TIPS FOR EXPATS GETTING DIVORCED
It all seemed so exciting! Living abroad offered a new lifestyle, a new adventure, more money or perhaps a better job. Now you’re entrenched. But you’ve decided to get a divorce and you feel so alone. This article discusses some of the challenges you’ll face emotionally and some of the steps you can take to help lessen the stress and strain of going through a divorce as an expat.
1. Make new friends, but keep the old. If you were “home” in the States, you would probably first call your family. If they weren’t already aware your marriage was not working out, this would be the time to tell them. Most families then go into action. The provide guidance, they listen and they support. Well, they’re a little far away to provide a should for you to cry on. So do what most expats do, make new friends. While your existing expat community may view you differently since you’re not a part of a couple any more, help them to feel more comfortable being around you, invite them over, meet up with them, tell them what you’re going through. It may be awkward at first, so you will need to make the effort to stay in touch.
Get out. Meet new people that will only know you as the “new you.” Create a hobby or craft club, book club or dinner group. Sign up for classes or bike rides or anything that will get you out and help you make new friends. While that may have been easier in the States, there are usually a number of expat communities in most cities. Break out of your rut and find a new expat enclave. You’ll need both the old and new to rely on and help you with the start of your new life.
2. Take care of yourself, like no body else can. If you’re not currently in an active exercise program, join one. If you’re not eating healthy, start a new regimen. A good part of happiness can be rooted in looking good and feeling good. Get out and shop for fresh veggies at the farmer’s market, go window shopping and ask questions at the local health food store. Collect recipes that are high in fiber, low in fats and full of lean meats and veggies. Make a double batch to share with friends. Even better, create or join a farmer’s market buying group or a healthy meal dinner club. Only you can make a better looking and feeling you. In a foreign city, this might take a bit of extra efforts. The locals will know the best places. Most foreign cuisines are more plant and fruit based than in the U.S., so take advantage of what your chosen country has to offer.
3. Anchor your spiritual life. Even though you’re miles from home and had to leave your faith community when you went abroad, your faith, whatever it happens to be, is always with you. If you’re not currently visiting the church, synagogue or temple of your choice, seek one out. Visit several and choose the one best suited to you. If organized religion isn’t your thing, practice prayer or meditation or whatever centers you at home, in a park or somewhere comforting to you. If your particular faith isn’t available in your community or isn’t in your native language, go online. There are many services of all types and varieties available now on the internet.
4. No rash decisions. I joke with people going through a divorce “remember you are crazy one year before divorce until one year after divorce.” Why do I say this? To try to slow people down. I have seen a lot of people make dumb decisions right after a divorce. Any many times those decisions will cost them dearly in terms of both emotional and financial well-being. The best way to avoid impulsive, bad decisions is to not make rash decisions. Remember, divorce is traumatic – give yourself time to recover before you start making major decisions.
5. Take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself is the first step to regaining happiness and living life to the fullest post-divorce. While doing this in a foreign country may not be easy, it can be done. Treat yourself with kindness. Pamper yourself. Take care of your health. One thing I have observed works wonders is the every other night rule – do not engage in events after say 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. for two successive nights. Instead take the gap night to come home, read a book, cruise the internet, take a hot shower or bath, go to bed early, plan a trip, dream, etc. Take a leisurely walk. Watch a movie at home. Learn to enjoy the little things in life. Slow down a smell the flowers.