Valentine’s Day is not often a favorite holiday among single adults, and it can feel particularly lonely for the recently divorced. This time of year may leave you longing for the fairy tale romance seen in advertisements or recalling painful memories with your ex-spouse. Wherever you fall on the spectrum of emotions, don’t let February 14 set you back in your healing and recovery. You can make this day bearable, even enjoyable, by focusing on the positives in your life instead of what you don’t have on Valentine’s Day.
- Celebrate the loves still in your life. You have love in your life, even if it doesn’t take the form of a romantic relationship. Valentine’s Day is a great time to show how much you appreciate your friends and family. In different times, you could plan a fancy night out or a fun night in with close friends, but, of course, it’s important to be mindful of proper social distancing during COVID. If you have children, consider throwing a party complete with themed crafts and snacks. And don’t forget about neighbors or relatives who may otherwise be alone. You might just make their day with a simple visit to drop off some Valentine’s Day treats.
- Focus on others. Perspective can be a powerful tool to overcome adversity. Stepping back and taking an honest look at your circumstances doesn’t mean you can’t feel sad or disappointed, but it may help you see all the good that remains. And when you can identify the positives in your life, you might also find ways to share that joy with others. A 2019 study by The Ascent showed that giving could be the key to a happier life. High-generosity people were 23% more likely to be satisfied with their lives overall, as well as their relationships, their jobs, their possessions, and more. Consider using this holiday to get out and help those who may not be as fortunate, whether it’s through a donation or taking the time to volunteer at a local shelter or food pantry.
- Treat yourself. You don’t need a significant other to make you feel special on Valentine’s Day. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend the day alone. Dedicate the day to self-care, and do what you enjoy most. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, consider a long hike at your favorite park. If you’re in need of some pampering and relaxation, book a spa day. Or it may be as simple as cozying up with a good book and a glass of wine. Steer clear of social media if there’s a chance you could stumble upon photos of your ex or if it’s just plain difficult to see people enjoying Valentine’s Day with their significant others. Instead, put yourself and your happiness first.
Most important, remember that divorce is not a failure. It’s certainly better than a bad marriage, and it opens the door for new opportunities and joy in your life. If you’re struggling with this chapter in your life, however, that’s understandable. Professional help is available as you grieve, heal and ultimately embrace your new independence.
David Lowenstein, Ph.D. is a psychologist and the clinical director of Lowenstein & Associates, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to providing therapeutic services to individuals and families, he offers training and consultation to numerous associations, schools and agencies around the country. Additionally, he is a frequent radio and TV guest and a resource and contributing writer for numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. Contact Dr. David Lowenstein at 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.