Have you ever broken up with your long-term partner? If you have, you may have experienced a variety of highly intense and stressful feelings. Most of these emotions are “normal” and occur in many people living separately. Also, you have to deal with your thoughts and the failure of your relationship for hours, weeks and months. At the same time, you are faced with many new requirements.
How to Deal With Your Emotions
A common dominant emotional state is deep depression, and depression over the whole range of short periods may extend to to one’s having suicidal tendencies. In particularly bad cases, you can visit a physician who may prescribe you antidepressants. Generally, you can expect an early improvement of this emotional state. Almost everybody suffers depression after a breakup, but it disappears after a period of mourning, and you move on.
If you see your separation as a sign of failure, inability or worthlessness, be aware that this is usually not the reality. In most cases, both partners are to be blamed for the failure of a marriage. If you feel helpless and like a victim, it’s because you are trapped in passivity, but you must be active, move on and feel better. The lost spouse and love are not a necessary condition for survival, and you can have a happy and fulfilling life without them, too! When looking for new sources of emotional support and positive self-experience, you can find situations in which you are likely to experience fun and joy. And you should reward yourself when you do things you do not like!
People often have feelings of anger or revenge after separations, especially if partners have suddenly pulled out or if they have been involved in extra-marital relationships. You feel abandoned, degraded and humiliated, and your sense of masculinity or femininity may be hurt. These negative emotions are normal – you should worry only if you are unable to displace such hostile feelings. These feelings and anger can make you overreact and strike things or even scream.
Questioning yourself about your spouse’s negative view of you leads to thinking that a person you once loved cannot be such a bad person after all! Anger releases large amounts of energy and this is the best way to face new challenges. You should never let yourself be carried away by revenge, as this will only lead to your humiliation. In addition, retaliation would only lead to reciprocal actions resulting in tension, perhaps additional legal fees, oe even jail (following acts of violence or child abduction). Therefore, you only harm yourself and the situation does not change at all. The best revenge would be to start a happy life…
You will often experience a surge of remorse and guilt, especially if you are the one who has initiated the separation. Your extra-marital relationship may be broken or your children may suffer greatly from the dissolution of their family. Think how you would feel as a child if you if you were surrounded by constant marital conflict and unhappy parents. Incidentally, it would be very unusual for you to feel no guilt after the separation whatsoever!
It is normal to feel lonely after the separation, and less attractive, and that you are afraid of finding a new partner. First of all, try to accept the feeling of solitude; learn to see the positive side of being alone and then go out and enjoy your social circles. Eventually, you may feel free to escape in new relationships in order to avoid loneliness, but it is better if you first see yourself as single and adopt the appropriate lifestyle. Only then (and after your separation processes are over) does it generally make sense to begin the search for partners.
For dealing with emotions of various kinds, you can take the following principles into consideration:
– Learn about the typical course of the divorce cycle. If you expect certain emotions or reactions, you will experience them, as they are rather normal and you should be prepared for them.
– Read books on divorce, in which positive management options are presented and get separation divorce advice.
– Be aware that you are going to experience strong negative feelings over a lengthy time, and also that it may take several years before the separation process is final.
– Keep a diary as this will help you get your feelings out and you can become aware of all the changes going on around you.
– Try to see the positive side of the separation or divorce, embrace the thrill of the unknown, and realize your ability to develop as an individual. You have a new life ahead of you!
– Play the same roles as before. This way you feel that there is continuity and you feel more secure, despite the separation.
– Be aware that you are responsible for your feelings and control them as much as you can. You also have your fate in your hands. The partner or the separation may not be responsible for your unsatisfactory situation…
If you cannot cope with your emotions, you should go to a counseling center or a private practice psychologist. You will find a lot of understanding there, empathy, care, comfort and emotional support. Men are also welcome there as long as they do not play the “strong man” and admit that they need help. Men also have feelings and these advisers can help them express them.
Realistic and Positive Thinking
You may tend to deny the reality of separation, especially if you were suddenly abandoned by your partner. You refuse to make the necessary changes in your life, and those of your children, and even hide at home sometimes. In this case, you have to face the reality! In most cases, the separation cannot be undone and you have no control over your estranged partner’s behavior.
