The end of a marriage isn’t likely to be a pleasant experience for anyone, regardless of the reasons. Whether or not you wanted to split up with your partner, your world is never going to be quite the same again. It is therefore only natural for you to go through a lot of stress as well as emotional turmoil, even if the separation was something you actually initiated.Many people seek help from their family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time. Some even approach professionals because they require support in coping with their emotions. The process for getting over the whole experience is bound to be different for every single individual.
Dealing with a broken relationship as an expat can be easier in certain ways and more difficult in others. Many people actually prefer to move to a completely new place after a divorce so that they can start afresh, without any memories or their ex-spouses. The whole experience of settling down in a different city or country acts as a distraction and helps them in dealing with the pain that they are going through. Others feel the opposite, and need the comfort of their home, family, friends and surroundings to cope with the split.
Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for expats to go through bouts of depression after the end of their marriage. This mainly happens when a person bottles up their emotions for a long period of time. They believe that they have no one to share their feelings with, as they are living in a different country. In some cases, people stay silently distressed for years.
Do remember that there is no fixed procedure or time frame for getting over a separation; everyone goes through different phases and it is perfectly natural for a person to move on at their own pace. What may work for one individual will not necessarily help another. Given below are a few helpful tips for dealing with divorce as an expat.
Sort out your finances
One of the biggest implications of a legal separation is getting the finances in place. This aspect affects both spouses. Whether you are entitled to receive alimony, or obligated to pay it, you should have some clarity on how much you are likely to make, spend and save each month. Several newly-divorced individuals find themselves working two jobs just to support themselves and their families, mainly due to lack of foresight.
List all your expenses every month and compare it against the various sources of income you have. Make sure that you factor in all the amounts you will need to rebuild your life on your own. This will give you some perspective during your alimony discussions. If you are planning to take up a new job offer in the same or different country, negotiate your package accordingly.
Allow yourself to feel conflicting emotions
No matter how much time you spent with your spouse before deciding to part ways, it is normal for you to experience some amount of confusion, shock, grief and anxiety. Do bear in mind that all the feelings will reduce with time.
On the other hand, there is absolutely nothing wrong if you are actually relieved or even glad that things are over between the two of you. In fact, many people feel happy that they can finally move on. You may also be sorry about leaving your partner but determined to make a complete break. You must neither suppress your emotions nor should you feel guilty just because you aren’t devastated.
Give yourself a break
In spite of our best resolve, many of us do not function at our optimal level when we are going through a difficult phase. It is only natural for you to give less than 100% at work or other tasks for a certain period of time. Don’t be too hard on yourself or let this minor setback get you down. Understand that it is temporary and you will be back on track, if not better, once you have had the time to recuperate and get yourself re-energized. Some people also take time away from work or their daily routine and return only once they feel better.
Express how you feel
There is a reason therapists make so much money. Research has shown that people actually feel much better emotionally after talking about things that are bothering them.
It might not be necessary for you to consult a professional in order to rid yourself of negativity. Confiding in a family member or a close friend can have the same impact on your emotional state.
Those who have trouble talking about their feelings are usually advised to write about them. You can write letters and emails (that you don’t need to send) or maintain a personal diary. Alternately, you could also write an online blog and help others who are in a similar situation. Many individuals also express their feelings in the form of song, poetry, painting, drawing, and so on.
Set milestones for yourself
Almost no one recovers from a divorce overnight! Several people spend months in depression, or even worse, in denial, hoping to work things out with their partners.
If you go through a similar situation, try to make it through one day at a time. At times, you may feel lower or get more tempted than usual so be prepared to deal with such incidents. Plan your day and keep yourself busy so that you don’t have the time or inclination to brood or get in touch with your ex spouse, unless it is absolutely necessary. This is where a strong support system will really help.
Some days are bound to be more difficult than others. Make it a point to start afresh even if you do happen to fall off the wagon once or twice. Try to reward yourself every time you make it through a particularly challenging patch.
