Expert Author Susan Leigh
The ending of a relationship often comes as a slow burn, frequently reflecting issues that have been bubbling beneath the surface for some time.
No one gets married expecting to divorce and the gradual breakdown of a relationship can slowly erode one's confidence and self-esteem as well as bringing many practical matters into consideration; the impact on children, how to manage future domestic and financial arrangements, what to do next.
Starting again after divorce often prompts reflection upon several areas of life.
Take some time to grieve for your 'old' life. There may be much advice and well-intentioned suggestions coming your way, especially if children's lives have to be included in any decision-making. But take time to heal and determine your next step rather than rush into something too hastily. It may be that you slow things down by initially choosing to rent rather than buy your next home.
Doing that could give you time to find your feet and decide what's best for everyone involved. Some people opt to move to a shared house, which means you have company close by. Do what's best for you, even if it's going home to mum and dad for a while so that you're looked after while you sort out your next step.
Possessions and personal touches can make a big difference, especially if you're living in temporary accommodation for a while. You may have kept some special items from the marriage. Or conversely you may have chosen to have a clear out, not wanting any mementoes. Whatever your decision, make your mark on your new home, even if you're staying in a small, short-term let. Source an inexpensive print or two, some lovely cushions, scented candles and turn your personal space into a welcoming haven.
Children may be shared between both parents and it can help them settle by giving them the freedom to decorate their own bedrooms. It allows them to invest in the new arrangements and feel included and important, helping them to move on. Keep channels of communication open for children so they feel able to discuss their feelings. Sometimes a supportive grandparent, family friend or teacher may be able to provide an outlet for children to talk through their concerns. Be accepting and supportive of that arrangement and understand that they may prefer to talk to a third-party rather than have concerns about worrying you and causing further distress.
Social groups can change significantly post-divorce. Mutual friends may have divided loyalties, feel the new situation is too complicated or be wary of your recent single status highlighting any issues they may have in their own relationships. Plus money and time are often tighter after a divorce, with less disposable income available for socialising, perhaps the need to work longer hours or free time being more constrained because of issues with childcare.
Work can be very important after a divorce. Earning money may mean that any convenient job has to be taken initially. But many people use their divorce as a time to start again. Think about training for something you've always wanted to do, or make time for a hobby or interest that you previously felt unable to pursue. When life is already unsettled it can be a good time to go with the flow and introduce something you really want to focus on and develop.
How do you feel about yourself? Divorce can make us feel unloved, unlovable, a failure, guilty at letting others and ourselves down. But the loneliness of a loveless marriage takes its toll and starting again can be a good time for an overhaul to prove to ourselves that we're fully invested in our future life. Therapy could play a role in helping you deal with your negative feelings or patterns.
Could it be time to start eating healthier and lose a few pounds, maybe exercise and start walking, running or going to fitness classes? What about grooming? Going to a different hairdresser may mean you come away with a new look rather than your old familiar style. Makeup counters are often happy to revamp your image and could be a way to get some great new ideas. Be receptive to opportunities for improving your confidence and self-esteem.
Starting again after divorce can be both scary and exciting. Remember, you're not on your own, so check out local groups that offer things you're interested in. Amateur dramatics, walking, animal welfare, volunteering, night school classes can all connect you to people with similar interests to yourself. At work offer to find out what's happening locally and organise a social event or two. Be interesting and interested by keeping up-to-date with national and local news, popular TV, and ensure you're ready to contribute to conversations. That way you'll connect and improve your relationships with others.
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