Analyze all aspects of the new situation and all the tasks and challenges. The problem is when you see only the negative side, or imagine that certain events (such as a smile from your ex-partner during a meeting) have more significance than they really have. This can result in regular negative behavior.
If you even experience irrational attitudes and thoughts (such as “Life should be fair”, “I can only be happy with my partner” or “I’m not lovable”), unrealistic expectations (“My ex will come back on their knees”) or divorce myths (“Every separation is a big disaster for all concerned”), you should check with reality and use your logic. You will usually not find any evidence for them and you have to gain a more realistic view of your situation.
It is also important that you work through the separation experience, perhaps with the help of a consultant. Try to identify what “marriage”, “family”, “home” and their loss mean for you. Look outside of your marriage and the ideals once associated with it and replace them with other hopes and feelings of security. You will often have intense positive and negative ties with your spouse or partner, which can only be resolved slowly.
You will succeed in doing this if you do not think of the spouse so much, if you spend less time thinking about the past, if you push the possibility of reconciliation or revenge aside and you do not fantasize about your current life (such as new partner relationships). Talk less about the separated spouse, do not call them under silly pretexts, stop your sexual relationships and don’t threaten legal disputes. It is often useful to clear away items that constantly remind you of your partner, to learn techniques of stopping your thoughts or to reward yourself when you do not think about them for more than an hour.
Meet Practical Requirements
It is understandable that you feel completely overwhelmed and stressed by the new situation after the separation, ignoring the necessary changes or running away from them. You often feel without energy, you are passive or even see the smallest problems as insoluble. The best thing to do is think that you do not bear all the difficulties in the world and that you can solve any problems you may have, but that it can usually take a considerable amount of time.
Arrange the tasks in terms of priority or difficulty. Generally, it is advisable to start with small tasks and these can be divided up again. If you meet them, you have initial feelings of success, you gain self-confidence and you are motivated to face even tougher challenges. You discover your own strengths, skills and resources. Also, you should consider that you do not have any tougher challenges to face because you have already been faced with some very serious problems. Therefore, you can overcome anything if you have succeeded in overcoming these.
Of course, relatives and friends are of great importance in such a situation. You can find emotional support from them, practical help and childcare opportunities (short term ones). The development of your children is also improved if you integrate them in different social networks. Many relatives and friends take one party’s side, so that the network of friends as you know it may be divided into two camps. Then, it is important that you try to find new friends very quickly.
Very often, parents cannot resolve their practical tasks because they do not have all the necessary information, but this is a problem which can usually be solved right away. As a separated woman, you need a lot of information about your financial rights (right to maintenance, social assistance, housing allowance, educational support, etc.), especially if you are inactive. You should know that the Youth Office can make support payments under LAA and maintenance payments for younger children if the debtor does not pay. They may also represent the interests of the children with the other parent.
As a non-working woman, you may need information about any school or college degrees which you might want, and on funding opportunities (spousal support, through the Employment Office, after EED). A vocational training company can also provide professional training aid. The resumption of employment, training and retraining can be supported under the Employment Promotion Act (AFG) and other legal documents, but this is the kind of information you get from the employment office. If you do not know how to apply, you can visit a corresponding course at the adult school.
If you are working or you have to work again, but you have to leave your children alone, you need information about childcare. If there are not enough places in kindergartens or nurseries and daycare centers, you should not worry because you have an advantage as a single parent and you can be helped with the allocation of places. The Youth Office covers the costs of childcare, or at least part of them. Sometimes, there are all-day schools nearby. A permanent placement of children is possible in foster homes, boarding schools, students’ and apprentices’ residences, professionally supervised youth communities or homes.
Look for a council house and get further divorce help and recovery help from the housing office. You may have had nothing to do with financial management so far so you should definitely take steps to learn about it. You can go for Adult Education and Family Studies, or you can start attending cooking and baking classes or learn about nutrition and home economics at a counseling center. Do not neglect your health; pay attention to a healthy diet and get adequate sleep.
Finally, you should not hesitate to go to a support group. Here, you can meet people in the same situation as you and you can share your problems and get guidance. You will receive emotional support, useful information (on financial commitments, public services, low-cost shopping, friendly contacts in government agencies, useful books, etc.) and sometimes even practical help (such as reciprocal child care).