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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce

10 Struggles Anybody Who Has Been Divorced Will Understand


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1) “Getting to Know You” Conversations Can Become Awkward


“So, what brought you to Atlanta?”

I hate it when I get that question. Because the true answer is, “My ex-husband’s job.” But I don’t always want to go there, especially in a professional setting. So sometimes this perfectly innocuous question leads to conversational gymnastics to try to avoid the more salacious aspects of my life. And that’s not the only potentially tricky question. Once you’ve been married to somebody, your life stories intertwine and it can be difficult to tell yours without including unwanted information about your former spouse.

2) You Find Yourself Referencing Your “Other Life”


Once the divorce is final and in the rear view mirror, it feels like it happened to somebody else. Like that chapter was a whole other life. Even though your friends and family may see a contiguous you, you know otherwise. There was the person before the divorce and the person after. Thus, the “other life.”

3) Some Things Are Still Under Your Former Married Name


Changing your name is no easy feat. And after the emotional and financial upheaval of divorce? It’s almost an impossibility to gather enough energy to do it completely. I still have my old name on my car insurance (only because their demands mean I would have to visit the courthouse for additional documentation) and most of my classroom supplies are branded with the former moniker (When my students inquire about the name, I simply say, “She is a woman I used to know“). And, of course, I still receive credit card offers and advertisements under my old name. I guess they’re not aware she doesn’t exist anymore.

4) Your Blood Pressure Rises When You Have to Indicate “Marital Status” On Some Form


This is the worst while you’re in the process of divorcing: Technically you’re married, but you certainly don’t feel it. You’re not quite divorced yet, and you silently wonder if checking that box will speed up the legal process. You’re not single, but you’re slowly learning to be on your own. Nor are you widowed, although you may wish your spouse was dead. Here’s the box I would like to have placed on intake forms.

5) Weddings Become Bittersweet Events


The first wedding I attended was my cousin’s, two years after my divorce.  I sat in the pew, my then-boyfriend now-husband by my side, and I tried to hold back the tears. I was happy for her. Excited for this new chapter in her life. But I was also sad for me, remembering back to the day when I possessed that certainty and unbridled excitement for the future. And I was scared for her. I wanted her happiness to last, untouched by divorce. Weddings are beginnings. And after divorce, you become acutely aware that sometimes they lead to premature endings.

6) You Learn That Missing Someone and Hating Someone Are Not Mutually Exclusive


Continue to read the rest.

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14 thoughts on “10 Struggles Anybody Who Has Been Divorced Will Understand

  1. Oh, yes — # 7 especially! At this point in time, I just can’t see myself being that vulnerable with anyone again. I can’t fathom how I would ever trust someone implicitly or give my whole heart to them. And yet, I know that I need to be able to do all of this in order to have a healthy relationship. The thing that makes it even scarier is that I know that my first marriage damaged me in a way that contributed to my second marriage ending. I was so scarred that I never fully opened up or trusted my second husband – and always held a bit of myself from him…just in case something like that should happen again. And, of course, it did – and I was still I was incredibly devastated when the marriage ended. It’s like a catch-22 – how can I love if I can’t trust? How can I trust when I’ve been so betrayed and hurt by my husbands? If I do find someone else, how can I be vulnerable knowing that I could be hurt even worse? Gaaahhhhh!

  2. Love this list. I am starting to struggle with #7. I also totally relate to the idea that those years spent together were another life in a another time.

      1. I am now thinking of sending my ex a thank you note! Thank goodness for crossing over to being excited for what is to come!

  3. Wonderful work. My post-divorce blog is far more cynical and dark, but as a person, I’m not all doom and gloom. I can certainly appreciate every sentiment expressed here. Perhaps you have heard this song. It truly speaks to me. If you have not heard it, I recommend it. I am an atheist, but listening to this song provided me the closest thing to a spiritual experience I have ever had sober.

    Mumford and Sons – The Cave:

  4. I struggle with #7 in fact I’ve nicknamed myself 3Strikes as a kind of self-deprecating force field, if that makes sense. Like I’m going to say I suck at marriage so much that I’ve divorced three times before you ever get a chance to.

  5. I hate the “divorced” box more than anything. I will rebel against checking it because it’s completely unnecessary! Might was well say “failure”.

    I struggle with removing “we” from statements of the past. I have to consciously say “I”, regardless if I know there was another person involved in that memory or experience. Owning it and making it my own is an ongoing process.

    I have been told by many others who have experienced divorce, “it gets better, with time”. A year and a half after my world blew up, I can now say it to someone walking that path I’ve been down.

    I have become more courageous facing my demons and going after the things that once intimidated me. The hardest thing I am experiencing now, after the dust settled, is figuring out who I am and what makes tick. It’s an everyday battle, because it’s scary digging deep into the things I tried stuffing down for so long, living in the fear of what it might mean to start being honest and true to myself.

    One day at a time.

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