What's In This Article
Divorce is the finalization of marriage – the act which ends a chapter in one's life regardless of what was agreed upon.
What is the hardest part of a divorce? It's hard to pick just one thing.
Never mind the struggles of finding a lawyer and coming to terms with the fact that you now have to learn how to co-parent. Divorce can be mentally damaging, even if you want it.
The fact of the matter is, no matter which reason you choose is the hardest, your life as you know it has ended.
In this article, you'll learn what the most challenging parts of divorce are and how to overcome the struggles of your decision.
Accepting the Final Decision
Believe it or not, feelings of denial, shame, guilt, resentment, and fear do not go away during or even after a divorce is final. But that's not the most challenging part.
The hardest part is when the divorce goes through, and you're sitting there in a new chapter in your life and wondering, ‘now what?'
What's next? It's accepting that your divorce is final, the stress and struggle are finally over, but self-doubt becomes your new friend.
Accepting what's final is hard, but it builds character and strength. Remember to be patient with yourself during this process.
It's not so much about loneliness that hurts; it's the people you left or who left you during the divorce process.
As you're sitting by yourself feeling depressed, you'll have flashbacks of memories that remind you of how happy you once were, what connections you've made during your relationship, and how in love with your family you were.
It can be hard to accept that your life will never be that way with the same people again. Don't let the good memories trick you into the reality of why you got a divorce.
Let loneliness creep into your life, and become better because of this experience – not bitter.
Read More: How Do You Mentally Prepare For A Divorce?
Change in Lifestyle and Routine
When you were married, everything was combined, and every decision you made was discussed. After divorce, know that your life has dramatically changed, which means so will your routine.
As easy as it is to hide under the covers, eat a tub of ice cream, and watch vengeful movies all day, you must break out of this starter habit and create a new routine that suits your needs immediately.
Divorce is about relearning who you are and understanding where you went wrong. Although your lifestyle and routines aren't what they used to be, it doesn't give you an excuse to wallow in self-doubt about all the reasons you made a mistake.
The divorce is final, and it's time to start living the life you want for yourself. Take up a new hobby, make a 5-year plan for yourself and your children, get to work, and start college funds.
Sometimes, all it takes is creating a new routine to figure yourself out.
Missing What Was
Remember the honeymoon stage? Or the time when it was you and your significant other against the world. When your partner was not just a partner but someone you would do anything for.
Remember when you had surpassed the lust feelings and made it official so you could finally start a life with the person you thought was your soulmate?
Those thoughts will come and go, but remember when your first argument led to more arguments? Your kids got involved, their family started to resent you, and suddenly it felt like you couldn't do anything, right?
It's okay to miss what used to be as long as you remember the good with the bad and understand that the purpose of your marriage was to give you a deeper understanding of who you'll be and what you can overcome.
Mourning the Relationship
Regardless of whether you want a divorce, every divorcee goes through a period of grief. Maybe it's not grief for the person, but the grief of the chapter in your life is gone. It's mourning the relationship that can be one of the most complex parts of a divorce.
Grief has five stages:
- Guilt or shame
As mentioned, getting to the acceptance stage is perhaps the most challenging part of mourning. However, it knows that you must endure every emotion fully before you can 100% move forward.
So, what's the point in mourning your relationship? Grief helps you process and let go of what was so you can become an improved version of yourself. It makes for a better you.
Any significant life change you experience will be challenging because you have to relearn how to do things differently. Letting go is the process of shedding what you're holding onto so you can make room for something better.
Perhaps, letting go is difficult because it brings fear of the unknown. Like, how do I do things I've never done before because I've always had the support and guidance by my side?
The fact is, you're going to make mistakes. You'll make decisions you regret, and you'll most likely repeat old habits you've tried to change.
Through the process of letting go, remember that what you do today affects tomorrow, and what you did yesterday is a lesson for the present moment.
Every choice you make, every thought you have, and every little thing you do now matters, and there is no right or wrong way to let go or move forward.
Learning to Reopen Your Heart
Even after you accomplish the stages of mourning your relationship and coming to the acceptance of your last chapter, you may struggle with opening your heart again.
Or maybe you won't want to. These feelings are normal, and it's because even though you feel like you have moved on, it's learning how to trust it won't happen again.
Many divorcees go through the feeling that they'll never find love again or the insecurity that somehow you are the reason your marriage failed.
Let go of those cognitive distortions and allow yourself to feel when ready. I wouldn't say to jump back in the ring right away, but when love knocks on your door, be open to the possibility that you deserve it.
Truth: you are not and never will be the same person you were with your ex that you are today. Therefore understand that you will never have that same relationship again but will have better.
Or at least something that suits who you've become now, not who you used to be then.
Learning How to be Single
As a married couple, you may have made decisions you may not have wanted, as all relationships strive based on compromise, communication, negotiation, and sacrifice.
Learning how to be single is new, frustrating, and very difficult because it's learning how to do things differently and open the unknown world.
But guess what? The beauty of learning something new is finally understanding that you're confident and resilient enough to achieve what you want for once. There is no more sacrifice or never-ending arguments that need two perspectives.
Being single is like making changes for what you want, and part of the process is putting up boundaries you never knew you wanted.
Take the newfound freedom and turn it into something positive because you finally have a chance to know what you want for yourself and no one else. Only then will you find a more profound love than you ever imagined.
The Stress of Finding a Lawyer
Finding a lawyer is like being in a relationship with three different people – you, your husband, and your lawyer. You'll have endless conversations, make infinite negotiations, and still worry if you've made the right choice.
Not only is it just finding a lawyer you can trust, but the endless appointments and worries keep you awake at night, wondering if you'll get what you want and need out of the divorce.
Part of the divorce process is trusting that things will work out as they should, and you'll grow, learn, and be better because of it. Perhaps, the most stressful is trusting in yourself and your lawyer the entire process so everything will work out.
However, you must let go of the belief that you'll get what you want, or your spouse will get what they want.
The effects and decisions made because of divorce significantly impact children. As much as you're feeling the burden, processing the emotions, and undergoing the overwhelming stress of the divorce, your children are feeling the same things differently.
When it comes to children, you'll struggle to find a proper routine that fits for you and your ex to now learn how to co-parent. While co-parenting may not be easy, it is one of the first things you should discuss with your lawyer and ex.
During and after your divorce, ensure that you are there to answer any questions your children may have (age appropriate) and support them through this difficult time.
Remember not to bash the other parent and keep things as simple as they need to be. Under no circumstances are your children at fault; they must understand this.
No one thing is hard about divorce. It's the entire process. The hardest thing about divorce is the feelings that linger, the children who suffer, the endless arguments, and late-night chats.
The good memories trick you into feeling guilt or shame, and the bad memories deceive your self-confidence and self-worth.
Divorce is complicated, and you'll need a ton of support to help you through it. However, remember there will come a day when you will be better and do better for yourself.
Take this time to be curious. Be brave, bold, courageous – anything you want to be. You no longer have the pressures of the married lifestyle, where your husband or wife has a say in anything you do.
Above all else, find you and be that 100%.
Lauren Cook-McKay is the Vice President of Marketing at DivorceAnswers.com. She holds a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) from the University of San Diego and applies her training in private practice to helping couples struggling in their marriage. She believes there is hope in all marriages and strives to provide therapy to couples that will lead them back towards a loving marriage, or an amicable divorce that brings peace and closure.