When I was freshly separated I was under terrible stress and in extreme emotional pain. My days were consumed with anger and sadness and I remember wondering if anything could be worse than going through a divorce. According to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, death of a spouse tops out as the most stressful known event and this is followed by divorce. However reading further, one can develop a stress score by adding up all the events that have happened to a person within the year. If you are getting divorced or have recently divorced then you can add up the following scores:
Divorce – 73
Separation – 65
Change in financial state – 38
Change to different line of work (often comes with divorce) – 36
Trouble with in-laws – 29
Change in living conditions – 25
Change in social activities – 18
Change in sleeping habits – 16
And I could go on as many other stressors seem to come with divorce. By now, your total stress score is up to 300. You are at risk of illness. Wow – I’ve never added it up before, but that score speaks volumes.
As everyone told me, eventually I would get through it and life would get better and they were right. I did get through it and life is way better but it took considerable time for things to get better. I spent a good two to three years living with above average stress. Being a mom, I passed this stress along to my kids and I know that their dad also was in stress and did the same thing. This is not a good situation for anyone.
How could it be better?
This is something I’ve been trying to figure out.
One of my first ideas was that it should be a lot harder to get married and perhaps marriage should just be banned. Yeah – that’s not going to happen. I decided I didn’t want to go around being the dream killer. Now when people tell me that they are getting married, I just smile and say “congratulations.”
So instead I decided to be part of the movement to help people divorce better. Maybe if more and more people start divorcing better, the stressors associated with divorce will start to go down.
How can you divorce better?
Do what it takes to learn how to do conflict the right way. Doing conflict the wrong way is likely what got you to divorce and continuing to do conflict the wrong way is what makes divorce so stressful.
This is not a quick fix. After all, we have spent our entire lives learning how to do conflict our own way and we aren’t suddenly going to change just by deciding to change. It takes work and practice.
You will likely have to find a support system that is going to help you do conflict the right way. Don’t hire pitbull lawyers that love the court system and war. Hire people that will support both you and your ex as you figure out your more positive future now that you have decided to part ways. Hire people that are going to support you as you implement new tools in your life that allow you to thrive.
Spend your divorce dollars and energy wisely. Don’t spend your dollars on the type of support that is not going to help you move to a more positive life. Spend your time and energy on figuring out ways to live your life with hope.