How to Recover After Divorce

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 24, 2021
4 min read

Breakups can be challenging. It can be difficult to transition out of a relationship or move on after a divorce. You may feel rejected, angry, hurt, or out of control. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. You can use different strategies to help you cope with these challenging emotions.

Your healing journey may not be linear, and your discomfort might not immediately go away. Like any loss, there will be many stages and periods of adjustment. It is important to stay active and embrace the journey. Understanding some of the feelings and stages that may present themselves is critical.

Here are a few tips that can help with healing:

Accept how you feel. Letting yourself feel all of your feelings will help you recover in the long run. Even though it might feel uncomfortable to bring up negative emotions, the healing process can’t start without allowing your feelings to surface.

Talk about it. Talking about your divorce with a trained professional can help you in your journey. They can also give you practical advice about the logistics of your divorce. Sharing the burden of logistics can free you to focus on grieving the end of your marriage.

Develop healthy coping strategies. The ability to regulate your extreme emotions is an invaluable skill, especially when you do not feel your best. Try and embrace positive, loving ways to take care of yourself.

Learn to be the best co-parent you can be. If you and your ex-spouse have children, you will now have to figure out how to parent your children in these new circumstances. This will be a lifetime situation, so it is essential to consider the children.

Don’t get stuck. Ask for help when you notice yourself getting lost in depression, anxiety, or resentment. Suffering by yourself can be detrimental and lead you down a negative path.

Watch out for desperation. You may reach a stage where you feel desperate to reconcile with your ex-spouse. Depending on your situation, this might not be the best thing for you, your spouse, or your family.

Avoid a hard rebound. Fears of being unlovable or never finding love again might push you into finding a new relationship. Resist this temptation and remain grounded in your healing journey so that you can build relationships based on love, not fear.

Tap into all the resources available to you. Books, online resources, church programs, or any support group for like-minded people could be excellent resources for you. Make sure you research and vet the groups, books, or other resources you are considering.

Know there is always hope. The journey to recovering from your divorce might be challenging. But always remember that you are moving forward and that healing is possible.

Let yourself off the hook. This is a time where you might not be functioning at your best. You might not be as productive at work or be as present as a friend. No one is immune to these things. Give yourself time to regroup and heal.

Take care of yourself. Give yourself the gift of healthy food and stimulating physical activity. Stick with routine as much as possible. Try not to make significant life decisions. Avoid heavily using drugs and alcohol.

Interrupt any negative patterns between you and your spouse. If your discussions start to turn into fights, disengage. Hang up the phone or leave the room.

Connect with your passions. Take time to reconnect with your interests. Maybe this looks like taking a painting class or joining a softball team. Whatever it is, focus on enjoying life.

If you have children, talking to them about the divorce may be difficult. There are many different ways to talk to your children and help them transition into your family’s new reality. Some of these strategies may include the following:

  • Give them space. Reassure your children. Listen to their concerns and feelings. Lovingly tell them the unadulterated truth to anything they need to know.
  • Provide stability. During this transitional phase of your family’s life, maintain your children’s routines and daily life. Giving them stability and familiarity can feel very grounding for them.
  • Be steady and consistent. Because your children may be splitting their time between two houses, speak to your ex-spouse about things like household rules, discipline, and family values ahead of time.
  • Let your children lean on you. Make an effort to let your children know you are trustworthy, reliable, and consistent so that they confide in you. However, try not to be too transparent about your feelings on the divorce.
  • Separate your children from the divorce. Keep the processing you are doing with your ex-spouse or yourself private. Don’t argue with your ex-spouse or use your children as messengers or spies.