Ten Ways Your Divorce Makes You Better Than Before

I don’t think anyone ever responds to the childhood question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with “Divorced.” Yet, for many of us, the end of a marriage does become part of our life story. I know I don’t have to point out the downsides of divorce to you; after all, they have a way of speaking for themselves.

But what about the upsides? What about the ways that your divorce, even if it was of the unwanted or malignant variety, has made you better than before?

Because whether you realize it or not, divorce (like many other life challenges) has changed you. Shaped you. Strengthened you.

Its harsh grit has left you polished. Its demands have made you grow. And the pain has left its mark.

You aren’t the same person you were before. You’re better.

Maturity

You may have to be a legal adult to get married, but there are no tests for maturity before we pledge our lives wed to another. And in many cases, we enter our first marriages still children in many ways. Perhaps we placed too much faith in the idea of soul mates and happily ever after. Maybe we didn’t fully appreciate the effort that marriage requires. And possibly we still carried childhood wounds and patterns into our marriages rather than assuming adult responsibility for our own responses.

Divorce is like a drill sergeant yelling, “Grow up!” into your tear-streamed face. It leaves no room for childhood fantasies and overdependence on others. It requires that you put on your big-girl panties or big-boy briefs. Maybe for the first time in your life.

Confidence

In the beginning, divorce saps your confidence. You may be feeling defeated because you couldn’t hold your marriage together. If an affair was part of your divorce story, you’re wondering what the new partner had that you do not. And once you face the dating scene again, yet older and saggier than before, your self-doubt grows.

However, that’s only part of the story.

Because whenever you successfully complete something that you thought you could not do, you gain confidence. Whenever you have to reframe your assumptions about your weaknesses and limitations, you fuel belief in yourself. Whenever you face your fears and survive, you acquire strength. And whenever you come through a struggle bruised and battered yet without giving up, you build trust in your abilities. And divorce certainly provides these opportunities in spades.

Perspective

The only way to truly understand something is to first walk through it and then step back and look upon it from a distance. There’s a reason that some of the best marriage advice comes from people who have been divorced – they know the beginning, the middle and what can lead to end in a way that those only speaking from within cannot fathom.

As time goes on, and your divorce moves further back in the rearview mirror, you will be able to see patterns less clouded by emotion and cluttering detail. That perspective gives you information that you can use to change your own behaviors and to improve your future relationships.

Gratitude

When you lose everything, you take nothing for granted. With divorce, you lose your past memories, your present marriage and your future dreams. If you’re like me, you also lost so much more, left with nothing but your clothes and your determination to survive.

And as the dust settles, you will find an increased thankfulness for the friends that stepped up and stood by. You will treasure every day where the smiles outnumber the tears. And you will retain that gratitude even as the pain fades because once you have felt rock bottom, you appreciate everything that lifts you up.

wrapping paper

Empathy

When you have felt pain, you honor and respect that pain in others. The end of a marriage makes you more empathetic towards people facing any kind of loss. As you move towards acceptance and forgiveness of your situation and your ex, you develop your ability to see more than one viewpoint and to consider the feelings of others.

Divorce also wipes away the ego that demands that it’s shameful to ask for help. And once you’ve needed and accepted that help yourself, you’re better equipped to render aid to others.

Responsibility

It’s all too easy to unwittingly put the responsibility for our life in our spouse’s hands. We may look to them to provide our happiness. We may lean on them when we are upset or having difficulty with a decision. It’s good to be interdependent, yet divorce requires that you learn to be independent.

When you walk out of that courtroom, your life is your hands. You no longer have a co-captain, you’re driving alone. One of the first areas you have to assume responsibility for is your own well-being. You can’t outsource healing; you have to do it yourself. It’s scary taking on all of the responsibility yourself. Yet it also empowering. Because what you own, you can change. It’s your life now.

Humility

Divorce is a harsh lesson in our limitations. It teaches us that no matter how much we want something to be true, we cannot force it into being. It’s a wake-up call that we all make mistakes and we all make choices whose consequences may be much greater than we ever imagined. You may have been one of the divorce-deniers, now forced to admit that it can happen to anyone.

The reality-slap of the end of a marriage helps you embrace acceptance while limiting expectations.

Fortitude

The journey of divorce is an arduous one, taking much longer and with more setbacks than any of us imagined before we took that first step. It has many moments of false-hope when we think the worst is behind us, only to find that we are snapped back yet again to the depths of hopelessness.

