Unfortunately, not every marriage ends in ‘happily ever after’. You have both tried your level best to make it work, to move past betrayal, to rekindle the undying love and passion you once had for each other all those years ago.
However, the harder you tried, the worse things became. The magic of your wedding day became just a speck in the rear-view mirror on the motorway of life. The butterflies that used to fill your stomach when you looked at your spouse have been replaced by a burning sense of resentment and bitterness.
Whether the spark has faded over a long period or whether an event so massive occurred that there is no going back, it has finally become crystal clear to one or both of you that the marriage is over.
Every divorce is unique. From amicable partings with no hard feelings to fierce wars of attrition in which innocent bystanders (especially any children you may have) get caught between the two of you and suffer as a result. Either way, getting divorced is a massive, life-altering occurrence.
So how do you rebuild your life after the breakup of a union you thought would last for the rest of your days?
Allow yourself time to grieve and don’t pretend everything is OK.
It has been said that the pain of a breakup, especially if it has happened because the love you feel for someone is no longer reciprocated is a lot like the anguish of bereavement. It is essential, at least in the immediate aftermath of a divorce, to treat it as such.
Even if you know deep down that the marriage coming to an end was for the best, your feelings for your ex will not simply disappear overnight.
It would be best if you had time to come to terms with what you have lost and the massive changes it will mean for your life going forward. One way or another, you are not feeling OK, and it is unhealthy to pretend that you are.
Rather than suffer in silence, talk to friends, family, anyone willing to lend a shoulder to cry on. If you feel they do not understand what you are going through, perhaps seek out other recent divorcees who do.
Being honest with yourself and those closest to you about the emotional turmoil you are undergoing is not a sign of weakness, but a crucial part of not letting the collapse of your marriage sabotage and destroy your future.
However, it is equally vital that you do not find perverse refuge within a prevailing, “woe is me” mentality. This will eventually wear thin with those closest to you and can lead to self-destructive behaviour and intense jealousy of your ex-spouse in the future. If it has been a while and you are still struggling to cope, then do not be afraid to consider counselling or advice from your GP.
If you find the new-found loneliness overwhelming then perhaps even get a pet to fill the hole that’s been left in your home life. It is not the same, but it is something.
Accept what has happened and focus on the positives
Once you have come to terms with what has happened and let go of any pie in the sky notion that you can save your dead marriage and win your estranged partner back, it is time to start focusing on the positives. Remember that for all the good times you had, the union ultimately broke down for a very good reason. It was not meant to be.
Although the pain will still be lingering, it will not be as intense as before, meaning you can begin to embrace your new freedoms.
You no longer have to tolerate the negative energy of your spouse criticising you at every turn as they did towards the end of the relationship. You can strive harder for that promotion at work, stumble home from the pub at whatever time you like and not have the same turgid argument about what to watch on TV on a nightly basis.
These small advantages, along with maintaining a “glass half full” attitude, will enable you to concentrate on overcoming the biggest obstacle to your recovery of all:
You are learning to love yourself and life itself again and not blaming or beating yourself up over your marriage falling apart. Life is still there to be lived, and you must care for yourself to be able to go and grab it with both hands.
Reinventing yourself and moving on to pastures new
Having begun to adjust to your new reality fully and with the grief easing slightly by the day, now is the time to channel your energy towards rediscovering and improving yourself. Not only in this extremely worthwhile in the long run, but it will stop you dwelling on the past and slipping back into the dark headspace from which you are beginning to emerge.
This can involve pretty much anything that takes your fancy but should be something you did not have the time to do under the constraints of marriage. Maybe you fancy packing a suitcase and taking off somewhere, getting stuck into the sport or musical instrument you used to be good at again or generally getting out more and having more fun?
Alternatively, you can commit to discovering and trying out new things. Joining a club and meeting new people, doing some voluntary work for charity, taking up new hobbies or learning a new language. Of course, if you and your ex had children, then you could focus on being the best single parent you can be.
Any of the above will help to bolster your confidence and reinforce a positive self-image. Not only is it possible for a painful divorce to not turn you into a shell of your former self, but it can be a catalyst for positive change and a better you – a more caring, driven and fulfilled individual, ready to begin the next chapter of their life.
We know that whether you are facing divorce, separation or child disputes, family law issues are extremely sensitive. Issues involving family can cause tensions to run high. Legal matters related to children are often particularly worrying. Our family law solicitors are committed to solving your problems in the most non-confrontational way possible.
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