Maybe divorce was not what you expected in life. On the other hand, maybe you’re relieved that your marriage is over. Circumstances vary, so divorce can mean very different things to different people. Even if you’re not grieving, divorce typically results in a major life transition. And if you have children, it can be a significant adjustment for them as well.
Many people who’ve been through a divorce wonder how to move forward with their life during a time when it feels like things will never get back to normal. Here, I share some tips for making the adjustment so you can start to create a new life after divorce.
Reach out to people you trust
No matter the circumstances that led to your divorce, you’ve probably been experiencing a range of emotions. In the past, you may have relied on your spouse to be a sounding board, but now that’s no longer an option. You will need to turn to friends and family members you can trust, or forge new relationships and connections. Professional counseling can help as well, especially if you’re struggling with loneliness and depression.
Avoid talking to people who will judge you. Instead, reach out to people who will listen with understanding. Ideally, this might be individuals who’ve been through a similar situation.
Embrace your new life
Sometimes it’s difficult to accept what’s happening in your life. After all, no one goes into a marriage thinking it will end one day. You may be grieving the loss or regretting your actions. You could even be in denial and struggling to accept that your marriage is over. It takes time to overcome these emotions and fully heal.
In the meantime, establish a new routine and make time for yourself. Start some new rituals of your own. This could be as simple as a mid-morning cup of coffee or as ambitious as taking on a new activity, such as biking, pickleball, or painting. Look for volunteer opportunities, and be sure to form new friendships along the way. Much of what you do is about establishing your own identity.
Avoid hurrying into a new relationship
While it’s important to get on with life, rushing into a new romantic relationship can be risky. This may be especially tempting if you’re lonely, but keep in mind that you still need time to heal. There are lessons to be learned from your previous relationship, especially if you want to ensure that your next relationship is a healthy one.
Let this be a time to get to know yourself better, establish your own identity, and rebuild your confidence. There will be plenty of time for a new relationship when you’re ready.
Develop a plan for co-parenting
If you and your spouse have children, it will be important to create a co-parenting plan to ensure you’re on the same page when it comes to raising your children. The marriage may be over, but you will be co-parents for the rest of your lives. It’s best for your children if you can stop the bickering, take the high road, and cooperate when it comes to parenting responsibilities.
A co-parenting plan helps you avoid disagreements that might occur over everything from who gets the kids during holiday weekends to how to explain the divorce. You should also outline some ground rules for discipline, bedtime and homework routines, chores, and more. Now that you’re not living under the same roof, it’s more important than ever to send a message to your kids that you and your ex-spouse still agree on the rules of parenting.
Take care of your physical and mental health
You’ve been through a lot, and adjusting to a new life isn’t easy. That’s exactly why it’s so critical to prioritize your physical health. Physical activity improves your mood, boosts your confidence, and helps combat stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also improve your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Equally important, be sure not to ignore your mental health. Divorce can be stressful, and you may be experiencing a range of emotions. If you continue to struggle or if you begin to lose interest in everyday activities, seek help from a mental health professional.
Divorce is a major life transition, even if your marriage was not a happy one. Life may seem uncertain at the moment, but that will improve with time. Tap into the strength of friends and loved ones, and if necessary, see a mental health professional who can help you navigate this challenging chapter in your life.
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay.
Dr. David Lowenstein is a Columbus, Ohio-based psychologist with more than 35 years of experience. He conducts individual, family, and group therapy sessions in his German Village office and also via telehealth. Dr. Lowenstein is also available for expert forensic testimony, and for educational workshops and presentations. He is frequently called upon as an expert source for print, radio, and broadcast media. Contact Dr. Lowenstein at Lowenstein & Associates, 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.