From Married to Single: Finding Hope on the Other Side of Divorce

Posted by on Oct 24, 2014 in Life transitions | 0 comments

DSC00110There are many ways to see this negatively:You woke up today in a bed that’s half empty.You sit at the table alone with no one to tell about your day.There’s an ache inside your ribs that aspirin won’t touch.Your best friend has become your enemy.

You will wake up tomorrow in a bed that’s half-empty.

No doubt divorce and its aftermath are wrenching experiences. It’s an uncomfortable cusp to perch on, between the unhappy known and the frightening unknown. But you’ve gotten here for good reasons that you and your partner know all too well and you’re allowed to hope for better in your separate futures.

You’ll get there faster if you take charge and nudge your life onward. You can:

  • Take care of the kids. If you have children together, they are the first priority. You and your ex will have to summon all your self-control and maturity to reassure them that they are loved and will be cared for by both parents.
  • Wallow, briefly. Go ahead, feel sorry for yourself. Grieve the lost joy you thought would be yours. Moan and cry and yell your frustration. Then stop. Set yourself a deadline, if that helps. Unhappiness does pass. If you find yourself stuck in the negative emotions, see your physician or a therapist to ensure you don’t slide into a depression that won’t pass.
  • See a therapist, anyway. This is a confusing time full of emotions that none of us is practiced in managing. An experienced and uninvolved therapist can help you understand what you’re going through and how to get to the other side.
  • Remember who you are. There was a time when you had a life, hopefully a satisfying and complete life, all on your own. What pleasures did you give up when you became part of a partnership? What new interest did you not pursue because your spouse wasn’t into it? Maybe you let friends slip away or spent less time than you wanted with members of your family. That’s all possible for you now.
  • Imagine who you want to be. You’re also free to be someone you never were. If you’ve always been a homebody, consider travel. Night owl? Enjoy a few sunrises. Explore a move to somewhere you’ve only been in your dreams. Another career lies at the end of a training program you haven’t taken yet.
  • Enjoy being alone. A lot of the negative images of divorce revolve around being on your own. Why not embrace solitude? Fix a special dinner of foods only you enjoy and put on the music you love. Sleep in the middle of the bed and hog all the pillows. Hey, walk around the house naked if that appeals.
  • Honor your ex. This was a person who gave you great pleasure at one time. You’ve probably learned a lot from the relationship. Divorce may encourage us to behave badly but it doesn’t turn a loved one into a monster. When your emotions are smoother, try remembering some good things about your ex and consider forgiveness.
  • Make new friends. There are support groups for the newly divorced in almost every community. Talking about what you’re feeling with others in the same place can be very comforting. Try not to consider this a dating service (if you’re both in the group, neither of you is ready to move on).
  • Build competence. Maybe your ex balanced the checkbook or took the lead in house cleaning or managed your social life. Now, it’s all on you. Getting good at what you’ve not had to tackle will increase your confidence.
  • Make romance. When you’re ready (ask your therapist to help you determine when that is), begin looking for a compatible partner. Hopefully, you now understand what characteristics in your ex didn’t work for you and can be thoughtful before you leap. You can make a new, happy and lasting life with someone new.