Maintain focus on your end goal
The end of a marriage definitely does not mean that it is the end of a person’s life. It is essential that you move on and get back on your feet again. While you need not rush to get things back to normal, make sure that you don’t lose sight of your objective, which is to build a good life for yourself once again. You really should not let the past bog you down beyond a point. Make long-term plans for your future and work towards achieving them.
Embrace interconnectivity and globalization
The world has become a much smaller place thanks to technology. It is now possible for you to stay in constant touch with people across the globe, without mounting up a huge telephone bill. You could seek the support you need from your family and friends back home, in spite of living in a foreign country. There are numerous social, chatting and video call applications that can help you feel much closer to your loved ones.
If you prefer personal interaction, take advantage of low-budget international flights, which have made traveling more affordable. After a split up, some people take a trip across different countries on their own to reflect on their lives, before settling back into their usual routines.
Develop a new interest
Being on your own once again will give you the chance to pursue a hobby that you probably didn’t have time for earlier. You could catch up on your favorite pastimes like reading, writing, cooking, painting, music, etc. What would be even better is for you to use this as an opportunity for self-development, by learning a new language or art. Exploring your surroundings and city on your own is another unique experience in itself.
Prepare a list of all the things you’ve wanted to do for a while and make it a point to tick at least one item each week. Alternately, choose one activity from the list and pursue it thoroughly. Get a buddy to join certain classes with you, just so that you don’t lose interest or motivation.
Spend time with your friends
No man is an island! Everyone needs at least one good pal to support them and guide them through their difficult times. Make it a point to reach out to your close buddies when you feel particularly low. They will be the “constant” that you need amidst all the changes your life is going through. The advice that you get from them will be specific to you, your nature and your situation.
While it is a good idea to enjoy the comfort of your old friends, you should also try to meet new people. Connecting with complete strangers online or through social apps isn’t necessarily a good idea. Instead, join a support group, a fitness center or a class, which will give you the opportunity to interact with new people. You could also make an attempt to hang out with colleagues outside of work.
Be comfortable with your own company
Several divorced people do happen to find love again, but that is likely to take some time. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is rushing from one relationship to another. At times, a newly separated person hooks up with someone just to avoid the loneliness. This is bound to cause you more pain and grief in the long run. Moreover, while good friends will do their best to help you through this period, they cannot be with you 24/7.
It is therefore essential that you learn to be comfortable with your own company. Being alone doesn’t necessarily mean bring loneliness. Each time you find yourself brooding, look for an interesting distraction, like taking a walk or trying out a new recipe.
Some people adopt new pets in order to refocus their need to love and nurture, and to take away some of the loneliness they feel.
Get involved in some charity work
Helping those who are not as fortunate as you can be a highly rewarding experience in many ways. Moreover, charity doesn’t always have to do with money. A number of expats get involved in some kind of volunteer work to utilize their spare time meaningfully. This step won’t only help you feel great, it will also give you the chance to connect with like-minded people.
If you are interested, you could spend your time helping out people in orphanages or old age homes. Many places require volunteers who can teach young children for a couple of hours once or twice a week. Check with a school close to you about getting involved in volunteer work.
Look for healthy ways to feel good and stay fit
When it comes to coping with grief, many individuals have the tendency to seek comfort from unhealthy substances, such as alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, desserts or junk food. These things may help you feel better for a short period of time but are bound to have an adverse effect on your health in the long run.
It is therefore a better idea to take up fitness instead. Replace all the high calorie snacks, cookies and ice cream in your kitchen with fresh fruits and vegetables as well as other healthy options. If possible, join a gym or a fitness center, so that you spend at least an hour or two working out. Alternately, make it a point to go jogging, swimming or cycling on a regular basis.
Being healthy and in shape won’t just make you look good; you are bound to feel more confident about yourself once you start working out and eating right on a regular basis. Exercising is also known to help people stay happy and positive.
It will be impossible for you to move on as long as you blame yourself or your ex spouse for the end of your relationship. Instead, make a conscious effort to forgive yourself and your partner, so that you can be free of all the negativity that will almost inevitably dominate the early days of any divorce.
Lastly, remember that divorce laws vary from one country to another, and it is therefore important to consult a lawyer or a professional if you are planning to file for one as a foreigner.