No one gets married expecting to get divorced.
The reality is that many marriages don’t last till “death do you part.” Maybe your marriage reached obstacles that it simply couldn’t overcome and now you find yourself having to navigate through the many complexities of the divorce process. In this post, I’ll share with you 5 practical things you can start doing today that will help you to get over divorce and get beyond it with grace.
1. Give yourself permission to feel all emotions
The end of a marriage is a loss that will certainly trigger many conflicting and intense emotions, even in the most peaceful uncouplings. The main way to get over divorce is to move through the emotions. This means to allow yourself to mourn the loss of the marriage, the loss of your identity as a married person, the loss of the dreams you had for the future.
Contrary to what many believe, time doesn’t heal wounds. It requires choosing to heal by staying present to yourself first and foremost. Show up for yourself every day, no matter how hard it may be. Take it one step at a time, one day at a time. Leaning into your emotions, giving them an outlet for processing and releasing is an act of self-love and self-care.
Giving yourself ample time to feel each emotion will help you to compassionately nurture yourself as you move through the stages of grief.
Eventually, you’ll get to a point where you’re able to accept the situation exactly as it is, knowing that you did the best you could given what you knew at the time. You’ll stop resisting reality and instead surrender and allow life to unfold because you’re confident that you can get through anything.
2. Redefine what divorce means to you
The problem is when you view divorce as a having “failed,” it keeps you stuck in blaming, shaming and feeling guilty. It lowers your self-esteem and creates a narrative that you are unloved, rejected and unworthy of happiness. This viewpoint will prevent you from moving forward gracefully.
Instead, redefine what divorce means and take away the concept of failure. Divorce is simply a restructuring and reorganization of your life and the family unit. It is a temporary event or ordeal in your life, not the end of it.
Shifting the way you view your divorce allows for the beauty of what once was to emerge. A marriage that lasted 5, 10, 20 years or more carries with it wonderful memories that you once shared. Maybe you helped each other through college, make advancements in your careers, have beautiful children or were there for each other when a family member was sick.
You played an important role in each other’s evolution. You served each other’s need for attachment. Appreciating the good that did come from the marriage helps to depart more consciously.
Being grateful for what you had together, what it meant for you and the lessons you learned from the experience is actually going to help you get over divorce and the part of healing and letting go.
3. Take time to educate yourself on the divorce process
The knee-jerk reaction for many people I see is to hire an attorney and go through the litigation route. While having a good attorney on your team is necessary in most cases, the problem is that going through the court system is expensive, time-consuming and often times creates more conflict.
To avoid some of the costly mistakes that many people make is to do research before starting the process. Learn about your divorce options and what method will yield a better outcome for your case. What are your goals for your divorce? What documents and items do you need to gather to streamline the process? Do you need an attorney and if so, what should you look for to ensure he or she is the ideal person to represent you?
Being proactive and learning about the divorce process will help you maintain control over the decision making process, while also saving you time and money in the long-run.
4. Treat the divorce process as a business transaction
I understand that this may be easier said than done. After all, you spent years with your spouse, maybe even decades. During that time, you created wonderful memories, grew a family, helped each other advance in your careers and shared your vulnerabilities with each other. Now that the divorce is underway, it seems cold and calculating to reduce all of those years to simply logistics.
But treating the process like a business transaction is a great way to get over divorce and it will actually save you much heartache and grief. Keeping emotions at bay when dealing with negotiations will allow you to make decisions that are reasonable and pragmatic. Exert your rights and choices respectfully and resist taking things personally. Ultimately this will help to move negotiations forward with the big picture in mind while also reducing the legal bills.
5. Focus on the future you want to create– the new you
When life as you know it has completely changed, it can be hard to picture what life will look like moving forward. It may cause you anxiety as you face the sea of unknowns and uncertainties. The beauty, on the other hand, is that uncertainty carries with it all possibilities.
Rather than replaying the story of your past and living in that space, start telling the story of your future. Who are you becoming? What do you want to experience— more freedom, abundance, confidence? Wake up each morning with the image of the life you’re creating in mind instead of the life you once lived. The past is only relevant for informing the present moment i.e. why you think and feel the way you do.
This is your time to reconstruct the new you. This could involve doing more of the things that you once enjoyed and discovering new passions.
Ultimately, you will get through the pain and struggle of divorce. Divorce does not have to define you or reflect negatively on you as an individual. By allowing yourself to move through the process while remaining fully present for yourself and your children, you’ll surely close this one chapter and start a bright new one with ease and grace.
Maria Akopyan is a California based family law attorney, divorce coach and founder of Dignified Divorce Coaching. She helps newly separating women smoothly navigate the divorce process without wasting time, money or dealing with unnecessary heartache.
Her legal expertise combined with her background in marriage and family therapy and life coaching, Maria provides a unique and holistic approach to the divorce process and resolving family disputes.
Maria combines law, psychology, mindfulness and spiritual principles while empowering women to take control of their lives and the dissolution of their marriage while also staying connected to their integrity.
Her mission is to guide women in having a positive divorce experience while also using the pain of their divorce as a catalyst for their greatest personal growth! Maria can be found at her website: www.dignifieddivorcecoaching.com
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P.S. Want more tools and resources to stay positive during a divorce? Download my Free Divorce Survive & Thrive Kit below!
Revolutionizing the conversation around Divorce, one internal narrative at a time.
DISCLAIMER: The commentary, advice, and opinions from Gabrielle Hartley are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice or mental health services. You should contact an attorney and/or mental health professional in your state to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.