Back in the 1970s when I was growing up, the emotional pain of divorce was made worse by society’s general judgment of divorce as a character failing. If you got divorced, it meant that you weren’t committed enough to your marriage, you weren’t trying hard enough, you didn’t take the institution of marriage seriously .
Thankfully, the contemporary view is that divorce is an empowering alternative to remaining stuck and demoralized in a stale union. No longer stigmatized as a shameful defeat, divorce is now encouraged as a route to personal liberation, reinvention, and a brand new chapter when a legal romantic partnership has run its course.
When you get on board with the idea that divorce can open you up to better things, the stress of getting through it is lessened. Focus on these six rewarding outcomes of ending your expired marriage and you will be able to see light at the end of the tunnel:
- You don’t have to limit yourself anymore. What ultimately drives couples to divorce is the sense that their marriage has become too small. It’s impossible to be happy when you’re constantly contorting yourself to fit into a relationship you have outgrown, especially if you’re walking on egg shells to avoid setting off that other person. When you divorce someone who cramps your style, you are able to get out of that confined space, exhale, stretch, move freely, and start growing again.
- You become clear about what you don’t want. Because divorce forces you to face the cold reality of what’s not working, it sets you on a determined course of sweeping your life of everything else that no longer suits you. You become highly discerning about what you don’t need or desire anymore — not just excess books and clothes and other unnecessary stuff but obligations, responsibilities, goals, beliefs that aren’t serving a purpose. If it doesn’t add to your life in some truly useful and/or meaningful way, it must go.
- You become clear about what you do want. The advantage of ridding your life of what you no longer want is that you become much more certain about what you desire. The drudgery of dismantling your tired marriage and discarding all else that’s not doing it for you anymore leaves you with available space and time to fill as you please. And only what brings you joy and is genuinely worth your time and effort is allowed in.
- You set a positive example for your kids. When you bravely decide to go through the turmoil of divorce because you know the value of listening to yourself no matter how scary, you are demonstrating to your kids, and everyone else for that matter, the critical importance of personal integrity. By refusing to tolerate a marriage that won’t allow you to be your best self, you are demonstrating the absolute importance of self-care. And when your kids see you thriving in a new life that is so much more you, they really appreciate the value of not settling…and seriously, is there a life lesson more important than that?
- You get to call the shots. Divorce is essentially an assertiveness training boot camp that teaches you once and for all how to speak, stand up, and act for yourself. You learn through the experience how to stop looking to someone else to steer your life, how to enjoy true independence, and how to make the best choices for you. You don’t have to argue anymore about money or chores or parenting, and you don’t have to fight to be heard or respected or get your way. You get to decide what to do and when and how to do it, and resistance falls away.
- You get to do it right this time. Once you’re out of the wrong marriage and into a new life situation that actually fits you, you are in the best position possible to be happy. Wiser, stronger, and oh so much surer of yourself than you were the last time you said “I do,” you are completely poised to attract a great partner – if and when you are ready. The biggest reward of divorce is that you realize not only that you can make it on your own, but that being alone is a whole lot better than being with the wrong person. Once you know how to be by yourself and like it, you’re not at risk of marrying for any reason less than putting icing on the cake of an already fulfilling life.
About the Blogger:
Psychologist Amy Wood, Psy.D. helps adults to articulate and accomplish their own unique versions of success through psychotherapy, executive coaching, speaking, mediation, and collaborative law coaching. A pragmatic optimist, she is known for her capacity to simplify complexity and see manageable solutions amid the overwhelm of modern life and work. Dr. Wood is the author of the award-winning book Life Your Way: Refresh Your Approach to Success and Breathe Easier in a Fast-paced World, a founding member of the Maine Collaborative Law Alliance, and a member of the Maine Association of Mediators Board of Directors. She earned her doctorate from the Adler School of Professional Psychology, graduated from the College of Executive Coaching, and is a certified mediator. Visit her website at amywoodpsyd.com.