Divorce After a Long Marriage: How to Rebuild Your Life
You stayed with your spouse far longer than you should have, but you‘ve finally pulled the plug and gotten divorced. Despite your unhappiness in the marriage, you may be surprised to find yourself feeling emotional, unsettled, and intimidated by the single life that now lies ahead of you. How do you begin to rebuild your life?
The emotional trauma of divorce can be akin to experiencing a death. Even if you desperately wanted the divorce, you may still grieve the loss of your marriage and any dreams, hopes, friendships, and family that may end with it. Allow yourself the space to grieve these losses. Express your feelings in a journal, lean on a caring and empathetic family member, or talk to a professional therapist. You will need to process these complex feelings in a healthy way to accept the past and rebuild your life with new hope.
2. Develop Self-Compassion
As you grieve and process your past, be patient and show compassion to yourself. Don‘t beat yourself up for not ending the marriage sooner or for other regrets. Instead, treat yourself with empathy and kindness, as you would a friend. Focus on what you learned from the marriage and how the knowledge will help you grow. Studies indicate that having self-compassion after divorce will help speed your emotional healing. University of Arizona researchers found that divorced people who they initially judged to have high self-compassion after divorce showed higher positive emotions and less divorce-related emotional difficulties nine months later than those who showed low self-compassion at the outset.
3. Find the Support You Need
Although you may not want to bother anyone with your troubles or feel too embarrassed to open up emotionally, you should not go through this challenging period alone. Talk to people who will support you, whether family and friends, an online support group, or a counselor. Remember that not everyone can provide the support you need: some people may want you to recover faster than you can or will otherwise try to impose their ideas upon you. Just because someone cares about you doesn‘t mean they can provide the type of support that helps you. Be sure to choose the right support system, and don‘t feel bad about steering divorce talk away from those who mean well but aren‘t helping.
4. Rewrite Your Life Script
When you married, you thought your life would turn out a certain way. Divorce brought an end to that particular vision. After you grieve the loss of your expectations, consider the opportunity you now have to rewrite your life script. How would you like the next chapter of your life to unfold? What might you be able to experience now that you couldn‘t while you were married? Brainstorm a list of all the things you want to accomplish in this stage, then pick one or two to develop a plan of action. Whether your new vision is changing careers or taking a trip to Paris, have fun with it and get excited!
5. Practice Self-Care
Self-care generally involves taking care of your body and mind by eating healthy food, getting ample exercise and sleep, and spending time in activities you enjoy regularly. In divorce, however, self-care also means taking restorative steps to protect yourself emotionally as you heal.
For example, setting boundaries with your ex is a crucial element of self-care, especially if you will co-parent with them or will otherwise have regular contact. You must make a conscious effort to ensure that your new relationship is markedly different from the one you had in your marriage, from how you communicate to discussion topics. You can only fully move on until you both become accustomed to these new rules of interaction.
Holding off on entering a new relationship is also a form of self-care. While it may be tempting to receive validation and attention from a love interest following divorce, dating or starting a new relationship can compound your emotional wounds if you‘re still healing.
If you‘re considering divorce but want to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, contact the Miller Law Group at (914) 685-9805 or online to schedule a confidential consultation. Our team is excited to help you move forward.