As if divorce isn’t hard enough, think about divorce during quarantine. I’m talking about specifically living with your soon-to-be-ex (STBX); being locked down 24/7 with the person you absolutely cannot wait to get away from. Divorce during quarantine can be painful, frustrating and it might drive you in sane.
If you’re starting to feel like you’re going to blow a gasket while you’re in quarantine with your STBX, hang on! Here are some tips you can use right now to help you stay calm (and stay sane) until this quarantine is over.
Tips to Survive Divorce During Quarantine While You’re Living with Your STBX
1. Figure Out Your Priorities
Before you do anything else, take some time to figure out what really matters to you, and what doesn’t. While it may be tempting to assume that you already know what your priorities are, there’s nothing like a global pandemic to make you re-think what matters.
That’s why it’s important to sit down and think about what your priorities are right now. Is it to live with as little conflict as possible while you’re stuck living in the same house with your STBX? Is it to make sure your kids are healthy and stable during the quarantine? Is it to use this time to re-tool and refresh your skills so that you can get a better job once this crisis is over?
Whatever your top priorities are, focus on them. Let everything else go.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Contact Your Lawyer.
Just because the courts are mostly closed right now, that doesn’t mean that your lawyer’s not working. S/he may be working from home. But that doesn’t mean s/he won’t be available to answer your email or telephone call or that there is nothing the court can do about your situation right now.
If your ex is endangering you or doing something supremely stupid just because s/he thinks there’s nothing you can do about it right now, you need to take action immediately. Call your lawyer. Ask whether there is anything you can do right now to help your situation. The answer may be no. Or, it may be that there actually IS something you can do.
But you’ll never know unless you ask.
3. Pick Your Battles.
Divorce during quarantine and living in conflict is stressful. If you and your STBX are fighting all the time you’re both going to suffer more than you need right now. The same thing is true for your kids.
Use your priority list to determine whether whatever it is that you’re arguing about matters. If it does, fine. Go ahead and argue. But if not, consider letting it go. That might not feel right. It might not feel fair.
But not everything is worth fighting about – especially now.
4. Stay Safe.
Whenever people are isolated and stressed, domestic violence increases.
Sure, we’re all under quarantine. But that doesn’t mean that you have to risk your life or health to stay with someone who is abusing you. If you or your kids are in danger, call the domestic violence hotline. Contact a crisis shelter. Do whatever you need to do to keep you and your kids safe.
Being responsible in these times doesn’t mean that you have to stay locked in a house with someone who is abusing you.
5. Focus on What You CAN Control. (HINT: It’s NOT your STBX!)
The only person you can control is yourself. You can’t control this pandemic. You can’t control your STBX. And, unless your kids are infants, you probably can’t control them all that well either.
Struggling to control things you can’t control will only frustrate you. It will only increase your anxiety and make everyone around you even more miserable and stressed out.
Instead of doing that, focus on controlling yourself, and stop trying to control everyone else. (Btw, yes, that’s hard! But the more you find yourself struggling to hold on, the more you’ll know you need to let go.)
6. Make Your Own Space.
Everyone needs some space for themselves and some time alone, especially when it comes to divorce during quarantine.
Find a place in your home that you can claim for yourself. It may not be the most glamorous space. It may end up only being a closet! It doesn’t matter. Find some spot where you can feel good. Set it up in a way that makes you feel good. Then set a schedule for when you will be there. During that time – be there! Do your best not to allow others to interrupt you.
Having a small sanctuary away from everyone else can dramatically improve your attitude, outlook, and mental health.
7.Take Care of Yourself.
During this time of crisis and “too much togetherness” you may feel even more pressure to make sure everyone else is doing okay. That’s normal. But you have to remember that you count, too.
No matter how many people you have living with you, or what your situation is, you probably have time to take a warm bath for 30 minutes a day. Take some time to read, exercise, do yoga. Be careful about what you eat and drink and don’t overindulge. Taking care of yourself, and making sure you’re okay, is more important now than ever.
Remember if the plane is going down and you don’t put your own oxygen mask on first, you may not be able to help anyone else.
8. Take a Lot of Walks.
Fresh air is not only good for your soul, but it can be extremely helpful for your blood pressure as well. It’s an excellent coping mechanism.
No matter how much you may try to keep the peace with your STBX, there will probably be moments where one of you will just lose it! Everything will just get to be too much for you. Or one of your kids will have a melt down and that will send you into a tailspin.
Once you’ve stabilized the situation at home, taking a walk alone can help you calm down and shift your perspective.
9. Get Help If You Need It.
Almost every therapist I know right now is doing virtual counseling sessions. Many are working more hours now than they were before this crisis began.
If you feel like you’re about to explode, or you’re sinking into depression and despair, call a therapist! Help is available. If you need it, get it. There’s no reason to wait.
10. Find a Support Group.
Even though you may feel isolated right now, tens of thousands of people are going through a divorce and dealing with the coronavirus crisis right now. You’re not alone.
There are lots of virtual divorce support groups you could join right now. (The Divorced Girl Smiling Facebook Group would be an excellent place to start!)
Join a group. Start a conversation. Being in a community will give you support, confidence and strength.
Karen Covy is a divorce attorney, advisor, mediator and coach who is committed to helping couples resolve their disputes as amicably as possible. She is also the author of When Happily Ever After Ends: How to Survive Your Divorce Emotionally, Financially, and Legally. Karen has been featured on the Channel 7 News, WCIU You and Me This Morning, WGN Radio, MarketWatch, The Goodmen Project, and numerous other radio shows, publications, and podcasts. You can find her articles on The Huffington Post, Divorced Moms, Divorce Force, GUYVORCE, and Your Tango, as well as on her own website at karencovy.com.
Like this article? Check out, “Getting Divorced During Coronavirus?”