Getting divorced can be complicated, messy, tricky, exhausting, and expensive. It can feel like death, although you might also feel like you’re becoming whole again, set free to live your dreams. Either way, here are the things I wish I’d known going into it.
- There is no shame in divorce. It’s not necessarily a failure, you just completed that part of your life and now it’s time to move on. It’s unfortunate that some people feel stigmatized, when in many situations, it is the wisest and most loving thing they can do.
- Things won’t always turn out as you expect. This includes your own feelings and emotions, and those of your ex, as well as your finances, lifestyle, and parenting.
- It can get ugly. You think you and your ex would never engage in that behavior, but at some point, you could get hit by negative angry emotions.
- You may need a financial advisor. Finances and property are always big issues in a divorce settlement. It takes much more time and money than you think.
- Don’t forget that your lawyer is not your therapist. Find a real one, or talk with a trusted friend. Don’t expect the court system to care about your feelings.
- You may become sad, bored, and lonely. You may dread going to events by yourself. While some people are “over it” immediately, others need more space and time to bounce back. There is no set schedule or timeline to start dating again.
- You may lose friends and in-laws over it. On the other hand, you might be surprised at who comes through for you. That’s the silver lining, you get to know who your true friends are.
- If you are a parent, you will have an ongoing relationship with your ex. Avoid saying or even thinking bad things about your co-parent in front of your children. Try saying a friendly word when you meet, and with time, those knots in your stomach will go away.
- Don’t compare yourself with your ex. Don’t worry that his or her life is going better than yours post-divorce. Remember that you each have your own separate lives. Live yours.
- Divorce isn’t fair. Marriage isn’t about things being fair and even, so don’t expect that divorce will be.
Look at this major life event as a time to start fresh and build anew. Despite the loneliness and hurt you might feel, go ahead, invest in yourself and become the person you want to be. There is such a thing as a “good divorce,” and apparently, it is not uncommon. Researchers have found that half of divorced couples have polite, even friendly, relations. And the other half generally desire that. With realistic expectations, you will put this difficult experience behind you, and forge ahead.