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Divorce can be one of the worst experiences in life. Just when you feel most vulnerable and afraid you have the added stress of financial upheaval, the loss of friends, and the sight of distressed children. More than at any other time, advice is absolutely crucial.

1) Take care of yourself. When gripped by the trauma and stress of divorce, many people neglect their physical health. But you will be of no use to your children if you allow your body to falter. You may complain that you do not have time to exercise or prepare healthy food, but you must make the time. If you eat plenty of fresh, healthy food and keep up your fitness regimen, your head will be clearer, you will make better decisions, and you will have the energy to fight.

2) Accept what has happened. As with the bereaved, the newly divorced often fight their situation. They know intellectually that the person has gone, but deep inside they resist. And this can apply even to those who initiated the separation. Of course, acceptance will be even more difficult if your partner left suddenly, without warning. But the fact is, you will not begin to heal until you have fully grasped the reality of your situation.

3) Face up to change. Those who have never been through a divorce often underestimate the profound changes involved. And the loss of a partner is only the start. To begin with, your identity has altered from “married” to “separated”. This means you are viewed and even treated differently. Old friends often fade out of your life or disappear completely. If you left your partner, for example, your friends may blame you for the rift. But even if it was not your fault, you may still find things change. It is a sad fact, but couples feel most comfortable with other couples and will often distance themselves from divorced friends. And you may lose contact with your partner’s family. Your routine will also change, as will your income, and maybe even your address. These must all be faced up to if progress is to be made.

4) Reach out to people. Even if you do not feel like it, you must reach out to people. When married, people often cease to cultivate new friendships. But the right person at the right time can transform your life. Join every club that interests you. And try to make those clubs as diverse as possible. In other words, do not just join sports clubs: go to a sports club on a Monday, an astronomy club on a Tuesday, and so on. That way, you will meet a greater variety of people.

5) Do not resist growth. Change alone is constant, as a Greek philosopher once said. You may not have wished this, but it has happened. Sometimes a separation can be healed, but things rarely go back to the way they were. You have two choices: you can either dig in your heals and stagnate, or you can begin the painful process of growth. Years from now you may even look back on your divorce as the best thing to ever have happened. Do all you can to assist this growth. Be brave. If you are childless, why not backpack around India? Maybe you could write that novel you always planned? Perhaps you could radically change your career. How about exploring that vague interest you always had in Buddhism or Jungian therapy?

Whatever the circumstances, divorce is a challenging experience. Above all, avoid self-pity. Like any trauma, divorce must be faced with courage and determination. Keep fighting, and never lose faith that you will be happy once again.

If you have any questions concerning New Jersey divorce law, call Peter Van Aulen at (201) 845-7400 for a free initial consultation.


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