If your spouse told you that they want a divorce, it’s natural to be in shock, even if you don’t realize it. Maybe you haven’t had a happy marriage for a long time, but hearing your spouse say the word and learning that they’ll be taking legal steps (or already have) can be a jolt.
It’s important to remember that they’re ahead of you on this path. They may already have legal representation and a clear idea of what they want in the divorce. You still need some time to deal with anger, grief and other emotions. That means you shouldn’t start negotiating with your spouse just yet – even if they want to.
What should – and shouldn’t – you do in the early days?
It is wise to seek legal guidance as soon as possible. This can help you focus on the practical things you need to do to protect yourself and prepare for the upcoming months. This includes getting financial and tax records in order, ensuring that your bank accounts and credit cards aren’t being abused and, if you have children, working with your spouse to determine when and how to tell them together.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Keep your routine as normal as possible, which means eating, sleeping and getting exercise – even if you don’t feel like it. Having a drink or two is fine, if you drink. Drinking until you pass out isn’t going to help – and could be used against you if you end up battling over who’s the better parent.
While it’s natural that you’ll want to talk to those close to you about this, try to limit the people you tell to your therapist, if you have one, and just one or two close family members and friends. The more people you share the news with, the more advice you can expect to get. A lot of it won’t be sound advice – or at least it won’t apply to your situation.
Every divorce process starts out differently. However, it’s crucial to remember that it is a legal process, so getting sound advice and focusing on what’s best for you and your children is key.