Coping with Divorce

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • There isn’t any way around it. Divorce is painful. It hurts, deep down in your heart, more than you ever believed possible. Divorce isn’t just the end of a marriage. It is the death of your dreams and hopes. It puts an end to your idea of how the rest of your life is going to play out. It makes you question everything you believed in, because, at the center of your beliefs was happy ever after and if that isn’t true, then what is?

    The good news is that you can and will make it through. You can survive and find happiness again. The following tips can help you cope with your divorce and find the life you want and deserve.

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    Give yourself time. The emotional upheaval brought about from a divorce isn’t going to resolve itself in a day, week or a month. It takes time to heal. Depending on the length of your marriage and the depth of your connection, it could take several years to feel like yourself again. It will happen, but don’t rush it, allow yourself time to mourn and grieve over your loss. Don’t berate yourself for still feeling sad, still crying or still missing your ex.

    Find healthy ways to express your feelings. In order to work through the many emotions you will feel after your divorce, you need to express them. Find a friend to talk to, one that wasn’t a “joint friend” or isn’t still in your ex’s life. Confide in a relative. Start a journal and write down your thoughts every day, including the thoughts you are afraid to express out loud. Join a support group. Talk with a therapist. Find the way that works best for you. Keeping your thoughts and feelings bottled up inside means they are still there to tarnish and poison other parts of your life and future relationships. One caution: don’t make your children your sounding board. Despite what you think, your ex is still their parent and they shouldn’t have to listen to you complain about their mom or dad.

    Embrace the unknown. One of the scariest parts of divorce is heading into the unknown. You have spent years or possibly decades believing you knew exactly what life had in store. You were going to grow old together. Now, you are facing a lot of unknowns. You don’t know what direction your life it going to take and it is frightening. Instead, embrace the unknown and look forward to the new adventure you are heading toward. Remember, you really didn’t know what life had to offer before, your marriage gave you a false sense of security.

    Learn to accept and like yourself. If your ex was the one who wanted the divorce, you probably feel rejected. You might think you are a failure for not making the marriage work. You might berate yourself for not trying harder. If you are the one who wanted the divorce, you might feel guilty for your actions or for having hurt your spouse and family. Either way, once the divorce is final, it is time to accept who you are, mistakes included, and learn to like yourself.

    Find ways to relieve stress. Divorce is stressful. You might be dealing with lawyers, fighting over belongings. You might be dealing with being a single parent and learning to live with less money. Your ex might be hostile and angry. Your children might be confused. And now that you are alone you have to deal with the stress alone. Use meditation, yoga, exercise or deep breathing on a daily basis to help lower your stress levels. Make sure you take care of yourself by sleeping on a regular schedule and eating right.

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    Don’t fight with your ex. It is easy to get into arguments about child support, visitation or any number of other things. Arguing, however, keeps your relationship going and in a negative and unhealthy way. As much as the snarky comment might make you feel better for the moment, it keeps the negativity going. Instead, take a deep breath and let it go. Be the bigger person and remember that you don’t need to argue because you aren’t married. Your ex doesn’t need to live up to your expectations and you don’t need to live up to his or hers. Relish in the idea that you no longer need to give in to the stress of fighting. You can walk away.

    Rediscover yourself. If you were married for a long time, chances are you have lost track of some old friends or at least don’t talk as much as you would like. You might have given up some hobbies and interests or let others fall by the wayside in order to spend time together. Use this time to reconnect with old friends and explore those interests you haven’t thought about in awhile.

    Try something new. Think about your past dreams. What did you want to do? What is on your “bucket list?” You might want to enroll in a class and learn something totally new. You might want to take a trip to a destination you have always wanted to see but your ex wasn’t interested. Look for ways in your area to meet new friends. Your change might be as simple as a new haircut or buying new clothes. This is a great time to explore who you are and who you want to be (no matter what your age.)

    Date only when you are ready. You might find it difficult to be alone or feel self-conscious when out by yourself. Being single doesn’t have the same negative connotation it did in the past. Today people of all ages are single by choice. You might not want another relationship, if so, don’t allow anyone to pressure you into dating. If you do, take your time, don’t rush into a serious relationship to ease the pain of your divorce.

    Remember your end goal. Your goal is to move past the pain and heartache and embrace your future. You want to express your feelings but not dwell on the negativity. In the beginning, your goal might be to make it through the next hour, then move to getting through the day. Keep in mind your end goal is to learn to live without the relationship.  It is to think about the relationship with indifference rather than anger. It is to find joy in your new life.

Published On: July 15, 2014