For most women the end of a marriage feels like starting life completely over from scratch. So although it might feel strange, divorce can ultimately become the "best, worst thing" that ever happens.
And, armed with that mindset, life after divorce can signal a new beginning. One day, your marriage will be a thing of your past; even though you may share things like children, pets, homes, and in some cases financial responsibilities, you will be able to move past it.
The typical "adjustment period" can take anywhere from one to five years and includes the following phases: physical separation, breaking free from your past, revealing and then releasing the old wounds and hurts, forgiving your ex and yourself, creating the life you love, rejuvenation, and then beginning to entertain the idea of dating and inviting a new man into your life.
In case you need some help with the steps you need to take in your life after divorce head on and move past the hurt, here at Dating with Dignity we have four steps to moving past the hurt and getting on with your life!
1. Make a plan.
Along with a legal plan to make your divorce as do-able as possible, you also need to set out and make a "Whole Life Reinvention Plan" for what your next steps are emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually. If you have kids, decide what your relationship needs to be with your ex. Sit down and figure out your finances with an expert if possible, and make sure you plan accordingly.
Do you need to take back control of your physical self? Start exercising regularly? Lose weight? Or maybe it's time to cut your hair and reinvent how you define yourself through a simple physical change.
Are there new hobbies you want to pursue? Is it time to consider going back to school or put your mind on getting a promotion at work? Although all parts of your life will probably be different than if you were still married, make sure you're setting up yourself for a safe future in which you create a powerful "whole-life" reinvention plan where you are the focus. It can be a six-month or a five-year plan! Whatever it is, keep yourself as a priority.
2. Create a support team.
If you don't think your support team is big enough, build it up. Every woman needs an "Ex-Husband Protection Network"! Find a group of women or even one good friend who is going through a similar experience to aid you in your healing process.
If you need someone who is qualified to help you move through the process and create your "Reinvention Plan," consider talking with a qualified therapist or coach who specializes in breakups and/or divorce. Also, having good friends who make you laugh and can do activities with you as you begin to recreate your new life will help you continue without having to feel like you're completely alone.
3. Re-discover your true self.
If you think about it, being married to someone -- whether it was for six months or 30 years -- you probably felt like you were part of a whole. Guess what: you, even as a single woman, are also whole! And this is the perfect time to come to grips with your authentic self, 100%.
You may have forgotten things you enjoy doing solo or neglected things you used to do when you were single. So as you take time to readjust your life, you can also reclaim those things that make you happy.
Often, we spend so much time living to make our partner happy that we forget to even ask ourselves what we need, what we like, and what we want to create in our lives. Taking time to dig deep will help you dig out of the crushing burden of your split and emerge with a clear picture of who you are at your most magnificent, loveable and loving self.
4. Learn to let go.
Letting go of any bitterness and resentment you're harboring toward your former spouse can often be the hardest thing to do. Whether you left your spouse or he left you, there will likely be feelings of animosity and anger. If you can't get past those vindictive feelings, there is no way you will be able to recharge your new life.
Devote the time you might spend being angry to creating the space to love yourself through "random acts of kindness." Make sure you speak with gentleness and compassion to yourself, even when you make mistakes. Have patience with the ups and downs of the transition and recognize that it is truly a process. Most important, surround yourself with people who love you and make you happy.
Remember that how you get through and over divorce to move on with your life is completely up to you. YOU and ONLY you can take control of your life. This is your time to discover what you truly want out of your life and what makes you happy.
If you think you might need more help finding out what it is you want out of your life, consider a private session with a dating coach to break out of the post-divorce rut and take control of your life. Register below for a dateability assessment followed by a one-on-one coaching session.