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Divorce in the Time of Corona

By Lisa Brick

Honestly, it’s challenging to think now. I don’t know what will happen to my family, friends, and community despite our precautions, how long I can last without an income, or what a recovery will even look like when the dust of this global pandemic settles. Since my children are adults living elsewhere I can’t predict if or when I’ll be able to be with them again.  And these are simply my personal circumstances. We, billions of individuals around the globe, are each having our unique and collective circumstances.   

Add the additional stresses of home schooling young children, isolation or enforced togetherness, cooking and cleaning at an entirely different level, working from home for those whose places of employment remain functional, and limited access to space and it is s understandable how many of us are having challenges thinking clearly. Add this is all without the stressors of divorce.  

The Corona crisis is also having a significant impact on those divorcing or newly divorced. For many the Corona crisis has led to divorce stall. In many places the divorce infrastructure, law offices, financial consultants, child advocates, courts, etc. have needed to limit their hours and the types of cases they work on. There is a high probability of additional geographical areas joining the slowdown as it becomes evident that social distancing, for at least some period of time, is warranted to slow the number of people who will contract the virus from a short period to a more prolonged period. This will allow more of those whose lives will be threatened by this infection to get the care they will be needing.  

With the divorce process in stall many find themselves stuck for an indeterminate amount of time living under the same roof with their incompatible and in some cases abusive not-as-soon-as-you-want-them-to-be-ex’s, unable to move on or out.  And this is with everyone in the household, except the youngest children, feeling insecure about EVERYTHING, not just egos, custody schedules, and finances. And for those who don’t feel this way but are married to someone who does, or vice versa, it may be even more challenging! 

What to do? How to address this, just a month or so back, unimaginable scenario?   

I’ve asked multiple people how they are coping. There is not a one size fits all answer. Here are some coping strategies that are helping to soften divorce in the time of Corona that have been shared:

Take care of yourself:

  • If circumstances allow, get outside whenever the weather permits, even if it’s limited to going to the roof of your building.  Once there, look around. Breathe deeply. Feel gratitude that you are breathing easily. Know that by allowing yourself a short period of direct sunshine on your skin a few times a week you’re supporting your lungs, your heart, and your bones.  The vitamin D your body makes from sun exposure helps your bones to stay strong and resilient.
     
  • Exercise 1/2 hour every day at whatever level you can. Working your heart and your lungs increases mental and physical capacity to withstand stress. It also  supports your immune system. 

  • Reach out to the people with whom you regularly feel better when you get off the phone/computer.  As for the others, reach out as infrequently as possible. 

  • Take responsibility for your garbage, be it physical or mental, and dispose of it in an appropriate manner.  Another way of saying this is to be responsible for managing what you do and say no matter how others around you are acting. Having one person being aware and responsible can be positively infectious.  

  • Appreciate every single silver lining in this unfolding catastrophe. What is happening worldwide is causing great and sudden damage and suffering. Now is time to be aware of and grateful for the little things we take for granted during our normally more hectic and differently challenging lives.  

  • Give up on self and other criticism. This is a luxury that is unaffordable during crises! Work with what you have the best you can. Conserve your energy for when the world opens up again.
      
  • Hold on to love, give up on attachment. You have what you have today. Appreciate it now, while you have it.  

Take care of business:

  • Speak with your attorney to:

    • find out what he/she thinks you can accomplish towards divorce during this crisis rather than making assumptions about what can or can’t happen.  

    • Ask if he/she would consider a fee reduction during this unsettled period IF you feel it is necessary so you can both continue moving forward.  

  • Have a plan for each day that includes what’s important for YOU to accomplish. Be realistic.  Include both practical AND pleasurable pursuits. Fit in reading, playing or listening to music, watching a favorite movie, etc., whatever brings you a sense of peace.  Prioritize the items on your list of “to do’s”. PLAN on rolling over what you haven’t completed one day to the next. Celebrate however much you accomplish. Lists are to keep you focused, not to ensure everything is accomplished every day.  

Since there are so many additional stressors during this time here are five (5) tips I’ve shared before on how to back up from that ledge of anxiety and the feelings of helplessness that go along with it to a more comfortable and solid  place: 

  1. Honor your fears by acknowledging them. You are looking into the unknown and the unknown is not what the human brain is comfortable with. When you begin acknowledging fear and label it for what it is, it loses its power. 

  2. Keep returning your focus from the past or the future to the present moment.  This is a time of legitimate fear and insecurity, much of which we have zero control over. There are aspects of your life that you do have control over though: YOUR attitude, YOUR responses, and YOUR actions. All three  occur in the present moment. Slip into recollections of the past or projections around the future and you surrender your power.  

  3. Identify what simple, achievable steps you can do now, today, that will improve your situation.  It can be as simple as putting up a wash so you and the kids have clean clothing, making sure you eat a healthy breakfast, filing for unemployment, ordering a puzzle or two to do with your kids, start herbs from seed for the windowsill, etc.  

  4. Get in the habit of breaking down complex tasks into simple achievable steps and do them one step at a time.  This way even the most complex tasks are eventually accomplished.  

  5. Keep your focus on YOU, who YOU are being and what YOU are doing.  You are the foundation of your life, no one else. Imagine what you can build with a solid, grounded foundation.  

While it may not feel like it YOU CAN AND WILL find your way to being stronger, clearer, and freer by starting now, under these exact circumstances. 

Viruses are contagious. So is panic, fear, hysteria, calm, love, enthusiasm, kindness, and joy. Choose wisely. To a great extent the quality of your life depends on your choices.  G-d bless.

To get support in choosing wisely reach out to us for a complementary Lifeline Coaching Session.  We are here to support you.

 

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