Divorce can be a very confusing, often difficult time. And after the papers have been signed, things have been moved, and lives have been uprooted, nothing every really goes back to being the same. If you’ve recently been divorced, you may find yourself looking for a new home, or managing your finances on your own for the first time. If you have children, then the transition into a single-parent lifestyle can be lonely and complicated.
You may even find yourself wondering “what should I do now?” More than 40 percent of marriages in America end in divorce, so you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in your struggle.
A successful recovery after a divorce involves a combination of small steps that together make leaping improvements. The Survivors Club has collected a list of 20 Do’s and Don’ts that can help you move ahead after divorce and guide you to a successful new, unmarried, life.
Ten Post-Divorce Do’s
- Clean Out Your Closest: In any relationship, often you collect a lot of stuff that reminds you of your ex-partner. Take time to go through your closets and decide what will actually serve you after your recent divorce. Throw away the rest.
- Spend Quality Time with Your Kids: Now that you are on your own, you might get overwhelmed with adjusting to new everyday matters, but do not lose sight of the bigger picture. You may a lot more to manage but give yourself permission to play with your kids and relax. Play a video game with your son or paint your daughter’s nails. Your children will treasure these fun moments with you infinitely more than their ironed shirt.
- Organize Your Finances: After the split, you now hold all the responsibility for your finances. Regardless of your financial role during your marriage, now you must face any fears and manage your accounts. Take time to learn the ins and outs of your debt and credit.
- Make Forgiveness a Priority: If you are unable to forgive your ex or yourself, moving on will be a struggle. An unforgiving heart is the biggest obstacle to letting go. Find true forgiveness and you will live a full and rich life.
- Focus on Your Well-Being: It is time to take care of your body. Start by getting a physical from your doctor, a dental check-up and any other necessary health exams. Everyday exercise and nutrition is important too. When you feel good, your problems begin to seem lighter.
- Look Inward: Take the time after divorce to look inward and try to understand yourself. The new freedom of being recently single can be scary, but make an intention to dedicate time to yourself. You now have space in your life to discard any unwanted habits and welcome activities that will bring you joy. Do not seek out a new partner to fill the empty space that you must learn to fill yourself in order to be happy.
- Keep Relations Between Parents and Children Positive: Your children didn’t ask for a divorce. The unwanted change will be difficult for them, so it is important to work at keeping the relations between both parents and children loving, warm and civil.
- Grieve Your Loss, Then Let Go: Take down your photos and listen to “your” songs and give yourself the courtesy to grieve the loss. Allow yourself a set grieving period and resolve to move forward after your scheduled time to mourn. Commit to letting go of the negative thoughts after your grieving period ends.
- Get Reacquainted with Your Personal Preferences: When you are part of a couple, many of your choices are made by the other person. Remind yourself of your preferences by trying new things and relearning what makes you happy. What do you like and dislike? Give yourself the freedom to explore.
- Protect Your Credit Score: With all the stress and emotions that accompany a divorce, many divorcees lose focus on their credit score. Don’t let a bad credit score add to your problems. By taking the initiative to raise your credit at the beginning of the break-up, you will prevent unnecessary stress later.
Ten Divorce Don’ts
- Don’t Isolate Yourself: Especially during the holiday season, surround yourself with loving relations. Plan a potluck gathering and ask your guests to invite new people. Surround yourself with love and don’t be afraid to ask for support from others if you need it.
- Avoid Starting Bad Habits: After a divorce, it is important to remember that you are the most important person in your life. Don’t get stuck on the couch eating ice cream. Join a gym and attend regularly or go to an spinning or yoga class. Eat well and focus on yourself. Buy yourself some new clothes that are flattering.
- Skip the Rebound Relationship: Many therapists recommend a full year of recovery for people after their divorce. Allow yourself some time to feel grounded. Rebound relationships are usually not good for either person involved. Only you will know when you are ready to start dating again and don’t let others pressure you into making the move.
- Don’t Leave Belongings at Your Ex’s Place: If the relationship is over and you still have many of yourbelongings at your ex’s place, it is time to collect them and leave for good. You can more easily move on after making a clean break.
- Avoid Placing Blame: Don’t beat yourself up about your loss because a sour relationship takes two. You didn’t cause all the problems and neither did your ex-spouse. After your divorce be gentle with yourself and recognize that you are unique and special. Don’t let your own belittling thoughts bring down your self-esteem.
- Try Not to Make Assumptions: It is easy to assume something will turn out a certain way — the judge will rule in your favor or your attorney has you covered — but often life unfolds differently than we expect. A divorce causes many unexpected things to occur. Remain open to reality rather than closing yourself off based on your assumptions.
- Don’t Refuse Communication With Your Ex: Unless the relationship was abusive, and especially if you have kids together, try to be civil with your ex if they approach you. If your ex-spouse contacts you with an issue about the divorce or marriage listen to them.
- Avoid Making Expectations: You may expect things to turn out a certain way after divorce. You may expect your ex-partner to be civil. Since we often do not get what we expect, lose the expectations and take life as it comes. You won’t be as let down.
- Don’t Forget the Good Times: Although your first instinct might be to feel dislike or even hatred towards your ex, this will get you nowhere. Accept that things have changed but that you still have many positive memories of your ex-partner – don’t forget them.
- Stop Being Bitter: Your past is past. Look towards your future. Take time to set new intentions and take small daily steps in your desired direction.
Surviving a divorce is a challenge. Remember to take things as they come day by day.
Courtesy of The Survivors Club.
Information provided by K.O. Herston, Tennessee Divorce Lawyer.