You can get through this.
Life after divorce for dads is tough for a multitude of reasons. There’s the grief, anger, hurt, loneliness, and sense of failure. There’s the financial burden of paying for your attorney, and maybe the cost of setting up a new household, spousal maintenance, and child support. And most importantly, life after divorce is tough because you have less time with your kids.
As dismal as all this sounds, by no means is life after divorce for dads a life sentence to this sad state of affairs. This is just where things start out. If you have the courage and will to make your life (and your kids’ lives) better, you can create an amazing life.
Step One: Heal
You must take care of yourself and heal from your divorce. You’ve got to deal with all the uncomfortable emotions that the end of your marriage has stirred up.
It’s only by looking directly at each emotion that engulfs you that you’ll be able to deal with it and put it in its appropriate place. If you don’t work through your feelings about your divorce, you’ll be doomed to carry them with you for the rest of your life. And that will color the rest of your life a gray shade of miserable.
Although you’ll be doing the heavy lifting on this work, that doesn’t mean you have to do it all on your own. There are plenty of people who would be glad to support you: your family, friends, spiritual leader, therapist, divorce coach.
The bonus here as far as life after divorce for dads goes is that as you heal, your kids will notice. And when they believe and see that you’re OK, they’ll be able to heal too.
It’s only after you’ve started regaining your emotional equilibrium that you’ll be able to effectively deal with the other huge challenges of your life instead of just going through the motions.
Step Two: Plan
Just like everything else after divorce, your financial status will change too. The combined income you and your children’s other parent shared is just not there anymore.
Now you’ve got to figure out how you will cover all your expenses, obligations and any debt on your own. And the only way to do this is with a plan and a budget.
Financial stress is difficult for everyone and the sooner you have a plan to overcome your financial stress, the more easily you’ll be able to be fully present when you’re with your kids.
There’s also no reason for you to work through all of this on your own either. Depending on your situation, some of the resources you can tap into include: websites to help you more fully understand all facets of finances, websites to help you budget, financial advisors, and, if you’re ready to ask for a raise, your boss.
Step Three: Parent
Parenting after divorce is different from parenting when you were married. When your children are with you, you’re it – the parent. There’s no tag-teaming like when you were married.
This means that whatever comes up, you’ve got to deal with it.
Parenting after divorce also means that you’re going to be interacting with your children’s other parent. If you’re co-parenting, you’ll be interacting a lot. If you’re parallel parenting, you won’t be interacting as much. And if you have sole custody, you’ll be interacting even less.
Regardless of how often you need to personally interact with your children’s other parent, your children will be thinking about them. So, despite being divorced, the other parent will be part of your life…for the rest of your life.
So you must figure out how to make the relationship with your ex as conflict-free as possible. When you do, you’ll be able to be the kind of dad you want to be. (As, yes this is possible, even if your ex is a bully or narcissist.)
And, you don’t have to figure this out on your own either. Some of the resources you can tap into here include family therapists, individual counselors, other single parents who successfully interact with their exes, and coaches.
When you begin making progress on all three steps, you’ll notice that things aren’t quite as bad as they were in the beginning of the whole divorce thing. And the more progress you make the better things will get.
The unvarnished truth is life after divorce for dads who had the courage to do the work of dealing with their emotions, finances and relationship with their children’s other parent is frickin’ great!
And when you get to the point where you’re loving your life again, you’ll look back and realize it was only possible because you got divorced.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. I help men navigate life after divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you want to learn more about working with me, you can schedule a 30-minute private consultation with me.