Maybe "lies" is a bit strong. Maybe you're more comfortable with the words "myths" or "stories". I was, when I originally titled this article, but the truth is, there are divorce lies out there. And many people suffer needlessly when they're trying to recover from divorce as a result of believing these untruths.
I suffered from divorce recovery lies when I went through my divorce. I believed that all divorces were basically the same. I believed that I'd get over my divorce more quickly if I didn't think about it or allow myself to feel much anger about it. I believed that if I started dating that meant I must be over my divorce. I didn't understand they were lies then; I had to learn the hard way. I want to make sure that you don't fall for the lies like I did. I want to make sure that you're aware of them so you can call them what they are when they appear, and choose a different belief for yourself — your truth.
The difficulty is that the lies about divorce recovery are so pervasive, they can be hard to identify and avoid. That's because they are used to set our expectations for what divorce recovery should be like. They become our guide for understanding how well we're doing with our divorce recovery. They can also dictate who we expect to get help from in working through our divorce.
Before I start listing the lies about divorce recovery, I want you to know the list isn't all-inclusive. These are just some of the ones I'm familiar with, but if someone's telling you a divorce fact that feels untrue, trust your intuition.
• All divorces are basically the same.
• It takes one year to get over your divorce.
• It takes one year for every four years you were married to get over your divorce.
• Everyone going through divorce has the same emotions in the same order.
• The pain of divorce decreases linearly over time.
• Once you think you're over your divorce, it never comes up again.
• Your family members will always help you as you go through divorce.
• It's not OK to feel sorry for yourself.
• You'll get over your divorce more quickly if you just avoid thinking about it.
• You should be really angry at your ex.
• Everyone gets depressed when they go through divorce.
• If you haven't been married for very long, you should get over it more quickly than someone who was married for many years.
• There's a reason there's no divorce ritual/celebration or marriage funeral — they aren't needed!
• The intensity and length of your anger, depression and loneliness are directly proportional to how much you were invested in your marriage.
• There is something wrong with you if you feel like part of you died when your marriage ended.
• Every divorce attorney only has their client's best interests at heart.
• You attorney is also going to be able to help you recover from your divorce.
• Everyone takes anti-depressants when they get divorced.
• Your ex is always the reason your marriage failed.
• You should feel really sad when you get divorced.
• You don't need any time to adjust to your new single life; you should be able to continue doing everything you were doing before, just fine.
• You should start dating right away.
• The sooner you get into another relationship, the faster you'll get over your divorce.
• Getting divorced means that you are a failure.
• Your friends will always support you.
Be honest: how many of lies on this list do you believe? If you're like most people I work with, you probably believe a majority of them. Heck, I believed most of them when I got divorced!
Here's a breakdown of each of the lies and an opportunity for you to choose to believe differently.
All divorces are basically the same. Divorces are all different. Laws vary depending on where you live. Your marriage was not like anyone else's marriage because you and your ex-spouse are two unique individuals. Your divorce will be just as unique. There might be similarities between your divorce and someone else's that you can use to help you with your divorce recovery, but it won't be the same.
It takes one year to get over your divorce. It takes one year for every four years of marriage to get over your divorce. We're going to discuss both of these together. First off, you can see that the only way both of these statements have any chance of being true is if you've been married for exactly four years. So that means at least one of them must be wrong. From my experience as a divorce coach, everyone is different and requires a different amount of time to recover from their divorce. Some people who have been married for years find it fairly easy to get through their divorce recovery, and others never do. What I believe is that it depends on how much effort you're willing to invest in yourself and moving on with your life as to how quickly you'll be able to feel better again.
Everyone going through divorce has the same emotions in the same order. This is just so wrong. There are similarities to the emotions that people experience when dealing with divorce recovery, but everyone experiences them in a different order, in different intensities and for different durations.
The pain of divorce decreases linearly over time. For most people the pain of divorce is more cyclical than linear. At first the emotions of divorce are intense and change rapidly. Over time they tend to decrease in intensity and variety, but there can be flare-ups at any time after they've decreased.
Once you think you're over your divorce, it never comes up again. As I mentioned in the discussion about the previous lie, the painful emotions of divorce can flare up after you think you’re done with the worst of it. The times when people might see a flare up are at the holidays, anniversaries or other special occasions, but not everyone does.
Your family members will always help you as you go through divorce. As much as I wish this wasn't a lie, it is. It's not so much a lie because you can't count on your family, but because most families don't know how to help you get through divorce unless you're getting through it exactly as they expect you to. So although most people can count on their families for help, they just may not be able to provide the exact help you need and want when you need and want it.
It's not OK to feel sorry for yourself. Now I'm not advocating becoming a puddle of self-pity, but it's OK to feel bad for yourself when you're going through divorce. The hopes, dreams and expectations you had when you got married won't be coming true. And most people experience grief when that happens. It's OK for you to feel some sadness for yourself. However, if that's the only thing you're feeling, you might want to reach out to someone and get some more support in healing from your divorce.
You'll get over your divorce more quickly if you just avoid thinking about it. Stuffing your thoughts and feelings about your divorce might not be the best answer. When I did this, I wound up with health problems including anorexia and anxiety attacks. So, at least in my case, trying to ignore what was going on actually made things worse.
You should be really angry at your ex. Most people do feel anger at their ex at some point during their divorce, but it's not a requirement. There are examples of people who get divorced and actually become more able to communicate with each other. I have some neighbors who are recently divorced; they went through a period of intense anger, but now communicate better than when they were married.
Most people do experience sadness (sometimes intense sadness) when they get divorced, but sadness is not synonymous with depression.
If you haven't been married for very long, you should get over it more quickly than someone who was married for many years. There really are no rules about how long it will take you to get over your divorce. I know of one woman whose husband asked for a divorce after nine months of marriage. She was devastated and it took her about a year to get over the grief. I know of another woman who was married for about a year and got divorced, but she was over her divorce within a couple of months. I also know of people who have been married for 10+ years who are over their divorce before the decree is finalized.
There's a reason there’s no divorce ritual/celebration or marriage funeral — they aren't needed! Despite the fact that for every two marriages in the US this year there will be approximately one divorce, divorce is still looked on as something not to be celebrated or recognized. Maybe we consider it to be too personal. For many people, having a public recognition of the fact that the marriage is over can be extremely helpful in putting an end to the marriage and a beginning to a new single life.
The intensity and length of your anger, depression and loneliness are directly proportional to how much you were invested in your marriage. Bull! The intensity and length of your emotions is directly proportional to your ability to accept and work through them.
There is something wrong with you if you feel like part of you died when your marriage ended. It's pretty common to feel like part of you died when your marriage ended. The part of you that was the spouse in your marriage is no more and it's OK to grieve the loss of that role.
Every divorce attorney only has their client's best interests at heart. How I wish this wasn't a lie. Unfortunately it is. Just like in any profession, there are good ones and not so good ones. Having an attorney who truly does have your best interests at heart can make your divorce recovery that much easier because you're not as stressed out about the legalities of your divorce. (Get tips for choosing the right divorce attorney for you.)
You attorney is also going to be able to help you recover from your divorce. As caring and supportive as your attorney might be, they probably aren't the best equipped to help you recover from your divorce. However, they probably have a great referral or two for you to get the help you deserve.
Everyone takes anti-depressants when they get divorced. This is like when we were teenagers and told our parents that everyone else was doing it so we needed to be allowed to do it too. It's just not true that everyone needs anti-depressants when they get divorced. In my opinion, we've normalized depression and are ready to take a pill for a "quick fix" instead of really exploring what's going on. Keep reading...
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