How to get over a divorce you didn’t want

What can help someone get over a divorce they didn’t want? We interviewed experts asking them this question, below are their answers.

Kristiana Benson, LMFT:

It can be extremely disheartening and derailing to go through a divorce that the individual didn’t want. It is necessary to acknowledge the divorce as a grief, much like when someone passes away. Even though this isn’t a physical death, it is the emotional death of a vow that was made in the past. It is helpful to acknowledge grief as the price a person experiences for something that was loved.

It can be helpful to understand the “normalization” process of grief and that a person may experience the stages of grief, but these will not occur in sequential order. A person going through the divorce may experience denial, anger, bargaining, depression in a “figure eight” sequence well before acceptance (if ever) is experienced.

Additionally, it can be beneficial to have a “rally” team who is on the divorced person’s side. It is helpful to have one to a handful of support persons in which the individual can talk to about his/her struggles regarding the adjustments that follow the divorce. It is helpful for the divorced person to differentiate if he/she needs someone to listen to him/her without receiving advice or if the individual would like advice.

During the time of healing from the divorce, it is valuable for the person to engage in activities that bring about self-care. These activities could include finding a new hobby, learning a new language, painting a room in the house, or a do-it-yourself project. Additionally, it is equally important to have the individual make sure he/she is receiving plenty of physical movement during the day. The best way to receive this is through physical exercise, but the exercise doesn’t have to be through the gym. A person can receive exercise through taking a pet on walks, jumping on the trampoline with children, or turning on YouTube and following an “at home” exercise (i.e., yoga, Pilates, jazzercise, etc.).

Of equal importance, it is useful for the divorced individual be willing to reach out to utilize resources for his/her mental health. This could include talking with a licensed mental health provider in order to learn effective coping strategies during and after the divorce. In conjunction, utilizing a support group for divorce can be extremely helpful to learn strategies and coping mechanisms from other individuals who are divorced. One support group is entitled, “Divorce Care,” and information on this support group can be found at www.divorcecare.org. 

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