Divorce takes grit to survive. You flex your fortitude as you continue on even when you can’t yet see the end.

Awareness

Many people see divorce as a wake-up call, often realizing that they were living in auto-pilot before they signed their “I Un-dos.” Divorce is a major change in the status quo. It’s a time where everything stands out in stark relief and there is an awareness and clarity that may have been absent before.

Furthermore, as part of the healing and growth process, you may turn to meditation or yoga, deepening your mindfulness and consciousness. You may have been asleep before, but you’re wide awake now.

Ingenuity

Divorce has a way of surprising us will all kinds of situations requiring novel and often immediate solutions. Whether it be how to afford rent on a fraction of your previous budget or how to parent your children with your difficult ex, you are constantly placed in the role of problem solver.

And the more we do something, the more proficient we become. And the end of a marriage will give you plenty of opportunity to develop your ingenuity.

Wisdom

Many use divorce as an opportunity for reflection and analysis. With the ego stripped away, you are raw and ready to learn. Listen. There’s wisdom in the lessons hidden in the end of a marriage.

Having trouble seeing the positives in your divorce? My complete, 12-part coaching program will guide you through healing and help you reclaim your happy. Learn more!

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12 thoughts on “Ten Ways Your Divorce Makes You Better Than Before

  1. Reblogged this on ashtx and commented:
    “You can’t outsource healing; you have to do it yourself. It’s scary taking on all of the responsibility yourself. Yet it also empowering. Because what you own, you can change. It’s your life now.”

  2. Awesome Lisa, thanks for putting this in words. We all know the bad things about divorce and when you are in the midst you really can’t imagine seeing any good. Love the focus you brought. I will be tweeting this one for sure.

  3. I’m sick of hearing… “Let go of the past and get on with your life.” There should be a site for women like me who are still in litigation (5+ yrs and counting) and debt with an extremely narcissistic ex … and at the same time are fighting a terminal illness in which they cannot sustain even part-time employment.
    I was a stay at home mom, a faithful wife, an ‘off-payroll’ employee in ex’s in-house business, hostess to many friends on various occasions…
    Now, I find that those ‘friends’ were being paid by my ‘ex’ for information, and despite joining new groups and volunteering, I have no friends. My daughters are now away in college. My ex claims I never worked at his office – and therefore 20+ yrs with no work credits or references – so I recently qualified (due to illness) for only a paltry SSDI that doesn’t cover the rent but which limits any income I might could find. I cannot sustain even part-time employment due to the side effects of a rare cancer and medications….And then there’s the mountain of medical bills.
    I’m going on 55 with several degrees (including psych and an MBA) but no real skills to speak of. I’ve always been crafty and have tried to come up with something to profitably make from home, and sell online, that couldn’t be bought for pennies from a foreign country. I’ve yet to think of such a product, as I’ve made 100s of things but never more than one of anything so there’s no expertise there, and have never sold anything.
    But I keep thinking….
    Perhaps I could write a book about the injustice of the civil system. It may be titled, “How a Narcissist Lies in Court and Gets Away with It!” but then again, he’d likely sue me for telling the truth.
    In case you’re wondering… yes, I’ve been to numerous counselors and ‘life coaches’, tried various anti-depressants and many holistic healing methods; taken countless classes on positive thinking, self-help, transitioning, meditation, stress-reduction….. tried several non-conventional ‘diets’ and many different supplements designed to fight cancer (none of which have put me in remission as of yet)…and I still volunteer at my church whenever health permits…..
    Yet…. I don’t feel that there is any purpose in getting up most days.

    1. You are so right about the courts not being prepared to handle people who are skilled at lying and manipulation. Not only does it make the process longer, more expensive and more painful, it also causes problems with the decree, which isn’t really very enforceable (learned that one the hard way). I am so sorry to hear about the position you’re in right now. And you’re right, you can’t “let go” while you’re still in the midst of it. All you can do is just keep moving through until you’re out. May that come sooner rather than later for you.

  4. My previous post began with “I’m sick of hearing that I should “Let go of the past..”
    and should have ended with….
    because The “Past” has not yet passed.

