“We should get a divorce.” A set of words so overused in television drama that we want to laugh, until they blindside us. Divorce is something you never quite plan for, but sometimes the separation is for the best. The most important thing moving forward is the happiness of both you and your ex. Even if the marriage wasn’t ended amicably, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Changes are coming, some easier than others. Just keep your chin up and take things as they come.
Here are some insights about life after divorce for men, that will help you know what to expect moving forward.
1. Rise above and move forward.
No matter what happens there will always be talk about what happened and what went down. Don’t let it drag you down and don’t participate. It’s important to keep your head up and deal with the important things at hand: your job, your relationship with your children (if you have them), and settling the legal element of the divorce. The end of a marriage is hard. It’s the ending of a partnership. Other people’s opinions about the relationship aren’t important. Be courteous to your ex and just take it one step at a time.
2. Starting from scratch might be hard, but that’s okay.
In many ways, a divorce means that you’re essentially starting over. No matter the relationship, when people live together for a long time they take on patterns together, and these will no doubt be unrooted by a formal split. Your workload of chores or income responsibility will increase, which will be hard for a bit, but you’ll get used to it. Remaining stable and reliable during this time is important for both your own resilience and as a good example if you have children.
3. Give yourself permission to take time before getting back out there.
Some guys can ease right back into dating and new relationships, but for others it’s a bit harder. If you’re suffering a heartbreak, it may not be as easy as just getting right back out there into the field. So take your time. Give yourself permission to get your bearings about being single again. Your life wasn’t built in a day, and it won’t be rebuilt in a day either.
4. Let your kids know that you’re still around.
Every situation is different, but there’s a good chance that if you have kids they’re living with their mom. Coming home not to find them there will be difficult. Remember that no matter the arrangement with them that you’re an important figure in their lives. Maximize the time you do have with them. Plan out fun activities and keep making memories. This will keep your relationship with them moving forward and will help through the process of moving on too.
5. Prepare to work with your ex in a new way as a co-parent.
Parenting post-divorce can be a whole new territory, especially where emotions are running high, but it’s important for you and your ex to be on your best behavior for the kids. Don’t talk negatively to the kids about your ex. And never fault them for the divorce. No matter what happened between you and your ex, she is still their mother and a human being deserving of respect.
6. Loneliness can be tough.
It’s okay that you and your ex decided to move on. It’s okay to let yourself feel pain. Part of that may come with the loneliness of an empty home. It’s important that you fill your heart with love from family and friends to get past this. Share your burden with those you care about. For some, this will be easier but there is no shame in acknowledging a rough patch following a split. It’s okay to take time for yourself—that’s a perfectly normal part of the recovery process—but be in communication with those who need to hear from you. You’ll be happier for it.
7. Consider therapy as a viable option.
There are likely a lot of emotions running through your head and changes happening. Maybe you just feel alone. Your mental health is just as important as the physical. Seeing a therapist is a great way to get outside of your own head. They are trained professionals that can offer advice that goes beyond the insight of friends and family. There are therapists who specialize in divorce and breakup, who may have skills to help you cope and move on.
Divorces can be taxing both emotionally and financially. Remember: this isn’t an end, it’s a beginning. There is no shame in seeking help from family, friends, counselors, or support groups. It’s natural to feel a little wary after a big life change, but things will get better. It happened. Begin to let go, but do it at your own pace. You’ll feel good again and you’ll love again, too.