Divorce is one of the most difficult experiences for a person to go through.
You shared a home, finances, and maybe even children with this person that you once committed your life to. Splitting all of that is going to be painful.
It doesn’t matter if your marriage ended on good terms or if the break was messy – you didn’t picture this for yourself when you got married. Even if your partner ended up being unfaithful or spiteful in the end, you still loved them once. It’s ok to mourn that loss, it’s ok to take some time for yourself.
Yes, divorce is a difficult thing to go through, but you are not alone. Many people have walked the path you’re on right now and come out on the other side happy, hopeful, and whole. It may be hard to believe right now, but there’s light on the other side of the tunnel.
How Long Does It Take?
Those wondering how to move on after a divorce may also wonder how long it takes to do so.
The loss of a marriage can be traumatic – it completely changes the structure of your life. You may have had to move or get a new job to support yourself. If you took your spouse’s name, you may have even chosen to change your name back to your birth name. All of these changes happening back to back can create instability in your life, weaken your sense of self, and make you feel stressed.
Psychology experts say that it can take up to two years to recover from something as emotionally traumatizing as a divorce or the loss of a job. Two years may sound like a long time, but don’t let that scare you – instead, take comfort in the fact that you will heal, and it will get a little bit easier every day.
Below, you’ll find 6 steps you can follow to help you move on after a divorce. Just remember that everyone heals differently and at their own pace – healing is a journey, not a race.
1. Let Yourself Grieve
The first step to healing after divorce is to allow yourself to grieve the loss of your marriage. Don’t try to “tough it out” – bottling up your feelings will only make you feel worse and can even have a negative impact on your physical health. Acknowledge your emotions and let them out in a safe and constructive way, such as telling a friend or writing down your thoughts in a journal.
While it’s important to grieve, you can’t let that grief take over your life. If you start to feel overwhelmed by your negative thoughts, the next step will help you change your thinking patterns and get back on the road to recovery.
2. Sit Down with a Therapist
Unfortunately, going to therapy is still something that many people avoid because they don’t want to seem “crazy” or “overdramatic”.
But if you’re struggling with grief, anger or lowered self-esteem after a divorce, sitting down with a therapist can help you untangle these feelings, make sense of them, and work through them.
You may be able to tell a mental health professional things that you don’t feel comfortable opening up to friends and family members about. The more you’re able to get off your chest in a safe, judgment-free space, the lighter your emotional burden will be. The collaborative divorce process even includes neutral mental health professionals to help things go more smoothly. Learn more about how therapy can help move on after a divorce in a healthy way.
3. Don’t Jump Into Another Relationship Right Away
For some, the thought of being alone post-divorce is too much to bear – but before you start downloading dating apps, consider giving yourself time to heal first.
After a divorce, you may find it harder to trust others or feel confident in yourself. These feelings can make dating difficult. And because you’re in a more emotionally vulnerable place, you may find it harder to handle heartbreak if things don’t work out.
Rebuilding yourself after divorce takes time, and you may never feel truly “ready” to jump back into the dating scene. Or, you may feel ready right away – everyone’s different. Whatever you decide, dating should feel like something fun that you want to do, not something you do because you feel like you “have to” find a new partner ASAP.
4. Focus on You
The words “self-care” are often associated with bubble baths and sleeping in, but caring for yourself is so much more than simply allowing yourself to relax. Use your newfound free time to focus on your interests. Maybe there’s an activity you stopped doing because your partner didn’t like it – throw yourself back into it! Whether it’s running, painting, or traveling, focusing on what you love will help boost your confidence and make life more enjoyable.
“Focus on you” also means “don’t focus on your ex”. Don’t compare yourself to them – you’re on a different journey. Mute their social media accounts so that you don’t bog yourself down with minute-by-minute updates on their life. Put all of your energy into focusing on yourself and your own recovery.
5. Don’t Isolate Yourself
While it’s not a good idea to jump into another serious romantic relationship right away, that doesn’t mean you should completely cut yourself off from the world. Constantly being alone with negative thoughts is one of the worst things you can do for your wellbeing.
If you and your former partner had a lot of mutual friends, it can be difficult to reach out to them – you may feel embarrassed, or worried that they’ve taken your ex’s “side” instead of yours. Making new friends after a divorce can be as simple as asking a coworker out for an after-work beer or reaching out to an old friend you’ve lost touch with over the years.
A strong support network will provide comfort and encouragement when you need it most. You may even consider joining a divorce support group to meet people who are going through a similar experience.
6. Keep Things Civil With Your Former Spouse
The divorce process can get just as heated between child custody battles, financial disputes, and equitable distributions that aren’t always equal.
It’s not wrong to feel angry – it’s what you choose to do with that anger that can make it more difficult to move on with your life. No matter how they wronged you in the past, it’s in your best interest to keep things civil with your ex-partner, especially if you have children with them. Not only will you be setting a good example for them, but you’ll also be able to let go of your anger and make room for more positive thoughts.
No one expects or wants their marriage to end, but sometimes separation is necessary. Healing is not going to be easy, but it is possible. If you’re about to go through the divorce process, consider a collaborative divorce.
Unlike a litigated divorce that takes place in a courtroom, the collaborative divorce process is private. It also includes assistance from a team of legal, financial, and mental health professionals to make the transition into post-divorce life easier.
The family lawyers at Quinn & Lynch, P.A., are experienced in collaborative law as well as pre-divorce planning, mediation, and child custody law. Reach out to our compassionate Tampa legal team to learn more.