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Sep 28, 2012

New Beginnings – Life After Divorce

Future Post-Divorce
Hands holding earth and a new plant growing out of it

Life after divorce


When you are deeply entrenched in the stress of divorce, it is often very difficult to see the light at the end of that long, dark tunnel. However, it is most important that you continue to focus on that light no matter how dim and remote it seems to be. It is your gateway to your future.

When the divorce is over and a new life begins, there are many joys and challenges that are encountered. It is a time when you can make giant leaps forward but you can also fall into the same traps that many newly single people encounter. Here are some of the major challenges that often arise:


New Romantic Relationships:
We all have seen examples of friends or family members who have “jumped from the frying pan into the fire” by getting involved too soon and too recklessly. While it is normal to crave positive attention and affection, it is always good to wait until you are truly comfortable with being alone before you begin a new relationship.

While 50% of first marriages end in divorce, the rate for second marriages is 60% and for third marriages 70%. The reasons for the higher divorce rates vary but generally people leap too quickly and find themselves buried in the difficult complexity of blended families and unresolved past relationship issues.

Generally, it is best to wait a year or two before getting into a serious relationship. If considering marriage, there is no substitute for attending intensive premarital counseling to identify and resolve the challenges that are likely to occur once the rose colored glasses come off.

Another important reason to refrain from jumping into a new relationship too soon is that children, family and friends need a reasonable time to adjust to the divorce before encountering a new relationship. They may intentionally or inadvertently make life more difficult for that new partner if they have not been given adequate time to adjust. Of course that only puts additional pressure on the new relationship.

Letting Children be Children:
When there is no longer another adult in the household, sometimes parents will discuss adult matters with their children. This places undue pressure on them and can rob them of their opportunity to grow up at a normal pace. Kids need their time to be kids and adults need to find other adults with whom to discuss their daily concerns, anxieties and fears.

Chores will increase for everyone when there are fewer people in the household to complete them. Children do need to step up their contributions to the household but should not be unreasonably overburdened.

Finally, never put your child in the middle of any dispute or private matter between you and your ex-spouse. This will only result in them feeling torn loyalties that significantly undermine their well-being. Even using them as messengers can cause them unnecessary stress.

Let Go of the Past:
There is no doubt that the years and months leading up to divorce brought plenty of pain and anxiety. It is critical to the quality of life after divorce that you put the past behind you. If you manage to forgive and forget the past, all of your energy can be fully devoted to appreciating the gifts of the present and building on the hopes of the future.

We all know someone who has done the opposite; dwelled on the past, held on to bitterness and continue to attack their ex-spouse at every opportunity. Take a close look at the diminished quality of their life and resolve not to waste your life on such negativity.

Be Good to Yourself
Treat yourself as though you just came through a difficult surgery or prolonged illness. Pay special attention to doing everything it takes to maximize your health and well-being. Make sure you eat a healthy diet and seek support and guidance if you are struggling with weight gain or loss. Find some form of exercise that you enjoy and stick with it as consistently as possible.

If you still find it difficult to recover from the past or to give yourself the kind of care and attention you deserve, reach out to a good therapist who can guide you in a more positive direction.

When a divorce dismantles a marriage, it is important to pick up the pieces and reconstruct your life with all the positive energy you can muster. Talk to other who have survived difficult divorces and gone on to thrive in their new lives in ways they never dreamed possible. After all, it is not just an ending; it is a new beginning.

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