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Is there any life for me after Divorce? Where do I even start? I just got divorced, what next?
I do not know any other four words as devastating as “I want a divorce.” Divorce can leave you miserable, lonely, and need I mention, financially stuck? It leaves you wondering, now what?
If it hasn’t happened yet here at mamankima we believe prevention is better than cure so if you still love your man and you know you’re headed for divorce feel free to check out my 5 common reasons why men leave their wives and What makes a man leave his wife for another woman?
The plans and dreams you had for your marriage are all thrown down the drain in a fleeting moment. The thing with Divorce is that it is more loss than just your spouse, but also, you stand to lose your friends, family, future, and a part of yourself.
No wonder divorce is often compared to death, and in some ways, it is like death because it marks the end of life as you know it. This can be emotionally overwhelming for anyone. Divorce is rarely easy, and after your marriage ends, you will struggle to move on with your life.
But the good news is that you can successfully work through the emotions and start a new life. I know that this may be the hardest thing that you may have had to deal with yet. It is normal to be afraid, anxious, doubtful and hurt all at the same time.
Stages of Divorce
To move on from a divorce, you must allow yourself to grieve and feel all the pain. You must be purged through agony and let sorrow wash all the depression away. That is the only way that you can get to the other side of healing.
Divorce consists of several stages and phases. However, it is crucial to note that going through Divorce is not a unidirectional nor sequential process. You may go through the third, then to first, and finally to the last.
You may go through some, all or none of the stages, that is grief for you. It can take many faces and shapes, but the key is to remember that it’s a natural response to trauma. So, trust that nature knows best and whatever comes your way is for the best, in the end.
The 5 Stages of Divorce (What to do at Different Stages of Divorce)
1. Shock Denial
When your partner just hits with you the “I want a divorce,” your very first reaction is often shock and denial. This stage typically lasts anywhere between minutes to a week from when you hear the terrible news.
It is difficult to accept that you are having a divorce. This can send you into a whirlwind of emotions that prevent you from seeing the truth as you may believe that there is something you can still do to save your marriage.
When you realize how much time you invested in your marriage and family, the shock becomes even more noticeable. You may act in a way that is simply not typical but you should move on and enjoy your life after divorce.
What to do when you are in the Shock and Denial Stage
Realize that this grief stage helps protect us from experiencing the loss’s intensity.
It could help if you kept busy as you moved through the Divorce and slowly acknowledged its impact. The initial denial and disbelief faded.
When anger and rage occur, the realization of the full impact of the Divorce dawns on you. It usually happens because you feel helpless and powerless, and you blame yourself or your partner for it.
What to do when you are in the Anger Stage of Divorce
You could also consider exercising, walks, or boxing. Anything that you can use to release the anger is constructive for this stage.
This stage may be marked by persistent thoughts about what “could have been done,” ‘what ifs’ and ‘If only.’
Suppose this stage of grief isn’t resolved. In that case, the divorcee will continue to live with intense feelings of guilt, which can interfere with the healing process.
What to do in the Bargaining Stage
Acknowledge that there isn’t much that you nor your partner could have done to stop the Divorce.
Try not to dwell on the past and focus your energies on the future you are about to create. The Divorce has happened, and you can’t go back in time and un-divorce so please, let sleeping dogs lie.
During this stage, the grieving person comes to the certainty and reality of Divorce. Sadness reigns during this stage. You may start off by asking yourself questions like, “Is there any point in going through life alone?”
You could become withdrawn, spend hours reflecting and crying, or on the other end, you may become harsh or bitter.
What to do in the Depression Stage
No one can’t just snap out of depression, so be kind to yourself when it takes longer to feel better. There is no timeline, be patient with yourself.
Reach out to your friends and family. It is easy to feel alone after a divorce, but if you could reach out, you would see that you have a tribe of friends and family willing to support, comfort, and help you.
You don’t have to face Divorce alone.
This is the goal. This is the stage at which you are then ready to acknowledge the Divorce and its impacts. The negative emotions finally stop here. You feel that you are ultimately fit to enjoy a happy life.
And you will finally understand that there is life after Divorce and look forward to great things in your life. You have finally let go of the negative emotions and are ready to move on.
What to do at the Acceptance Stage of Divorce
Celebrate and congratulate yourself for making it this far. Tap yourself on the back for being the warrior and fighter you genuinely are.
How to move on after a Divorce
They say that half the marriages end in Divorce. I always thought it was an outrageous claim, but research proved it between 50% of marriages end in Divorce. So, if it is any consolation to you, you are not alone.
