Divorce is hard. Everyone knows this, and yet everyone’s experience with divorce or what they find hardest differs from person to person. Some people struggle with seeing the effects of divorce hurt their children, some experience the loss of not just a partner but their social circle as well, and some people just find the overall emotions involved in divorce hard to handle. Divorce can make you feel confused, angry, sad, lonely, scared, and frustrated, and all those feelings are normal. But just because they are normal and expected, doesn’t mean they aren’t still difficult.
Here are some common issues that make divorce hard, and ways to work through them so that you can come out the other side stronger.
Finding a New Normal After Divorce
When coming out of a relationship, particularly a long-term one, there is no way that everything will go back to “normal” immediately. In fact, it probably won’t ever really return to the normal that you once knew. Accepting that things are never going to be the same again can be really hard to come to terms with..
No matter how long you were married, how many years you spent raising a family, or how amicably you divorced, your life will not go back to normal. Set realistic expectations and understand that your new life certainly won’t feel normal right away. It can be easy to get caught up in a torturous cycle of questioning, asking yourself if the divorce was worth it and how to move on even if you were in an unhappy marriage.
It may seem as though you’ll never get past the pain caused by your divorce and the fear that this mental space is your new normal. But remember that time heals all wounds and as painful as it is, moving forward means putting aside old feelings and focusing on building the life you want after divorce.
Sometimes this means accepting that your former spouse has moved on without you, which can be very difficult if you were not the one that initiated or wanted the divorce. Allowing yourself to go through the grieving process can help you accept your new circumstances, but don’t dwell on the negative aspects of your breakup or what you could have done to change the outcome. Think about the positive aspects of your new life. Think about the things that give you joy now, that you may not have experienced while in your marriage. You now have an opportunity to learn from your experience and create the new normal that you want to have.
Instead of focusing on the past, try thinking about where you’d like to end up eventually. Imagine the life you want, the one you’ve always dreamed of, and think about the steps you can take to turn that vision into your new reality. This not only helps you move on from pining for what was comfortable, but it helps you stay focused on moving forward..
Figuring Out What You Want After Divorce
One of the biggest challenges that many people face is figuring out what they want after years or even decades of joint decision making. The longer you were with your partner, the harder it can be to separate yourself from years of making decisions together. This can make it hard to be honest with yourself about what you want, particularly if you were a victim of domestic violence or otherwise not allowed to pursue what you wanted within your marriage. It can feel very disorienting not to have a partner as a sounding board, or to realize that you spent years agreeing to what they wanted while unconsciously denying your own wants, needs, and dreams.
Take time to process any negative feelings that come up about your ex-partner and let go of any regrets that you have about past decisions when married. Give yourself time to grieve if you need to, so that you can then begin the process of figuring out who you are and what you want from life on your own.
You can take baby steps if things feel overwhelming or you find yourself having decision paralysis. Set up a consistent schedule for yourself that includes enough sleep, healthy eating and exercise, and quality time with people who care about you. Find space in your schedule to fit in one or two things you are interested in, whether it is volunteering, taking up a new sport or instrument, or getting back to an old hobby that brought you joy. Give yourself the freedom to try new things, especially things that didn’t feel possible in your old relationship.
Keep reminding yourself that you deserve happiness. Even though you’re hurting, remember that you’re also stronger than you realize.
Taking Control of Your Finances
One of the messiest parts of divorce can often be the disentangling of joint finances and taking the necessary steps to get yourself financially free. Beyond the tedious busywork of choosing a new bank and getting new accounts and cards set up, it can be scary to think about how to best manage your financial future.
Money problems often lead to emotional issues such as depression, anxiety, anger, loneliness, fear, guilt, resentment, self-doubt, insecurity, and more. If this sounds like you, don’t let these emotions control your life. Instead, take steps toward improving your situation. Start by talking to your bank manager, accountant, attorney, insurance agent, investment advisor, credit card company, mortgage lender, landlord, and others who could potentially assist you financially. Then talk to them about any concerns you have regarding your personal finances, especially if your finances were severely affected by domestic violence or controlling behavior. If needed, seek professional counseling services to address any underlying psychological factors causing your financial stress.