  5. Yes. I hope it is sooner than later, although going on 5 yrs, I can’t imagine when that will be. As you’ve probably read on this site, the narcissist will use every trick in the book to prolong, delay, wear me down to the point I want to give up and walk away….and let him have it all.
    Believe me, I’m already at that point…although at age 55 with no $ means, my parents have been helping me out with attorney fees (for which I have to sign promissory notes, and all comes out of any eventual inheritance) and they continually state that “We’ve (as though they were the ones getting a divorce – very controlling) invested too much to give up now. True they’ve invested a lot, both financially and emotionally, and I’d have nothing if I give up. In fact, that is just what my ex wanted… he said that my parents should just buy me a house and give me 100,000 and be done with it.
    And how unfortunate that the court awarded him 85% of the assets, believing that he ‘inherited’ that much of all our accounts. Not only did he lie, but being a sole owner of his 1-man company, he can cook books to his hearts content. He and his attorney also made last minute changes to the property schedules (and I really mean last minute, as in the night before it was due to be entered in court so that I wouldn’t have time to scrutinize it all and would miss the changes) so that it appeared he had much less property than he has. For example, a very nice antique pie safe was ‘moved’ to personal property schedule, when in fact his mother had given it to us when we built our house, and I have a picture of her sitting in front of it at Christmas dinner….but he claimed it was “inherited after she passed away” and I had fairly valued it at $350, but his attorney removed the “3” so it was added to his column for $50. The asking price for this type item on eBay and Craigslist is at least $600. This is just one example of the 50-100 changes that were made at the last minute.
    Why the courts take one spouse’s word for anything, yet the other spouse has to “prove” everything is beyond me.
    I am absolutely sure that he has hidden assets. He claimed his business was so ‘down’ that it was worth nothing and that it was about to ‘go under’ for lack of business and the alimony judge believed him, cutting the already paltry alimony in half and setting to ‘revisit’ in a year…. but he’s since continuously delayed and is now demanding a second full alimony trial…in which he will again lie about his income yet I have to prove every penny of my expenses.
    If I even try to find out about hidden accounts (which may be impossible if in the name of a friend or family member – as he’s done before) he will file a bogus charge that I am “invading his privacy” (he’s done this once already) so there is no way for me to “prove” what I know. The attorney (3rd one) also knows he must have other assets because he continues to live a high lifestyle not supported by the partial/incomplete/missing documents that he does submit, but says that it’ll cost more to try to hunt down these assets. And of course, when my parents hear that, they say, ‘we’ve invested enough already’ and won’t hire the forensic financial analysts.
    I’ve tried to convince them that hiring a forensic financial analyst will prove that he has lied about assets and will, in the long run, cost less than what the attorney is charging due to my ex’s continual delays.
    In addition to stressing me to the point that I give up and walk away, he is also trying to stress my parents to no end. He’s hoping they will pass on and leave me without support, whence I’d have no choice as I could not afford to retain the attorney. It would not surprise me if this didn’t end until my parent’s pass away and/or I am 6 feet under.
    If I didn’t think that I’d get sued for slander (yeah, I could change the names, but he’d sue me anyway to cause more stress), I’d write a book about the injustice.
    If I had a nickel for all the times I was told “just agree to split/pay xxx, and you’ll get it back in ED”… or “…the judges can see through him…they’ve dealt with this type person many times over..” or “..the custody mediator will listen unbiasedly to both sides….” I’d be financially independent! If this were true, at least one of the judges would, at some point, question why there are no payments to his attorney showing on any account that he has submitted during the past 4 years? I’m told that Divorce attorneys do not work on a contingency basis…in that it is in fact illegal in all 50 states.

  6. I appreciate the good information here but not everyone sees divorce aaa negative or the worst possible problem. Divorce can be, at least for me, that sense of liberation from living a false life where there was little or no connection or shared life existed probably for years.
    Divorce can be the acknowledgement that you recognize you can’t be happy together any longer and then taking personal responsibility to figure out an exit strategy…hopefully with compassion and respect. I personally don’t believe that people are ‘bad’ or that’s why the marriage didn’t work out because you had a bad partner. My thoughts are more like for a while we were a good match and no not do much.
    I see many struggling relations avoid making the ‘divorce decision’ for the sake of the kids, ‘what would people say, etc.

    Living together can be a very lonely life when you are in essence ’emotionally divorce’ and just living the lie because easier, more respectable, less disruptive, or any number of excuses just to keep it together thinking this too shall pass.
    To me the divorce isn’t the end, it’s the passing ritual to acknowledge the transition of something that once brought you happiness and now allowing yourself to believe that there’s something else that will do that. You can become the best version of yourself and see what happens.
    Wishing you much happiness – wherever you are in that space.

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