The tropes of the “unhappily divorced man” or “bitter divorcee” are prevalent in our society. We see these characters depicted on TV, in books, and in movies. You may even know someone who never quite got over their divorce, who is still mourning even long after the case is settled. And no matter the real circumstances, there seems to be a perception that divorce is always a personal disaster or black mark on one’s life.
Let’s be honest: almost no one who has gone through a divorce enjoyed it. Truly, it is the equivalent of every breakup you’ve ever had, but on steroids. Divorce is expensive, time-consuming, emotionally draining, and stressful. It turns your world upside down.
But it is also possible that your divorce can be the best thing that ever happens to you. In reality, there are plenty of benefits from divorce that you may not yet see while you’re in the thick of it.
Stopping the Damage
Marriages end most often because one or both parties are deeply unhappy. Maybe you drifted apart, or perhaps there was a betrayal like infidelity. Your marriage may have been physically or emotionally abusive. Perhaps your ex-spouse struggled with addiction. Living in an unhappy home takes its toll, and that damage can build up over time. While divorce can be painful, ending the marriage and getting out at least stops any new damage from happening.
Along the same lines, divorce offers you the opportunity for healing. If you had a wound and it was torn open every few days, it would take much longer to heal than if it were left alone. It is difficult to heal in the midst of ongoing trauma. Yes, the divorce process often provokes new pain, but think of it like lancing a boil: painful but necessary.
Once your case is settled and you can begin to process everything, you’ll likely notice that with each passing day you find the opportunity to feel better and better. (This is especially true if you put in the hard work with a therapist or through self-help resources.)
I’ve seen so many cases where one spouse is controlling to the point that the other spouse nearly suffocates under their thumb. If you were married to a controlling person and are now out from under them, you’ve got a whole new world to explore. Just think of it! No one to critique your outfit. No one to complain about what you made for dinner. No one to fight with over which couch to buy. No one to tell you that you aren’t allowed to go somewhere, do something, or buy something. Your decisions will no longer be questioned or picked apart. Speaking from personal experience, I now relish having my life arranged the way I want without any unsolicited input.
You may not see it now, but the end of your marriage is an opportunity. For what, you might ask? Frankly, the possibilities are endless. Maybe the opportunity is simply to live in peace without personal conflict. The opportunity might be for personal growth through education, the pursuit of a new career, or exploring a new hobby. Maybe you are looking forward to building financial security now that you are no longer yoked to a spendthrift.
Free of conflict and ongoing trauma, you’ll likely find that you’ve got more creative energy than before and a deep desire to engage with things you are passionate about. Find your opportunity and seize it!
Do not, I repeat, do not put up that Tinder profile while the ink is still wet on your divorce decree. Give yourself a bit of time. But when you are ready, don’t be afraid to dip your toe in the dating pool — or jump in with both feet if it suits you.
Do you remember what it felt like to be infatuated with your ex when you were first dating? Did you know you can still enjoy those feelings at any age? Did you know that in some ways, dating later in life can be better than when you were a kid? Now, you know who you are and what you want much more specifically than before. You may or may not wed again. You may yet find the love of your life. Or you may date serially for years on end. No matter how you choose to conduct your romantic life, don’t let the fact of your divorce keep you from enjoying new romance.
No, divorce is not fun. Yes, it is painful. But as this chapter of your life closes, don’t forget that a new (and possibly amazing) chapter is beginning. It’s OK (and expected) to mourn for a time, but keep your eyes and heart open to all of the good things that await you.