How do I move on after divorce?
The end of a relationship is always a difficult time. No matter who ended it or when, the future can look bleak and frightening. But life does can continue and many thousands of people go to have happy and fulfilling lives after divorce.
There are many things you’ll need to focus on during this difficult time and at times it may feel overwhelming. Like most people, you’re likely to experience a roller coaster of emotion. Some days you may feel hopeful and maybe even relieved if your marriage or relationship had been difficult for a long time. On other days you may feel sad, angry, confused and anxious.
Understanding what went wrong is an important step towards recovery. Many people get locked into questioning: Whose fault it is? What did I do wrong? How could they do that to me? Unfortunately all this kind of questioning does is lock you into the blame game which creates more bitterness and heartache. It can sometimes be more helpful to focus on what the relationship was lacking and how the relationship failed to meet your or your partners needs, rather than blaming yourselves as individuals. Though the answers may be upsetting, the greater the understanding, the easier it will be to let go of the past and move on.
Over the coming weeks and months you need to really focus on looking after yourself. The end of a relationship can damage self esteem and self confidence. The following tips will help you to get through this difficult time and face the future with hope.
- Keep talking – talking is the best way to prevent isolation and help maintain perspective. You’re not alone and sharing your heartaches and victories with a trusted friend, family member or neighbor will help to carry you along.
- Let yourself grieve – it’s normal to feel shock when a relationship or marriage finally comes to an end and it can take time for the reality of this to settle in. You’ll have good days and bad days – give yourself time.
- Let go of anger. Many people feel stuck with their anger. Either angry at themselves or angry at their partner. Holding on to this anger maintains an emotional connection between you and your ex and slows up your ability to move on.
- Make time to Relax. Whether you prefer reading a book, going for a walk, soaking in the bath, going for a run or gardening – it really doesn’t matter. Just as long as you give your body time to de-stress. And remember, laughter really is the best medicine so make sure you make time to see friends and have some fun too.
- Set small goals – when times are feeling really tough it may feel as if you’re getting nowhere. Setting yourself small achievable goals not only boosts feel good chemicals, but also boosts your confidence. Whether it’s getting a chore out of the way, going out for the evening or starting a new project at work, it will help you to see and know that you’re moving on.
- Look after your health. Make sure you take regular exercise and maintain a healthy diet. Unfortunately comfort eating is more likely to make you depressed than cheer you up.
- Plan ahead – write down a list of all the things you’re going to do when you get through this. When you have bad days, you can use this list to remind yourself that you still have a future ahead of you.
- Get help – if each day seems to be getting harder rather than better, then you may find it helpful to make an appointment to see a couples counselor. There are details of how to book a counseling session on this website.
We’re Separating, What Now?
The decision to separate is never an easy one. Whether the decision was yours, or your partner’s, you’re still likely to experience a roller-coaster of emotions.
Even when a separation has been expected, it’s common to feel a sense of shock or numbness as you begin to work through the practicalities that the decision involves. You might also feel anxious about the future and overwhelmed by the number of decisions that you need to make.
If you hadn’t wanted the marriage or relationship to end, you may be feeling powerless and angry about what’s happening as well as experiencing sadness and loss. On top of the turmoil of emotion that accompanies the ending of any relationship, there is a whole host of practical issues to address and important decisions to make about your future. Unfortunately, with all the emotion that accompanies a divorce it can easily feel overwhelming. This is a time when you need to get the support and advice of other people. Couple counseling definitely will help. You might also find it helpful to write down all the things you’ve got to deal with.
Your list might include:
- The Children – this of course is the most important issue. Deciding how both of you will continue to provide support and time. You’ll need to think about access arrangements, child care, telling the school, seeing in-laws, birthday and Christmas arrangements. You’ll also need to talk to your partner about what to say to the children and how to manage their emotions.
- Property – you’ll need to decide who will live where. Can one of you stay in the same house or will you sell up and both move. Who will get what from the home and where will pets live.
- Finances – running two homes inevitably means surviving on less income. You’ll need to agree financial support for the children, and who will pay what essential bills. You’ll also need to agree on separating any savings and/or debts that you have and set up separate bank accounts.
- Friends/Family – who will tell parents/siblings/extended family members and friends. How much will you say and who needs to know what? How will you maintain mutual friendships and handle relationships with in-laws.
- Personal Survival – what practical steps do you need to make to ensure you cope during this difficult time. Which friends can support you practically, and which emotionally. How can you ensure you have space to relax and space to grieve. And what treats can you reward yourself with when times are tough?
Mediation counseling can help separating couples come to an agreement around arrangements for their children as well as sorting out issues like finances and property.