Going through a divorce can cause a rollercoaster of emotions. Even if it was amicable, it is still a major life change, and it is okay to grieve that loss. If it was a tumultuous experience, those emotions can be even more extreme, affecting nearly every aspect of your life – including your career.
It is not uncommon to start to feel like your personal life is affecting your work life after going through a divorce. Things change, and you might be more distracted than usual, or worried about your finances if you relied on a second income from your former spouse.
So, what can you do? How can you navigate normalcy post-divorce in the workplace and learn to move forward with the next chapter of your life?
Determining Your Financial Needs
In many cases, married couples rely on two household incomes to make things work. After getting a divorce, you’ll be down to one income but may have some of the same monthly expenses. That can be a difficult thing to deal with, especially when you have kids.
Plus, let’s face it – going through a divorce can be expensive. You might have to deal with things like
- Asset and property division
Traditionally, women face more unique financial challenges than men – and more financial stress. A lot of this has to do with the workplace, including lower salaries.
So, what can you do if you’re trying to cover your costs on a single income? In addition to working with a financial advisor, consider talking to your employer about your needs.
You don’t necessarily have to bring up your divorce, but there might be a promotion you deserve, a pay raise you haven’t received in too long, or even extra work you could be taking on to bring home more income.
It is also important to know what to expect throughout the divorce process by working with experienced legal representation. A qualified lawyer will be able to give you a ballpark figure concerning the cost of your divorce, so can prepare for the financial barriers to divorce you may face and handle them accordingly.
Once you address your current financial situation, you can start budgeting accordingly. When creating your budget, it is important to calculate your current income and divide it into the following sections:
- Account for living and other necessary expenses: These are all expenses that are necessary to survive and live. This should include any living expenses like rent or mortgage payments, grocery store expenses, and any other necessary monthly payments like student loans or auto loan payments.
- Leave up to 10 per cent of your income towards savings: Whether you are establishing an emergency fund or creating a savings account for you to rely on on a rainy day, you should always dedicate 10 per cent towards some kind of savings.
- Allocate the rest of your budget for “wants”: Whether it is a monthly subscription to Netflix or a bigger purchase, anything you don’t necessarily need but want can fit into this category. If you experience a particularly hard month, this fund can fluctuate to counter any other funds.
Once you’ve divided your budget into these sections, you should regularly check in to see how you did every month or bi-monthly. If you find yourself overspending, you might have to go back to the drawing board.
With a budget in mind, you’ll be less stressed during your work day. Instead, you’ll have a budget you can look back and rely on as you go through your divorce.
Setting Healthy Boundaries
You might work in a small office where you are extremely close with co-workers and everyone knows a lot about each other’s lives. Or, you might work in a bigger space where you keep to yourself or have one or two work friends. Whatever the case, it is important to set healthy boundaries in your work environment so you can keep your work life and professional life as separate as possible.
First, decide how you want to discuss things with co-workers. You are in no way obligated to discuss your divorce at work. If there are some people you want to tell, that’s fine, but be aware that rumours can spread quickly in an office setting. Make sure your personal boundaries include certain details you might want to leave out.
It is also a good idea to talk to your employer(s). Again, you don’t have to share the details of what happened. However, it is important for them to know if you need things like extra time off, a different financial arrangement, or more flexibility. If you have kids at home, it might be a good time to discuss a different schedule or the possibility of working remotely.
It can be easy to get distracted at work when you are dealing with the personal aftermath of a divorce, so don’t be afraid to express your needs.
Most importantly, leave work at work. You have enough on your plate right now, and you don’t need extra workplace stress weighing you down or making you feel like you can’t focus on taking care of your physical or emotional needs.
Taking Care of Yourself During Post-Divorce
Speaking of taking care of yourself, being empathetic, and showing self-love during post-divorce is essential. If you don’t take the time to prioritize your well-being, you could damage both your personal and professional life, putting yourself at risk for things like:
The divorce process isn’t necessarily over after you’ve stepped out of a courtroom or put your signature on a piece of paper. You might have to navigate things like moving out of your marital home or adjusting your schedule with your children.
It is okay to ask for some time off work to deal with those personal issues and simply to take time to relax. However, your self-care practices shouldn’t stop once you head back to work.
Find ways to reduce your stress levels each day — before, during, and after work — so you can achieve a greater work-life balance in this new chapter. Things like exercising, cooking healthy meals, journaling, and meditation are all great options for taking care of yourself and prioritizing self-love.
Expand Your Support Network
Although you may already have a support network filled with friends and family, you can also build a support network at work as you go through your divorce. This way, you can have a support system that may be less biased in your home situation.
To make more friends at work here are some tips:
- Become involved in your company’s culture: Whether you start a new club or start participating in one, this is a great way to meet people with common interests.
- Initiate “happy hour” meetings: This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to coordinate a get-together over drinks, but any meeting time outside work with your peers will provide an opportunity for bonding.
- Reach out to HR or your manager: If you are still struggling with creating a supportive network, you can always reach out to your HR representative or manager to see how you could create better relationships.
Remember, you don’t necessarily need a lot of relationships at work to support you through your divorce. You may just need one or two comrades that can provide a listening ear when you need it at work.
However, it is important to find a balance as well. Always ask your peers if it is okay for you to vent before actually doing so. Otherwise, you might emotionally strain them as a result of “trauma dumping.”
When you are in the midst of a divorce, your career might be the last thing on your mind. However, once you step back into the workplace post-divorce, it is up to you to navigate those waters in a way that promotes self-love, independence, and growth.
You can have a fulfilling personal life and career after a divorce by prioritizing your wants and needs, and by consistently looking forward. When in doubt, reach out and you’ll find the help you need in your next steps.
Ainsley Lawrence is a writer who loves to talk about good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. She is frequently lost in a good book.