When you build a life with someone, losing that takes a toll. If for whatever reason a marriage ends in divorce, that marks the end of one trajectory in life and the beginning of a new path. Though getting divorced will be stressful, surviving it and thriving on the other side of it is possible. Below are a few tips for surviving divorce and flourishing in this new season of life.
8 Tips for Surviving Divorce
1. Mourn your loss
The dissolution of a marriage is not a small thing. When you got married, no doubt you and your beloved had ideas, dreams, plans, and hopes for your life together. You may have already begun down that path, having children together, building a home, making mutual friends, and having many shared memories.
Mingled with those will no doubt be painful memories. Whatever your marriage was, the loss of it is something you can take seriously by mourning it. We kid ourselves if we think that ending a marriage won’t have an emotional and mental impact on us. You can mourn the good that you lost in that union, and whatever hopes and expectations you may have held for your future that are now foreclosed upon.
You can come to terms with your new marital status. If you feel angry about what happened, allow yourself to feel that. If you feel sad that your marriage has ended, that’s a natural enough reaction to such a situation, and allowing yourself to feel sad is the honest thing to do. Give yourself time to grieve what you’ve lost.
This will allow you to process whatever feelings you may have about the situation and toward your ex so that you don’t hold onto any feelings or thoughts that may negatively affect you.
Often, people move on to another relationship without having dealt with their last one, and they carry things into the new relationship, or their resentment of their ex affects how they relate to the kids. Give yourself a fair chance by mourning and dealing with the end of your marriage.
2. Rally your troops
When you go through tough times, you need your community around you. Having people who support you and can be a source of comfort is a huge help, and these can be friends, family members, or your church community. Walking alone during a tough time can be harder than doing it with others. We need the encouragement and wisdom of others during such seasons.
Of course, there may be times you want to be by yourself to deal with what’s happened but knowing that you have people to stand with you is a lifeline. As you rally your troops around you, you may also find that other people choose to distance themselves from you as a divorced person. They may have their reasons, but that’s not your burden to carry.
3. Practice self-care
When we are going through a rough time, the temptation is to neglect ourselves while we dwell on our thoughts and feelings. Neglecting self-care isn’t to your benefit, however. Taking time to focus on the things that promote your overall health is of the utmost importance and is how you’ll survive divorce and thrive in this new season of your life.
Taking care of yourself will give you the necessary capacity to deal with the changes that inevitably take place after divorce. So, take the time to build your relationship with God. Pray, read Scripture, listen to sermons, music, or podcasts that help you revel in the goodness and grace of God. Instead of turning from God toward something else for solace, turn to him and cling to him.
Additionally, other aspects of your self-care should remain a fixture. Take care of yourself by eating well. Drink lots of water, have proper breakfasts with whole fruit and some protein thrown in there’re for good measure, and plan your meals out so you have fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and a whole raft of other nutrients that will keep you healthy and give your body the energy and immunity boost it needs.
If you eat well, it’ll help you sleep well and avoid cravings that will end in refined sugary or fatty things, which may introduce other issues down the line. Taking care of your health will help you avoid falling sick, and the right foods will give you energy. Getting good sleep by having a bedtime routine that gets you in bed at the same time, avoids electronic devices and stimulants close to bedtime – all this will help your overall health.
Good sleep is great for cognitive awareness, emotional intelligence, and a lot more. Sleep is a blessing from the Lord, one you should take advantage of. Making sure to get in some exercise every day will also be good for your health. Not only does it help you deal with stress, but the mood boost that comes from exercise will help you face your day with a more positive outlook.
Lastly, one aspect of self-care to take seriously during this season is to avoid picking up any new unhealthy habits. Avoid drugs, smoking, taking alcohol excessively, or engaging in risky behavior such as unprotected sex or seeking adrenaline rushes in unsafe driving. These things may offer a high, and a distraction from your present situation, but they will only cause more trouble in the long run.
4. Practice gratitude
Choosing to focus on the positive things and celebrating all that the Lord has blessed you with is a powerful tool for surviving divorce. An outlook informed by gratitude helps us to tackle life and the problems we face with more energy. Being thankful helps you to focus on what you have, and that appreciation helps you savor the gifts right in front of you.
You may choose to keep a gratitude journal, or you can make it part of your morning and evening routine to ask yourself what you’re grateful for. It’s a wonderful way to start or end your day, giving you an expensive perspective on your life.
5. Enjoy your kids
Whatever else divorce may have changed; it doesn’t change the fact that your kids are your kids. Whether you have full, joint, partial, or no custody over your kids, they are still your children. Enjoy them and the time you spend with them – find out what’s happening in their lives, pay close attention to their emotional cues and how they’re taking the divorce, but just be there enjoying every minute with them.
One mistake people make is to spend the time with their kids trying to outdo the other parent or figure out what’s happening in their ex’s life. The time with your kids is about them, not about your ex.
6. Remember that life goes on
Divorce brings many changes in your life, but life does go on. You should laugh, do the things you enjoy, go to work, learn new skills. If your ex did all the cooking or the handiwork around the house, this new reality allows you to learn something new for yourself. Doing the things you enjoy shouldn’t stop because your marriage has ended, and neither should doing the things you must, such as going to work.
7. Skip the drama
Don’t get bogged down with thoughts of rewinding the clock or get involved with drama such as fighting with your ex and using your kids as spies to know what’s happening in your ex’s life. It’s natural to ask yourself what happened to arrive at the place where your marriage ended. It’s also worthwhile asking what part you may have played in what happened, and to get to work on those things.
Working on these things with someone like a trained therapist can help you work through areas of growth while keeping you away from maudlin and unhelpful introspection. Do yourself the favor of skipping drama.
Fighting with your ex can become the focus of your interactions, and that can be toxic for yourself and your kids. Your kid should never become go-betweens or messengers for you and your ex, nor are they sources of information for “dirt” on your ex. Your focus should be on your children and the new life ahead of you.
9. Re-Invent your life
This is a great time to focus on the future and to think about what you do want for your life. If there are things that didn’t work for you previously, start to think about how you would like your life to be now and into the future. Look at each day as a clean slate.
What are the pieces you would like to add to today? Are there hobbies you would like to start, skills you would like to develop, or a new career you’d like to transition into? Perhaps this could be a good time to take the leap.
Don’t get stuck in the trap of continuing to live in a way that doesn’t work for you. All too often, people continue into the future by dragging the past behind them, doing the same old things that didn’t work then and certainly won’t work for you now. Replace the old habits with new habits.
If you overworked before, but now you are a single parent, you may have to figure out how to scale back on your work hours so you can balance supporting your children with spending quality time with them. If you had more time before and now you are having to work full-time, you will have to be intentional about how and when you spend quality time with your children.
For example, planning a date night with your children, uninterrupted. Remember, your children don’t want ‘things’ they want quality time with you.
If you are at a different phase of your life and, either you don’t have children, or your children are grown, think about how you would like to spend your time. If you would like to travel more, start exploring places you would like to visit and plan a trip!
Whatever your focus is whether it’s getting healthier, developing stronger relationships, or being more diligent about your finances, start establishing manageable goals to focus your attention in these areas. Your life can be whatever you’d like it to be, so get planning!
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