It’s true. Divorce actually makes you better.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
24 thoughts on “10 Ways Your Divorce Makes You Better Than Before”
“Divorce is like a drill sergeant yelling, ‘Grow up!’ into your tear-streamed face.”
I definitely felt this way. Thanks for putting a lot of my feelings into words. It is very helpful on this unplanned journey.
Amen to this post! x
I can say for a fact that my divorce has made me MUCH stronger than I ever thought I could be. You couldn’t have told me that 3 years ago when it all started.
So glad to hear:)) And, yes, it’s the last thing we’re ready to hear in the beginning. Luckily, the beginning never lasts!
All of this is true. I AM a better person than I was. The single biggest improvement is my humanity. Prior to that I was very smug and “I know best” my divorce made me so much more empathetic of everyone’s struggles.. It’ means I am also really on the roller coaster rather than protecting myself from it – and I’m ok. Thanks for this blog x
People allow the wrecking ball of divorce in order to become wiser? Saddest way to do this.Certainly there is a better way.
I don’t think people get divorced to become wiser ( at least, I hope not!). Rather, divorce happens and they decide to learn from it.
My Wife started a Career and opened a Buisness while leaving me home with a 5, 3 and 10 month old for 7 yrs now. She is a Colorist and worked for a High end Salon and made great money. Her friend asked her to open a Buisness Full time and she didn’t have to think about it. She was in. She made 80,000 plus tips working 3 days per week and now. Everyday except Monday’s til 9pm at night. Friday nights, Saturday’s and shops for the salon on Sunday’s then goes in nd does Inventory. I also work Fullbtime and home by 5pm and off weekends. The thing is, she has got us in debt 10’s of thousands. I had 60,000 saved and she spent every Friggn Nickel. She can’t save a dime. We argue 24/7. Now getting Divorced. My kids had no structure from day 1 with several sitters and family watching them. I have to leave b4 I lose it. She has ruined this Mariage bc of the choice she made. Her job is number one and we are still broke. How I lasted this long is a Miracle. I am burnt out. She should of had one kid at the most bc she is never home. No Sex for yrs and I am ready to meet a Woman who believes family is 1st. Money comes and goes and we have grown apart.
I am so sorry to hear you’re in this place. I feel for your kids.
No sex for years. I can relate. No respect for me. I think I’m done.
I’m stuck in this despair of a 34 year marriage ending and him “having” to bring his new partner to a family party. Why can’t he respect my feelings and come without her. Our divorce only happened in June and he hasn’t seen our granddaughter for 4 years. It’s his first opportunity to get to know her
Because he’s a selfish prick. That why. Sorry for your pain.
That gratitude and empathy are huge things that come out of the divorce, but I don’t know that every divorcee goes through that. Your divorce, and even my divorce were brutal rejections of everything we believe.
I think had it been a mutual thing it would have been different, but because we have been stripped barren by the one person we thought we could truly trust, it has forced us to deal with everything. Many people who are divorced never face that reality.
Probably true. On this side of it, I’m glad I had those lessons. Not that I’d want to do it again!
Amen to that! I have enough little ‘ticks’ to deal with. I don’t need anymore.
I needed to read this. My high school sweetheart and I recently divorced and while I know I’m better off, reading this made me feel good! Every bullet point is what I’ve experienced. I am a better person. Thank you!
And as you keep taking those steps forward, you’ll feel better AND be better! Hugs to you:)
I’m the one divorcing but it’s in response to outright rejection in every aspect for years. I wish there was some kind of support for me. I’m the victim and also the perpetrator, in a sense. End of a 16 year marriage and it is an unwanted divorce- for me as much as him. But at 45, there’s still some hope that I can start over- why does it seem that “the one that filed” is the bad guy. My husband was supposed to love and defend and protect and be in my corner. Had he shown any effort in these areas, I wouldn’t be walking out the door.
Sometimes the one to make the decision to end it is the one who is showing the greatest strength and wisdom. I’m sorry that you were forced to make the decision. Here’s a piece that speaks some about what you’re taking about -https://lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com/2017/07/30/the-end-of-a-relationship-the-leavers-and-the-left/
I am separated now and will soon be filing. I am the one who left because this marriage has been over for years. He has ignored me and lived his life however he wanted. I was a stay at home mom to our son. Now I’m back in school completing my degree and working at a job that is giving experience in what I’m hoping do later on. My son is doing fantastic and I’m happy for the first time in a long time. I am feeling stronger and actually am liking the person I am becoming. I wish I had done it sooner.
Thank you for sharing! Congratulations on Jenn 2.0:)
Wow, this is one of the most uplifting posts I have read in a long time. As a father of adult children (who still live at home), who is about to move out of the house as we divorce, this has given me hope that a better future lies ahead, after my told me she wants a divorce.
While I have lately wallowed in depression at the thought of not living with my kids anymore, this article has touched on so many areas through which I can see myself improving. It has given me reminders of so many things that held me back, and when I am forced to deal with things on my own, instead of letting my wife run everything, I can already see how I will be a better person, and in control of my life.
As an introvert, I could see myself hiding in a shell waiting for things to get better, or moving out of state to get away from the past, but this gives a whole new perspective, especially on the importance of gratitude to those who support us, and the connections we will make to a better future by getting out of the shell.
Every one of these points has given me a lift, and motivation to get to a better ‘me’, that can have a new relationship with my kids.