If others have made it through the life after divorce, so will you. Now, I know that no two separations are the same and that the pain you are going through is maybe unbearable, but I promise you that someday, you will look back to this time with a smile.
Below is a step-by-step guide to help you move on from a divorce
1. Let go
“You can’t see tomorrow when you’re burdened down by yesterday’s load.” Letting is the first step you must make you want to move on.
Let go of the hope that your ex is coming back, letting go of the pain, forgiving, and trying to forget. It is in your best interest to bury it all, at least until you have moved on.
2. Get a Hobby
I know that the pain of going through days and nights without your ex feels like hell. The agony of waking up to no one by your side, especially when you have been married for many years, is unbearable.
Your only choice on such long nights to get over the pain is a distraction. I know how it doesn’t sound right, but you don’t have to feel all the problems; you could occupy yourself with something constructive.
Time heals wounds, but it doesn’t mean you have to bear the hurt as you wait. A little distraction doesn’t hurt anyone. You can take piano class, start painting or even rejuvenate an old hobby to keep your ex off your mind.
3. Cut Off Communication
Divorce means an abrupt disruption of your life. It is often difficult to switch from being married to strangers overnight.
A part of you will want to reach out every now and then, but you can’t move on from someone you still see.
Cut off all contact, mainly social media and even in person. Although it seems harsh and painful, cutting all contact is actually the best way for both of you to heal and move forward after Divorce.
4. Grieve Your Loss
After Divorce, it is as though your ex ceases to exist in your life. The emotions you feel compared to the same anyone feels when a loved one dies.
We all know that you are doing yourself a disservice if you do not grieve a loved one’s loss. That is the same thing you are doing if you refuse to suffer for an ex-spouse.
I know that the pain is hard and that you might not have the energy for it, but grief is the passage rite from loss to healing, so you must grieve one way or another, step by step, day by day.
5. Learn to Love Again
This is the final step when it comes to moving on after Divorce.
As discussed previously, moving on after divorce is going to be very difficult. You will have many memories, both good and bad, to torment you every now and then.
But, to forget the past, you must accept reality and embrace the future. As humans, there will definitely be setbacks, and the only way to move forward is to take a step into the future.
You need to keep your balance in life by moving forward and giving someone else a chance to love you.
Tips for moving-on after a Divorce as a Man;
1. Build the right Support System
Guys are taught that boys don’t cry from a young age and that they have to man-up. As men often bottle up their feelings.
To move on, you must grieve; to grieve, you might cry. Beany men are stuck. Having the right support system means that you have a space to let it out as a man.
I know that the world is unforgiving to ‘weak’ men, so having a support system gives you that protection and cover to deal with but still preserve your dignity as a man.
2. Rediscover Yourself
In the marriage, you may have had to sacrifice some of the things you love at the altar of your wife’s happiness. With time you lost a sense of who you indeed are.
Rediscovering yourself is a way to regain power over your life. As a man, you need to feel like you are in charge of your decisions and life.
Rediscovering yourself also helps to rebuild and remold your life into what you want it to be.
3. Set new Boundaries with Your Ex
You probably still love and always will love your ex-wife, but it is crucial to set healthy boundaries.
If you do not, your ex will pop in and out of your life, and this will not only slow your healing process but will frustrate you.
Make your limits clear, leave the house, leave, and don’t look back; if it is no contact, honor it. Set boundaries and keep them for your own sanity.
4. Re-learn Dating
Having been in a relationship for long, you may have lost your game. It is, therefore, vital that you relearn dating again and get your groove back.
You can have a few pretend dates and or thanks to technology, you can get on Tinder and even Facebook. There are a lot of great girls there.
Get back in the game and live a little. You deserve it
Holding grudges and anger will only wrinkle your face and could also give hypertension; that’s all you get from unforgiveness. For the love of God, forgive your ex-wife so that you can move on. It is for your own good.
Tips for moving-on after a Divorce as a Woman
1. Give Yourself Time to Grieve and Heal
Grieving is crucial, but it also takes time. Please be patient with yourself and do not beat yourself up for missing your ex-husband years after the Divorce.
It took time to build your marriage, and understand that it will take even more time to tear it down. So please be patient with yourself.
Failing to forgive your ex or anyone you hold accountable for your Divorce doesn’t hurt them; you’re the only person having a grudge.
It isn’t worth your time or energy. Release whoever it is; you need to forgive. Forgive for your sake.
3. Find Yourself
You had attached your identity to your marriage and ex-spouse. Now that the marriage is over, you feel like an empty, soulless creature.
You need to reconnect with who you were, who genuinely are. You need to find yourself and become who you are meant to be for you to move on.
