A divorce can be a long and draining process that can be emotionally, financially and physically exhausting process.
However, there is an endpoint.
And, while it can seem anti-climactic after seemingly endless discussions/negotiations/battles, it is important to recognize and appreciate that endpoint.
Here are four things every divorced person should do:
1. Mark the ending:
When your divorce is complete, create a transitional ritual that marks the completion of the process. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do this: it will be unique to the individual and the experience of each divorce. It could be something personal and private or involve loved ones.
It can take any tone that would be healing, whether that is reflective, mournful or celebratory or some combination of all those elements. The point of this is to create something that marks the end of the marriage and the beginning of the next season of your life. It can be powerful if it is authentic to your experience.
2. Create an honest divorce narrative:
A divorce is a significant life event and will be part of your life story. The easy route is to build a narrative that blames your ex for all the problems in the marriage. However, too often when this is the case, you’ll find that your new relationship is exactly like your old one because you don’t understand how you contributed to the breakdown of the marriage. Maybe you stopped sharing your feelings, standing up for what you needed, or avoided conflict.
Understanding your role in the dissolution of your marriage allows you to avoid making the same mistakes again. It is also important to remember the entirety of your marriage. In most cases, there were happy times, which is why you were together in the first place. Remembering and mourning the loss of good times can also be helpful in moving forward.
3. Forgive yourself:
Having done the previous step, it might be tempting to be angry with yourself. Have empathy for your younger self and how you got to this place. Realize that we are all human, make mistakes and deserve forgiveness. It also might lead to forgiveness, or at least increased empathy, for your ex and how he/she got to this place. We grow as human beings by learning from our experiences.
4. Look forward:
Answer the question, “What do I want for my life?” Moving forward, you can think about the kind of family, work and personal goals you would like to move toward. If you have kids together, you and your ex-spouse will always be linked through co-parenting. However, you now have the freedom to create the life you want to lead and move in that direction. If this is difficult or scary, therapy can be an excellent place to sort it out.
Every divorce is different, but everyone who goes through a divorce has gone through a difficult experience. These are the experiences that allow (or force) us to grow if we are open to that. Growth requires the ability to self-reflect. While some of this work can be painful and difficult,