By Barbara Fane, LCSW, BCD
All those years…and now what?
The papers are signed, property divided, and your whole world seems to dissolve with the line that reads “ final dissolution of marriage.”
It all seems so unsatisfactorily settled.
So many years.
It doesn’t seem real or right that it would end this way…what do you do now?
Does the loss of your long-term marriage and the life you built seem almost surreal?
Perhaps you are relieved to finally let go of years of marital dissatisfaction and simply need a plan for navigating the road ahead?
What’s first? Breathe deep and grieve well.
You spent years laboring over your marriage, resuscitating it again and again.
It won’t be easy to let it die.
Yet, to find your own measure of happiness, you’ll need to mourn the loss completely in order to let it go.
How? How can you let go of decades of coupled life?
- Refuse to entertain denial. Tell yourself the truth about your relationship. Admit that it’s over. Trust yourself to handle it.
- Reflect and process. Take the time you need to sift through your feelings to grieve your own way.
- Recognize stuck thinking or harmful habits. You don’t need anything impeding your best life now. Meet with a counselor if you need help letting go.
Then what? Take care and seek peace.
The truth is, you’re on your own now.
It’s painful to hear. It’s unfair.
But in order to move forward, you have to take care of you.
What does it look like to restore your peace?
- Speak kindly inside your head. Remember, you did not expect your long-term marriage to end this way. This transition will take time and patience. Go easy on yourself.
- Stay grounded. Familiar activities may bring comfort and the push you need. Keep getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, and eating your favorite breakfast. Exercise, too, can help combat depression and stress-related disease.
- Spend time learning the lessons. Consider the changes and transitions. Try to express gratitude for your life, as it is. Take 10-30 minutes a day for a nature walk, prayer or meditation, or journaling for your own peace of mind.
And then? Accept reality and take action.
Your reality, for a long time, was tied to your marriage.
Your community status may have been tied to your former spouse.
Your friends were likely other married couples.
Your children only know their parents as a unit.
Your new normal requires a new point of view.
How can you accept things as they are and move ahead?
- Reach out. Lean on people who want to be there for you. Accept that, for a while, the support you need may not come from your children or the couples you’ve known for ages. It may be too hard for them. If friends are few in the wake of the divorce, sessions with a counselor can help.
- Reinvest your time. Get out of the house, open your mind. Try joining a class, community center, or support group. Meet new people who will get to know you and have no memory of who you used to be.
- Reinvent yourself. Accept that you are free to create your own path. Your passions and dreams are fully possible. Feel free to think outside the “married” box. Check “single” and chose a new adventure.
Your future is no longer tied to a long-term marriage.
You now have options.
If you need a hand to hold or a voice to encourage you, please ask for help.
A friend, family member, support group, or therapist can come along side you.
You are single again, but you are not alone.