Landing On Your Feet After Divorce
No one likes to talk about divorce. But just because we don’t like talking about it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.
Like it or not, divorce happens.
The divorce rate skyrocketed in the 1970s with the introduction of “no-fault” divorce. Although it’s challenging to come up with accurate statistics, some experts estimate that the divorce rate hovers around 31%.
Recovering emotionally after divorce is difficult; healing takes time; but life gets better. Here are some tips to help you get started in finding yourself and landing on your feet after divorce.
1. Adjust To Your New Identity
When you’ve been married for a while, it’s easy to lose sight of your individuality. You’ve been a “we” for so long that suddenly becoming a “me” can feel strange.
Some people wrestle with who they are after a divorce because their identity was intertwined with their spouse.
Adjusting to this new identity can feel weird, awkward, lonely, and, to some people, embarrassing due to the stigma they perceive surrounding divorce, especially in faith communities traditionally.
However, getting a divorce is no longer the stigma it once was.
In fact, many people in faith communities are divorced and find much-needed friendship, support, and compassion in each other during the healing and recovery process.
Furthermore, your life isn’t empty or meaningless just because you’re no longer married.
That’s not to say you won’t experience sadness, grief, and even waves of guilt and regret, wondering if you should’ve done more to save your marriage. But, on a positive note, you’ll have more time for your family, friends, and yourself as you rediscover who you are and what kind of life you want moving forward.
2. Learn from Your Mistakes
Divorce is more painful than people expect. The time will come during the healing process, perhaps in therapy, to evaluate your role in the marriage.
Every marriage involves two people. And although it’s easy to defend yourself and blame your former spouse, it isn’t productive. In fact, it’s counter-productive because it keeps you stuck in a quicksand of feelings that suck the life and joy out of you.
The day will come when you can evaluate your marriage to identify what went wrong with the relationship. Please don’t avoid this step because if you do, you’re paving the way to repeat the same mistakes in future relationships.
Take your power back by owning your role in the failed marriage.
Stepping outside of feelings of hurt, pain, bitterness, or regret to examine the relationship, creates a growth opportunity for you to become a better person and a better partner.
Refrain from blaming; examine the facts. Let any feelings of hurt and anger motivate you to understand how you could have done things differently so you can intentionally decide what you want and don’t want in a relationship.
You might become keenly aware of your own mistakes and insecurities. Working through them with a therapist is strongly recommended to grow and not be too hard on yourself.
The goal is to shift from feeling weak and helpless to being capable and empowered.
3. Give Yourself A Little Credit
Don’t feel sorry for yourself for very long. Although self-pity is understandable, you don’t want it to become your new reality. Self-pity is a bottomless pit.
Self-pity won’t serve you, and it’ll drive your friends away because people can only endure a “victim” mentality for so long before they start avoiding you.
As you pick up your life piece by piece, be proud of your hard work and how far you’ve come.
The time will come when you can look back on your “failed” marriage and find things for which to be thankful – like maybe some trips or new experiences you had or your kids that were a by-product of the marriage; being grateful breaks the grip of the past.
Even if you feel you still have a long ways to go, you are making progress! Value and celebrate what you’ve done to heal your heart and restore your soul.
4. Be Grateful for What You Have
It’s not easy, but one way to land on your feet after a divorce is to count your blessings instead of rehearsing your burdens.
Be grateful for the people who care for you and have showered you with love and support.
Be grateful for your hope and resilience.
At the very least, even during the darkest moments filled with more tears than smiles, be grateful that you found the strength to make it through another day.
List as many blessings as possible to help you appreciate your life.
If loneliness is incredibly intense, use your freedom to go and make new friends, join a faith community or a club, take a class, or volunteer; simply become more active. Just about anything is better than staying home staring at four walls while eating pints of ice cream in your pajamas.
5. “Get Busy Living”
A famous movie quote goes something like this: “It’s time to get busy living or get busy dying.”
It can be healthy to put your life on hold for a while after divorce, but it’s never okay to stop living.
You’ll likely have more free time than before – more time for hobbies, friends, exploring, and adventures. So even if you don’t want to, force yourself to leave the security of your cave and start living.
Don’t let chores and errands become your life. Make time for yourself each day – even if it’s only five or ten minutes.
What are some things you might enjoy? Painting, rock climbing, flying, gardening, music lessons, writing, going to the gym, or simply taking sunset strolls at the park to ease stress and calm your nerves? Do something to brighten your mood and add happiness to your life.
Other ideas include:
- Visit a museum or local art gallery
- Join or start a book club
- Take a weekend road trip
- Host game night or movie night for your friends
Although divorce is the end of one chapter, it’s the beginning of a new one.
Yes, this is a time of healing and learning from your mistakes so you can become a better version of yourself, but it’s also a time for rediscovery – to dream again and imagine who and what you want to become! It won’t always be easy, especially at first. And you may feel more sadness than joy at times.
But, put away cynicism and skepticism; don’t let your pain imprison your heart behind a wall that keeps you from ever loving again.
Live. Your. Life!
Be open to possibilities and opportunities with a heart that’s a bit wiser and a lot stronger because of what it’s been through.
When you’re ready, get busy living again, and embrace life’s gift of a new adventure with exciting possibilities, and, perhaps, even the opportunity to love again.