The end of a marriage or significant relationship is undoubtedly one of life's most difficult moments. Whatever the reason behind the divorce - and no matter how long you've been together - there's no easy way to separate from a spouse. However, ensuring that you take care of yourself, talk to loved ones or counsellors and grieve properly are all ways to help you through this painful time.
While each marriage is different, there are steps everyone involved in a divorce can take to process their emotions and learn from the experience. We asked experts Denise Knowles, counsellor at charityRelate, and Christina Fraser, counsellor atCouple Works Relationship Counselling London, about the best ways to cope with divorce.
Talk to someone
"You don't have to do retail therapy or hit the gym, but do take care to maintain some kind of social activity," says Denise. "If you find yourself stressed or angry, you need to talk to people you can trust, whether that's family, friends or a counsellor."
"Looking after yourself and talking to people is so important," says Christina. "People do neglect themselves dreadfully: 'somebody's neglected me, so I'm going to neglect myself'. Individual counselling or speaking to family and friends can be helpful. I see a lot of people who say, 'I've bored all my family and friends, I need somewhere to talk'. They need somewhere to grieve, even the person who has instigated the split."
Communicate with your children
"If you've got children, you've got to be prepared to talk to them. It's very important that mum and dad sit down with the children together and explain what's going on and what this means for them, using age-appropriate language of course," says Denise. "It's also important to maintain some kind of routine for children during this time of upheaval."
"It's vital to talk to them together," agrees Christina. "Say as little as you need to say depending on their age, and never give false hope. Also never say anything negative about the other partner in front of the child, never use them as a go-between or to send messages. Always stay positive - you owe it to the relationship and your child."
How to cope with affairs
"Nearly always it's a couple issue," says Christina. "People don't usually look outside unless something is missing, and if something is missing for one it's usually missing for both. If there's a gap between you that's big enough for someone else to get in, there has to be the gap there first."
"I see this a lot after affairs, one person will say, 'I can't believe this, this has all changed', and the couple will come for therapy. Many of them will look at why that happened and whether both of them can change the relationship - it will only work if both people are willing to look at making a change. The only way you can go back to a relationship is to look at what didn't work well between you."
Take as much time as you need to process the situation
"It's like any bereavement,' says Denise, "there's a massive loss, especially if you're the person who didn't want the divorce. It might be that for a long time you feel angry and aggrieved, whereas someone who wanted the divorce might be over and done with it in a matter of months. Don't feel pressured to get over it."
"The important thing to do is to remember there was a lot of hope at some point, and the relationship was extremely meaningful, so avoid letting an ending eclipse what you had," says Christina. "You shouldn't dismiss what you had or your own part in all of it. I don't think there's an amount of time to get over it, it depends on how deep it was and how much hope there was. It can take up to two years."
Click here for more information onRelate Counselling
Click here for more information onCouple Works Relationship Counselling
Shop your summer wardrobe for less with woman&home vouchers
All the deals you need for some seriously savvy shopping!
By WomanAndHome Staff •
Oprah reveals the surprising reason she can’t be Lilibet’s godmother
Oprah was the original frontrunner to be Lilibet's godmother, but it looks like the legendary talk show host wants Harry and Meghan to remove her as a candidate
By Emma Dooney •
How to fall asleep fast–the speedy sleep techniques the experts swear by
Want to know how to fall asleep fast? You're in luck. Our experts share their easy tricks to help you nod off...
By Faye M Smith •
The best vibrator for a buzz alone or with your partner
Our best vibrator round-up is packed with tried and tested reviews and recommendations for top orgasms
By Faye M Smith •
Why does my pee smell? Five possible causes of smelly urine
Wondering why does my pee smell? Here are five common causes, according to an expert
By Jenni McKnight •
10 natural cures for insomnia to help end sleepless nights
Nip sleep disturbance in the bud with these expert-approved hacks for regaining control of your slumber
By Stacey Carter •
How to lose a stone in a month: an easy-to-follow, effective diet plan
This simple diet and exercise plan, including tips from nutritionist Kim Pearson, can help you to slim down
By Amy Hunt •
Popular painkiller recalled after fears the product may cause overdose
A popular painkiller has been recalled from shelves after fears that the product may cause purchasers to overdose
By Laura Harman •
These are the best exercises to lose belly fat at home
Three of the best exercises to help you tone up!
By Lucy Gornall •
Menopause and the brain: turns out it’s not so bad
A new study that examines how menopause affects the brain has attracted a lot of attention
By Danielle Valente •