So, your divorce is now complete and you are officially single! What’s next? First of all, there is probably a significant change to your life, whether you have been living apart from your ex for a while or have just recently parted ways. You are now free from the boundaries of marriage and what might have been a frustrating and chaotic divorce process but be prepared for the ups and downs of singlehood. The emotions of grief, anger, resentment, and anxiety can either creep in or flood in, at unexpected times and for unexpected reasons.
This is the time to reclaim yourself with a fresh start and move forward in a positive direction. Divorce doesn’t mean your life has ended; it signals a new beginning. As attorneys, Staack, Reighard & Simms PLLC has years of practical experience working with our clients to help them navigate the stages of divorce. We understand divorce can be difficult and are happy to share a few recommendations which can help make the transition more effective for you and everyone involved.
Take an Internal Inventory and Acknowledge Your Feelings
Now is the time to reflect on where you’ve been, and how and why you’ve arrived at this particular place in your life. That includes taking a good hard look at your past relationship, how that lead to your marriage, and why your marriage ended. You will need to be totally honest with yourself. It is natural to have some regrets and maybe even wish things had turned out differently. You may even wonder if you could have done anything to prevent it. Your regrets may evolve to feelings of great liberation at times as your “intellectual self” takes over to remind you why your relationship did not work and why divorce was the right solution for you.
Depending on who initiated the divorce and why, you might feel plenty of anger, resentment, and grief. It could be that you even still love your ex. If you left a toxic, unhealthy, or abusive marriage, you might feel overwhelming relief, but don’t be surprised if you experience sadness along with that welcome sense of calm.
As you adjust to the transformation of your life, you will periodically experience these complex and conflicting thoughts and feelings ranging from loneliness to elation. This is all normal and part of the moving on process. No matter what, be sure to recognize that your feelings are valid. It might feel overwhelming at first, but these do ease as time passes.
For now, let your feelings surface. Acknowledge them, accept them, and grow from them. Even if you thought you knew yourself pretty well, you might find marriage and divorce has changed your “sense of self.” There’s no question that relationships can change people, and you could very well realize you are not quite the same person as you were when you first got married.
Focus on what is most important to you in the present. Don’t hold tightly to the past or to the idea of the future you envisioned for you and your spouse. This will only get in the way of your healing process and make it difficult for you to move forward. The healing process generally doesn’t happen overnight. Understand that it does take time. Treat yourself kindly as you come to terms with the ending of a marriage and look ahead with optimism.
Start Planning a New Future
To make the divorce transition more effective, start by planning what you want your new future to look like and what you need to do to make that happen. This helps keep you from ruminating on the past. Be sure not to forget your current hobbies and interests. Some of these might have evolved naturally in response to your own likes, dislikes, and preferred routines. If these were good hobbies, habits, and preferences, continue to pursue them. Other habits and interests you have might only be a reflection of your ex’s needs and preferences. If that is the case, evaluate whether these are still right for you or if you are ready to discard them. After all, the way you used to spend your free time during your marriage might not align with your own interests and personal goals as you look toward the future.
Singlehood can bring plenty of changes, from quieter meals to an empty house, or even a new residence. If you have children, your co-parenting schedule could mean spending days without them for the first time. Turning to your support system of friends and family can make a big difference in your overall well-being, along with your ability to weather the changes brought about by the divorce. Your support system should be made up of empathetic listeners who offer emotional support and guidance, as well as those who provide logistical solutions such as a place to stay or help with childcare. Make sure your support system is made up of those who don’t pass judgement, push you too hard, or make you feel uncomfortable about your divorce.
That brings us to another important part of planning a new future. Consider expanding your circle of friends. Friends shared with your ex while you were married tend to gravitate toward one partner or the other after divorce. You might have “inherited” your spouse’s friends when getting married, so don’t be surprised if they drift away, whether it is by your choice or theirs. These are some ways you might meet new people and expand your social network:
- Volunteer in your neighborhood, community, or children’s school
- Take a class at the local university or in an adult education program
- Join a special interest or charitable group
- Participate in a divorce support group
- Reach out to an acquaintance to see if a friendship grows
- Look into healthy activities and mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga
Venturing into the unknown can be intimidating, but it also offers you the opportunity to experience new things that you hadn’t even considered you might be interested in. Change up your routine and normal schedule a bit. Perhaps you will decide you want to spend more time in nature or more time playing a sport you love. Maybe you would like to try new eating habits or a new exercise regime. Being productive and motivated will keep you focused and help counter loneliness, aimlessness, or unwanted emotions. Make self-care a daily habit, not an afterthought.
Enjoy the Journey
This may sound a little crazy, but try to enjoy the “after divorce journey.” This is a time for renewal and discovery. Divorce marks the conclusion of one chapter in your life, but it also allows you to move into another chapter. The end of your marriage might actually illuminate an exciting new path forward.
Circumstances change in life. If there are any issues in your divorce agreement that you feel need to be revisited reach out to a divorce lawyer at Staack, Simms & Reighard, PLLC. Above all, best of luck and make the most of this new, post-divorce life. Consider it an adventure!
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Staack, Simms & Reighard, PLLC