We've had our doubts about the commonly passed around statistic stating that half of all marriages end in divorce, but, unfortunately, it is true. According to the American Psychological Association, about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States will divorce. However, before you feel too defeated about the staggering numbers, remember that divorce doesn't mean you'll never find love again or that you are somehow worth less as a divorced person than you are as half of a married couple. What's more, it's entirely possible to emotionally move on after getting divorced.
Though the process of legally calling it quits with your spouse will likely affect you in a number of ways, licensed psychotherapist Tina Gilbertson has found that it tends to hit your self-esteem the hardest. Step one in moving on post-divorce is to heal your heart, and we have a few expert-approved ways to get started.
Meet the Expert
Tina Gilbertson is a licensed psychotherapist and the author of Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings By Letting Yourself Have Them.
Here's everything you need to know about moving on emotionally after divorce.
Ask for Help
"Join a divorce support group or find a compassionate therapist, and talk about what happened in your marriage," Dr. Gilbertson suggests. Even if therapy isn't your thing, call a friend who understands what you're going through and try to break down your thoughts and feelings. Hearing yourself explain your emotions can help make you feel a little more at ease.
According to Dr. Gilbertson, it's okay to mourn the positive aspects of your marriage—in fact, it's healthy to acknowledge them. Trust us, it may feel better in the moment to bury your feelings and act as though everything is fine, but denial generally isn't the best road to take when trying to get to a place of good emotional health. Moving on is definitely a process that comes with a few emotional stages. Deciding to ignore them may slow down your recovery time.
If something you see or hear reminds you of your ex, it may make you really sad, and that is okay. Feel your feelings rather than pretend they aren't there. Sometimes a good cry is all you need.
Focus on the Positive
Keep in mind that you paralyze yourself by focusing on the things you don't have and can't do. When you feel yourself nearing a negative place, take a step back and remind yourself about all of the good things you have in your life. You can even make a list and look at it whenever you're feeling less than.
Dr. Gilbertson notes, "The courage it takes to look at your core issues will convince you that you're a courageous, constantly growing human being who deserves affection, respect, and esteem." It's easy to look at divorce as a failure, but just because the marriage didn't work out doesn't mean you're the one to blame. Try to zoom out and look at the marriage as a whole, and you'll notice a few things big and small that will prove that it wasn't going to work out no matter what you did or didn't do.
Take Care of Number One
If you've ever seen a romantic comedy, you may think that the easiest way to move on is to find someone new, and in some cases, that works. However, moving onto a different partner too fast may set you back more than you realize. We're believers in the saying, "You have to love yourself before you can love someone else."
There's no rush to jump into a new relationship, so give yourself some time to heal before trying to meet someone new.
Build on Your Little Victories
This may sound a little silly, but shoot for one little thing each day that can prove you're making progress in a particular area of your life. For example, read a chapter of a book you've been meaning to read for years but haven't gotten around to yet or pick a delicious recipe and cook something you love every day.
Accomplishing something you set out to do feels pretty good, so give it a try.
Don't Drag the Kids Into Drama
For better or for worse, divorce totally changes your kids' lives without their consent, so for their sake, try to keep things as civil as you possibly can with your ex. Even if your ex cheated on you, bad-mouthing him to your children will not do any good. In fact, it will probably only damage their relationship with you, not him.
If they're old enough, try explaining what's going on rather than keep them in total darkness.
Prepare for Friends to Take Sides
Kids aren't the only party affected by divorce. Chances are, you and your ex shared friends, and some of these friends may take sides. It will definitely hurt watching people your thought were your friends side with the person who may have wronged you, but it happens all the time.
Just remember that your actual friends are the ones who are there for you no matter what. The people who stick around are the ones who will support you and stay by your side.
Make Your Free Time Count
Was your ex holding you back from accomplishing your dreams and aspirations? If so, now's the time to check off the items on your bucket list. Whether you've always wanted to get your real estate license, start a YouTube channel, or take that trip you always wanted to. Nothing is stopping you from living the life you've always wanted now.
Look for the Silver Linings
If you always felt a little guilty going out to dinner with your friends while your partner had to work, you officially don't have to worry about that anymore. If you worried that your spouse would be upset about your spending or how you chose to spend your free time, this is no longer an issue. There are probably a few other things you couldn't or wouldn't want to do that are now fully available to you, too.
Break a Sweat
Believe it or not, Exercise can do wonders for blocked emotional channels. Dr. Gilbertson explains, "Exercise triggers good feelings. So does setting and achieve goals. With all you're going through, you deserve to feel good. A fitness regimen or a new goal such as a half-marathon will boost your mood and increase your self-esteem." Plus, we've all heard of endorphins, right?
Try going for a run a few times a week. Each time you start, set a goal for how far you want to go, and each run, try to push at least a few tenths of a mile further. Being able to show yourself how strong you can be and accomplish a goal you set will feel amazing.
Don't Neglect Your Relationships
When you're feeling low and empty, putting on an outfit and being social may sound like the last thing you want to do, but do your best to stay involved with the people you love. Keeping busy helps more than you'd think. Being around other people helps you get out of your own head and offers you a little bit of a break from the emotional abuse you may be forcing on yourself.
American Psychological Association. "Can this marriage be saved?" April 2013.