Life After Divorce for Women
“I want a divorce.”
For an unsuspecting wife, these four words are the most gut-wrenching to hear.
Divorce is one of the most difficult things a person can experience. After sharing a life with your husband for so many years, separating your finances, your possessions, your family, and your heart can cause a painfully dark headspace. You’re left with constant reminders and emotions about what you did wrong and what you could have done better, and you question whether you’re ever going to heal from the hurt.
It takes time to learn to live as a single woman again, and though the outlook may seem bleak at the moment, believe it or not, things do get better in time. Collins Family & Elder Law Group has helped facilitate countless divorces, and we’re here to share some of the steps we’ve seen women take after divorce to achieve successful healing and happy, independent post-divorce lives.
Allow Yourself to Grieve the Relationship
Your husband’s request for divorce may have come as a shock when you may not have realized anything was wrong in the first place. It may feel as though your entire world is crashing down around you and that you’ve lost your better half in an instant.
As you navigate through divorce, it’s okay to feel shock, devastation, betrayal, depression, anger, or whatever other emotions arise. You are allowed to mourn a lost lifestyle, and giving yourself time to grieve will help you find peace much faster. Allow yourself to work through tough emotions and move through the five stages of grief so you can heal from your loss.
According to the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle model, you will experience most of the following emotional states along the path to healing:
- Denial: It’s normal to respond to grief by denying the loss. Denial is a defense mechanism that allows you to process your feelings more slowly and feel the pain a little less intensely.
- Anger: Eventually, repressed feelings will surface, and you may experience anger as a way of coping with the emotion without giving in to the pain. At this point, you’ll probably feel a great deal of bitterness and resentment toward your spouse.
- Bargaining: When you enter the bargaining stage, you may start having thoughts such as, “What if we had gone on more dates? Would that have made him stay?” These unproductive thoughts only delay the pain and confusion that come with an unexpected divorce. Many people at this point try to make promises with a higher power in exchange for relief from their feelings.
- Depression: Depression is actually a good sign in the healing process. It means you’re getting closer to acceptance and may be better able to cope and sit with your feelings. However, many people get stuck in this phase and find it hard to move forward, feeling like they’ve lost their purpose in life. If you get to this point, seek professional help.
- Acceptance: A common misconception about the acceptance stage is that a person will feel peace, relief, or even joy upon reaching this stage. In reality, acceptance simply means that you’ve come to terms with your new circumstances and you know that your life will be different, while acknowledging that you’ll still have bad days.
Build Up a Support Group to Lean On
In an emotionally trying time, you should have time to be alone for grieving, but don’t spend all of your time in solitude. You need to surround yourself with close friends and family who will help you stay strong. Lean on people who can build you up, offer support, help you laugh and have fun, and not fixate on the divorce as much. These people can remind you of your worth and let you get your feelings off of your chest. They’ll also steer you away from making poor choices while in a vulnerable state.
Make a Plan for Financial Independence
Financial freedom is one of the keys to living a healthy post-divorce life. While you may not be financially dependent on your husband, you may be accustomed to having a joint income, which allows you to live a more comfortable lifestyle. If this is the case, you will either need to adjust your standard of living or take time to find a higher-paying job. Make sure you find a job you enjoy and throw yourself into your work. If this means investing more in your education, now is the time to do so while there is no significant other to hold you back.
Take Time for Introspection
Divorce can feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself, and it has the potential to send you straight into an identity crisis. Many women wonder, “Who am I if not his wife?” Instead of fixating on your failures or jumping straight into a new relationship, take some time to think about who you are as an individual, how happy you are with your life, and how you can grow into the person you want to be. You can’t give your all to another person until you’ve learned to love yourself completely. Perhaps you need to rediscover your identity independent from being a wife? Whatever or whoever you want to be, get acquainted with your new life goals. Find out what’s meaningful to you and pursue it.
Gradually Reenter the Dating Scene
Many women worry that they’re reentering the dating scene too quickly after a divorce. Rest assured — marriage and family therapist Lisa Paz says if you feel good about it, it’s not too soon. You don’t have to set out to find your perfect match, but a light, fun date with some new company could be a refreshing change from alone time. Flirtatious attention from men can do a lot for your self-esteem and build your social network.
Find a Reputable Divorce Lawyer to Help You Through
Whether your divorce is amicable or not, you need a legal team that can help you navigate the ins and outs of the divorce process. Our divorce lawyers are highly revered in NC and SC, and we’ll make sure you get the best outcome from your case in terms of alimony, child custody, property, and more. Call us today for a case consultation and rest easy knowing you’ve got the best defense team on your side.