How to move on from divorce
Allow yourself time to grieve
It’s natural to want to rush into another relationship, as a way to distract yourself from the pain and loneliness. But relationship expert and author Harville Hendrix warns that unresolved feelings can damage future relationships.
More from MSN Living: The 8 most common reasons for a divorce
“The second marriage becomes a casualty of the first marriage because the first marriage was never grieved and finished,” he says. “So I began to say to people that I don't care if they date, have sex, whatever, but don't get serious with anyone—no matter what they feel—for at least two years. Grieve and experience alone- time; experience the suffering of not having anyone there.”
-- By Sharon O’Brien
Surf the waves of sadness, don’t drown
Grief isn’t predictable. One minute you’ll feel pretty good, and the next it feels like you’re drowning in sadness. In my work with post-divorce clients, I encourage them to simply ride the waves of sadness when they come, rather than trying to avoid the feelings. Clients learn to trust their ability to be OK, and over time the waves will feel less devastating and less frequent.
The future can be scary, and that’s ok
When moving on from divorce, it can be scary to contemplate a future that includes unknowns. Will you find happiness again, and another love? How will it feel not being part of a couple? Coping with feelings of loneliness and uncertainty is a natural part of life, says Buddhist nun and author Pema Chodron, and it’s important to remember that those feelings are perfectly natural. “It’s not a terrible thing that we feel fear when faced with the unknown,” Chodron says. “It is part of being alive, something we all share.”
Video: Money and divorce
After divorce, you may have to take on some of the things your partner used to handle. Don’t let that intimidate you. Embrace those new challenges, but give yourself permission to be less than perfect.
"Suddenly you have a whole new realm of learning and responsibility," says Robert Alberti, psychologist and co-author of Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends. "Dealing with those can give you confidence in your own ability. Even if you make mistakes. . . . Mistakes give you life skills and teach you that you can handle being alone."
Consider joining a divorce support group
For many people moving on after divorce, there’s a feeling of isolation—as if you are the only person who knows what you’re going through. If you need support for the emotional and psychological aspects of divorce, consider joining a therapist-led divorce support group that’s designed to help you work through your feelings. If you are ready to meet people and socialize, look for Meetup or other social groups geared toward people who’ve been divorced. In either case, you’ll meet some new, interesting people who share your experience.
Practice good self-care
With all of the legal, financial and emotional aspects of divorce—not to mention children, if you have them—it’s easy to lose sight of yourself and your emotional and physical needs.
In an interview with Forbes magazine, psychologist Kristin Davin summed up the importance of self-care: “It is important to remain healthy and take care of yourself during this very emotional and physically challenging process. People often forget to take care of themselves and often many of the healthy habits they had prior to the divorce, quickly go by the wayside due to stress, anxiety, depression, and feeling simply overwhelmed by the process. This is a key time to do what you can to take care of yourself.”
Avoid major life changes for awhile
Although it may be tempting to think about chucking everything you know and starting fresh somewhere else, don’t give in to the temptation. Decisions made in haste, anger, sadness or fear are often regretted later. Experts advise giving yourself at least a year or two to get your equilibrium back before making a major life change.
Make friends with other singles
When you were married, chances are most of your friends were, too, and it can feel awkward to be single in a sea of couples. Make an effort to meet other singles as soon as you feel ready to socialize.
“If you don’t already have single friends, then find some,” says Cathy Meyer, Divorce Support guide for About.com. “Your single friends will be a great resource because they are in a similar place and it always helps to have company when dealing with a new life situation.”
Learn from past mistakes
People who are healing from divorce may worry that the faults they recognize in themselves will be repeated in the next relationship. This is normal and expected, but it doesn’t guarantee another failure as long as you’re willing to look at your issues and address them, according to Harville Hendrix, author of Getting the Love You Want.
“You are going to take any unresolved problems into the next relationship,” he says. “The best and only thing you can do is be aware of this and resolve to respond to it differently the next time.”
Learn to appreciate your appearance
After a difficult marriage and divorce, it’s common to question your attractiveness. As part of your process of moving on, psychologist Rita Freedman, author of Bodylove: Learning to Like Our Looks and Ourselves, suggests beginning a new romance: with yourself.
“Your body can be a loyal friend and a strong ally,” she says. “Trust yourself enough to pay attention to its messages…trust yourself enough to accept the challenge of change, so that you can say to yourself… ‘Yes, I do think I’m an attractive woman. This is me and I like the way I look.’”