Many things happen in the wake of a divorce.  Most of us are still suffering the heartbreak, frustration and anger associated with a break-up while we deal with the legal aspects that leave us with half or less of everything (including time with our kids).  We no sooner get through one situation and another challenging one occurs. 

There are many ways my family and I offset the frequency of these situations and their duration.  I put together a list of common problems and solutions that may also help you.

What types of difficult situations can happen following divorce?

Emotional struggles

Problem: Each of us may experience the problems of divorce differently, but we all go through the various Stages of Divorce. Regardless how you felt about your ex at the end, you have numerous emotions that you need to effectively process now.  Some of these emotions like grief, anger and sadness can paralyze you.  You may feel that you just aren't able to function as you normally should.  

Solution:  It isn't easy to get through these struggles alone.  Perhaps you just need a friend.  If your struggles include anxiety or depression you may need a professional therapist or psychiatrist.  Some of you may just need to add some positive things into your life in an effort to let go of what holds you back.  Don't waste too much time on nonproductive or unhealthy behavior.  The longer you remain in this stage, the more of your life it will steal.

On the flip side, don't over schedule and scrutinize every move you make.  You are going through a tough time.  You'll need some lazy days and days when you just want to gripe and complain.  You'll likely make a few bad decisions.  Just don't get stuck on them.  Realize when you made a mistake, acknowledge so you don't make it again and move on.   In many ways, that's what divorce is all about. 

The recovery process is like an echo of the divorce.  So expect mistakes along the way.

The most important thing about going through a tough time like this is to keep going.  Life is a continuous evolution that provides the challenge to embrace change and strive for happiness and improvement.  When you fail at either of these, you need to find what's holding you back and deal with it in an effort to keep going.  

Family disagreements

Problem: Divorce will affect your family.  Every failed marriage damages a family.  The divorce is the resolution to that failure.  Basically, it means that the problems didn't start with a divorce, though many of us think of our family's damage in that way.    

Solution: Recognize where the problems started so that you can fix them at their root and in their entirety.  Children may find it difficult to understand the purpose of the divorce was to end the pain and disruption the marriage caused in the home. 

The divorce is still a bad ending to a marriage.  The changes it brings to you and your children's lives is still very painful.  But, the problems are two fold.  Fixing problems that resulted only from the divorce will leave your family bitter and primary problems unchanged.  The divorce then becomes an easy target, along with the one or two people who chose divorce as the solution. 

Your family needs to understand the reasons for the divorce were to manage problems that caused the divorce and offset potentially worse problems.

Even if only one parent wanted the divorce, a marriage without mutual love is not one that you or your children deserve.  Your family deserves happy parents with healthy outlooks and future relationships.

Children's behavior 

Problem: A divorce will bring out emotions and behavior that may be very unusual for you and your family members.  Along with your coping with your own issues, your children may indicate they are fine; but, their behavior may suggest otherwise. 

If you are preoccupied with your own struggles, you and your child's co-parent may not recognize the problem as originating from family turmoil or changes.

These behavior problems may be: low grades, poor school attendance, discipline action at school, reclusive behavior, loss of interest in family and friends, new friends, drugs-smoking-alcohol, unusual comments, overprotective of one or both parents.

Solution: You will likely address the problems independently before you recognize the underlining issues.  As mentioned above under family disagreements, the problem following divorce is usually only half rooted in the divorce itself.  Rather, all the issues that precipitated the divorce that affect your children will need to be addressed. 

A family therapist or counselor will be essential in order to provide your child a platform for dialogue that may be too difficult to discuss with a parent. A therapist may also provide you insight into your child's feelings that you may otherwise miss with the ongoing daily stresses and emotional overload you may experience while in the process of divorce.

However, you are the first line of defense when it comes to your child's emotions, behavior and decisions. Discuss the individual problems and be forthcoming in your interest to help your child deal with his/her emotional stress.  Be cautious of providing excuses for such behavior.  Instead ask questions and demonstrate genuine concern for his/her feelings.  Listen. Let your child know that you understand it may be easier for him/her to discuss feelings with a counselor who can provide an unbiased atmosphere for your child to voice his/her opinion about what leads to poor behavior.  Be patient and give you and your family reasonable latitude in coping with divorce.  

When selecting a counselor it is important to make sure the counselor is experienced in divorce and any other factors that your child has discussed as problematic.  Have your child meet with the counselor before beginning therapy.  Make sure you child feels the counselor's personality is a good match for him/her.  If there is a disconnect before therapy starts based on personality or suggested approach of therapy, then the counseling will have less chance of success. 

Career problems

Problem: Many issues can affect your career, but divorce can be one of the most significant, bringing about distraction, stress and physical exhaustion.  It can take your focus away from goals, projections and typical expectations needed to achieve ongoing success.  You may have spent years getting to your current level of employment only to have a divorce seriously impact it.  Worse yet, if your career has been stalled for a variety of individual and/or relationship issues, you may feel even more stuck as a result of your divorce.  

Solution: Take your career one day at a time.  Don't overcommit in order to compensate for career shortcomings.  Pace yourself while continuing to set long-term achievable goals.  You do not need to disclose too much personal information to your employer regarding your situation.  That can backfire if things get particularly challenging at work. 

Instead, keep any personal or marital problems vague.  It's not the kind of things most employers would recognize as an acceptable reason for poor performance.  It may seem like they should, but they don't.  Instead it can be used as a reason for holding you back, letting you go or writing you up for poor performance. 

You may end up hearing things like this, "You're head just isn't in the game.", "You're so preoccupied with your personal situation.", "Your divorce seems to have all your attention, but our customers need attention too."  

If you have a bad day, make it a bad day, not a beginning of a bad month.  Go home, walk, run or go out with friends.  Wash the day away with positive activities and ways to rebuild opportunities at work.

