Moving on from divorce is always difficult, but it can be even more challenging when the divorce was something you didn’t want. There are a lot of reasons people resist divorce, including religious beliefs, fear, and still being in love with their spouse. Despite articles and testimonials that cheerily tell you how to reclaim your marriage, the truth is that, more times than not, hanging on just drags out the inevitable and makes things much harder in the long run.
Beware of the tendency to fantasize and make your marriage seem better than it actually was. If he filed for divorce, then things were probably not great – whether you admit it to yourself or not. So how do you move on after an unwanted divorce (i.e. one that was totally not your idea)?
Don’t Give Heart Space to Bitterness
So, the jerk totally robbed you blind as well as took advantage of your love, trust, and generosity? You have every right to be peeved.
But just because you have the right, it doesn’t mean you should give in to that vengeful pull and downward spiral...which will result in your becoming the cat lady your grandkids must be paid to talk to on family holidays. Don’t go there. Deal with your anger in a healthy way and talk to a counselor if you need to. No matter what you’d like to think, you weren’t perfect and your ex isn’t a monster. OK, you’re not perfect - let’s leave it at that.
When you are overcome with anger -- maybe one of the kids shows you his Facebook status from his Caribbean vacation while you are trying to figure out how to pay the dentist -- you have to let it go.
I know I had a tendency to believe he was having a great time with his new partner while I worked extra hours to take care of the kids. It took a while for me to realize that he was paying a price I would never be willing to pay -- he may not even realize it himself, yet. That helped me to focus on reality, and dealing with my anger. I don’t want to give him that kind of power over my life.
Obviously the ex underestimated your value, but that doesn’t mean you have to make the same mistake. Hanging on to a marriage where you aren’t loved, valued, and cherished is not a good thing. You deserve better and there is someone out there who believes the same thing. Sometimes it isn’t until we are actually out of a bad marriage that we see how bad it really was.
I did not want the divorce, but my ex had cheated again and – although I half-heartedly tried to reconcile – I knew I wasn’t willing to live with someone who had such little respect for me. It wasn’t until I met my current husband that I realized just how little respect and care I’d been given over the years. Not only do I value myself more now than I have in decades, I’m living with someone who cherishes and values me too.
Lose the What Ifs
What if I had tried harder?
What if I had been nicer?
What if I had been thinner?
What if I had been prettier?
What if I had a college degree?
What ifs are totally useless, and they will do nothing but get you in a deeper funk. Things happened the way that they happened, and it’s likely that if you’d had an opportunity to go back, you would probably make the same exact choices.
I went through a period of time where I wondered what would have happened if I’d met my current husband before I met my ex. It was actually a possibility, and we seemed to have crossed paths more than once. I was almost to the point of grieving about my “loss” when my husband reminded me that I wouldn’t have had my kids, or many of the good experiences that I did have, and neither would he. Maybe we would have been terribly incompatible when we were young, who knows?
The point is that you are where you are. This is the moment when you can start the rest of your life, and you can make it anything you want.
If you don’t like the color of your bedroom, paint it any color you want. If you don’t like where you are living, all you have to do is move. Want to cut your hair? Get a tattoo? Change churches? You are free to do all of those things!
Rather than hanging on to the past, make the choice to let it go and move on. Reinvent yourself, reinvent your life, and make it what you want it to be. Actually, you should probably thank your ex.
Are you afraid of moving on? You aren’t alone. Join First Wives World to talk with others who have been there and understand.
Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons:ukg.photographer