Generally speaking, most couples intend to honor their "I dos" at their wedding—but not all marriages result in a happy ending. Sadly, the common belief that half of all marriages end in divorce is true: According to the American Psychology Association, "about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce, and the divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher."
Yes, dissolutions of marriages happen—but it's not impossible for couples to find closure and move on. As licensed psychotherapist Tina Gilbertson writes in Psychology Today, going through a divorce tends to hit our self-esteem the hardest. So regardless of the reasons that pushed you and your partner to call it quits, there are ways to heal your heart—read on to learn how to move on after divorce on your own terms.
- Remember that you're not alone. Citing the statistic that half of married people divorce, Gilbertson points out that there's "a very large minority of all marriages in the U.S. don’t last a lifetime."
- Think of the divorce as the next chapter of your life. "Remember, it takes courage to let go of the familiar, even when the familiar isn’t working or causes you pain. Consider the end of your marriage simply as a transition into the next phase of life."
- Practice constructive wallowing. According to Gilbertson, it's okay to mourn the positive parts of your marriage—in fact, it's healthy to acknowledge them "so those feelings can move through you, dissipate, and make room for something new," she writes.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you're not already seeing a mental health professional, consider working with a therapist who can help you work through your feelings in a constructive way. Joining a divorce support group can also be therapeutic.
- Focus on what you do have, and what you can control. Keep in mind that you paralyze yourself by focusing on the things you don’t have and can't do.
- Work on understanding yourself before trying to find a new partner. You now have permission slips to have temporary adult relationships to soothe your soul, but don’t introduce romantic partners to your kids unless it’s serious.
- Forgive yourself. Try not to beat yourself up—life can do that for you.
- Learn to create little victories for yourself and build on them. Shoot for one little thing each day that can show progress in a particular area of your life.
- If you have children, remember to keep your relationship civil with your ex. You have a responsibility to your children to do everything in your power to keep their relationship with both parents warm, loving, and civil, if possible. For better or worse, their lives were changed without their consent.
- Don't talk negatively about your ex. Even if your relationship was rocky with your former partner, avoid speaking negatively about them around your kids—that could end up straining your relationship with your children, or worse, damage their emotional health.
- Understand that the divorce will affect your friendships, too. Friends will take sides and this will hurt, but those who are true will be there to listen and will be there forever.
- Focus on finding good caretakers for your kids. If you’re a single working parent do everything in your power to make sure you find the best caretakers for your children. You will derive peace of mind when this is in place.
- Make your newfound free time count. If you feel that your ex was holding you back from accomplishing your dreams and aspirations, now's the time to check off the items on your bucket list. (Hint: If you've got the financial means, consider finally taking that exotic vacation.)
- Find the silver lining in everything. For instance, it may take time to get accustomed to sleeping along every night, but that also means that you'll be able to come and go as you please on your own schedule.
- Break a sweat. Exercise raises serotonin in your brain and helps fight depression—so practice self-care and sign up for your favorite workout of choice.
- Don't neglect your other relationships. Force yourself to stay involved with people and socialize for business and pleasure.
Up next, find out the dreamiest destinations for solo travelers.