Valentine’s Day and divorce

Valentines Day and divorce – ouch! Perhaps a thorny subject for you today, never mind the lack of  roses? Whether Valentine’s Day meant a lot to you in your relationship or not, perhaps it hurts just a little bit more this year if you are single for the first time in a  long while. Just like Christmas, Birthdays and any other ‘important’ date on the calendar, today is just another day. So how do you get through Valentine’s Day if you are struggling with grief and loss at the end of your marriage?

Take some time out to reflect

Perhaps you’re in the office today and your co-workers are receiving flower deliveries to their desks. Were you once that lucky lady that others once secretly envied? Perhaps your former husband always forgot Valentine’s Day.  Taking some time to reflect on the reality of your past is important. It keeps us grounded. If the truth is, you don’t really believe in Valentines Day or you and your husband never made a ‘thing’ of it, you can relax knowing that today  really is just another day.

If you and your former husband did make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day, then today may be particularly hard for you. Reflect on those past events and enjoy the memories that you have. They are still valid and the fact that you are now divorcing doesn’t mean that those memories need to be trashed. Things change, people change. You can honour the past, smile and grieve for the love that you no longer have.

Take care of yourself

It’s easy to equate our self-worth with how much we feel loved by another person. It’s easy to throw a pity party and feel alone because the Postman didn’t drop a red envelope through our door. Th truth is however, our self-worth isn’t defined by the Postman, but the decisions you make about yourself.

Sometimes we feel bad about ourselves because we’ve been in an emotionally abusive relationship and our self confidence is on the floor. We have been so downtrodden that we forget who we are and the value we offer the world. Sometimes that abuse is blatant, but often it’s subtle and other times it’s an unintended consequence of our husband’s behaviour. Insecure people often use control of others to make themselves feel safe. This can happen in situations where one partner likes to be organised and plans every aspect of life down to a tee. Surprises and spontaneity are not their thing. For those around them, this can feel stifling and controlling. It means that it’s easy to lose your own identity as you become micro-managed. Feel familiar? Separation brings relief on the one-hand, but also massive uncertainty. It can be a confusing time.

When a controlling relation ends, its often difficult to know what to do with yourself. You have freedom of thought and decision for the first time in a long time. Perhaps you believe that you are incompetent or undesirable because you’ve received that message explicitly, covertly or as an unintended consequence. Now you need to take care of yourself more than ever.

Taking care of yourself means doing those things that serve you and make you feel good just because you enjoy them. It means prioritising your emotional needs (yes you can do this even if you have children – in fact, it’s a must)! Could you buy yourself some flowers? Would you? If you don’t have the funds for today’s prices, they will be on sale tomorrow! If you wouldn’t, why not? You can choose to treat yourself in whichever way you choose.

Let others support you

Have you heard about #GalentinesDay? Ok so it’s quite the Twitter hashtag for 13th February where girlfriends celebrate their friendship but your girlfriend’s are there for you 247/365 and you do know this, so if you need a chat with one of them today, reach out and ask – they’ll be more than happy to drink coffee or wine with you. Admitting that you need support is a strength, not a weakness, whatever your former husband might have encouraged you to believe.

Don’t make any divorce decisions today

Upset, anger, frustration and sadness are not the emotions that will best serve you to make divorce decisions. Remember  the consequences of the  decisions you make in your divorce may last a lifetime and a lifetime is a long time! If you are angry and want to lash out, go to the gym or talk to a friend. Today is not the day to make decisions if you’re not in a good state.

If you woke up this morning to find out that your husband bought Valentines gifts for someone else or he asked you for a divorce, still do nothing. As painful as that is, doing nothing today is the right thing and you’ll be proud of yourself later. If you woke up this morning determined that you are going to move forward with divorce yourself, good for you! Still, do nothing. Do you really need to tell your husband today? Really? Will you feel good knowing that he’ll remember that forever? Perhaps today you will and maybe next year too – but long term? I doubt it. If you’ve sat with that decision this long, you can sit with it a bit longer.

Recognising when you need professional support

Sometimes we think we are coping when we’re not. Sometimes we get triggered by something so outside our conscious awareness that we fall apart. If that day has come for you, for whatever reason, seek the support you need. Your GP is a good starting point. They will be able to assess and refer you as appropriate. You can search online if you’re experiencing abuse from organisations such as Women’s Aid (be sure to press the ‘cover my tracks’ button on exiting the site).

If you’re confused about whether you want to divorce, then this blog post I wrote will help you Should I Stay or Should I Go in it, I share with you how to make a good decision about leaving your marriage. There’s also a link to a webinar to watch too! 

Getting the right support at the right time will make a huge difference to you. Will you need a solicitor? Probably yes – but a solicitor is not the first person you should get support from at this time. You need to take care of your emotional well-being first. By doing this, you’re able to give a solicitor and any other professionals you may need confident instructions that are not ruled by your emotional response to your situation.

So, whatever you’re doing today, have a good day and remember that your self-worth is decided by you, not the post man.

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