How Do I Start My Life As a Single Mom?
Reader Starting Over writes,
My husband cheated on me while we were engaged (with a married woman at his work), then he cheated again while I was pregnant with my son last year. I’m still living under the same roof as him mainly because I don’t have a place to go. He is a good dad but I’m not sure how to start a new life for myself. Can you help?
Good for you for deciding to get out of this relationship. While cheating doesn’t necessarily mean a marriage has to be over, cheating multiple times (and starting even before marriage) usually does. There are many things you’ll need to do in order to start your new life, including getting your finances in order, finding a place to live, and working with a mediator or lawyer to make sure that your children receive adequate emotional and financial support from each parent. Also, you’re going to need to create an identity for yourself as a single mom, which is the part that I’ll discuss here.
It is pretty challenging to start anew as a single parent, and I highly recommend the following:
- Make friends
- Lean on existing friends/family
- Prioritize your health
- Stop doing extra stuff that doesn’t matter and only serves to stress you out.
It is essential that you find some others single moms to hang out with. Although you can certainly make friends with partnered moms too, it is easiest to confide in another single mom who may understand you more easily. Meetup.com is a great source of groups, and you may find lots of single parent groups online too. You are going to need people to have fun with, and to trade babysitting with, and to complain about your kids with.
Don’t forget that you likely already have at least a few people who can support you already. People will vary in how much time and what resources they have, like your sister may be able to babysit but your best friend may be great for calling or texting every day. You want to spend time with people who knew you before your marriage, who know you for a long time, and who know that you will get through this and come out on the other side.
You need to focus on your physical and emotional health, so you can stay strong for your kids, and for yourself. A therapist can be very useful during divorce, and I see many clients for the first time during their separations or divorces. If you can exercise a few times a week, this can help keep your mood and self-esteem up. And it is more important to get enough sleep than just about anything.
And, since you need to focus on the big picture now, you need to not sweat the small stuff. Moms try so hard to be perfect, but they really just have to be what psychologists call “good enough.” This means that you may stop making crafts or keeping a spotless house or baking, or conversely, if you enjoy those things, do them more. You are going to be in survival mode for a while, until you get into the routine of your new life on your own, so you need to streamline, as I advised this woman in a very different situation that still has many similarities. You can also read the book The Divorce Recovery Workbook, which can be helpful for working through pain and building a new life.
Good luck to you, and keep me updated. Till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Also Find Some Support Groups For Divorcing People In Your Area.
Order Dr. Rodman’s newest book, 52 Emails to Transform Your Marriage and order her first book: How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family
This blog is not intended as medical advice or diagnosis and should in no way replace consultation with a medical professional. If you try this advice and it does not work for you, you cannot sue me. This is only my opinion, based on my background, training, and experience as a therapist and person