Rule #1: Give Yourself Time
You are going through a lot, and it is going to take some time to
recover. Don't listen to people who urge you to “just get over it.” You'll get
over it in your own time. Most people start to recover from a divorce in
about a year or so. Some people require a lot longer. If you find yourself
stuck or can't function at your job or as a parent, it is time to get help.
Rule: #2 Wait at Least a Year before Making Major Life Changes
People often react to divorce by deciding that since their marriage
has ended, they need to start an entirely new and different life. They
change jobs and homes, cash in retirement accounts, and adopt different
lifestyles. You have enough changes in your life right now. If something in
your life doesn't absolutely have to be changed right now, leave it alone.
Rule #3: Wait at Least a Year before Getting Involved with Someone new
You are at your most vulnerable right now. You are also seeking to
redefine the new you. You will very likely be a different person in a year
than you are right now. The odds are you will not ultimately fit with
anyone you become involved with now. Any relationship you enter into
right now will be based on panic, need, or simply grief: a bad way to
start a relationship.
Rule #4: Take Care of your Children
You don't have any job that is more important than your children.
Make sure they have what they need. Protect them from the divorce.
Keep stress away from them. Maintain a positive attitude around your
children. In addition to protecting the children, focusing on the needs
of the children takes the focus away from you. This keeps you from
dwelling on your problems while you are developing a new rule book
Rule #5: Protect your Job
Your job is more important than it ever has been; don't do anything
to jeopardize it. Level with your employer. Tell your employer what is
going on and be sure to make up time if you have to. Do whatever is
necessary to keep the relationship sound.
If you are unhappy with your job, be extremely careful. The unhap-
piness could be a reaction to the divorce more than anything else. If
after a year you are still unhappy, begin a systematic search for a new
position. Do it right. Give proper notice and don't burn any bridges
on your way out.
Rule #6: Take Care of your Finances
Don't spend money on luxuries. Make your car payment. You
can't get to work if you don't have a car. Make your house payment
if you can. If you can't, make sure your spouse knows about it; then
whether or not the house can be protected will be a joint problem.
The same goes for your other bills. However, the necessities of life for
you and your children come first. Any money you have goes to protect
people first, then assets, and finally, your credit rating. For example, if
it comes down to buying food or paying off a credit card, the choice
should be obvious.
Rule #7: Keep your Friends
Some of your friends will feel very awkward associating with you
after your separation. Some will not and will be supportive. Keep them
close. Friends can help in tough times. However, be very careful about
taking any advice they might give you. You can listen to them, but before
you make any decisions, get advice from your divorce lawyer.
Rule #8: Keep your Family
Members of your family can be your greatest allies. Don't alienate
them. Any unhappiness you may feel toward them right now may simply
be a reflection of how you feel about the divorce process. It's possible
that your family will want to defend you at all costs. Be very careful;
letting them defend you at all costs may not be the best approach. Any
advice they give you, or actions they want you to take, may not be in
your best interests or what is best for your children. Talk it over with
the experts you've hired before acting on any advice family members