Reader question

I have been married for 25 years and have three children. My husband left me last year for a younger woman, we are separated and divorcing currently. As a housewife with no career and with the children having left home. I am left with little confidence, am financially illiterate and am completely unprepared for dating, which I am interested in, but scared of. I feel paralysed. What do I do next? And how? Will I ever find peace, love and what do I do to sort myself out financially?

(this reader has chosen to remain anonymous)

Answer from Freya
The tone of your question suggests you might still be in “survival mode”. Certainly understandable after such a huge upheaval, you’re likely feeling at sea and unable to swim. Luckily for you however, you have all the access to air that you need, and at times like this, oxygen really is your best friend. Managing your breathing (and therefore your physical and mental state) is going to be absolutely as valuable as managing anything else, so before we carry on, please do just take a deep breath, and let some oxygen in. Aim for getting the air into your lower abdomen, back and lungs!

Okay, now to your question which if I read it correctly has three parts to it:
1)     What do I do now ?
2)     Will I be okay financially?
3)     Will I ever find love?

You’re in survival mode because you need to be – to survive, so the number one priority is – how do I make sure I have a roof over my head, can eat and generally afford to live? If you focus on being okay financially first, the level of fear and confusion you have will go down, making love a much better prospect. The fact that you’re thinking about dating sounds to me like you’re looking for another partner to come and fix it, or take the role previously held by your husband. I know this is a brave new world, but I promise you that taking back that role (and the power it holds) for yourself will be the best thing you will ever do for yourself.

So, here’s my advice:

A.    Find an excellent financial adviser: if you pay for one you’re much less likely to get a salesman and much more likely to get an expert. Make sure you’ve got a good handle on how much money comes in, and goes out, and create a plan. This is to give you a nice stable foundation to start rebuilding from. Ask around for a recommendation. Or contact three people through your own research and see what your gut tells you.

B.    Don’t be shy, use your network: you may not know how to do something, but someone you know will, or they’ll know someone who does. Make sure you reach out, people love to help and it will keep you connected to your friends and family which is key to a healthy recovery from the end of a long marriage. The more self-sufficient you feel, the more your confidence will begin to regrow. Friends endure and if you make deeper connections you will feel a huge amount of love and support comes in your direction.

You’re getting closer to being able to date now, but there’s one more step:

C.    Reconnect with yourself: After 25 years it’s time to redecorate, inside and out!
Inside: Were there any passions or hobbies you sacrificed during your marriage or motherhood? Can you remember happy times had as a child ? What were you doing ? Where were you? Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Start doing things that make you happy, excited, engaged. This energy will carry over into how you look and feel. These can be tiny changes and not expensive.
Outside: When was the last time you made a radical change to your hair or wardrobe? Or had your ‘colours’ done ? Or had a stylist like our Sarah for the day ? Maybe a massage and a manicure would do wonders? Looking your new best added to a feeling of rejuvenation will give you the confidence boost you need. What about fitness? Being fit and healthy is hugely empowering and will get you into tip top condition. Three to six months of building up your strength and stamina will do wonders for your confidence.

Only when the steps above are complete is it time to start entering the world of dating. Any sooner and potential dates will sense your feelings of uncertainty and paralysis. That’s not attractive.
Give yourself a stable financial base, accept support from a loving and connected network, and gift yourself a revitalising and uplifting makeover and fitness regime. Each of these things combined will bring you to your gorgeous best.

So will you ever find love again? … Looking and feeling that good, why  not !