We love our friends and family and lean on them for emotional support in our lives. In turn, we reciprocate for them. But during a divorce, it may be that we no longer can depend on some of these relationships. They may feel compromised, changed, or just not what we need, given all that’s happening to us. It’s common for me to hear in my office, from both men and women going through a divorce, that they don’t want to burden people in their life, and in fact, many of their relationships are now strained due to the situation.
A field of study, in the psycho-social sciences, examines how we regulate our moods/emotions by using different people and relationships in our life, referred to as “emotionships”. The friend we look to celebrate a positive event may not be the person we lean on to grieve a loss. We’ve cultivated key relationships so we know whom to turn to for what, and we consciously or unconsciously manage our emotional well being through them.
Lean on the Right People
This is important to remember in divorce. We need emotional and spiritual help during this time. The people we need could already be in our circle of relationships, but importantly, we may need to seek out new ones. Divorce can feel lonely and isolating, so identifying new support groups or individuals, to take on the emotionship role of a non-judgmental helper, are the relationships we need to cultivate. We shouldn’t expect each person to help regulate all our emotions, but understanding where to turn is healthy and necessary.
In the same way, we may need professional “emotionships”, such as a financial planner, an attorney, an accountant, to objectively point the way for us as we navigate money, housing plans, and unfamiliar legal terrain. When your world feels as though it’s imploding in divorce, using an expert can alleviate the fear of the unknown and assure you that someone has your back, so you can begin to exhale. Imagining a better future for yourself, with a clear roadmap and the appropriate support of professionals, may be the best favor you can do for yourself.
Divorce can be a lonely process. Reach out. Feel supported by the good relationships in your life, and find new ones to fill in the gaps.