Breakups are painful. Especially divorces. You marry someone hoping you’ve finally found the one, the love of your life. Admitting things aren’t working out isn’t easy, especially because you’re not ready to let go of your idea of happily ever after. But moving on and closing the chapter is sometimes necessary for both people involved.
Divorces aren’t uncommon, though. In the United States, about 50% of marriages end in divorce. The percentage is even higher for subsequent marriages. For instance, around 60% of second marriages and 73% of third marriages end in divorce too. The most recent data shows that the divorce rate in the United States is 14.9 per 1,000 marriages.
Moving on from your marriage is difficult, overwhelming, and often frustrating. But above all that, it's achievable. In this article, you’re going to learn how to get over a divorce in three simple steps.
Step 1: Grieve and Accept the Loss of the Marriage
Regardless of whether you’re trying to get over divorce as a man or as a woman, The first step on the journey to get over a divorce is to allow yourself to grieve and accept that the marriage is over. For many people, grief is a sign of weakness, and they don't want to give themselves some time to process things. It is important to understand that it is not a sign of weakness but a natural process.
Like any other loss in life, grief due to divorce has 5 stages. While they are often talked about in sequence, keep in mind that the process is different for each person, and it’s common to go back and forth between them. Those stages are:
- Denial – At the very beginning, you’re reluctant to admit the marriage is over and don’t even want to think about how to get over a divorce. Denial may often look like hope and make you want to hold on tight to something that is over and can't be saved, especially when you still love that person.
For instance, you may hope your spouse who filed for divorce will change their mind or that they’re just going through a phase. Denial and hope are two different things. Refusing to accept the divorce can make you feel worse emotionally.
- Anger – Directed at yourself, your spouse, life in general, situations that led to divorce, and the whole world itself. Maybe you even start believing you were married to a narcissist. Anger is overwhelming, and it often seems like it's never going to end. First, it's important to keep in mind anger is a natural feeling. In times of divorce, anger often keeps you from falling apart.
It all comes down to how we deal with it. Dealing with anger in an unhealthy manner can be detrimental. As a result, you may take it out on friends, coworkers, and other people in your life.
- Bargaining – At this point, you're trying to think of everything you can do to save your marriage. This is where you start negotiating and offering various solutions, all of which get rejected by your spouse. Bargaining doesn’t save a marriage, but it can intensify disappointment and the feeling of loneliness.
- Depression – Your efforts to save your marriage have fallen apart, and now you're feeling hopeless, sad, and overwhelmed, and believe you'll never find love again. At this stage, people are vulnerable and are in a great deal of pain.
- Acceptance – You acknowledge the end of the marriage, and it's time to close that chapter in order to start with the new one. Getting to this stage of grief after a divorce is a process. A person goes through a lot of pain, doubts, hopeful thinking, and depressive emotions to get to the point where they finally accept their marriage is impossible to save, and the only solution for both sides is a divorce.
Acceptance doesn’t mean defeat. It gives you closure and the strength to move on. This stage is also when you admit that your plans didn’t work out and when you realize you can still be happy. When you reach the acceptance stage, you're ready to work on being happy again.
Grief is a natural response to the loss of a loved one, breakup, and other events in life. But it’s important to grieve healthily. That means you should avoid suppressing your feelings and allow yourself to feel your emotions without feeling weak or defeated because of them. There are many things you can do to make this process easier, such as:
- Keeping a journal of your feelings
- Talking to your friends
- Allowing yourself to do something that makes you happy
- Being open and honest with yourself
- Using your feelings as a tool to learn and grow
- Avoiding holding grudges and blaming your ex-spouse or yourself
- Focusing on the future you want
Don’t pressure yourself with questions such as how long does it take to overcome this period. People grieve differently, so there’s no specific timeframe that applies to everyone.
Step 2: Remember to Take Care of Yourself
Studies confirm that breakups can increase the risk of depression. Divorce isn’t an exception. For instance, one study found a high prevalence of major depression in divorced or separated subjects. Getting over a divorce also includes some self-care practices. Some of them are listed below:
A healthy, well-balanced diet is crucial as you endure the stress of the grieving process. Make sure to eat fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, and avoid junk food. Most importantly, avoid using food as a tool to deal with your emotions. A healthy diet also includes drinking enough water during the day. Not only is it going to help you feel physically healthy, but a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet is also beneficial for your mental health.
Physical activity can actually benefit grief outcomes by alleviating feelings of depression and anxiety. Plus, exercise increases your sense of freedom, allows you to express emotions more effectively, and acts as a distraction. Exercise is also a major confidence booster. There are no rules in terms of the type of activity you choose. Ideally, you should opt for something you really like, but the options are endless here: signing up to a gym class, running, pilates, exercising with your friends at home, exercising outdoors, and many more. Everything that boosts your confidence is a great trick on how to get over a divorce.
Maintaining a routine
How to get over a divorce fast by maintaining a routine, you wonder? Some people don’t adapt well to changes in their life. And divorce is a big change. In this situation, it’s useful to maintain a specific routine to make the whole process less overwhelming. By maintaining a routine, you don’t feel like your whole life is changing to the point where you can’t recognize it anymore. Small changes and adjustments in your routine are welcome, especially if they’re healthy. Try to maintain a routine in a way that will benefit your mental health and well-being.
Meditation can help you heal your grief by focusing your thoughts on the present moment. This ancient practice is particularly useful if you tend to overthink. Meditation helps you become more aware of your pain and sadness, both of which are important for the healing process. Studies confirm meditation can help reduce depression and anxiety. You don’t have to be an expert to start meditation. If you’ve never done it before, you can sign up for a class or try one of the many apps or videos available online.
Step 3: Seek Out Social Support
Divorce is difficult for anyone, but you don't have to go through it on your own. During these challenging times, it is vital to have a strong support system from friends and family. People you love and trust the most can make a recovery after divorce a lot easier. You can turn to them and talk about your feelings, especially as you’re moving from one stage of grief to another.
Besides support systems at home, it's also useful to consider getting professional help in the form of psychotherapy. A common misconception is that therapy sessions are only intended for people with mental health disorders and traumas.
Everyone can benefit from counseling, including someone working on getting over a divorce. Why?
Therapy can be of huge help for people facing major challenges and changes in their lives. Divorce is both of those things. Online therapy is equally beneficial here.
During the counseling session, your therapist creates a safe space without judgment. In that space, you’re allowed to talk about your divorce, the grieving process, and work on your recovery. Therapy helps you recover from a divorce and process all your emotions in a healthy and positive manner.
Let’s take anger as an example. Anger is a powerful emotion, but it can be tricky when you don’t handle it properly; you may end up saying or doing something you’ll regret later. Thanks to therapy, you can learn how to use and channel that anger into something positive, such as self-care.
The benefits of therapy (both face-to-face and online therapy) for a person going through divorce are numerous. For example:
- Learning to love yourself again
- Adopting effective stress reduction techniques
- Learning to identify your feelings (which can be quite tricky on your own)
- Receiving open and honest feedback
- Learning to see a situation from different perspectives will help you with starting over after divorce
- Coping with change and learning how to get over a divorce
Starting Over After a Divorce
Sometimes, no matter how much you try to save your marriage, divorce is inevitable. The whole idea of divorce seems scary, frustrating, and overwhelming. It may feel like your life is never going to bounce back after that.
It will, though.
Therapy is a great way to address your feelings and work on overcoming your divorce in the healthiest way possible. That said, therapy sessions don’t always have to take place in the therapist’s office. You can have online counseling too.