Getting a divorce is life-changing, so it’s normal to be worried about how life will be after it happens. Not only will your divorce affect your life, but it may also affect the lives of your family and friends. But is life better or worse after a divorce?
As a general rule, most couples will struggle following a divorce. Rates of depression, stress, and anxiety tend to increase for at least 1-2 years and if children or financial struggles are also involved, that can be even worse and take longer to work through.
Improving your life after divorce isn’t always easy, but this article should help you get started. Keep reading if you want to learn about the above tips in greater detail.
Here’s how to improve your life after a divorce and make it better:
- Allow yourself to be initially sad.
- Spend time with friends and family.
- Join a club/class.
- Speak with a professional.
- Travel to new places.
- Do things you couldn’t do when married.
- Only stay in contact with your ex if you have children.
- Focus on your health.
But let’s explore each of those in greater detail.
1. Allow Yourself To Be Initially Sad
If your divorce is still fresh, it’s normal to feel sad about it, but you shouldn’t force yourself to feel happy in the beginning. Getting your emotions out is the only way to move forward with your life.
Taking some time alone in the first few weeks is perfectly normal. However, you may not want to hide your sadness from friends and family. If you’re in the early stages of divorce and are finding it difficult, it’s best to let people know.
If you have people in your life who care about you, they’ll be happy to help you through this.
You can look at divorce in the same way as death. Although a divorce isn’t as serious as death, the grieving process is the same. With a divorce, you’ll likely be sad in the first few weeks or months, but you’ll eventually feel the sadness pass, and you’ll see a brighter future ahead.
After all, crying is good for your health because it relieves stress, so you’re likely to feel better after a bout of crying.
2. Spend Time With Friends and Family
Now that you’re single, you’ll have more time to spend with friends and family.
Being married or in a relationship can often prevent you from seeing the people you love, so you should take advantage of this newfound freedom.
Spending time with friends and family is also an excellent way to distract yourself from your divorce, and you may even forget about it entirely while having fun with others. Being with loved ones will also help you realize how much fun you can have without being married.
Being divorced and single often makes people feel like they will be lonely, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Having meaningful friendships can improve your health and mood, so spending time with friends should improve your mood significantly.
Here are some fun things to do with friends and family to get your mind off your divorce:
- Plan a weekend away: A weekend away is a great way to have some fun. Not only are you spending quality time with your friends or family, but you also get to experience a new environment.
- Go to a sporting event: Going to an event with friends or family is a great way to spend the afternoon and take your mind off things if you’re into sports.
- Go out to a bar/club: Clubbing and drinking aren’t for everyone. But if you enjoy going out and dancing all night, it might be just what you need. Gather all your closest friends and have a fun night out to take your mind off your divorce.
- Go out to eat: Dining out with loved ones is a great way to have fun after a divorce, but try to avoid places you used to go with your ex. Going to an entirely new restaurant is your best option!
- Go shopping: Sometimes, retail therapy is the best therapy. Maybe you’ve had your eye on a pair of shoes for a while, or perhaps you want to buy a new dress. Whatever it may be, gather some loved ones and spend the day shopping and spoiling yourself.
3. Join a Club/Class
Joining a club will help you overcome your divorce. Think of something you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe you’ve been meaning to learn Japanese, or you’ve been wanting to take a beginner art class.
Whatever it is, try to find a club or class in your area. It’ll be something to look forward to and will keep you occupied. It’s not good to be alone for long periods because that’ll give you more time to overthink things.
Not only will joining a club help keep you occupied, but it’s also a great way to meet new people. Since you’ll be in a class that interests you, it’ll be easy to find friends with similar interests.
According to the CDC, social isolation in old-age adults can have adverse health effects. Although this study primarily relates to older adults, the same can be said for anyone isolated for long periods.
So, keeping yourself occupied and doing things you enjoy outside of your home is essential to having a healthy mind.
