Welcome to divorcehood! Divorce is a time of change and transformation as life as it was before the split no longer resembles what it has become. Everything from name, address, finances, and relationship are subject to an overhaul. One aspect of ending your marriage that may take you by surprise is the sense of losing your identity.
Who were you during your marriage?
Part of a couple.
Now who and what are you?
You’re no longer a wife. An ex-wife, but divorce prompts a major shift in relationship status and identity. Most equate an ex-wife to crazy, or perhaps the woman who did him wrong. At least that’s what he is likely to say about you to save face or avert attention away from whatever his role may have been in the divorce.
No longer a partner, you are now a single. At times not being connected to another may make you feel lost or lonely, but it’s actually an opportunity to get to know yourself again. You are not the same woman who fell in love with and exchanged vows with your ex. Years have passed, you have had opportunities to change and grow as a person, and now you need to reflect on who you have become.
Prepare to check the “divorced” box on forms and to bypass “Mrs.” from now on. If you have kids in school or young enough for you to take them to doctors and other appointments, be prepared to still be called “Mrs.” Because others just others get confused or make assumptions. If you change your name after divorce, this is particularly annoying to feel like you have to set the record straight everywhere you go. When it comes down to it, you’re the mom- whatever they call you!
You’re no longer part of a couple, you’re a party of one, and may sometimes feel like the odd one out or a third wheel. Sure, it is awkward, at times, but there’s no shame in being “one”. Hopefully you’ve figured out by now that, in many ways, being with just yourself can be far superior to being with someone who makes you feel alone or miserable! In your new single status, you have the choice to add someone to your life if you decide that they are worthy to be a part of it!
I would encourage all who are going through a divorce to take their time to become reacquainted with themselves and to figure out their own needs or wants before jumping into any serious relationships. Date yourself, determine what you need in your life and from a partner. Maybe coupling up again isn’t what you really want, or perhaps just not for a while- and that’s okay!
Just as you went through a phase of discovery and self-exploration during the teen and early adult years, this is another time to grow, reinvent, and have new experiences! You are not the same woman you were when you became a wife, and that’s also okay! Who could expect you to be the same person after the passing of years and some major life events? Your priorities, beliefs, and other important aspects of your life have most certainly evolved since becoming a bride. Get in touch with the new you, set some goals for the next phase of your life, and treat yourself to some new experiences!
Are you going to change your name after divorce? That decision is a very personal decision that you will make for the reasons that make the most sense to you. Losing your married name comes with the consequences of needing to have your name formally changes on every sort of identification, with your employer, and everyone who knows you by the old name. Changing your name offers a way to really feel like the slate is wiped clean. You will no longer seem as connected to your ex by trading in his name.
If you have children, this decision is more complicated, because you also share a name with them. For school purposes and to continue to easily be identified as their mother, you may choose to keep the old name. When your last name is different, it’s not as easy to be associated as belonging to your kids; yet, when you still have the last name as their father, you will more easily be assumed to still be a couple and are more likely to be referred to as his missus.
The most important lesson to learn about your post-divorce identity is that you are you. Despite divorce, name changes, and anything else that occurs, you are still in there under all the layers of heartache and transformation. Perhaps you need to become re-acquainted with yourself and become comfortable within the skin of your new single status; but, try to think of this as an exciting time of new beginnings and a real life do-over! The best part is that you can do it your way this time because you are in charge of your destiny- and your identity!