How to Keep the Winds of Change During Divorce

budgeting divorce coach divorce support groups
handling change during divorce

by Liesel Darby, Mediator & Divorce Coach

What do the following have in common?

  1. You’re in the grocery store, looking for your favorite brand of stone-ground mustard, only to find that they no longer carry it.  The replacement brand is twice the price, and you don’t like the packaging either.
  2. You’re accustomed to your second shift schedule, but you have just been informed that you are moving to first shift for the foreseeable future. This throws a wrench in your Pilates class schedule.
  3. Your spouse has just announced that he is leaving you for the neighbor down the street that you have been casually saying hi to on your evening walks if she’s out in the yard.

If you answered, “Things that make you go hmmmm,” you are partly correct. These are all examples of change, albeit in varying degrees of the impact it will have on a person’s life.  New mustard brand versus your world being turned upside down by divorce are not on the same par, for sure. 

If you have been around in this lifetime longer than 30 minutes, you know that change is inevitable.  When we come into this world, we are changing and growing so fast, but we don’t remember it, which is probably a good thing.  When we are young, we might categorize change as “new, fun things” to try.  In some cases, “new” equals anxiety about trying things or facing an unfamiliar situation, such as the first day of preschool or swim lessons. 

As we mature, there is always something to experience, from learning a new game, taking a new class, making new friends. Then there’s graduating from high school and deciding what path to pursue as adulthood looms.  We may be facing other big life events such as marriage, parenthood, buying a house, changing careers. Maybe “The One” we married turns out to be “The One” we are divorcing. We may also at some point face changes as our parents become older and need care.  These are major situations. 

There are thousands of minor changes that we face as we go through our everyday lives as well.  How we approach change can make the difference between welcoming new experiences or being blown off course, grimacing at every new change that comes our way.

Getting a Lift or Struggling Against the Wind

What is the key to handling change with as much grace as possible? How can you feel like you’re taking advantage of momentum instead of fighting a headstrong wind?  For one thing, planning for change if you see it coming down the pike certainly helps. This is also building momentum.  Think about your wedding.  Did you spend time looking at venues, making sure vendors were paid on time, planning the events, if any, leading up to the Big Day?  You built momentum by doing all these things.

One thing these examples have in common is that they all cost a big chunk of money.  As we all know, money can cause a lot of anxiety.  More specifically, lack of money can cause a lot of anxiety.  It’s never too late to take a look at your financial health and make a plan to prepare for life events. This is where working with a financial planner can be invaluable in helping you decide how to get from point A to point B as comfortably as possible.

When working with a financial advisor, you have some tools at your disposal.  Two are budgeting and investing.

Budgeting lets you get a realistic look at what money you have coming in versus what money is flowing out. It’s a chance to see in black and white where your money goes.  You may be shocked to find out that your daily Starbucks coffee is costing you over $200, and that you have multiple streaming subscriptions that you don’t even use that cost $150 a month. This allows you to make decisions to free up some cash or reallocate funds.  It also allows you to see where you could find money to put into savings or investment accounts.

Investing is a way to let your money work for you so that you can have a secure future.  Why let your money sit in a savings account when it could be earning significantly more in a stock portfolio? You build momentum by investing. You also need to consider your risk tolerance, something a financial planner can assist you with. You can set up education funds for your children’s future college expenses, save for a house, dream vacation, or retirement—or all three.  You can see if maybe getting a part-time second job or side gig would speed up the process or allow you to pay off credit card debt. Many of us are afraid to face our financial situation head-on, but the relief that accompanies knowing where you stand is priceless.  Taking control of your finances is empowering!  Getting finances under control builds momentum in your life in other areas as well. 

Let’s Talk About Attitude

Another thing that can influence how we perceive and approach change is attitude.  The good news is that you get to choose your attitude, every minute of every day.

Good practice for divorce changes

When I was married, my husband had a job that asked us to move to another branch often.  The longest we were in a location was 5 years; in one 10-month period we moved 3 times.  We never knew how long we would be in one place (he could refuse a transfer, but it would hamper his career).  Rather than dread the thought of packing up, selling a house, finding a new house, finding a new job (for me), and making new friends in our community, we both chose to approach each major change as an adventure. This made all the difference in the world. Later when we were going through a divorce, I made the decision that this was the next chapter in my life and that good things were ahead for me, even if I couldn’t see them at the time.  This wasn’t some Pollyanna, rose-colored glasses view; there was a great deal of pain and at times, fear of the unknown.  I knew I could make it through the darkness, that it was temporary.  I also gathered a supportive circle of friends and family, took each new challenge one step at a time (selling our home, having to find a safe, affordable place of my own, reinventing a career as a corporate trainer and divorce coach, learning to cook for one, etc.).  Allowing myself to feel the grief and move through it also allowed me to recognize and celebrate the steps I was taking towards a new life.  This was not a terrible disaster; it was a chance to start over and find out who I was on my own.

Let’s talk about wind for just a minute.  Wind is air that is flowing from one pressure to another, and there are varying levels of force, depending on the difference between the current situation and the next one. The mustard example would be a light breeze, not really disturbing at all.  The continuous moving example could be a strong storm wind, some force behind it that could disrupt life for a while, but not seriously. 

Divorce, however, could be a category 4 hurricane, potentially dangerous and certainly disruptive to those in its path, but survivable with proper planning.  We regularly have to deal with the winds of change to varying degrees.  Sometimes there is a lull and life is calm.  We go about our business; things are predictable and comfortable.  Then the wind stirs.  It can be a refreshing breeze, or it can blow the patio furniture off the porch.  Again, attitude plays a major role in how we perceive and respond.  Maybe the change is a refreshing breeze, like trying the strawberry pie because they are out of the apple pie you always order at your local diner.  Maybe it has more force behind it, such as being informed that your in-laws will be staying with you for 2 weeks.  You can cringe and yell at your spouse for not discussing this with you, or you can find the grace to make up the spare room with crisp sheets, fluff the towels in the guest bathroom, and stock up on your favorite wine.  You may find that this momentum carries you through the next couple of weeks with more ease than if you resent your guests, which has its own momentum.  The choice is yours.

There will always be change in our lives - some changes are small and inconsequential.  Other changes really shake things up.  By planning for the changes that we know are going to happen, we can build momentum to handle them with more ease than if we are unprepared.  We can also choose to have an attitude to accept change with ease and either make the best of it or see if we can view it in a more positive light and build positive momentum that way.  Either struggle against the wind and wear yourself out or harness its power to move forward onto a new path. The choice is yours!

Get Support

A support group can alleviate that feeling of going through an unfair situation by yourself. We offer support groups for those dealing with divorce, and you can try out a free session with this link

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