4. Speak With a Professional
Sometimes, speaking with a therapist or doctor is a good idea, especially if you’re feeling extremely sad. Many therapists specialize in helping divorced people get their lives back on track, so it’s worth a try.
Therapy gives you a space to speak about what’s on your mind without any judgment or worry.
If you’re concerned about burdening a friend or family member with your feelings, you can certainly talk to a therapist to help you instead.
Not only is therapy a way for you to be heard, but it’ll also help you feel empowered and will give you a fresh insight into life. However, therapy doesn’t always work super quickly, and sometimes, it can take weeks or months to feel better. You should be aware of this to avoid any disappointment in the beginning.
Here are some topics you may want to discuss with a therapist:
- Why the divorce happened.
- What you are feeling at this moment.
- How you plan on moving forward. If you’re unsure of how you can move forward, your therapist can help you.
It’s also a good idea to keep a diary of your thoughts and feelings if you’re seeking therapy. This way, your journal will help you remember feelings you’ve had throughout the week when talking to your therapist.
5. Travel To New Places
Visiting a new city or country is an excellent way to get your mind off your divorce. If you can, you should try to travel with others.
However, it’s perfectly OK to travel alone if you have no one to go with.
Constantly being in the same places is a reminder of your ex and your divorce, so visiting somewhere new will help you move on and forget about it. You’ll want to go somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit.
Traveling with friends or family is a fun way to spend time with people while also in a new environment. You’ll be so busy with sightseeing and having fun that you likely won’t even think about your divorce after a while.
Traveling alone is also an excellent way to get your mind off your divorce.
However, you should make sure to go out every day and stay occupied rather than staying in a hotel room alone. Getting out and exploring is a great way to keep your mind off your divorce.
Visit the Nearest City/Town if You Can’t Afford To Travel Far
Of course, traveling costs money, and you may not be able to afford to travel far on a plane. If this is the case, try to organize a short trip.
Choose somewhere that’s only a few hours away and has cheap accommodation.
You could even stay in your city or town but stay in a nice hotel for a few nights with friends. Getting out of the house for a few nights will undoubtedly help get your mind off things.
6. Do Things You Couldn’t Do When Married
When you got married, you may have had to change your lifestyle to fit your ex’s. Now that you’re single, you can do things you couldn’t do when you were married.
Maybe your ex was controlling and didn’t let you do certain things, or perhaps you didn’t feel like doing certain things when you were married. Now is your chance to do these things with no worries.
Examples of things you might not have been able to do when you were married include:
- Clubbing: Maybe your ex didn’t like the idea of you going out at night, or perhaps you didn’t want to. Now that you’re single, you may have a desire to go to a club or bar, and you can go out without any worries or regrets.
- Rescue a pet: Your ex may not have been an animal person, but you’ve always wanted a pet. Now is the perfect time to rescue that dog or cat you’ve always wanted.
- Spend money on yourself: When you were married, you may have had more expenses. Or, maybe your ex didn’t like you spending money on yourself. Whatever the reason was, it’s good to treat yourself after a tough divorce as long as you can afford it.
- Turn a room in your home into a studio or office. If you always wanted to have a personal office or art studio but couldn’t because there wasn’t enough room in the house, now could be the time to do it.
7. Only Stay in Contact With Your Ex if You Have Children
It may be tempting to contact your ex now and then, but it’s usually not a good idea. Once your divorce is finalized, you should cut contact with your ex.
The only time you should stay in touch with your ex is if you have children together.
Co-parenting can be challenging and emotional, but it’s essential to put your differences aside for the sake of your children. Staying in contact with your ex is vital if you have children together because you’ll need to plan visits and school collections.
If you don’t have any children, there’s no reason to contact your ex.
However, if your ex was abusive to you and your children, it’s best to cut all communication and ties. Your ex could potentially cause further damage to your children and you. It all depends on the situation.
