Divorce hurts. It’s admitting you’ve not succeeded in keeping your vows to the person you promised to love for the rest of your life. Sometimes it’s completely your fault, others share the guilt, and still others were left alone for no good reason. Regardless of the past, there are some things you need to be aware of in the weeks and months after your divorce.
First of all, take care of yourself. No matter if you feel you are in a better position single than you were married, the process of ending a marriage is a life-threatening event. It’s funny but true that almost all men are either gray or balding in a year after their divorce. For men, almost all will experience some form of health event in the next twelve months—maybe a heart condition, diabetes, or even cancer. To counteract this, you must take control of your physical well-being. It is vital that you sleep eight hours a night, eat healthy meals, and exercise daily. The period after your divorce will either be a time of improved health or drastically poorer health. It’s your decision which one it will be from now on.
If possible see a counselor or mental health professional. Having the opportunity to examine yourself and make sense of the world is invaluable to you right now. Explore with this person why you’ve made certain decisions in the past, what it is that draws you to the wrong sort of person, and what changes you need to make for a better future. Work with this person to improve yourself and to gain a better grip on your own identity.
Secondly, take care of your kids. For children, the divorce of parents is one of the most traumatic experiences that can be faced. Your kids do not deserve this experience and it is your and your former spouse’s responsibility to treat them with dignity and respect. It is immoral to use your children as bargaining chips or as tools to exact revenge on a former spouse. You must keep from speaking evil about your ex-wife/ex-husband in front of your children. Besides, children are intuitive and they will already know the background of what has happened. Learn about successful co-parenting and do what you can to make their lives as normal and stable as possible.
Even if the divorce is your fault, remain active in your kid’s lives. The months before and after the divorce will shape your children’s view of you until they become adults. In everything show love, sacrifice, and devotion to your children. They are your greatest possession.
Thirdly, find some form of community to which you can belong. Find a good and caring church which will accept you. This church needs to be more than just a place of worship, it needs to be a place of sharing and support. Develop close friendships with people who will listen and who have your best interests at heart. Be careful whom you talk to, even if what you are saying is true. Sometimes the grisly details of your past relationship will drive others away or even make it difficult for people to be in your presence. If you suffer from abuse or if your spouse was an abuser, explore options with groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or similar groups as well.
As you look for people to share with, be very careful about developing romantic relationships. In the months after a divorce, people will often become sexually active. This may be due to the emotional pain of the divorce, or perhaps it is a need to feel wanted and desirable. With social media and dating sites being so prevalent, it is not difficult to make romantic connections. However almost without fail, entering into a romantic relationship soon after divorce will lead to regrets later. Waiting at least a year before dating again will give you time to heal emotionally and to ensure that you have learned from your past relationship.
Divorce is a traumatic experience even in the best of circumstances, but it is survivable. Be faithful to God and to yourself and you will find that there is life in the future. As you show special care for yourself, your children, and as you find community, you will see that healing is slow but possible.