4. Seek for Professional Help
Sometimes you might never be able to move on until you get assistance from the rightful people. I know we tend to think therapy is for the crazy, but that’s a stereotype.
The truth is that alone you might never get over a traumatic event without counseling. The doctor understands where all the negative emotions stem from as such will help you deal with the real root causes rather than the symptoms.
What to do after a Divorce
What do people do in their life after a divorce? The short and honest answer in that they continue to live. There is no special ceremony or rite of passage from marriage to singlehood.
But I understand your plight. It can be intimidating to start over after being married, especially for a long time. You might not know where to start. Here is a bucket list for things to do post-divorce.
To-do List after a Divorce
1. Get a great sex toy
Vibrators, dildos the girls or penis rings for the guys, get a sex toy that speaks your love language.
Orgasms release endorphins, ‘happy hormones’ into the bloodstream which make you feel good
You just had a mind-blowing orgasm plus the feel-good hormones; it is a double pleasure.
2. Get a Legal Advisor
Some different legal changes and procedures follow a divorce. You need an advisor in the game to keep you on top of things. You don’t want to miss any privileges entitled to you simply because you were ignorant about it.
Like orgasms, exercise releases ‘happy hormones’ which explains why you feel so good after running.
You need all the good feelings you can get after divorce because it is challenging and stressful. Good times will make it bearable.
You get a sense of fulfillment from doing good. Besides, you may have some extra time on your hands after a divorce. Helping out at the shelter at the corner might be the distraction from the pain you feel, but also it leaves you feeling fulfilled.
6. Help someone going through Divorce
In school, my Math teacher used to say that if you want to get better, teach someone the very thing you are struggling with. If it’s matrices you want to learn, look for someone to teach them.
Likewise, when you help a new divorcee work through their trauma, you are working through yours in RL.
7. Get a Financial Planner
There are bound to be financial challenges after a divorce. It is wise to hire a financial planner to help you, or if you can, take an adult class on personal finance management.
Whatever you choose, you need to be at the top of your game financially; otherwise, you risk going broke.
How to Start a New Life after Divorce
Where on earth do I start after a divorce? How do I start over?
We easily fall into a routine in our lives and derive comfort from the predictability of our lives. Divorce interrupts that, and then you realize that life as you know it is no more.
Naturally, the human response to the unknown is panic, so I understand why you may be panicked and confused right now. Here is a list of strategies to start a new life post-divorce.
You may be tempted to ignore and run away from pain. After all, who likes to feel hurt? No one. But that won’t help in the long run. You can’t hide from pain forever, and sooner or later, it will catch up with you.
The good news is that you can now begin to emotionally move on once you felt all the hurt and grieved. That is very critical if you want to start a new life.
I bet you have heard the saying that the weakest pen is stronger than the best mind. Writing about stuff takes away the power to hurt you.
You can try it now. Think of that one painful thing that won’t leave your thoughts. Write about it, do not care about grammar or punctuation, and just write. As you journal, you may be moved to cry, but that’s ok.
After you have finished, you may even feel physically lighter. Journaling is that powerful, so use it.
3. Accept Support
We live in a society that judges emotional strength by how much pain you can take. That is the problem, and we need to change that.
Real strength lies in the ability to know when to ask for and accept help. Divorce is one of such things. Please do not hesitate to ask your friends and family to come in when you feel like you can’t go on alone anymore, please.
4. Take a Class on Personal Finance Management
Life post-divorce is financially challenging. It would be best if you can make rational and money-smart decisions.
You can ensure this by getting a financial planner. Still, since we are already short on money, it may be wiser to take a personal finance management class.
5. Date Someone New
Get out there. Remember, you are single, so get out there and mingle. You don’t have to end up alone just because your previous marriage ended.
You are still desirable and deserve another shot at love, so don’t deny yourself the chance. I know you may be thinking that you are not ready, but tell me honestly, is anyone ever prepared for love?
6. Read a Book
Books are an educational yet fun resource to get over a divorce and start a new life.
And talking about books, here is a list of books that you can read as you go through each of the stages of Divorce.
A list of 20 Books to Read for Every Stage After a Divorce
For the Shock and Denial stage
1. A man’s feelings: Finding Closure After Divorce by Michael Eads
2. Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After by Katherine Woodward
For the Anger and Rage Stage
3. Maybe you Should Talk to Someone by Lier Gottlieb
4. He’s History, You’re Not: Surviving Divorce After 40 by Erica Manfred
5. High Conflict Divorce for Women by Debra Doak
6. Bitter or Better: Your Choices After Divorce by Deborah Kidd Leporowski
For the Bargaining Stage
7. No One is to Blame by Bob Hoffman
8. Real Dads Stand Up by Alicia M. Crowe.
9. Will I Ever Be Free of You?: How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family by Dr. Karyl McBride, Ph.D.
