Recently, I’ve been meeting a number of new people who have been divorced. When I tell them I’m a divorce coach, the first thing they say is: Where were you when I was going through my divorce?
What I typically see are individuals stuck in a demoralized or bitter view of marriage, the opposite sex, or their chances of finding the kind of soulmate they've always wanted. As a coach, my role is to help clients understand the story of their divorce and encourage them to turn it into a more empowering and practical way of living for the rest of their life.
Who wants to be stuck in that sort of pain for years?
Because divorce is viewed through this prism of anger and pain, it’s not something most people can handle talking about. I find that frustrating. Divorce is a generational disease that affects more than half of all adults and their families in the U.S.
Why aren't we talking about divorce as a positive, enlivening experience, one where two mature adults part ways for the betterment of their family? Why are we still hiding behind this false front that marriages are perfect unions and that kids are better off with two (unhappy) parents living together than two (happy) parents living separate but enriching lives?
I’m on a mission to alter the way we view this deeply painful experience. My goal is to celebrate the courage and fortitude it takes for a couple to admit they’ve done their best and to help them part ways without destroying each other, and their children, in the process.
Life is difficult enough. Wallowing in unhealed pain because of your divorce is not required.
Congratulations! You have more room in your bed… stretch, yawn, embrace the morning light. Each day, celebrate the fact that you alone are in charge of your body, mind, and spirit. Put some faith in your Higher Power, whether it’s a God adorned upon a cross or the sunshine that continues to rise no matter what’s going on in your life. And begin to focus on healing you.
It’s time to move that body on your own.
Walk, run, get to the gym. If you already have a daily practice of working out, check in with how you’re eating and drinking. That body of yours isn’t going anywhere, and you’ve got to make it look good and get it healthy enough to generate the interest of a future lover—and be able to hang around long enough to be with them.
- Start an exercise program. Watch what you eat. Think about and commit to losing weight, not out of stress and anxiety, but because you want to feel good about yourself and attract a future mate.
- Manage those addictive products—cigarettes, alcohol, drug use, sex.
Get moving and watch what you’re putting into your body!
Start a journal to touch base with your inner thoughts and fears.
It’s time to take responsibility for how you feel on your own, away from the person who’s not next to you anymore.
- Each day, check in with you. What do you need to make this day a success? Do you need time alone, some exercise, a walk with good friends, that once a week trip to Dairy Queen? What will help you feel good about being alive?
- Often during a divorce, you won’t feel good. That’s okay! Please feel those awful, ugly, tear-stained feelings. Keeping them locked inside this false, positive image will only fuel bad behaviors and addictive habits. Instead, let the tears go—and then turn your attention to what will help you feel better.
This exercise may seem a bit trite, given the obligation and stress you’re under. It’s not. I spent two-and-a-half years journaling nearly daily, working through the grief and frustration in order to process the experience of my most recent divorce. It’s time for you to take care of you.
It’s time to clean house—figuratively, spiritually, physically, and practically!
- One of the best habits you can create is to go through your home, your inbox, your friendships, your office, the pages and pages of paper you may still have in your home, your attic—and literally clean out your stuff.
- Old ways of living become trapped in the physical environment you live in. Look around your home. What needs to be changed, tossed out, given away? Let go of your past a little bit every day. Take one small pile and consider each thing you own, asking yourself: Does this contribute to my future happiness or does it keep me stuck in the past? Make a decision and move it closer, or further away, from your current life.
- Then it’s time to go through your friendship. Consider: Who’s keeping me stuck in gossip, whining, and complaining? Your future depends upon your changing the way you view this period of your life. You know the saying, "misery loves company." If your friends aren’t willing to help you become excited about this new life, let them go too. It’s time to embrace joy instead of wallowing.
Embracing the courage you need to go from being married to being single again isn’t easy. But that’s not a reason for staying upset. Every day, choose to wake up and be grateful. You truly have a chance to learn, heal, and grow. Your future does not need to be colored by your past unhappy relationship. It will take work and fortitude, some discipline and some coaching.