12 Things Every Woman Needs to Know About Life After Divorce
Feb. 19, 2020
No matter the circumstances of your situation, it can be tough to see the path toward a happier future. But, keeping a few things front-of-mind can help you work on yourself, adjust to your new relationship with your ex, and become the person you want to be in your new chapter.
Take charge of your happiness and navigate tricky situations like parenting with your ex, dating again, and learning about who you are solo. You have to say to yourself: As hard as this all was, Im going to move forward, says Sussman. Here are 12 things you should know about embracing the change to build a life you love after divorce:
1. You dont have to go it alone.
If its available to you, Sussman cant recommend professional counseling enough. Sessions will help you work through your grief, which can be quite complicated, especially if there are underlying issues of abandonment or trauma, says Sussman. Until you take the time to mourn and heal, its difficult to move on, she says. How to make it happen : You have several options for finding a therapist that suits your comfort level, schedule, and budget. Look into online therapy, consult a benefits coordinator through your employer to see what coverage your plan offers, or ask for a referral from a trusted friend.
2. Iron out parenting issues.
Theres a lot of emphasis on being successful co-parents after divorce but there are alternatives that may be better for your situation, including parallel parenting (where both parents are present in their kids lives but maintain no interaction with each other). Finding the parenting agreement thats best suited for your life as a divorced couple is super important to moving forward, says Sussman.
How to make it happen : Complicated parenting agreements only add confusion and tension, says Sussman. Make sure you've worked this out clearly and concisely with the help of a professional, like a mediator.
3. Let things go.
If you don't, you'll continue to fight and reenact all of the problems you had when you were in a relationship. My advice is to resist micromanaging every situation. If you go after your ex every time they do something you think is wrong, youll create more problems, says Sussman.
How to make it happen : Give yourself a predetermined cool-down period (one hour? one day?) before responding to comments that trigger your anger.
4. Cut ties if you can.
If kids arent in the mix, do not talk to or try to be friends with your ex. Again: do not try to be friends with your ex. I dont believe [former] couples can or should be friends. You need time to adjust to this new situation, and if theyre still in your life, its possible you will get triggered every time you see them, says Sussman. If in one year you want to grab a cup of coffee, fine, but keep it radio silence for the first year, she says.
How to make it happen : Sussman suggests zero contact at this time. You can be upfront and honest about your need for space. Say "no" to attempts they make to get together, and block them on your phone if they do not honor your request. (This is only if you don't have kids. If you do, refer to #2, re: working out a clear-cut parenting agreement, so contact you have regarding the kids can be as pleasant as possible).
5. Brush it off.
If your ex jumped back into a relationship or is even remarrying, Sussman has one phrase for you: Take the high road. (This actually applies to any dealings with your ex, FYI.) Dont let that be a reason to talk bad about their new partner. Remember if theyre happy, theyll be a better person, which is always a positiveespecially if you two share kids.
How to make it happen : W hile keeping your opinion to yourself is oftentimes easier said than done, a good therapist or a journal can help you process your feelings and reactions.
6. Don't play the comparison game.
Speaking of, if they have moved onwhether you initiated the divorce or notyou may be dealing with a mixed bag of emotions, all of which are valid. However, keep in mind that their relationship status is not a reflection of you. You have to try really hard to say, You know what? That has nothing to do with me and where I am in my life, says Sussman.
How to make it happen : Mute them on social media so you don't feel like their life is being thrown in your face.
7. Give thanks.
As you get into the groove of your new life after divorce, tell your ride-or-dies you know they were there for you and you love and appreciate them for it. Sussman says this can mean taking a couple girlfriends out for dinner, or writing them a cute little card about what their support meant for you.
How to make it happen: Come up with a list of the people who stood by your side and start making plans!
Think: Are you taking care of yourself? Eating well? Doing workouts that make you feel badass? I like for people to get all of that in order before dating. When you increase your self-confidence, youll build the best life for yourself, says Sussman.
How to make it happen: Sit down and write out a mental and physical checklist to take stock of where you're at. Choose one to tackle and formulate a plan of action. Maybe you skimped on your running routine during your divorce, and you can sign up for a running club now. Or, maybe your stove's starting to collect dust. Start surfing IG to plan three meals you'll make this week.
9. Rediscover hobbies.
When youre in a relationship, your likes, dislikes, and hobbies can blend into theirs. After divorce, theres this opportunity to cultivate your own hobbies and interests. People notice that the world seems different or life has changed since they were last single. [Discovering what you love to do] is an opportunity to date yourself before you date someone else, says Sussman.
How to make it happen: It's all about what you feel like you have the energy for now. Commit to learning something youve always wanted to try, like rock climbing (!). Or, ease in by checking out a few books from the library and simply snuggling up with one after the kids go to bed.
10. Aim for new, new, new.
In many ways, this is your opportunity to start over again, says Sussman. And while that can sound scary, it can also be exciting and liberating. Consider this the new era of youwithout a partner to consider.
How to make it happen: Think as big or small as you'd like. Is it time to take that hiking trip your ex was too busy to go on? How about trying a daring new hairstyle or color that you shied away from during your marriage?
11. Know what you want.
If you decide to start dating, youll want to identify the important things youre looking for in a new relationship . Otherwise, if you go at this blindly, you may be setting yourself up to get hurt or repeat the same relationship mistakes of your past, says Sussman.
How to make it happen: Make a list of your top qualities in a mate, as well as the top qualities you want in a relationship. Refer back to this list and measure any new dating prospects against these wants and needs and adjust where needed.
12. Follow your own timeline.
No reason to rush dating or hold back if youre ready to get out there (despite what your ex-MIL or your new neighbor says). Basically: do you. Dont fall into the trap of comparing yourself to anyone else because we all are in different situations, says Sussman. Its okay if the thought of a new relationship makes your skin crawlyour goal might be to create a family of you and your kids and settle in or make this the year of self-care.
How to make it happen: Real talk from Sussman: "Healing takes time." As soon as you feel the comparison game creeping in, give yourself grace (it's a natural reaction!), then remind yourself that you're taking your own path, and that's okay. Life after divorce is "not a sprint," reminds Sussman.
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