How To Reduce Divorce Stress
- Maintain friendships. Friends tend to owe greater allegiance to one partner than the other. Everyone hopes friends will continue to be friends of both, but it doesn't often happen. The divorcing pair should decide how friends are likely to divide and do their best to see that there is a semblance of equality in the division.
- As soon as possible, start making new friends. You could join singles' clubs and organizations that cater for the divorced, but it's far better to join clubs that cater for your interests, whatever they might be: political, musical, literary, sporting, community-based, etc. Divorced people may have too much in common. It is good to learn someone else has experienced the same problems, but your new life should be based on different expectations.
- Make sure there is structure to your day. Don't just lie in bed; get up, prepare breakfast and find new interests.
- Dress as carefully as you did before.
- Always be polite - however much you're tempted otherwise - about your vanished partner to your children.
- Never be rude about your former partner's new boy-friends, girlfriends or children.
- Don't use your children in a complicated game of chess. Like pawns, they can be easily sacrificed forever.
- Make certain that your surroundings as well as your personal appearance are maintained.
When women leave men, the likelihood - no more than that - of a good post-divorce relationship is greater. When a man leaves a woman, post-divorce friendship is rare. If either the man or the woman later has a new partner, or even if they had another partner while still married, don't be inquisitive about it or object. Accept it. Understand that divorce, even if it was at your instigation, represents a bereavement, for there's always an associated loss. It is accompanied by both anger and a sense of failure. It may be necessary to move. Whether you care recreate your earlier environment or continue with the old one is up to you. Don't let anyone try to influence you. This is your house - not your parents', and not your former partner's.
When your social life recovers and other partners are in the offing, it is worth considering what it is that makes for a successful relationship. People writing a generation ago devised rules for reducing the stress of marriage or long-term partnerships. Their rules are no longer directly translatable into modern life, but they can be paraphrased and enlarged upon so that they fit twenty-first-century circumstances.
The main principle applies equally today. It is that opposites may get on very well at parties, they may have terrific affairs, but they don't make the best long-term partnerships. A sound marriage is not one in which two people, however compatible in bed, are fighting like a couple of Rottweilers for the rest of the time. Rather it is one in which both parties feel totally comfortable with each other. Their relationship is without stress. The number of patients is legion who have said to me that, as much as they are attracted to somebody else, they could never leave their husband or wife because they feel so at ease with them. Where there is tension, there is stress.
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