It’s the end of life as you know it. It marks the influx of unknowns and full-spectrum emotions you may not even recognize, let alone be able to identify. It’s also the beginning of a paradigm shift that can leave you saying, “I love my life after divorce.”
The end of a marriage is hardly the recommended way to rediscover yourself and evolve into a newer and better you. But when divorce does happen, those people parting ways have choices to make. And those choices extend far beyond the division of assets and the determination of custody arrangements.
At a time when your world has just spun off its axis, making decisions may seem futile, if not impossible. You may feel as if you have landed in a black hole with no vision and no sense of direction.
But the world around you won’t stop spinning. And it won’t stop expecting you to show up if you are going to be a part of it.
How you show up, however, can make all the difference between hating your life and saying, “I love my life after divorce.”
And yes, for better or for worse, you are the one who will have to make the choice…and the effort.
How do you get to this idyllic place of being able to say, “I love my life after divorce”? How do you keep the hurt, betrayal, anger, rancor, disappointment, and sense of loss from turning you into a cynic? How do you pull yourself out of your own sense of failure and set your new life up to succeed?
Some of the work will be painful, difficult, even ugly. But it will be essential for reaching the work that is hopeful, invigorating, even enjoyable.
Below are 6 strategies for getting to the point where you can truthfully say, “I love my life after divorce.”
1. The mourning after.
This is the hump you simply have to get over if you want to move forward. Grief isn’t an option. It doesn’t have a gender preference, and it doesn’t evaporate simply because you think you are bigger than it is.
Most importantly, grief isn’t a sign of weakness. It is a navigation of loss.
Whether or not you wanted your divorce doesn’t change the fact that there is a big, vacuous hole where your “life” used to be. There is chaos where there was once order. There is unpredictability where routine used to be.
Even in the worst of marriages for which divorce is a blessing, there is an end to vows, dreams, and a huge time commitment.
When dealing with grief after divorce and its complexity of emotions, remember that the journey will not necessarily be linear. But you will know when you are far enough along to take the plunge into bigger life decisions.
2. Work through your feelings.
Grief and feelings go hand-in-hand. You will naturally experience feelings like sadness, anger, and confusion. But you will have a flood of other emotions, too, some of which may be a blend of primary emotions.
It takes great courage to embrace your feelings – to give them the opportunity to speak while you actively listen and learn.
By spending time with yourself this way, you inevitably evolve your sense of self. You learn how to recognize the signals your emotions send you. And in doing so, you become empowered to make better choices about your responses to your life experiences.
Look back on your relationship that has ended in divorce and consider how many issues existed because you or your spouse didn’t know how to deal with feelings.
Now fast forward to a potential love relationship in the future. How do you want it to be different than your previous relationship? How do you want your communication to look different? How do you want to feel differently? And what feelings do you want to be able to release in order to move on?
Working through your feelings now will open the door to saying, “I love my life after divorce.”
3. Schedule time to be good to yourself…every…single…day.
You don’t need anyone else to tell you what makes you feel good or what you “should” want. You get to choose for yourself. And it’s important that you indulge that liberating empowerment every day.
Commit to even fifteen minutes a day. Do something that makes you feel comforted, indulged, creative, rewarded, relaxed. And by all means, do something that makes you feel special and loved.
Down the road, when you are in a new relationship, you will have developed the important habit of remembering your own self-worth. You will naturally build “me-time” into your daily routine, and you will feel confident doing so.
4. Make new friends, but keep the old.
Divorce has a way of dragging unexpected consequences in its wake. People you thought were lifetime friends turn out to be “couples-only” friends, while some who were less visible in your life step up like heroes.
Just because you and your ex are no longer a couple doesn’t mean you have to sever all your ties with mutual friends. But your new life is an invitation to new friends and new streams of influence.
As you take stock of the other things in your life, take stock of your relationships, too. Who are the people who model the behaviors and relationships you want to emulate? Who are the people who have been there for you through thick and thin?
And, as you start meeting new people, who are the ones who prove to be worth your time and energy? As you embark on your single life, other singles will assume a more important role in your life.
5. Revisit old passions and create new ones.
It’s inevitable that couples lose some of their individuality and personal passions to the larger entity of marriage. But now that you don’t have to answer to a spouse (and may have more free time due to co-parenting), it’s time to reinvent yourself.
What talents and interests got put on the back burner while you were a slave to your mortgage and children? What yearnings still burn inside, waiting for expression and maybe even a new professional pursuit?
Listening to your creative, ambitious, enthusiastic nudges will lead you into exciting opportunities to learn, grow, and meet new people.
6. Dream, dream, dream.
You may be surprised at how stunted your dreaming ability has become. Marriage usually starts off with expansive visions of the future – building a home, having children, traveling the world, making tons of money.
But reality and its unexpected turns can dull your dreams and truncate your bucket list. You may not even notice the shift until someone asks you what your dreams are for the future.
Now is the time to plant seeds. Explore ideas. Open magazines. Watch travel shows. Meditate on how you can make a positive difference in the world.
Don’t edit. Just dream.
If you are in the early throes of divorce, you may not believe that you will ever say, “I love my life after divorce.” The pain may be too deep. The change in lifestyle may be too extreme.
But loving your life at all its stages is the intention, and therefore the possibility, for your life. Post-divorce is simply another chapter. You may not have seen it coming, but it’s here.
And, if you are willing to focus through the dark tunnel of grief and letting go, you will find that life awaits you with open arms of possibility.
The next chapter is yours to write.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please join like-minded individuals in The Good Men Project Premium Community
We have pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century. Your support of our work is inspiring and invaluable.