Divorce proceedings are killer – emotionally, spiritually, socially, financially. These tips on how to take care of yourself through the divorce process will help you avoid overwhelm and burnout. I’m writing this for you…and a reader who asked for help takin care of herself while divorcing her husband.
“Three months ago my husband of 27 years left me for one of our family friends,” says Dana on How to Know if Divorce is the Best Decision. “He was having an affair with her for almost a year, and is in love with her. He plans to spend the rest of his life with her. We started the divorce process and I know it’s the best decision. But husband somehow thought I’d be okay with this and we’d all still be friends. My husband somehow thought I’d be okay with this and we’d all still be friends. I don’t know how he could be so delusional, but he’s surprised that I don’t want to associate with them. I’m getting exercise, have reached out to friends, am on an antidepressant, am seeing a counselor and have begun journaling. What else can I do to take care of myself and move on?”
Here are two easy steps to taking care of yourself when you’re getting divorced:
- Take a deep breath. Tell yourself that everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay yet, then it’s not the end.
- Figure out what you really need, and give yourself permission to get it.
The most important thing you can do is listen to your body. Your spirit, mind and heart is trying to tell you what you need! If you take a deep breath and give yourself five minutes to listen to your body, you will know how to take care of yourself. The divorce process won’t be the end of you — especially if you slow down and listen.
How to Take Care of Yourself
When you’re going through the divorce process, you haven’t just lost a husband and home. Your whole life has been uprooted. You’ve lost your identity as a wife, and you’re left to pick up the pieces of your shattered heart. Divorcing your husband wasn’t ever in your plans, and your have to let go of your hopes and dreams for a future together.
You know you have to let go of the past, but you just can’t find the strength. Deep down you believe God has a plan for your life and you hope a new season awaits…but how do you actually start moving forward? By learning how to take care of yourself through the divorce process.
See the ripple effect of caring for yourself while divorcing
You’re grieving the end of your marriage. The divorce process is ugly — even when it’s an amicable, agreeable parting of the ways! Even the gentlest of divorces involve the splitting of many lives. Not just yours and your husband’s, but your children’s and in-laws’ and other family members and friends and coworkers. Even neighbors are affected by a divorcing couple.
If you learn how to take care of yourself through the divorce process, you can take care of others. Sometimes this happens without you even realizing it; the people around you see you caring for your body, soul, heart, and spirit. This teaches them to take care of themselves, to treat themselves better. By taking care of yourself, you’re creating a ripple of health and wellness that will positively affect everyone during the divorce process.
And, by caring for yourself, you’ll learn how to fill the void in your life after the divorce is over.
Tell me how your stomach, head, and guts feel
Take a deep breath. Get comfortable. Listen to what your body is telling you. What do you need physically right now? Is your stomach empty or full? Are you sleepy or alert? What parts of your physical body ache — maybe your head, feet, teeth, or hair? Does your butt feel sore because you sit too much, or your legs tired because you’re standing or running constantly?
The first step to taking care of yourself during the process of divorce is to check in with your physical body. What do you need right now? Give yourself what you need, whether it’s food, affection, sleep, massage, hot bath, yoga, swimming, running, even just a walk around the block. Fresh air! Learn how to take care of yourself by listening to your body.
The next step is to tell someone what you need. Tell me! Write what your body is saying in the comments section below. Tell me one way you can take care of your physical body. Remember that if you care for your body, you will increase your strength and resilience — and you’ll need lots of both if you want to come through the divorce process with all your members intact!
Take care of your heart
You drag yourself out of bed in the morning, you do and say the right things, you pull yourself through the day…but something is missing. Your heart, your soul, your spark. You lost someone who meant everything to you; now you’re going through the motions but you’re not fully alive. Your husband was a huge part of your life, and now you’re in the throes of the divorce process.
Your heart hurts. Your emotions have taken a battering, and you need to learn how to take care of yourself in kinder, gentler ways.
Take a deep breath. Listen to what your heart is telling you. Is it bitter or broken? Maybe both. Is your heart aching or empty? Torn between different camps of loved ones? Ripped in shreds because of the divorce process? The only way to take good care of yourself is to tune in to how your heart feels. Then, give yourself permission to care for yourself emotionally. Maybe this means going away by yourself for a week or a weekend. Or a year. The divorce process will proceed without you. Or maybe you need to distance yourself from someone, or spend more time with others. Only you know what you need, and only you can give yourself what you need.
Realize that if you don’t take care of yourself, nobody will
Ouch. It hurts me to write that sentence! But it’s true.
One of the saddest things about being an adult is the fact that if we don’t care for ourselves, then nobody will. Even sadder is the fact that the divorce process is the time we most need to learn how to take care of ourselves in deeper and better ways…and it’s often the time that we’re most distracted and least able to invest time, money, and energy caring for ourselves.
But the power this gives us! If we are responsible for taking care of ourselves, then we don’t have to rely on others to take care of us! And we’re not stuck with their ways of taking care of us.
You get to take care of yourself the way you need to. This is good news. Even better — you can learn how to take care of yourself by experimenting with different, interesting, and fun ways! Trying new tips and strategies for self-care will send you soaring through the divorce process, like the girl on the flying trapeze.
If you have kids to care for, read How to Help Your Children Through a Painful Divorce.
Help Taking Care of Yourself Through the Divorce Process
“After divorcing an abusive man or narcissist there is a season of healing,” writes Melissa in Weekend Wisdom: It Is Well With My Soul. “It takes work. Gut-wrenching work. Giving up resentments. Seeing our own fears and selfishness. Developing boundaries. Learning what love really is. Figuring out how we got here. Deciding where we want to go.”
One of the best ways to take care of yourself and recover from the divorce process is to connect with other women who are going through the same thing. Melissa’s blog is Broken.HEARTED: A Christian’s Path to Divorcing and Healing from a Narcissist and Emotional Abuser. It’s a wonderful, healing, honest blog that will help you heal and move forward in your life.
Did you know that every year 900,000 women of faith go through a divorce? There is life on the other side of the end of a marriage! A life full of hope, healing, and triumph.
In The Christian Chick’s Guide to Surviving Divorce – What Your Girlfriends Would Tell You If They Knew What To Say, Suzanne Reeves describes how God doesn’t want divorce — but He also doesn’t want you to be in an unhealthy marriage that doesn’t conform to His plan. She’ll give you the encouragement and hope you need to survive the divorce process and learn how to take care of yourself in healthy, spiritually uplifting ways.
This book and blog offers helpful strategies for taking care of yourself while you’re divorcing, but the best source of power and strength is God.
How are you doing spiritually? Are you on speaking terms with God, or have you let Him go? He hasn’t let you go. He knows exactly how this divorce process will end, and He knows how to take care of you. God won’t protect you from making mistakes or experiencing pain, but He will protect you from anything you can’t handle.
Take a deep breath. Look up. Open your heart. What do you hear, feel, see?
If you feel completely alone and abandoned — even by God — read 7 Things to Remember When You Feel Like No One Cares.
Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.