As published in The Florida Villager
I’m not just talking about your ex here, I’m talking about your house. Divorce is a sad and difficult time no matter what side of the coin you’re on. One of the many challenges after the ink has dried is how to reclaim the marital home as your own. Years of decorating, mementos and memories have accumulated in those four walls but now something has changed. One of the inhabitants is gone but the ghost remains.
When you divorce and for whatever reason have kept the marital home and can’t afford to throw everything out and start over, here are some things you can do to reclaim it for your own.
– First things first, open your doors/windows, play some soft music and sage your house. Energetically and emotionally this will feel awesome.
– Purge. Go room-by-room and throw things out and organize.
– Change up your style. If your house presently resembles an English cottage, than switch to contemporary or coastal. You can throw in little pieces that will change the tone. Mixing styles works better than you think.
– Take a Saturday and explore consignment shops or estate sales for inexpensive touches that reflect the new you.
– Never underestimate the power of paint and rearranging the furniture and artwork. If a painting was in the hall, switch it to your bedroom. A chair that sat in the living room can make its way to the study.
– Redo your bedroom. That is your haven and you need to feel emotionally safe there. Throw out the sheets and towels or if you can’t afford to replace the towels, get them monogrammed. If you can afford it, buy a new mattress.
– Once your ex’s clothes are out of the closet, spread yours out. Don’t leave gapping holes as a daily reminder. Whatever he/she took off of the vanity or out of drawers, replace with your things.
– If you have children, depending on the age, engage them in your little renovation project. Feel them out to see what they are comfortable with. Remember, your children are going to pick up on how you feel and what you say. Act excited and positive and they will too.
– Start new traditions. Thursday night is Taco Night!
– Give the outside a splash of color in the form of throw pillows on the chaise, flowers or a new umbrella.
– De-clutter the garage. Get rid of old paint cans and give it a good sweeping.
Reclaiming your home isn’t about being frivolous with money; it’s about healing. If it costs you a little extra to start closing that wound, than it was money well spent. A friend of mine, Ellen Allen, said, “The process of creating our nests again can start the healing process.” No truer words were spoken.
There is a quote by Mizuta Masahide, a 17th century Japanese poet and samurai, I want to leave you with. It is about seeing opportunities in an otherwise bad situation. “Now that my house has burned down, I have a better view of the rising moon.”
And by the way, after your little renovation is over, throw open those doors and have a party to usher in your new chapter!