Divorce can be a good thing.
I was at a workshop last week with other CDFAs (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®). During our introductions, another of the participants stood up and said, “Divorce can be a beautiful thing.” Wow. That really rocked my world. I’d never heard it put that way before.
Usually, the stories we hear, and perhaps the stories we tell, cover all of the negatives of divorce. Who did what to whom, how it’s unfair. The expense, the emotional turmoil, the stress, all the things! His comment prompted me to look for the beauty that might be found in divorce.
We’re sneaking up on Thanksgiving in a year that’s proven itself to be more difficult than our average trip around the sun. It’s the traditional time to find beauty and recognize things to be grateful for. I thought it would be worthwhile to reflect on the good things that can come out of divorce, both as someone who has gone through one and someone who works in the world of divorce to help others get through theirs.
Divorce is frequently seen as an ending. It is undoubtedly the legal end to a marriage. But it’s also a beginning. When you divorce, you get to press the reset button on your life. You make new memories, form new relationships, have new experiences. You have an opening to work on making better those things that weren’t going so well in your “old” life.
What are some other bright spots, things to be thankful for, that can come of divorce?
New mindfulness in life.
Often we go through our days and months and years in states of habit. Think of the times you drive home from work and don’t remember consciously making any of the turns, but you get home safely regardless. The divorce process forces us to look at our lives and make decisions, intentionally, and hopefully, thoughtfully.
What do we want the rest of our lives to look like?
Looking at the state of the world today can be sobering. Judgment and blame are commonplace. To get through a divorce with grace and move into the next version of your life is an excellent opportunity to practice forgiveness. And if you don’t go through your divorce that way (gracefully? let’s face it – divorce oftentimes does not inspire grace), to acknowledge the behavior that might not have been stellar and forgive yourself afterward is also an opportunity. Be a little more kind and gentle to yourself. It is a pretty hard practice for many of us, but it’s OK – you deserve it!
Finding your power, knowing your worth.
Getting through a divorce may mean getting in touch with your own value. Perhaps something you set aside in the name of peace, or for the kids, or because you were too exhausted to stand up for yourself or realize your opinions and your life has value.
After divorce, you’re in charge of your own decisions; you’re the master of your own destiny. If you came from a marriage that consumed you – frequently the case when women get small in their marriages to avoid conflict – divorce offers the opportunity to step back into your life and take charge of your own self. You’re the boss of you!
A friend cleanse.
This was so obvious in my divorce. While it was really, really painful at the time, when I look back over the past several years, it’s one of the divorce fallouts I’m most thankful for.
Many of my friends fell away during the divorce and after. I joked that perhaps they thought it was contagious, and if they were around me too much, they might catch a divorce of their very own. Of course, that joke was to cover up the pain I felt from being abandoned by those I needed during the biggest crisis I’d ever faced in my life.
Then a beautiful thing happened, the gaps left in my life from those old friendships fading away were filled by new friends or more profound relationships with existing friends whom I’d only known casually before.
“We need to find the courage to say NO to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity.”– Barbara de Angelis
A better role model for your kids.
I grew up with parents who modeled bickering. That was their primary method of communicating with one another. Much of that was replicated in my marriage. While I was certainly not the model of grace during my divorce (I’m living proof that sometimes the best way to learn how to do something is to know how to NOT do it first). Being in a habitual relationship that didn’t model love and respect, but instead how to conform to avoid conflict isn’t how I want to walk in this world or (in retrospect) what I want to model.
A chance to find the real you.
If you’ve seen the Runaway Bride (Julia Roberts flick), you’ll be familiar with her quest to find the type of eggs she liked for breakfast. In every relationship she was in before, she ordered what her partner did with no real thought to what she wanted. A post-divorce life gives you the changes to sit with yourself and figure out what you’re all about, what you like, what you don’t. Who you want to be when you grow up. How do you like your eggs?
Hell, I’m grateful to my ex-husband that I have the opportunity to break away from living in his expectations and step into living mine.
We’ve all got one wild and precious life; sometimes, it takes something as earthshattering as divorce to wake us up to living that life. For that, in this crazy year, I am very, very thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving. Wishing you find many things to be thankful for, Brenda
Brenda is passionate about helping women before, during, and after their divorce to make the important decisions about their lives, families, and finances that shape their lives long after their divorce is final as a Certified Divorce Coach®, Mediator, and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®.