Divorcing the Love of your Life - Coping with the Heart Break

When a relationship as important as marriage breaks down, it is natural to feel caught in a bewildering roller coaster of emotions. A marriage is thought of as an unbreakable union between two hearts – you both got married  because you thought you were so sure about each other. Finding that it wasn’t so can leave you with a range of emotions from anger to grief and depression. Even if you can take care of the material consequences, coping with the heartbreak caused by divorce may be the toughest part of moving on.

Allow yourself to grieve

Experts believe that the end of a relationship forces a person to go through the same feelings as after bereavement. First there is the shock of the loss of a partner followed by denial. At this point it is important to stop holding on to false hopes. Flirting with others or using your kid to emotionally blackmail your partner into returning will rarely work. Accept that your relationship with this person is over so that you can move on with your life. However things will become much harder before they get better. Acceptance of the loss of a relationship is likely to give way to anger and overwhelming grief. You will probably feel that the ground beneath your feet has given way and nothing can ever help you to get up again. Allow yourself to feel miserable for a while and you may find your tears bringing on a cathartic sense of relief.

TIP: Download the guide to making up with the love of your life

Clean up

The best thing to do in order to hurt less is to get busy. You can start with getting rid of all the visible signs of the failed marriage like  putting away photos, letters, personal stuff and other things that belongs to your former partner or reminds you of them. However also keep in mind that this process may not be easy if you have kids. In fact it would be not only unfair but even harsh on them if you suddenly remove all signs of the other parent. Divorce counselors increasingly suggest the importance of keeping in touch with the non-residential parent for children to cope better with a divorce. So you may not be able to take down family photos in the dining room as yet but try and empty out your wardrobe of your ex’s stuff. Even if you feel that you do not as yet, have the emotional strength to send back his/her collection of DVDs or throw away your ex’s perfume but ensure that they are out of your sight. Put everything in boxes and either have them delivered to your ex’s place or keep them in the attic/basement to do so when you are ready. If nothing else, the act of cleaning up can at least keep you occupied for a while and perhaps even bring about a sense of closure.

Get back into the world

after you have allowed yourself to grieve the loss of your marriage, make sure that you get on with your life. Go back to work if you had taken a couple of weeks off and rejoin the gym or the book club where you were a regular fixture. If you are reminded too strongly of your ex since maybe it was the bookshop where you had met for the first time, find some other interest to occupy you.  Or if you both enjoyed working out together at the gym, see if you can change your membership to another branch or join another activity like aerobics. Explore volunteer work which will not only help you to stay busy while benefiting others but also put you in touch with like-minded people in your neighborhood or town. Finally try to go out more often even though you may not be in the mood for socializing. While material and financial help are catered for in many divorces, the social vacuum brought about by that the loss of a spouse entails takes far longer to fill. Never turn down an invite from a friend, no matter how boring it may appear. Who knows, you may just end up meeting someone nice and interesting at the get-together!

Find new goals

An interesting way of doing this is to find something that you couldn’t or weren’t allowed to when you were with your ex. For instance go traveling if he/she was a homebody and didn’t like venturing out. Or keep a dog if your ex disliked pets. You will not only have fun in doing something new but also benefit emotionally from setting and achieving a new goal. More importantly, however you will realize that the loss of the relationship may have set you free in more ways than one.

Look after your kids, if any

Perhaps the worst victims of a failed marriage are the kids from it. If you are separated or divorced from your spouse, do all you can to make your children feel safe and loved. Assure them that the breakup was not their fault and even if there will be changes in living arrangements, their Mom and Dad will not love them any less.

Accept help

A divorce is one of the most traumatic personal experiences and there is no need to make it harder on yourself by going through it alone. Rather be open to accepting help from family members, close friends and even co-workers. For instance don’t hesitate to say yes to the offer of a short vacation from a sibling or tag along with colleagues if they insist on late evening drinks before winding up for the weekend. Finding and accepting support from genuine well-wishers will not only help you to overcome the feelings of misery but also make you realize that there are other relationships where you are loved and cherished. Above all, don’t hesitate to look for professional help from a therapist or counselor if you feel that you cannot cope on your own.

Learn your lesson

As you recover from the breakup, see where you went wrong and what you can learn from the experience. Ask yourself how could you have chosen a more suitable partner or when things started to go wrong, how could you have behaved differently. Considering the failed relationship as an opportunity to learn more about your own expectations and priorities will not only help you to heal faster but also prepare you better for a future relationship, when it happens.

Finally take your time in getting back to the dating scene. If the divorce was forced on you, then you may be sorely tempted to jump into the dating pool so as to show your ex that you are still desirable. However rebound relationships rarely work in the long run since they are unable to bear the additional weight of an unhappy past. Rather start small and go out in groups or with mutual friends when you begin to socialize again. And once you are ready to date, keep it simple and casual so that your partner knows that you are just looking for an interesting evening and no more. This is not to say that you should close yourself to any romantic possibility but only that it is better to wait till you feel emotionally ready for a relationship again.

Finally, realize that there will be ups and downs. Some days you may feel inspired to begin anew while on others you may feel unable to drag yourself out of bed. But always remember that things will get better, no matter how difficult or unlikely they seem at present.