Romance . . .after Divorce
“The wrong relationships teach you to recognize the right one when it arrives.” Anonymous.
People coming through divorce ask many questions. One of the biggest–“Will anyone ever love me again?”
Newly divorced people often dive into new relationships to recover? If you are ready to take the plunge–beware! Those waters often prove dangerous.
A few steps will guide the dive and help you move into another, better relationship.
Step 1: Take a pause.
Juliet Jeske, author of Dating after Divorce: Rebounds and Supernovas for Huffington Post, recounts the disastrous outcomes of relationships she pursued after her divorce as a lesson for others. Her prime message? Get personally healthy before engaging with someone else.
“Being clinically depressed is not the best time to start a relationship,” says Jeske. Because she failed to process her own grief and confusion from her divorce, she began projecting these onto new relationships. Though the relationships began like supernovas, they consistently devolved into black holes. “No one person has enough love or strength to pull another out of free fall, especially in a brand-new relationship. I had to do it for myself.”
Research affirms Jeske. Studies show that people need about 2 years to heal before beginning a new relationship. When people push ahead, they likely delay healing. And finding actual true love.
If you wait, you have a much higher chance at making the next relationship a lasting one.
Step 2: Get emotionally healthy.
Where do you spend those two years of healing?
- Many seek counseling to process emotions and assess how their marriage went wrong. Therapists can help you understand how you got here. They help people explore why they chose their spouse. How they related to their spouse. And, what made the relationship fail. Armed with this understanding, people choose better the next time.
Also, counseling can help you figure out who you are and who you want to become. Rather than seeking identity in another relationship, this healing allows you to grow into your own post-divorce identity. You will come to the place where you can share a whole, healthy person with a future mate. A much more stable foundation for relationship success.
- Others turn to life coaches for guidance on how to choose a new path. These coaches help you define the future you want, then create a step-by-step plan for getting there. Specific, detailed, and supported, this path enables you to move into your desired life. Then, you can focus on sharing that life with someone else.
- Still others spend time focusing on what is already good: friendships, jobs, and children. When you focus on the good, you give yourself the space you need to recover. Spend time with friends. Pursue hobbies left idle as you attended to the details of married life. Enjoy career opportunities. Taking time to focus on the good already present creates a foundation for entering new relationships with priorities in place.
One of the most important areas to focus? Your children. They are the best fruit of your marriage. When you wonder, “Why did I marry him/her?” look to your children. Enjoy them. Engage with them. Focus on helping them adjust to this new life. As you do, you help them heal. All too often, parents, coping with their own loss, leave children to cope alone. After a divorce, children need their parents’ attention and care. Give these, and you both heal.
Step 3: Forgive.
“Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.” Robert Brault. Holding onto anger to get even with those who have hurt us generally backfires. People can’t hold fire without getting burned.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean pretending wrongs didn’t happen or that wounds aren’t real. It does mean giving up the right to punish. It means you stop holding onto hurt as a protection. It means leaving the other person to their own fate and moving on. Forgiving acknowledges that people fail us, that we fail them, and that releasing them also releases you to choose differently next time.
Rushing into romance often causes more damage than the divorce. Instead, take time. Get emotionally healthy. Find a way to forgive. As you do–you build the foundation for a better relationship, the second time around.
If you would like information on how to build a new life, call The Resolution Center at 317-344-9740 or email info@TheResolutionCenterIndy.com. Our coaches offer key insights on how to move out of a painful past into a hopeful future. We look forward to serving you.