Are you an unwilling participant in your divorce?
Did your partner make the decision to end it?
Were you left for someone else?
They’ve had an affair, fallen out of love, or for whatever reason they say, don’t want to be in this marriage any more. It’s a double whammy because you not only weren’t expecting your marriage to end, but perhaps you also didn’t even know there were problems.
There aren’t any words to quite describe how devastating this can be (although Divorce Clubbers will give it a good go). The knock to your self-esteem and the complete change to life as you know it will hit hard.
Here are some thoughts that can help you through this life-event.
You are not unloveable
Try to remember that a relationship not working out doesn’t mean you are unlovable. Don’t take on all the blame for your spouse’s impulse to end the marriage. It takes two people to make a successful relationship and while you may have things to learn from the divorce, it’s not the time to be hard on yourself.
Take care of yourself and start looking after your self-esteem
You will inevitably keep asking yourself “where did I go wrong?” It’s human nature to want an explanation in the hope that will take the sting out of the situation. But you may not be in the right frame of mind to do any analysing right now. The sense of perspective you get from time passing and emotions calming down is what you need to regain before asking too many questions. In the meantime, take care of yourself and seek out sympathetic people who can help you build up your confidence.
See friends and family
Make more time for friends and family. By putting more effort into other important relationships in your life, you’ll not only strengthen your support network, but you’ll also increase your own sense of self worth as you have a positive input into their lives. Seek out people who have been through the same thing as you, either through friends, or online.
Similarly, make time for your oldest friends, the ones who knew you before you met your spouse. They knew and liked you before your marriage and can help you regain your sense of who you are as an individual, now that your marriage looks like it is ending. Maybe not right away, but at some point you may even enjoy the opportunity to explore hobbies or passions that lay dormant in your relationship but that can take you in a new direction now that you are single.
Making sense of the relationship
Further down the line, you may get some sense of perspective on why your partner wanted to end the marriage or be with someone else. You may have the opportunity to speak to a counsellor or even for both of you to go to a divorce counsellor. These things can be helpful, but your spouse may not offer you that route or even give much of an explanation that helps you understand. It’s an inevitable fact of life that we cannot control other people’s actions or responses, only our own. It may help to remember that and let it go.
The best outcome for you could simply to be to learn what you can from your relationship, forgive yourself for what mistakes you may have made and try to draw a line under it.
The better future
If someone left you, then it is inevitably for the best. Being in a relationship with someone who does not want to be with you is not good for anyone’s self-esteem. It might not feel like it now, but once you have got some perspective you will be able to understand what went wrong.
If it is that you are too different and/or that you want different things, then you can spend your time with someone more suitable.
If it is that you pushed someone away, or made mistakes, then you can learn from them and become a better person.
However good the relationship was, if your partner wanted out, something wasn’t good for them. Someone once told me, “A good marriage doesn’t end in divorce”. So once you have some perspective, look at your relationship again.
For more divorce advice go here.
Lucy Davis is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and a TV Producer. She divorced 7 years ago. She is a passionate advocate for exploring the potential for change and creativity that can result from the trauma of divorce.