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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tips on Moving On After Divorce

With the divorce rate in the United States being 41% for first marriages, 60% for second marriages, and 73% for third marriages - it is important to have support and a plan for healing. Moving on doesn't mean pointing fingers; to truly move on, you need to learn about yourself, set goals, and have a clear laid plan for yourself.

Though it is important to ask "what went wrong?" with your marriage, it is more important to look at what went right. What typically happens when you dwell on what went wrong, is finger pointing. Even worse, you can start to feel like a failure because of course, you didn't get married with any plan on getting divorced. Don't be afraid when you have feelings of longing for the other person. In time, you'll realize that you aren't missing the person as much as you are missing what you intended the union to be. You feel like something is missing because you had no intention of going through life single. What went right in your marriage? Did you create a beautiful child or children? Did you purchase a home? Did you learn to be a better communicator? What are your take away's from the situation? Grab a pen and make yourself a list.

Sample List of What I've Learned:
*I learned that family is important to me
*I learned that cooking with my spouse makes me feel beautiful
*I learned that a clean house helps me feel happy and peaceful
*I learned that going on vacation causes me stress if I'm gone more than four days

The sample list above is really my list.

My first husband's list would likely have read:
*I don't plan on having any children
*I prefer eating out instead of cooking meals at home
*I don't want a big house because it's too much to keep clean and clutter doesn't bother me
*I want to travel the world and live out of a backpack

If you compare these lists it will be clear to you that we were not compatible. The problem was, neither of us knew ourselves when we got married. Thankfully we are friends today, but we would both give the same advice: Know and love yourself before you try loving someone else.

Now that you are divorced and you've made your list of things you've learned from the relationship, you can make a list of qualities and attributes that are important to you. They may be physical, emotional, social, economic, etc... This is your list and you may never show it to anyone. Again, I'll draw from my personal experience and share a portion of my list with you.

Sample List of Qualities and Attributes:
*I want to be in a relationship with someone who sets goals and is successful in their chosen field
*I want to be in a relationship with someone who values people and time more than money and belongings
*I want to be in a relationship with someone who is a Christian and goes to church
*I want to be in a relationship with someone who loves children and family
*I want to be in a relationship with someone who has a strong work ethic

My list included nothing about physical appearance. If your list does, don't feel badly about that. If you are a woman who is nearly six feet tall and you want someone taller than you, put that on your list. There's nothing wrong with those type of feelings and ideals. You likely aren't concerned with someone else's height weight, or body type. Usually physical quality limits are about how you feel compared to that person. That's another story for another day though.

You should have two lists in hand now - your list of what you've learned and your list of what you are looking for (qualities and attributes). The next step is the planning phase for healing and moving on. Set some time and space parameters. I will be open to meeting new people in the following situations: _________________________________, but I am not interested in meeting someone this way: _________________. For example: I am comfortable being set up by friends, but I do not want to meet someone at a bar. I will consider dating someone after _____________ months/years but would not be interested in dating until _______________________. For Example: I want to be single for at least six months and/or I want to be single until my daughter is in junior high school. Plot out your course with short term and long term goals.

In six months I want to be ___________________________________
In one year I want to be ____________________________________
In five years I want to be ____________________________________

Every person is an individual. Some people are comfortable living together a few weeks or months into a relationship, some people live together for twenty years and aren't interested in getting married. Once you know what you want, you'll be able to effectively communicate those desires with your friends, family, and eventually a significant other. Taking some time to put this together is healthy. Being comfortable in your own skin is important. If you rush into dating and relationships, you'll feel like you are carrying around some heavy baggage which will lessen the chance of new relationships being successful.

As my mother once said: "You won't find Mr Right if you're spending time with Mr. Right Now"... so spend some time with yourself so when Mr or Mrs Right comes along, you can offer them a healthy partner so you both will achieve your "happily ever after"!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and a much deserved happily ever after!


  1. Lemons are yellow. Cougars are not.

    But cougars are animals with more than one spot.

    Cougar Facts.

  2. You have great pointers here. These sample checklists will surely enlighten and help a lot of ex wives and husbands out there.

  3. Moving in together before marriage is really a great debate but I think there is not much to be debated upon because it is a decision by the only two parties involved. We cannot really take definite sides on this because whether the relationship will last or not will depend on how the partners will handle all the consequences or problems that come their way. Anyway, thank you for sharing this post.