No matter what time of the year it happens, divorce is unpleasant. But those dealing with a divorce around Valentine’s Day can find the romantic imagery of hearts, flowers, candy, the focus on love and couples, and the hoopla of the holiday particularly painful and isolating.
While going through a divorce and the heartache of a fresh divorce is not always so wonderful, being divorced can be an incredible time for growth and fun. And Valentine’s Day can be the perfect way to transform oneself and start a new life that is full of possibilities, successful relationships and positive experiences.
Connecticut Collaborative Divorce Group (CCDG) is a Hartford-based group of professionals that aims to keep divorcing couples and their children out of court using a method of family conflict resolution called Collaborative Divorce, which uses a collaborative team made up of a lawyer, a financial expert and a mental health specialist.
CCDG divorce attorney Susan Busby, financial professional Brenda Larkin and clinical psychologist Elaine Ducharme, Ph.D., collaborated on list of Valentine’s Day survival tips for people who have just gone through or are going through a divorce:
- Treat yourself. If you are in a relationship or not, do not wait for someone else to give you a gift. You know better than anyone else what you like. Flowers beautify and uplift any environment, so buy flowers for yourself on Valentine’s Day (and at least once a month additionally). Go to a spa, have a massage, or buy yourself something else that you enjoy. Everyone deserves a little pampering, and you know exactly what you like — so the gift will always be perfect and fit just right.
- Throw yourself a party. February is in the middle of winter — often gray, overcast, dreary, and cold. It is a great month to plan a party, which will also take your mind off the focus on the couple-centered holiday in the middle of it. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be centered around couples. If you have children, you can have a party for children and adults with lots of pink sweets on a weekend. Or you can have an adults-only party to beat the February blues. Whether you host a party at home or organize an outing, you can make this an annual, alternative, festive event for friends who may also feel left out of Valentine’s Day.
- Take charge of your choices. Although getting divorced can be very painful, it is also a great opportunity to take charge of your life and decide what happens next. That can be incredibly powerful and help you move from a sense of victimization to actually thriving in your life. Taking charge of small things like how the furniture is arranged in your home, what time you eat your meals and what TV show you watch can bring enormous satisfaction when you don’t have to try to please someone else.
- Be kind to yourself. Valentine’s Day can provide an to treat yourself with the love and kindness you would bestow upon a dear friend. Surround yourself with positive energy and people who bring you joy. It is amazing how much more lonely you can feel when you are in a bad relationship than when you are actually alone.
- Give yourself a financial checkup. While not necessarily romantic, it’s an important and powerful step to develop a financial plan to provide you with a realistic picture of your current income and currentexpenses. This will help you develop a budget and provide a guideline to staying on track and living within your means. A financial plan will also give insight as to what your financial future may look like, this may inspire you to set future financial goals and aid you in developing a strategy to achieve your goals.
- Update post-divorce documents. Focus on your future and best interests and update beneficiary info on documents such as life insurance, will, trusts, POA’s, health care directives, retirement accounts, investment accounts, and transfer on death accounts like your brokerage or savings accounts. But take note: Prior to making changes, review your divorce decree or consult with your attorney to confirm that there are no restrictions on changing beneficiaries.
Unlike a litigated divorce, Collaborative Divorce focuses on the needs of the couple, not the court process. Couples work with a skilled and caring team of professionals to arrive at solutions that benefit everyone in all areas of separation legal, financial, and emotional. It also gives couples more control over the outcome of their separation, takes the entire family into account, and is often less expensive than a litigated divorce.
To learn more about the collaborative divorce process, visit www.ctcollaborativedivorce.com. CCDG members are available for in-person and telephone interviews.