Eventually, you’ll want to move on with someone else, and staying in contact with your ex will slow this process. At first, it’ll likely be difficult to cut them out of your life. However, you’ll get used to it eventually, and it’ll soon be a distant memory.
Not only should you cut contact with your ex, but you should also block them on social media. Seeing their posts will only remind you of them and your divorce, making it harder to get over.
8. Focus on Your Health
Health is one of the most important things in life. Sure, you can indulge in lots of chocolate and ice cream when you’re still grieving the divorce.
However, you’ll want to focus on your health once you begin to heal emotionally.
Keeping your diet as clean as possible will keep you healthy and thriving, but exercise is also excellent and vital. Not only will focusing on your fitness and diet make you feel better, but it’ll also make you look healthier.
Exercising will improve your mood and make you feel happier about life, so there’s no reason not to do it. It will also get you out of the house, which helps get your divorce off your mind.
There are many ways you can exercise to help you get your mind off your divorce:
- Go for daily walks.
- Start walking to work if you can.
- Buy a gym membership.
- Get a personal trainer.
- Take up a sport.
Do New Relationships Improve the Quality of Life After a Divorce?
In short, casual sex might help alleviate stress and tension. But for most of us, it won’t leave us feeling fullfilled.
That being said, that arguably is better than a rebound relationship where you feel fully invested for a hot minute and then the feelings dry up leaving you feeling sad and alone all over again.
So the best scenario is to take some time to heal from the emotional pain of the process of divorce. That might even be 1-2 years. Get comfortable being alone. Get your life in order and focus on yourself and the healing process (more on that below).
Figure out why you had a failed marriage.
Learn from those mistakes. Then, when you feel whole and complete, begin to date again. Take it slow. Don’t rush into a serious relationship. Take your time and date a few different people to really see what kind of person is best suited for you (hint: it might be something totally different than your supposed “type”).
Lots of people hate to be alone.
So they start dating immediately, and often settle for the first halfway decent person who comes along. Then they get too serious too quickly before both people have really had the chance to know one another.
Then by the time one or both realize it isn’t quite right, they’re too emotionally entangled to simply walk away.
Do Most People Struggle Financially After a Divorce?
Yes is the short answer.
Most people who get divorced go from having 1 or 2 set incomes supporting 1 household to now supporting 2 households. So those same dollars haven’t likely increased, but the total expenses have increased significantly.
- Child support
- Alimony payments
- The splitting of a retirement plan
- The expense of the divorce process itself
- Expanded child care
- One or multiple ex-spouses and/or children seeing a family therapist
All of that can add up to be a lot of money.
And that’s on top of maybe having to sell the family home and both spouses getting new places to live. So most divorced people are struggling financially, WHILE also struggling emotionally.
Most people underestimate the sense of calm and peace you get from financial security. And often that completely evaporates for 1-2 years following a divorce.
How Do Divorced People Get Emotional Support?
After a divorce, mental health will decline for everyone; parents and kids if there are children involved.
And even for the person who initiated the divorce (the wife about 75% of the time), there will be emotional issues as life isn’t always as green on the other side as they think it will be when they first consider divorce.
So how do both ex-spouses (and potentially kids) get the emotional support they need?
In my house, literally all of us except my 4 year old go to therapy. Professional help can’t be underscored as it can be crucial to help us navigate negative emotions and all the new things and new circumstances everyone is now facing.
Even in bitterly unhappy marriages, things reach a point of familiarity. And now suddenly everything is different.
But beyond therapy, adults may also want to join support groups where they can connect with other likeminded adults who are going through similar experiences.
Don’t underestimate the value of getting help.
Life may initially feel worse after a divorce, but you’ll eventually see improvements. Some of the best things to do that’ll help improve your life after a divorce include:
- Allowing yourself to grieve in the beginning.
- Spending time with friends.
- Seeking therapy.
- Focusing on your health.
Keeping yourself occupied and in good company for the first few months is vital if you want to move on from your divorce in a healthy way.