Keep your venting about your problems outside of the workplace.  While your coworkers may be friends, know that friends talk and managers and nonfriend colleagues overhear.  If your in a competitive workplace environment maintain your professionalism and provide few details about your personal situation.

When taking personal days, keep the details private when possible (e.g. You don't need to disclose that you were too upset about your settlement to come to work).

While it seems like you shouldn't need to be so guarded, the effect of keeping your problems out of the workplace also helps you provide a "divorce free" zone.  A place where, when you're there, you aren't focused on your problems associated with your divorce. 

Limit calls, worries and discussions that allow it to disrupt your work day.  The divorce affects many things in your life, that's unavoidable.  However, your job is very important as your household segues into divided assets and income.  

Financial troubles

Problem: What can't happen financially as a result of divorce?  What you formerly had twice as much: income, assets, financial partnership, now you have half.  Even with half as much debt, financial burden following divorce is going to impact your everyday life.  Double household expenses, half the income and the cost of the divorce itself overloads the average divorcee.

Solution: Don't wait until your financial problems fix themselves.  They just won't.  The sooner you acknowledge the problems, you will be able to work on a solution.  You may need credit counseling or to take a serious look at big changes in your housing and lifestyle.  

Don't be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to changes.  You may have lived a certain way your whole life and never thought to break with tradition.  These changes may include: smaller home, new town, public schools instead of private or parochial, graduate school for you, new career path, etc.

Don't just review your expenses for change.  You may need to consider a second job with long-term plans to increase your full-time pay.  The bottom line needs attention and to do that you will need to consider sacrifices: lifestyle, home or time to earn more.  But, something will need to be done in order to deal with a problem that simply does not go away by doing nothing.  Don't be surprised if some of your solutions do not always work out.  The most important thing to do is not to give up; rather find what does work and continue to expand on it.

Household maintenance overload

Problem: The time it takes to maintain a home is considerable.  Current statistics suggest it takes us about a month to do household chores (24 hours a day) per year.  These chores include cleaning, mowing, cooking, washing, etc. 

You work so hard to pay for your rent or mortgage and all the costs it takes to run a home, then you come home at the end of the day and have no energy to care for it.  Even a nuclear family (one where the mother, father and children live in one household) will struggle to manage schedules, meals, outdoor chores and indoor responsibilities.  

Along with the emotional stress of a divorce, you have twice as many responsibilities with the kids, home, carpool and expenses.  It can cause you to begin to let go of the basics of home maintenance.  As time goes on, home life can seem like one big mess and things can get extremely chaotic.

Solution: Determine the things that need to be maintained to keep you organized.  You are one person who is being thrusted into the role of what was done formerly by two people.  Let things get dusty, the vacuuming go for the week.  Instead focus on staying organized.  Keep up with dishes, do a load of laundry per day (fold during tv time and have the kids put their own clothes away). Develop organization stations like cubbies for clean laundry, kids school items like backpacks and coats and household supplies.

Keep your fridge and kitchen organized and stocked to avoid fast food purchases and poor eating habits.  Keep items for outside chores in an organization unit in the garage or shed. Manage a desk where kids are not allowed that will be for your bills, tape, pens, scissors, post-its and items you know you will need regularly and kids love to get into, but shouldn't.

By weeks end, survey the damage and attack.  Ask the kids to help with their rooms and bathrooms.  Develop a routine when they are home that will keep them vested in helping you keep the place picked up and organized.

Moving stress

Problem: The longer you live in one house or apartment, the more difficult the move.  Even after the move itself, you could spend months living out of boxes.

Solution: Hire help or ask friends and family for assistance.  Don't try to do everything on your own.  This leads to a move that seems to last forever.  Instead, make as much progress as possible while help is around.  Get the big things put away or in their respective rooms or level so that you aren't moving large items or boxes around the home.  Make a plan to unpack one or more boxes everyday until everything is put away.  The longer you delay, the more disorganized and frustrated you will get.

Ex problems

Problem: It's not easy to deal with the many relationship issues with an ex spouse.  If you are co-parents, you will need to work hard to get passed your issues in order to practice effective parenting.

Solution: If you made a decision to divorce, there was probably good reason.  Don't "hook-up" for the sake of "maybe things have changed".  Unless some major things have happened or one or both of you is dedicated to counseling to achieve a reconciliation, move on in an effort to start a new life and perhaps find love once again, just not with your ex spouse.  

If your problems stem from the opposite feelings that include loathing your ex, you may need to get some counseling in order to achieve effective ways to get past all that has happened.  You can't live in anger and blame.  Reconcile with the fact that this may not be a person for whom you will be able to have a close relationship.  Instead, make it one where you both respect the other in order to get along.

This doesn't mean you need to be cold or passive around this person.  Try not to make the relationship appear difficult.  Instead be reasonable and considerate.  If the other person is unable or unwilling to do so, just know that you are actually in a better place and more likely to let go of all that person has done that has harmed you and live happier for it.

Social anxiety

Problem: If you had a close relationship with your former spouse, you may find it difficult to get back into your old social circles, alone. 

Solution: Don't overstress about immediate deployment of your new social self.  Take some time to get an active lifestyle going that includes: exercise, stress reduction, self improvement.  Speak with a counselor who may be able to help you overcome some of the problems associated with social anxiety. The worst thing you can do is not talk with your family doctor or other healthcare professional about the problem.  You may need medication if your anxiety seems like it's controlling your life or holding you back from being the person you really want to be.  

If your anxiety is mild, you may just need to start off with small social interaction until you feel comfortable again around large groups of people.  You can do this by getting back into a more active lifestyle as mentioned above.  Take a class, join a gym, join a divorce support group.


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