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“When two people decide to get a divorce, it isn’t a sign that they ‘don’t understand’ one another, but a sign that they have, at least, begun to.”
— Helen Rowland
Divorce is an incredibly common thing. It is said that 40-50% of marriages in the United States will end in divorce. (American Psychological Association)
That being said, I have never been divorced. Though currently married, it is my first time, and there has never been any doubt that we would stay married.
I wanted to make that clear before I go any further. I’m not writing from personal experience. But I did some reading, and I am familiar enough with the subject through the experience of friends and family.
Why is divorce so complicated?
I think we can all agree: divorce is a complicated, often messy, situation. Lines are drawn, and words get spoken that you can never, ever take back. It affects you forever.
The first reason why divorce is such a complicated topic is the children involved. Many married couples have children, and their feelings need to be considered along with yours. There are sometimes custody proceedings and supervised visits after divorce.
Another issue that complicates things is all your STUFF. Who gets what? What gets tossed out? Who gets custody of your furry friends? More complicated, possibly, is the question of new living arrangements.
Finally, money makes things a bit tricky. Usually the person who makes the most money has to pay the other person a percentage of their earnings (alimony)
Navigating depression after divorce
Whether your depression is due to the end of the relationship itself, or whether it pre-dated the end of your marriage, it can be hard to deal with.
It feels so hopeless doesn’t it? You spend so many days just wanting to wallow under a blanket in bed, and carrying out day to day tasks seems impossible.
Here are my suggestions for moving on after your marriage ends, especially in the midst of a period of depression.
It’s no secret: I usually recommend journaling for any difficult life situation. For real. There is a reason I started blogging. Writing can be so therapeutic!
Not sure where to start? Here are some easy steps to help you begin your journaling journey.
- Buy a journal (or download a good app to use if you prefer the electronic route)
- Set a reminder on your phone to write for 5 minutes a day. You can always do more if time allows!
- Start writing! You can write about yourself, your ex, your relationship, your insecurities, your kids, anything.
Grab a cute journal here: https://amzn.to/2JiE1Ss
Talk with your ex
While trying to navigate the weighty feelings that come after divorce, I recommend sitting down and having a heart to heart with your ex/soon to be ex. Being able to openly discuss the things that are bothering you is a very freeing thing!
Not able to talk with them? Maybe they aren’t open to discussing something so difficult, and just need some space. Maybe you two did not split amicably and talking to them brings unwanted toxicity into your life. If that’s the case, I recommend making an appointment with a therapist.
I know, I know. That can be daunting. Check out this post where I outline what you need to know before your first therapy appointment.
Talk with your kids
I really don’t think this is the time for the Magical Divorce Fairy story. Maybe you’ve done that and it’s worked. If so, kudos. But honestly, your kids are smarter than you think. They can likely tell something is upsetting you, unless you’re Meryl Streep.
Take the time to sit down and be honest with them. For one thing, if you love them, you owe them the courtesy of the truth. For another thing, lying or covering up the truth breeds a culture of shame and dishonesty in the household. Do you want them as teens to lie to you about their relationships? Don’t set the precedent now.
Make sure you get “me time”
Now that you’re a single parent, it is time to start prioritizing self care. Life is chaotic with children, even with two parents living under the same roof. Doing it on your own, except on every other weekend? It’s a lot.
I know it can be hard, but try to make the self care happen. Whether it’s dropping the kids off at day care an hour earlier so you can hit the gym, or calling in for back up around bed time so you can enjoy a relaxing bath… Make it work. You deserve it!
Once you’re divorced, you are going to hit another phase of life: Re-entering the dating world. I can imagine how scary this is. It has probably been years since you’ve dated, and the divorce may have shattered your self-esteem.
Here’s some advice for jumping back on the saddle that will make it way easier.
Be open up front
Let them know you’re divorced. I shouldn’t have to say that dishonesty isn’t cool, but maybe you are not super experienced. I do not recommend hiding that you’re recently divorced.
I’m sure some kind of topic will come up on the first date that will force this subject. When it does, just take a deep breath, and try to be as casual as possible.
Talk to your kids about it
Let your kids know you’re dating. Again, you don’t want to encourage dishonesty in your relationship with them. You also want to show them what it means to move on in a healthy way so they can emulate that.
If you are uncomfortable telling your kids that you’re dating again, try asking an open-ended question. Ask them: How would you feel if I felt ready to start dating again? They will likely have a bunch of follow up questions. This is a good way to encourage discussion.
Don’t rush into it
Don’t make the mistake of rushing into it. There is no timeline that you have to follow. Some people are immediately ready to start dating again. For some, that can take months– even years!
Just take a step back and evaluate what you want out of your life now that your marriage is over. Really ask yourself if you even want to be romantically attached. Of the answer is no, that’s perfectly okay. Give yourself a little grace.
Put yourself and your kids first
Make sure you always put yourself and your kids first. Even if you feel ready to date, you don’t want to take that step with someone who wants to push you past your boundaries. Go at your own pace.
You also want to make your kids a priority. They could potentially have a lot of negative feelings about you dating. Not that this should hold you back from doing what feels right for you, but try to be sympathetic. After all, divorce is a lot for kids to process.
Check out these great books about divorce:
Starting over after divorce
Divorce is complicated no matter what your situation. There are tons of emotions involved, even if you are happy your marriage is over. It affects you, your kids, and the rest of your family.
Be mindful of your emotions and acknowledge that they’re there. (Break out that journal!) And put yourself first for once.
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Have you ever been divorced? What about dated or married someone who had? What was your experience like? I would love to hear about it in the comments!
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