will take time to start feeling great again so don’t be afraid to give yourself the “space” you need to heal. Also, don’t be afraid to seek professional help when you need it. There is absolutely no shame in realizing you cannot do this on your own.