Divorce is always difficult, no matter who you are or how long you’ve been married. If you’ve been married for a long time, you may be feeling lost – as if you no longer know how to be you now that you’re single again. And being married for only a short time doesn’t make it any easier – you may be wondering how you could have chosen so poorly or feeling like a failure for not being able to make it work any longer than you did. But the reality is that divorce isn’t usually the fault of just one partner or caused by just one thing, and most people do the best they can in their marriages – they just sometimes don’t work out. And when that happens, it’s important to forgive yourself, adapt to your new life, and move on. Take a look at some tips for surviving and adapting to your single status in the aftermath of a divorce.
Give Yourself Time
Accept that you’re not going to know what your new single life looks like for a while yet. First, you’ll need time to mourn the loss of your marriage. And it’s important to give yourself that time. Even if you wanted the divorce, even if you initiated the divorce, and even if you’re feeling relief that it’s over, you didn’t always feel that way. Chances are that when you got married, you envisioned sharing your lives, raising children and grandchildren together, and growing old together. Just because your marriage didn’t work out like you pictured it doesn’t mean that you can’t mourn the loss of those hopes and dreams.
In some cases, people who leave unhappy or toxic marriages feel that they shouldn’t feel sad that it’s over because they know that the marriage wasn’t healthy for them and getting out was the right thing to do. But doing the right thing doesn’t always mean doing the easy thing, and it doesn’t always feel good right away. It’s OK to feel sad, it’s OK to miss your former spouse, and it’s OK to mourn your vision for your marriage – even if the reality of your marriage never measured up to that vision.
Rebuild Your Confidence
A divorce can really shake your sense of yourself. If your spouse initiated the divorce, you may feel rejected and unlovable. If you initiated the divorce, you may feel like a failure and as if you’re unworthy of love and affection. These feelings are natural, but they don’t reflect reality. You deserve to love and be loved, and you’re worthy of receiving affection and capable of returning it in kind. But you need to work on loving yourself and rebuilding your confidence first.
Therapy can help with that, and therapy is a good idea for anyone who is going through a divorce or has recently been through one. It can also help to surround yourself with supportive friends and family who will remind you that you have a lot to offer to the people you love, both in and out of romantic relationships. This is also a good time to do things that reinforce your sense of yourself as a confident, competent person. Do things that you love and know that you’re good at. Join the company bowling team if you know that you’re good at knocking down pins. Start a garden if you know that you have a green thumb. Do you love to cook, but you’ve always stuck with the same dozen or so recipes that you know really well? Then this is the time to sign up for a French cooking class where you can build on your existing skills and learn something new.
Do Things That You Didn’t Do While You Were Married
Any marriage involves compromise, and it’s common for people to give up things they enjoy – sometimes little things, sometimes big things – because their partner doesn’t enjoy the same things. Maybe you love going out to eat, but your spouse preferred to eat at home whenever possible, so you learned to do the same. Maybe you enjoy camping, but your spouse preferred hotels, so you accommodated them most of the time.
This is the time to rediscover the things that you love. You don’t have to be considerate of your partner’s preferences right now, so make a point of indulging your own. Go out to eat, go camping. Arrange the kitchen the way that you like. Put the toilet paper on the roller in the direction that you prefer. At some point, you may have a new partner and you may need to make compromises again, but for now, you don’t have to, and you should take advantage of it! Do the things that you didn’t do while you were married, and maybe rethink what you’d be willing to compromise on if you decide to get into another serious relationship later on.
Stick to Casual Dating For Awhile
Marriage can be great, but it doesn’t need to be everyone’s goal, and a relationship doesn’t need to be headed toward marriage in order to be successful. When you feel ready to get back into the dating pool again (don’t rush it) consider casual dating. Date with no expectation of monogamy, settling into a long-term relationship, or eventual marriage. Play the field! Enjoy meeting new people and participating in fun activities together without a lot of deeper expectations.
It’s easy to feel like marriage is the ultimate goal, especially once you’ve already been married. But really, what are the chances that the next person you date will be “the one”? There are a lot of people in the world! It’s entirely possible to have fun with a person whose company you enjoy, but who you don’t want to eventually be married to. You have plenty of time to decide whether marriage is in the cards for you again or not, but for the time being, just try to enjoy being single and meeting new people.
Adjusting to singlehood after a divorce is easier for some people than it is for others. No matter how you’re feeling about the adjustment, remember that your feelings are valid and that eventually, you won’t be adjusting anymore – you’ll be living and enjoying your new, single life.