by Kristen Hilty
Now what? When you get married your identity becomes “spouse” and possibly “so-and-so’s mom”. Most of us don’t go into marriage thinking we’re going to get divorced. Most times our life has a general roadmap: school, possibly more school, some time to enjoy financial and personal independence, marriage, kids – your Plan A. But life likes to throw obstacles and curve balls and now post-divorce, you need a Plan B, or a path to move forward.
What does that look like for me? What do I want as an individual, not a couple? What do I want my life to look like?
The key is acceptance: You are no longer someone’s husband or wife. What are you going to do with that reality? Divorce is not only an ending; it is also a beginning.
Finding Your “Plan B” and Rebuilding Your Life After Divorce
Keep in contact with! Be prepared to find out that when things get “real” and “important”, you will find out quickly that many of the people you thought were your friends, are actually just acquaintances. Also be prepared that it can become awkward to be in social situations with married couples and/or married couples with their children. When being single is new to you, it can feel sad and lonely to be in those situations. It’s probably going to feel that way for a while and that’s totally normal. Your friends that invite you to gatherings are doing it out of love for you, but it’s okay to take a pass on those events for a while if you think you will be uncomfortable. It’s very hard for people that haven’t been through a divorce to be truly empathetic, so give them some grace. If they are your true friends, they will understand if you respectfully pass on some invitations. Healing yourself should come first.
To “move on” after divorce you need to be open to new experiences, new ways of looking at things and new relationships. You have to take an active role in rebuilding your life, not sit and wait for a new life to come to you. You may find that people you barely knew will step up and be there for you. When that happens be grateful for that gift.
If you’re overwhelmed reach out to a friend and get coffee or lunch. Try a new workout at home. Try a new recipe. You’ll gain confidence and a sense of accomplishment with each new thing you try. But don’t stay there: keep making small steps and be sure to do so as often as you can to keep momentum. Pretty soon you’ll have a new, separate identity outside of “spouse” and can keep exploring and trying new things – and meeting new people in the process. You might find things you hated when you were married are things you actually love now. As an example, I have a client that absolutely hated doing yard work when she was married. After she was separated, she realized that she actually loved it – mostly because there was nobody there to tell her she was doing it wrong or “supervising” her, but hey…what a nice little win in finding something new that she enjoyed and found relaxing and rewarding.
Moving on after divorce, no matter how strong a person you are is challenging, but you can take control of your alone time and social life with big or small steps, and surround yourself with people and activities that make YOU happy.
Most importantly, don’t try to re-invent yourself or start dating too quickly. It’s important to learn how to be happy alone if you haven’t been alone in many years. You will eventually learn that being “alone” does NOT mean being “lonely”. If you are sharing custody with your soon-to-be Ex-Spouse, use your alone time to “re-charge your battery”. I bet you will find you are an even better and more “present” parent when your children come back to you.
There are amazing therapists, counselors, and divorce coaches that are terrific resources for you during this time of change.
If you’re going through a divorce or thinking about it and may need some help finding the right resources, contact Better Divorce Solutions for a complimentary consultation. There is a light and the end of the tunnel and you don’t have to get there alone.