During the Covid-19 pandemic I have been keeping in touch with colleagues through email, telephone, and virtual meeting platforms.
This is a challenging time for everyone. Uncertainty about the course of the Covid-19 crisis and what it will mean for our health, family, savings, retirement, jobs and more is a source of great stress for us all.
Divorce Professionals like me believe that this crisis will create a later situation where there will be what is deemed “pent up demand” for our services. This makes sense because where a marriage was in decline before the crisis, adding stress and close proximity in an already broken paradigm only creates further resolve to dissolve the marriage if, as and when it is possible to do so.
Some of my colleagues are looking to create ways to conduct virtual mediation sessions. This is one way of helping to cope with a bad situation. But, to my mind, it isn’t realistic to assume that most couples are going to have the presence of mind to engage in mediation when they are uncertain about their situation from day-to-day.
Sometimes, the only course of action is to develop coping strategies to ride out the storm and to grapple with the legal process when the crisis is not at its apex. But how? Basic strategies may help.
In my practice, I deal with emotional and psychological stress on a daily basis. Clients and opposing parties are often not at their emotional best during their divorce. While I am not a therapist or medical doctor, I can offer the following strategies to help in dealing with this unprecedented situation:
First, many psychologists, therapists, and coaches are conducting virtual or telephone sessions. Ask your professional to fit you in for a regular, recurring session. Do not forgo this simple, but often overlooked strategy for help in dealing with stress.
Second, keep in touch with family and friends. Isolating ourselves from social activities often exacerbates loneliness, boredom, and stress. Reach out by FaceTime, video call, Zoom, Skype, or telephone. I do not recommend text as a primary source of communication with family and friends in this situation. Text is great but adds a dimension to the contact be hearing a voice and, preferably, putting a face to the exchange.
Third, find a quiet place and a few minutes of calm for yourself on a daily basis and put down the news, the phone and the electronic devices. Pick up a book or meditate. Have a cup of herbal tea or hot chocolate. Sip. Breathe. Relax. Do this at least 15 minutes per day.
Fourth, avoid conflict. Sounds easy. It’s not. Sometimes you can’t control what the other person is doing. And, if they are looking for a fight, you may be the target. Do a ten count before you respond to “the bait”. Take a walk if you can. Do what you can to disengage from conflict.
Most of my colleagues are focusing on how to meet their financial burdens of running their businesses. I, too, have those thoughts in mind. We depend on our businesses to support ourselves and our families, and we are not immune from the financial crunch of Covid-19. But, as professionals, I believe that it is our responsibility to also try to help those in need. That is why I wrote this little piece. It is an attempt to address the realities many of us are facing in our daily lives. Stuck, as it were, in a bad marriage and forced into close proximity without an immediate capability to begin the divorce process.
I hope that this helps someone in some small way cope a little better with the stress of this unprecedented situation.