Everyone’s divorce story is different.
Maybe you were married for a long time and are still in shock this happened. Maybe you were only married for a short time and saw it coming. Maybe you have kids and know that you’re going to be in each other’s lives forever and are feeling stressed at the thought of seeing your ex at birthday parties and graduations.
Maybe the divorce was your idea, maybe it was your partner’s, or maybe you both agreed that separation was best. Maybe you are feeling relieved or maybe you’re heartbroken, or a bit of both. But regardless of how or why, the question now is where do you go from here?
I know divorce is something you never thought you’d go through.. let alone blog about, but here you are, and I want to help guide you through this season so you can stay focused on what truly matters… and that’s your emotional health. You are not alone and you will not find any shame here; only a hand to help you take steps forward if you need or want it!
So whether you are divorced or currently going through a divorce, here are my recommendations to consider so you don’t repeat the same mistakes you did in your previous marriage.
Go to counseling.
Divorce is trauma and you need to meet with a professional who can help you mourn the loss of that relationship, process what led up to the divorce, and heal from your failed marriage. If you take any of my suggestions, this is the one. You’ll never regret the time you spent working on yourself.
Don’t date anyone for one year.
This may sound extreme but I mean it and here’s why. I’m saying this again because it’s important…
DIVORCE IS TRAUMA
and this means you need time to be by yourself to sort things out. Use this year of no dating to heal and become emotionally healthy. Learn ways to process your emotions and be comfortable with your feelings. Use this time to become more self-aware and confident. Most people who go through a divorce do not go to counseling (see my first recommendation). They then bring in their jealousy, hurt, baggage, fears, and insecurities into their next relationship. This creates a ripple effect of hurt, and we know that hurt people hurt people.
Admit the mistakes you made in your marriage.
There is no way that you were perfect in your marriage so whether you admit them to yourself, your counselor, or to a safe friend, swallow your pride and admit the mistakes you made (even if you weren’t aware of them while they were happening). Ask yourself these questions to get you started…
-Did you ignore red flags when you were dating/engaged? If so, why?
-Did you lack boundaries and allow your spouse to treat you with disrespect?
-Did you hold grudges and not forgive your spouse’s mistakes?
-Did you communicate in unhealthy ways? (cussing, yelling, shaming, blaming, etc.)
-Did you shut down, stonewall or give the silent treatment?
-Did you make excuses for your unhealthy behavior?
-Did you put anything in front of your marriage? (your work, kids, family, hobbies, technology, etc.)
*Bonus tip – write your ex-spouse a letter and admit some, or all, of the mistakes you made. Don’t worry about how they will respond but do it because apologizing can be an incredible way to heal from the trauma. Who knows, it may help your ex heal as well.
Choose to forgive your ex-spouse.
I know they hurt you but if you hold onto the pain, it will only make you feel more resentful, bitter, angry and depressed. There’s a common quote that says, “Living with unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” This quote is one to memorize and let sink in. Forgiveness is a choice you make to let your ex “off the hook” for causing you pain. Yes it’s unfair and can feel overwhelming, but choosing to forgive them will help you move forward. Once you forgive, you will be less triggered, less sad, less angry, and will be at a place where you want your ex to thrive in their own life. This shows maturity and true healing!
If you are dating or engaged to someone who has previously been married, please share this article with them and ask them if they have tried any of my recommendations. It is so important to slow down and heal first in order to prevent heartache for you in the future.
I highly recommend getting a copy of our book 365 Self Discovery Questions that will help you on your journey toward healing and wholeness.
Written by Meygan Caston
Meygan Caston is the co-founder of Marriage365 and lives in Orange County, California with her husband Casey and their two children. She loves the beach, dance parties, writing, spa days, and helping couples connect in their marriage. Her life-long dream is to walk the Camino, have lunch with Brené Brown, and get on The Price is Right.