Getting Through Divorce: Hurting, Healing, And Moving On
Updated February 26, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC
Regardless of how good or bad your marriage was or how long it lasted, getting through a divorce can be one of the most trying transitions to make in one's life. Healing and moving on from divorce can't happen overnight. You have intertwined your life with someone else's, and separating back to two individual lives can be a transition that not everyone handles well on their own. Most people do eventually move on from divorce. There are a lot of factors involved in how long it might take and what you might need to do to move on, but you can feel better knowing that the end is in sight.
How Long Does It Take To Get Over Divorce
Getting over divorce often takes time. Even if the relationship was awful or your spouse did something horrible such as cheating, it can be difficult to let go of the life you have built. According to Up Journey, the average amount of time that therapists say it takes to get over a divorce is about one year for every five to seven years of marriage to heal from divorce and move on. However, several factors can affect this process and how long it takes to heal and move on from divorce.
Duration of The Relationship
How long you were with your spouse makes a big difference in how long it takes to get over the divorce. The longer you are with someone, the more intertwined your lives become. Even if your marriage only lasted a few years, if the overall relationship lasted much longer than that it could be some time before you are ready to let go truly.
Another factor is how combined your lives have become during your marriage. If finances, home, cars, children, and other aspects of life are joined, it can be very difficult to separate into two separate identities and households. The longer you have to deal with the dividing of property and money, the longer it will be before you can heal and move on. This process of dividing things up can often be the most difficult and hurtful time of a divorce.
If you have children together, getting over divorce might take longer. You will have to make sure that the children are taken care of and spend time with both parents. While co-parenting in a healthy way is completely possible, it does require that you can be civil and cooperative with your ex. When this isn't the case, it can take longer to get over the divorce because you are seeing and interacting with your ex on a routine basis.
The State of the Marriage
If marriage was particularly bad, you might be happy about it ending. People who are happy about leaving their spouse and beginning a new part of their life are more likely to get over a divorce quickly. Yet even these individuals may have a hard time truly healing if they hold a grudge against their spouse for how they were treated. Moving on and starting a new life doesn't always necessarily mean that you have healed from the marriage and divorce.
If you didn't want the divorce at all, and it was completely your spouse's idea to get divorced, it is likely to take much longer for you to get over the divorce and move on. Especially if you were blindsided with the divorce and didn't realize anything was amiss, this can be a massive upheaval in your life. In these situations it will take longer to accept, heal, and move on.
How Resistant You Are To Change
Each person has their outlook on change. Some people handle change very well, accepting the changes and moving forward as best they can. Other people are resistant to change and their mental and emotional state in the face of such massive change as divorce can be less stable than desired. The first step in healing from divorce is acceptance. If you are resistant to change, acceptance can be extremely difficult. However, if that is the case, once you achieve acceptance the rest of the process is usually much easier.
Willingness To Let Go
Some people are just unwilling to let go of the life they had with their spouse, and for those individuals, they may never truly get over divorce. Some women who never wanted divorce may pine for their lost love for the rest of their lives. If you find that you don't feel like you can or want to let go of your marriage, it can help to talk to a therapist about your feelings and thoughts so that you can get some insight into how and why you should take these steps forward.
Getting Over Divorce
Getting over a divorce is a process of transition that you must go through. It is similar to the grieving process that you go through when someone close to you dies. You have to be able to grieve, embrace the hurting, accept the situation, heal from the pain, and finally move on with your life. There are usually four phases that people go through when moving on from divorce.
Shock And Denial
If you were the one to end the marriage, this step might not apply to you. But if you were not the one to agree to or propose the divorce, it may have come as a shock. Even if you knew that things were not as good as they used to be, it could be a very big shock for your spouse to tell you they want a divorce. You might at first argue with them and deny that there is anything wrong. You might beg them to change their mind. Or, you might turn inward and shut out the world while you grieve for what is being lost.
The second phase is anger. No matter who decided to end the marriage, there is likely to be an element of anger or resentment when it comes to divorce. If you ended the marriage, you might hold anger and resentment for the behavior of your spouse that led you to the decision of getting a divorce. If you were not the one to propose divorce or it wasn't a mutual decision, you may have anger toward your ex for giving up on your marriage.
Acceptance And Healing
Eventually, you will move on to the third phase of getting over a divorce. You will be able to accept that the marriage is over. You will be able to begin to understand your spouse's side in the marriage and divorce, and you will begin to forgive them for their part in the relationship and the ending of it. Once you have accepted that it truly is over, you can begin the process of healing. Healing takes time and looks different for everyone, but it is often helpful to get a therapist to assist you.
When you have the true desire to move on with your life after divorce, you are in the final phase of getting over it. You may be excited about the future, making plans for your career, children, or other aspects of your life. You may be to feel a sense of profound freedom now that you are making decisions for yourself and by yourself. You may even in this phase begin to feel as though you are ready to start dating again.
Moving On After Divorce
So what does moving on after divorce look like? It can be different for everyone, but as a general rule you have moved on from divorce when you have finished grieving, accepted the situation, and begun to rebuild your life on your own. When you are no longer blaming anyone for what happened, when you are no longer blaming yourself, when you are no longer holding grudges, and when you are no longer waiting for something to happen, that is when you know you have moved on.
Some people think that the best way to move on after divorce is to start dating again right away. They think that moving on means that they have to completely leave that part of their life behind and start over again immediately. The problem with this is that these individuals never fully deal with the emotional trauma that divorce can cause. Until you healthily deal with those emotions, you will not ever truly move on from your divorce. This situation that is created can often affect new relationships in a negative way.
How To Get Through A Divorce
There are several things that you can do to help you get through a divorce and is the process of moving on. While everyone is different, these tips on how to get through a divorce can apply to almost anyone. Here are some of the best ways to get through a divorce.
Cooperation and Communication
When you are going through a divorce, you will often have feelings of sadness, anger, resentment, and other emotions that are running high on both sides. This can make the process of divorce very difficult. According to the American Psychological Association, it is important to keep the lines of communication open. If you are not able to communicate effectively with your ex on your own, you can enlist the aid of a mediator to help you divide your assets, arrange custody and visitation schedules, and other aspects of ending the relationship. The more cordially you can handle these matters with your spouse, the easier it will be to get over the divorce when all is said and done.
You must use self-care to help you get through divorce. This is a very trying and emotional time. If you do not manage your stress level, it could affect other aspects of your life, such as career and children. Make sure that you take time for yourself and protect your mental health. This can be different for everyone, but meditation, yoga, or other exercises can often help.
Psychotherapy or talk therapy can often help you get through a divorce and begin the process of healing and moving on. A psychologist can help you see things through a different lens. They can also give you coping skills and help you work through the gambit of emotions that you are feeling. They can help you figure out how to get through the divorce on all levels and help you determine how to move forward in your life from there. For example, if you had a problem setting boundaries in your marriage, a therapist can help you address that so that moving forward in your life you no longer have that issue in your relationships.
If you are unable to get the help you need to get over divorce locally for whatever reason, there is still help available for you. ReGain is a great resource for online counseling and therapy to help you get over divorce on your own time and schedule. With flexible options available through an internet connection and smart device, you can access therapy anytime and from anywhere. If you are struggling to get through divorce, contact Regain today for more information or to get started.