If you don’t get over your divorce you carry the same issues from your marriage into any post-divorce relationships.
I spoke with a Coaching client last week who is working her way through her third divorce. We were on the phone for an hour and she spent forty-five minutes talking about problems she had experienced in her first marriage. Problems which happen to be the same problems she is experiencing in her third marriage. If you don’t get over your divorce, guess what, you’ll find yourself like this woman…carrying the same problems into every relationship you have post-divorce.
She will soon have three ex-husbands that she still ruminates over, blames for her inability to have a successful marriage and spends an excessive amount of time talking about with anyone who will listen.
Why is her head still stuck in her three failed marriages? Because she didn’t do the work she needed to do after her first divorce before jumping into her second and third marriage. She believes that love and marriage will solve her problems when all she is doing is taking those problems into each of her subsequent marriages.
My client didn’t get over her first divorce which only led to more divorces. To keep you from making the same mistake, I encourage you to do the work needed to get over your divorce before jumping back into another relationship and marriage.
Everyone who ends a marriage will grieve the emotional investment they had in that marriage. They will grieve the loss of plans, hopes, and dreams they had with their spouse and for their future. Some experience that grieving process before the divorce, some are left to deal with the grieving after the marriage is over.
Wherever one finds themselves in the grieving process, it’s important to move through it in order to move forward with life and become whole, emotionally, financially, mentally and spiritually.
How does one get over a divorce in a healthy manner? See below:
10 Ways to Get Over Your Divorce and Become Whole Again
1. Controlled Communication
It’s probably best to avoid communication with an ex, if possible. If you have children, that won’t be possible so, when communicating focus on keeping the communication emotionally safe. If you must discuss child-related issues, stick to talking only about child-related issues. If you didn’t want the divorce and are hoping for a reconciliation, it’s important for your own emotional wellbeing to keep any communication strictly business.
2. Let Go of Unhelpful Thinking Patterns
It’s normal after a divorce to wander off into “woulda coulda shoulda” type thinking. Thinking about whether the marriage could have been saved only keeps you stuck and unable to move forward with your life. Indulging in “what ifs” and thinking about how things could’ve been will not help you cope with the reality of your divorce. Thinking about things that could have happened but never will happen is a waste of time and emotional energy. That kind of thinking promotes longings for something you can’t have, regret over something that is over and done with and more emotional pain that you don’t need.
3. Behave Yourself!
Sometimes divorce can make us behave in ways we normally wouldn’t and that can get nasty, quite quickly. Don’t badmouth your ex, don’t call them over the phone and express your anger, don’t use the children to punish your ex, don’t play mind games with child support and visitation. Anger is a difficult emotion for anyone to deal with and unfortunately, it’s a common emotion experienced after a divorce.
Fight the urge to misbehave. Screaming and shouting rarely makes an ex want to have a civil relationship with you. Name calling and finger pointing will make you look immature and irrational. If you need to scream and shout, do it alone or in the company of a close friend who you can trust to keep it to themselves. And, if you can’t get a handle on your anger, get into therapy so it can be worked through.
Have some pride and hold yourself to standards that would never allow you to let anger get the best of you.
4. Stay Away from People Who Don’t Promote Healing and Moving On
Surround yourself with people who are positive and willing to call you out on thinking and behaviors that hold you back from getting over your divorce. Steer clear of negative people who enjoy stirring the pot and encouraging your negative feelings. It’s natural to want to vent to those who will cheer you on and support your point of view BUT even though they feel they are giving you what you need, they are actually keeping you from focusing your energy elsewhere and in a more positive manner.
Spend time with friends and family that offer support and positivity, warmth and comfort. Those who will help you feel good about yourself, where you are in life and guide you in a direction that promotes growth and not stagnation.
5. Talk About Something Other than Your Divorce
Vent if you feel the need but know when enough is enough. Constant talking and thinking about your divorce saturates your mind and before long there will be room for nothing but negative thinking in your head. That can lead to feelings of depression and being overly emotional.
When it comes to getting over a divorce, your head and what goes through your head is your greatest tool. If you drown your brain with constant negative thoughts about your divorce, you’ll find yourself going down for the third time and unable to recover and move on.
Give yourself a certain amount of time daily to talk and think about your divorce. The rest of the day distract yourself with positive thoughts and activities. It’s making room for the good stuff in your head that will encourage healing after a divorce.
6. Don’t Drink Away Your Grief
Alcohol numbs, it doesn’t heal. Drinking to numb the pain of a divorce can have serious effects on your mood, your behavior, and your overall wellbeing. Drinking is an easy way to avoid the pain you’re in but, it will only extend the grieving process and stall the moving on process.
7. Evict Thoughts of Your Ex from Your Head
You had a daily relationship with your ex. Even if you wanted the divorce it can take time to stop thinking about your ex. Wondering how they are and what they are doing will be normal thoughts that go through your head. If you didn’t want the divorce such thoughts may become obsessive for you. You’ve been forced to let go of a relationship you wanted to hold onto, it’s only natural that part of your grieving process will be focusing on your ex’s whereabouts, who they are with, how they are spending their time.
It’s important that you remain aware that an obsessive need to keep up with your ex will lead you into harmful and painful territory. Letting go of a relationship you’d rather be nurturing is one of the hardest things any of us is called upon to do. If you’re going to get over your loss and move forward in a positive manner with your life, you need to let go of the need to keep tabs on and constantly think about your ex.
8. Allow Yourself to Feel
Divorce brings with it difficult emotions. You will feel sadness, anger, confusion, fear, anxiety and many other negative emotions attached to divorce. It’s natural to want those emotions to go away and for you to do whatever you feel will soothe them.
It’s important to feel and work through these negative emotions. The biggest mistake you can make is to bury negative emotions or put a band-aid over them. Divorce puts us all in a vulnerable position emotionally. Don’t fear that vulnerability, embrace it and work through it by expressing your feelings in a healthy manner. Talk to a friend, family member or therapist about how you are feeling. Allow yourself to feel those feelings, acknowledge them and in time they will fade.
9. Stay Away from Places That Were Special to You Two
To get over your divorce you want to avoid anything that will cause added pain. Visiting a restaurant that you two spent your first anniversary will bring up memories that can be painful. Seeing a movie at the same theater you two frequented may cause discomfort due to reminders of your ex. Consider places you two shared time together off limits until you can go there and it no longer hurts.
10. Focus on You!
Last but most important, focus on you, your immediate needs and your future. No one moves forward if their head and heart are stuck in the past. No one benefits personally if they don’t focus on their emotional and physical needs first.
Be sure you are eating and exercising properly. Daily, take the time to set goals for yourself. Goals that focus on what you want and need out of life going forward. Take the needed steps to meet those goals. Life doesn’t end with a divorce. In twenty years, you don’t want to look back and think to yourself, “I wasted years of my life when I didn’t accept and get over that divorce.”
Smile daily, work at personal growth and learning new relationship skills. Get rid of reminders of your ex in your home that evoke negative memories, treat yourself with patience and kindness. And, move forward rebuilding a life that promotes pride and contentment.