Coping with Loneliness
Being single after years of marriage can force you to face some uncomfortable realities. One of the most surprising effects of divorce is realizing how lonely life can be immediately afterwards. Even if your divorce brings feelings of freedom and liberation, it can still be an adjustment. Even living alone after years of cohabitating can be jarring when you realize that everything is on you to maintain.
One healthy way to cope with loneliness is to lean into your circle of friends, family, and extended family. You have more time now to nurture relationships that hold meaning for you but that had to be put on the backburner during your marriage. If you have kids, focus on your family life. Understand that they are likely experiencing similar feelings to you. Make new traditions with them, go on a vacation, and find ways to spend meaningful time together.
Finding a New Job
Divorce can also be hard when you are faced with having to go back to work and supporting yourself. This is especially true if you stayed home as the full-time parent or a caregiver to an elderly family member. It can be stressful thinking about how to transition into a career outside of the home.
Even if you were employed when married, you may still consider looking for a new job. Maybe your role was unfulfilling but fit the constraints of what was financially needed in your marriage. Maybe you want to start fresh in every aspect of life, including work. Or you may now find you have the time to go after a promotion, a new job, or a new industry entirely.
Whatever the reason, looking for a new job can be a liberating experience. Be confident in applying for jobs that you would find fulfillment and passion in. Or take this opportunity to consider certifications or degrees that would advance your career or enable an industry move. Consider hiring a career coach or finding online resources for job hunting and salary negotiation.
Dealing with Conflicts with Your Ex
Divorce can be especially hard when you have children, which means that you will have to continue seeing, communicating, and coparenting with your ex for the foreseeable future. This can be very stressful, especially if the marriage ended on contentious terms. You’ve obviously divorced to get away from this person, but with children involved you can’t avoid them entirely. This can bring a lot of stress and emotional hardship, but there are ways you can ease the transition.
If you divorced with any level of amiability or civility, you can have a frank conversation about setting ground rules and boundaries for how you will communicate. This is especially important if you have differences of opinion when it comes to parenting issues or child custody. Having common ground and shared dialogue can ease situations and conversations that could otherwise get tense.
If you’ve divorced on bad terms, or your ex was abusive, treat each interaction with caution. You can still make a commitment to yourself and set ground rules for what you will and will not tolerate from them. You can choose neutral statements as a way to stay calm and unemotionally respond when your ex tries to bait you or get a rise out of you. Communicate that you will not accept a lack of respect and remove yourself from the situation if they begin to treat you badly.
If you fear that you may still be a victim of emotional abuse, physical abuse, or verbal abuse, you can also choose to have all future communications happen through your lawyers, a social worker, or a victim advocate. Work with your divorce attorney to set up these protective measures so that dealing with your ex does not become a life-altering source of stress and anxiety.
Finding Someone New
If you’ve been through a break up, chances are you know how challenging it can be to move on after experiencing one. However, there are ways for you to cope with the challenges associated with ending a marriage and reentering the dating scene.
The most important thing to do is to focus on what you want out of life and how a new potential partner can fit into your goals. You need to decide whether you want to stay single, take some time to just enjoy dating again, or pursue another serious relationship with the intention to marry again. Once you figure that out, you can start looking into potential partners. Remember, finding a partner takes work and you do have to put effort into it.
Before starting anything else, you must determine exactly what kind of person you want to date. Are you interested in long-term relationships or short-term encounters? These questions will give you insight into what type of person you would like to attract. After deciding which type of individual you wish to date, you can begin searching for him/her online.
Once you’ve determined what type of person you want to go out with, look into dating sites where people post profiles of themselves. There are a plethora of dating apps, websites, and matchmaking services available, and that can make the process a bit overwhelming. Try out one or two at a time to get a feel for the service that resonates most with what you are looking for.
When you do find someone you are interested in, be honest about your past and what you are looking for. By doing so, you’ll avoid wasting valuable time by pretending to be someone you aren’t. Also, you’ll prevent yourself from accidentally misleading anyone else.
Additionally, there are groups and clubs where singles in your area can meet up for events, share conversation, and enjoy doing new things together. This gives you and others like you great opportunities to meet interesting people and consider dating one of them if the opportunity arises naturally.
At Torrone Law, we provide compassionate legal care and will work to bring you and your children to a place of freedom and restoration.