Gratitude Series Week 2: Better Off Now: Six Ways to be Grateful After Divorce

When you divorce, it’s often hard to see the good in anything. Even when you know it’s “for the best” in the long-run, losing your most intimate relationship shifts the ground under your feet. If your spouse is the one who initiated the split, you may have to rebuild you life — most likely at a time when you didn’t plan on rebuilding it. Even if you were the one who left, the reality of starting over may be a lot more difficult than you imagined — especially when there are children involved. It’s natural to feel stuck with a sense that your life will never improve. No matter the circumstances and no matter how sad, confused, angry or hurt you are right now, there will come a day when you may look at your divorce in a different light.

Here are six reasons why you may be grateful (yes grateful) for your divorce in days to come:

  1. Feeling a sense of relief. When a relationship is under duress for an extended period of time, you may not even realize how stressed you’ve become. Once your divorce is final, you may be amazed at how much easier life is off the emotional roller coaster. Resist the urge to beat yourself up because you stayed in a dysfunctional relationship for so long and appreciate the chance you have now for a happier life.
  2. Realizing strength you didn’t know you had. After the dust settles, divorce can be empowering. Doing what’s right for yourself and your children can bring a sense of self-confidence that you might not have recognized if you hadn’t been challenged by divorce. Making the decision to end a dysfunctional relationship often takes courage. Even if your life isn’t “perfect” now, take time to acknowledge that you are taking steps to improve the future for yourself and your kids.
  3. Enjoying quality time with your children. Whether you have sole custody or shared custody of your children, you may find that you’re more focused on them post-divorce. Instead of feeling bad that your family is “broken,” many divorced parents find that their relationships with their children become stronger because of the split. If your relationship was contentious, your children may actually appreciate your new living arrangement more than you realize.
  4. Rekindling community support. Often when you’re married you don’t fully appreciate the importance of family,friends, work colleagues, church and civic group affiliations. Divorce can reunite you with those you’ve been estranged from — particularly if your marriage separated you physically and/or emotionally from other relationships.
  5. Achieving goals that you set aside. Divorce may also open you up to pick up long-held goals and aspirations that you set aside when you married. Perhaps you put your career on hold to stay home with the kids while your spouse worked. Maybe you delayed returning to graduate school because your spouse was finishing her degree. Or perhaps you set aside your love of art, golf, cycling or other interests because your spouse didn’t share your enthusiasm. After divorce, you may find yourself with the freedom to pursue the dreams that couldn’t occur when you were married.
  6. Realizing you can choose healthier relationships. Finding yourself single after years in a toxic marriage gives you the chance to decide what you really need in a relationship. (For some, being free of irritable in-laws and interminable holiday gatherings can be a cause of sincere gratitude.) Realizing that you have the ability to choose to surround yourself with healthy, loving and supportive friends and family can be an empowering gift indeed. Most experts recommend taking time out from romantic relationships after divorce. Give yourself time to process and grieve your divorce with a therapist and determine your priorities and needs before you begin dating again.

It may take time to find the good within the negative aspects of divorce. But it’s important to acknowledge that without going through the “bad,” you might not appreciate the “good” things in the life you now enjoy.