There’s no doubt about it—divorce can be brutal. It signifies the end of something so big, that it changes your entire world. Every divorce is different, and every person’s reaction to divorce is different. But for many their marriage was once one of the biggest sources of happiness in their life, and at its end, their marriage becomes one of their biggest sources of sorrow.
Unless you’ve experienced a divorce yourself, it’s hard to know what you’re in for. And while the basics of divorce are pretty well known to most people—we all know someone who has gone through it, watch a movie about it, or read a book—the real messy truths about divorce aren’t as well known.
Nothing can quite prepare you for this big life change, but there are some things that may help you to know ahead of time. Here are seven brutal truths about divorce no one tells you but you need to know.
1. Divorce doesn’t always make you happier.
Some people may feel a little freer after their divorce is final, but it doesn’t necessarily make them happy right away. This may come as a surprise to a lot of people, but even if the separation is mutual, you’ll feel a sense of loss. A part of your life will be gone. Your day-to-day life will change dramatically. While you may look forward to the divorce being over, once it actually happens, you may be surprised how unhappy you still are. So just be prepared. Especially for the day everything is finalized. It’s good to have something planned that will brighten your spirits and help you move forward.
2. Divorce is hard, even if you’re ready for it.
You know being with this person isn’t good for you long-term, so you did the right thing and cut it off. But divorce is still hard. Why? A lot of reasons—there are legal battles, you probably won’t agree on how to separate things, and it’s expensive Also, socially, it’s awkward because people don’t always know what to say to you about it or how to react when you tell them. And something that can be hard to face is that you’ll always be branded as divorced. It’s not easy and at times you may feel like a failure, even if you gave the marriage your all, Be prepared for the hard times and rough emotions, but know that you’re not a failure, you’re just in the middle of something hard.
3. If your spouse is rushing things, they may have someone else already.
The sad truth is that there’s usually a reason why a spouse is rushing to file and get finalize a divorce. Most often it’s because they have someone else in line to take your place, even if you don’t know about this new person yet. Be ready to face the fact that they’re seeing someone, and may even be serious enough to want to make it official.
4. Divorce brings out the worst in people.
Divorce means child custody and who gets what financially. Those are two things that can cause nice people to do horrible things. In addition, for many who are divorcing there are unresolved issues or problems that are too hard to talk or fight about. As a result, the fight over who gets what becomes a way to deal with hurt feelings and a lot of ugliness can come out.
5. Some friends and family will desert you.
Even if you’ve become close to your spouse’s family, after the divorce, they may cut ties. Staying close with someone who’s divorced your friend or family member is hard and awkward—So for many it’s easier to walk away. Be ready to lose some friends and know that it isn’t necessarily a reflection on you or your relationship with them. They may hear rumors and no longer want to associate with you, they may side with your spouse instead of you, and they may simply not know what to say or want to get involved. It will hurt.
6. You don’t have to wait for the divorce to be final to make changes in your life.
Divorce comes about because something isn’t working. So why wait until after the divorce to fix it? Work with what you have now. It can’t hurt to start. In fact, it can only help.
7. Divorce isn’t the end for you.
It will be painful. It may even be humiliating. And for certain it will be heart-breaking. But despite all the hard stuff you have to face during the divorce process, you will come out on the other side—a little cracked and dusty perhaps, but not beyond repair.
You can and will survive this. Just as many others have before you.
Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a resource to support healthy happy marriages.