Story Highlights Whether divorce can be “totally normal” is an important topic of discussion
Relationship needs are different for each person, so adapting to one another’s needs is challenging
Creating life-long friendships helps transition from marriage to divorce
When a relationship ends, both people in it will want to move on.
While this feeling may be normal, understanding how divorce is connected to emotional health and stability can make it easier to deal with.
Every divorce is different, but there are a few common areas that affect people negatively, regardless of the stage of the process.
Before you are left
Divorce and separation is a painful and triggering experience for both partners. To start, it will be important to spend time alone before starting any attempt to heal from the trauma.
Ideally, families should talk about what they both did before the divorce: which had a positive effect on their relationship, and which had negative impacts on the relationship.
What you learned
Look for clues about how you might have caused the relationship to end. Did you make too many mistakes, or not take care of yourself in the relationship? Do you have a tendency to use gossip to keep yourself out of hurtful situations?
If you find yourself using the same destructive patterns over and over again, it is likely you did something wrong. You may also have an issue communicating well, especially when your needs are being ignored.
For example, maybe you avoided conflict so you never knew what the other person was really thinking. You may never have felt as valued in the relationship, and you’ve likely also struggled with controlling others.
It is okay to be sorry, but don’t dwell on what happened. There are bigger priorities at hand, like making your own peace with the relationship and being aware of your issues, not just with your ex, but with yourself as well.
Along with looking for clues about which areas of your life might have harmed your relationship, I recommend looking for ways to change your behavior.
It is normal to not want to give up things you liked in the relationship — trips to the theater, eating out and shopping trips. But if your partner won’t just give up a particular hobby, take the opportunity to find ways to switch it up in a way that promotes change.
It’s often helpful to sit down and write down your thoughts, feelings and actions. A therapist or a coach will be invaluable in digging into your personal demons.
When to return
First, it is important to accept that your partner might be eager to get back in the relationship.
In this case, it’s usually just a matter of waiting. Don’t waste time trying to change his or her feelings.
Instead, if you have any reasons for feeling curious about the relationship, consider communicating that without bringing up specifics.
Remind yourself that you have done nothing wrong; they didn’t do anything to you that you didn’t do to them.
Let them do the same.
Once you feel ready to return to the relationship, check your expectations at the door. People have differing standards of trust.
If you are the person who needs verification of whether you’re free of negative feelings, they may be the one who stays in the relationship.
If you have a history of your partner buying you chocolate and cigarettes, they may continue to make those investments.
They are likely to believe that you are trustworthy, but chances are that’s not the case — so just assume you won’t be heard.
Divorce and separation are hard, but they are also complex.
Through the years, this is not something you should be ashamed of. You are not alone.
Divorce can be both productive and healthy, but if it stops you from moving on, you can either stay stuck in hurt and shame, or continue to build good friendships that help with everyday life.