10. Getting Past your Breakup by Susan J Elliot
For the Depression Stage
11. Divorce Care 365 Daily Devotion
12. How to Sleep Alone in a King Size Bed by Theo Pauline Nestor
13. The Power of Now Journal by Eckhart Tolle
14. When Happily Ever After Ends by Karen Convy
For the Acceptance and Moving-on Stage
15. Changes That Heal: How to Understand Your Past to Ensure a Healthier Future by Henry Cloud
16. What About the Kids? Raising Your Children Before, During, and After Divorce by Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee
17. Divorce: Protect Yourself, Your Kids, and Your Future Kindle Edition by Randall Kessler
18. NOTHING SAYS A GOOD DAY LIKE A DIVORCE…IF YOU PREPARE FOR IT!: A Step-by-Step Guide to Preparing For Divorce, Divulges What Divorce Attorneys do Not Want You to Know, Saving Time, Money and Sanity by Helen M. Dukhan
19. The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children by Emma Johnson
20. Two Homes by Claire Masurel
Life After Divorce Quotes
1. “You never really know a man until you have divorced him.” —Zsa Zsa Gabor.
2. “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.” — Lucille Ball.
3. “When two people decide to get a divorce, it isn’t a sign that they ‘don’t understand’ one another, but a sign that they have, at least, begun to.” — Helen Rowland.
4. “Divorce isn’t the child’s fault. Don’t say anything unkind about your ex to the child, because you’re just hurting the child.” — Valerie Bertinelli.
5. “I wanted to turn my divorce into a positive one. What if I didn’t blame the other person for anything, and held myself 100 percent accountable?
What if I checked my s— at the door and put my children first? And reminded me about the things about my ex-husband that I love, and fostered the friendship?” — Gwyneth Paltrow.
6. “Do not look for healing at the feet of those who broke you.” — Rupi Kaur.
7. “Divorce isn’t such a tragedy. A tragedy’s staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of Divorce.” ― Jennifer Weiner.
8. “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping it will transform into a door.” — Coco Chanel.
9. “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
10. “Success is its reward, but failure is a great teacher too, and not to be feared.” — Sonia Sotomayor.
11. “I was a high-functioning depressive, seemingly pulled together and buttoned-down. But inside deep, I was numb and mute.
Now on the other side of Divorce, I know that was me fragmented and doing my best to cope. But my body knew.” — Liza Caldwell, SAS for Women Cofounder.
How is life after a divorce with a child?
Divorce is generally more challenging with a child because parents know how divorce can be psychologically damaging, so they drag it out. Some parents even delay divorce for the sake of their children.
As a parent, after divorce, you can reduce the psychological trauma on your children by teaching them coping skills, co-parenting peacefully, and helping them feel safe and secure.
I know it is challenging, but it is possible to raise happy children post-divorce.
Losing your spouse can leave you with more loss than your family. Many divorcees lose shared friendships, family bonds, and traditions.
This is devastating for some people, and further makes Divorce problematic.
Rebuilding your social life after Divorce looks scary initially, but like all things, it will take time, effort, and patience.
Can anything good come out a divorce?
“Marriage is for enjoyment, not endurance. You never should stay in a marriage that no longer serves you.”
While Divorce’s prospect is repulsive to many of us, sometimes Divorce is the only option we have. I know Divorce has a bad reputation, but sometimes it is for the best.
For instance, when you are in an abusive marriage. Some people have reported being happier, relieved, and even going to achieve things that their marriage would have never allowed them to.
Some have started businesses, got physically fit, or took a class to better their lives. So some good does come from Divorce after all.
Life will change after Divorce, but that doesn’t mean that it will change for the worst. There will be happy and sad moments here and there, but frankly, life does get better after grieving.
You may be sitting on the fence and scared about making the decision to divorce. Take your time and make sure that separation is the best choice for you.
Once you have decided to divorce, keep in mind that life after Divorce is going to be problematic and challenging. But with time, it gets better.
Mama Nkima is a marriage counselor and relationship expert who has dedicated her life to helping couples build strong, healthy relationships. She has academic degrees in Education and Psychology. She has over 40 years of experience helping couples and individuals work through their relationship issues.
She draws on her own experiences as a spiritual guide but also from years of research to offer readers practical, actionable advice.