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How to Handle the Divorce "Shoulds"
By Susie and Otto Collins

Life can seem like a series of "shoulds."

You "should" eat at least 5 servings of vegetables a day.  You "should" study hard and get a higher education. You "should" listen to your elders.

And the list could go on and on...

When you are in the midst of a divorce, a series of
"shoulds" might also emerge. This often takes the form of well-meant advice from friends and family.

Sometimes the "shoulds" come not from advice, but from beliefs that have been instilled in you from an early age.

You "should" put your children's needs first. You
"should" put as much distance between you and your soon-to-be ex as possible.

You "should" look for diversions and start dating again. You "should" wait and give yourself time before getting back into the dating scene. And the
list does go on and on...

The trouble with all of these "shoulds" is that some of the advice and beliefs could truly be helpful to you. Other cautions and admonitions might not.

When you are already possibly feeling vulnerable, confused and at a loss for what your next step "should" be, the words of those you trust and care about can have a lot of power.

Those beliefs might even feel like the "best" thing to do from a moral or ethical standpoint.

It might seem, to you, that you truly "should" do these things in order to move through this divorce as easily as possible.

Our advice to you is to listen to the "shoulds" that might be thrown your way right now and DON'T act. Yes, we encourage you to consider what those around you are saying.

Your friends and family love you and often have your best interests at heart. Some of your friends and family also might have been through a divorce and could have information that you can learn from.

This doesn't, however, mean that you "should" do what they say just because it is imperative from their perspective.

Ask yourself what YOU need.
As you move through this potentially difficult time your life, it is really important that you listen to yourself.

As emotionally fragile as you might feel right now,
learning to trust your own knowing is vital-- even if it is not in alignment with a "should."

Perhaps you're not practiced at tuning in to your own needs. In fact, this might have contributed to the distance in past relationships.

If so, this is a great time to learn how to go within and listen to your needs and internal wisdom.

Let's say that you feel like you "should" move out of the house that you used to share with your ex.

Making a clean break with the past and getting out of the environment that will only remind you of your ended marriage just seems to you like what's done after a divorce.

This "should" might indeed be what you need right now.  But before you take steps to move, create some space for yourself, go within and see what you want to do right now.

Don't worry so much about whether you'll want to live in this same house for another year or another month. Just check in about where you need to be at this moment.

Give most of your attention to what you determine your needs to be right now.

Soften and consider all of your options.
You might already be chafing at all of the "shoulds" thrown your way in the form of advice or even your own expectations.

It may even be that you are so sick of "shoulds," you close down whenever any suggestion is offered.

This is understandable. If you find yourself in a hardened and closed place, try to soften.

In the face of unwanted advice, request that those close to you ask if you want a suggestion before they offer it.  When you do agree to listen to advice, really listen.

Know that you don't have to do anything-- but you might consider it and then find it to be valuable and helpful for you.

As in our example above, you might discover that you want to remain living in the same house you used to share with your ex-- at least for now.

Taking a deep breath, you can soften and really listen as a friend communicates his or her
concerns about you not moving.

You might even be able to appreciate this expression of love and care for your well-being-- rather than chafe about the person throwing "shoulds" at you.

From that place of appreciation and clarity about what you want, you can see that the decision is up to you to make.

You may share with your friend-- and affirm to yourself-- that you want to live in the house for at least another month and then see how you feel.

You might even tell the person that you can understand his or her concerns and you are grateful for the love and support.

As you consider your options, remember that you always have them. Your situation might feel severely limited at this time.

But, if you open up even just a little bit, you can almost always find a possibility that you didn't see

Approaching your situation from a softened and more open place can allow you to see options and then know more clearly which direction you want to go.







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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins
PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling 614-459-8121.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email

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