Even though many marriages end in divorce, many people live in a state of denial that it will happen to them. Sometimes, spouses share the realization and desire to end things and both are at peace with the decision. More often, one person decides to leave the marriage. This can be devastating for the spouse who doesn’t share the desire to divorce.
When It’s Over
The partner not wanting the divorce may not understand why the other person isn’t willing to try to work it out. Being out of control of the situation can lead to feelings of victimization. These are intense emotions that can manifest as anxiety and depression.
It’s natural to want to intellectualize the situation to try and understand why it’s happening. Leaving a marriage is frequently an emotional decision rather than an intellectual one. This can be frustrating and demoralizing for the partner who doesn’t want the divorce.
The Road to Recovery
There’s no magic potion for recovery after a divorce, and everyone deals with the stress of separation differently. No matter what your situation is, getting to the other side of a deep hurt takes patience and practice. The spouse who is struggling to feel good again may find the following tips helpful.
Embrace Your New Life
Being married is about a partnership, and it can be difficult to see yourself outside of that framework. However, if you take time to consider yourself as a single unit rather than constant compromise, it may be easier to embrace your new life. Think about who you are and what gifts you bring to the world. Make a list of your positive attributes.
Look Outside Yourself
Life is busy; try to make time for yourself each day, and, when you do, look outside of your circumstances. Consider volunteering at a hospice or reading to children at a local library. When you help others, you begin to see outside yourself and into your future.
Practice Letting Go
Bitterness and regret are emotional poison. Each time you find your mind wandering to negative places, redirect it to positive ones. Proactively think of a few things that make you happy so when sadness strikes you know where to go in your head.
Look for Joy
Lighten up and see the fun and funny in the world around you. Find a comedian you like and stream him or her online. Watch a funny television show or listen to lighthearted podcast. Your mood may not lead you to this choice, so try and be proactive about watching uplifting material.
Make a Plan
Visualize what you want the future to look like. Set a small goal to move forward toward the vision. Choosing an easily accomplished goal is important. Achieve that goal and set the next one. Baby steps are important, so you can celebrate your successes and feel good about yourself.
Be Self Aware
Check in with yourself throughout the day. Catch yourself when you first start to feel low. What was happening right before the feeling started? Try to identify any patterns so you can figure out what the triggers are that get you down.
Sometimes, after a difficult divorce – or even an amicable one – it feels like you may never feel whole again, but you will. Each day is a new beginning and a new opportunity for growth. You can’t always choose the path your life takes, but you can choose to make the most of the circumstances before you. Pick just one item from this list to focus on each day for a week and you’ll be in a better place.