The hurt and disruption caused by a divorce can make you question whether there can be life after divorce. How can I pick up the pieces and how good will the quality of life be after a divorce?
For those of you who might be science fiction fans, you may remember the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The Guide book was quoted as being very successful because " it has the words DON'T PANIC printed in large friendly letters on its cover". I often wish divorce lawyers doors and divorce books had those large friendly letters. Panic is not productive and while it might be natural, if left to control your life then it can lead to the kind of doomsday thoughts that make life after divorce so difficult.
The simple answer is yes, there is life after divorce. It is somewhat like the question of life after death in that you have to believe in it. Having faith that thing will work out and you can survive and even thrive. Life after divorce is not a spectator sport. Life happens and it is up to you what you want to do about it. In other words, your mindset and beliefs will play a big role in how you adapt and succeed in your life after divorce.
Lets break it down into the factors that most affect us
Losing the person we were once closest to ranks right up there with death of a spouse in terms of stress. However grief is a process not an endpoint. Having worked through the loss of divorce, there are new relationships to be found and they can be as good or even better than those you have had in the past. You can use the divorce to question your needs and fundamentally change for the better so you can have happier relationships in the future.
Loss of friends is another major impact of divorce. Friends may well choose sides or drop out of the picture altogether. While you may feel betrayed and hurt by those former friends, it gives you an opportunity to pick friends that maybe didn't fit with the married version of you. Finding new friends can lead you to new experiences and a renewed sense of purpose and enjoyment.
Married life often leads us to feel very stable and secure and we set long term goals in place. We think about retirement even if decades away. We plan for kids, for holidays together and get into a tight routine. Divorce pulls that all apart. This tears at our fundamental sense of security and many plans come crashing down. This can lead to panic and worry. But the fact is you can stand on your own. You can create new routines and build a new stability. Accomplishing that will make you a much more secure person no matter how disrupted your environment gets.
If you have children, divorce disrupts the whole family unit. You may have less time with the kids or if you have custody, you may have to adjust to the level of support you now have. Again managing a family after divorce is a matter of being flexible and adaptable and it can be done successfully. You can find ways to keep on parenting and touching your children's lives in ways that really matter. Kids can adapt surprisingly well and succeed in the new "non-traditional" family. You can help lead by example. By making your transition and showing how life can go on, you will show your kids a new path and help them adapt.
Divorce is costly and divorced families are often more expensive to maintain. Two incomes may become one or one plus or minus child support. Many people resent the change in lifestyle that results from divorce especially if it wasn't their choice. However keep in mind that money and happiness are not tied together. What loss of money may really mean to you is loss of lifestyle, routine and plans for the future. If you think of it that way, money becomes less of the issue and more of a means to an end.
Divorce can present opportunities for new careers, going back to school or pushing your current career further. There are people with real financial difficulties caused by divorce who may have to work multiple jobs or take a very large drop in standard of living to meet expenses. Accepting that this is where you are right now, doing what you can and knowing its the best you can do and looking for whatever opportunities come your way to make things better will all help you get through this. Divorce teaches us that life is disruptive and rarely remains the same. Many a divorced parent has succeeded in raising good and productive kids under difficult circumstances and you can do that too.
These are probably the top concerns of those faced with or going through divorce. Divorce is a process with an end and you can make it through and have an even better life after divorce.