You Can't Truly Put Your Divorce Behind You Without Doing 4 Little Things

Let divorce become part of your past.

Last updated on Apr 17, 2024

woman practicing self care in front of a vision board AleksandarNakic, pixelshot | Canva

Many people naively believe that moving on after divorce happens naturally. They believe that somehow, after either the decision to divorce is reached or the divorce agreement has been signed, you are suddenly free from the past and should be over your divorce.

People who think like this have rarely been through a divorce themselves. They don’t know the agony of a failed marriage. They also don’t know how difficult it is to be able to honestly say that your divorce is just part of your past and not a constant presence in your life. Despite the difficulty, you can truly get over and move on from your divorce and enjoy your new, unmarried life. But it will take more than time or ink drying on some legal paperwork.


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You can't truly put your divorce behind you without doing 4 little things:

1. Have a vision for your life.

Once you know what you want, it’s a whole lot easier to start doing what you must to have that life. This isn’t quite as simple or easy as it seems at first. People who are struggling with getting over their divorce often make two mistakes when they create their vision.

First, they want things the way they were when they were married. This doesn’t necessarily mean they want everything like it was, but they want their finances, their time with their children, or the help around the house like before divorce. The second mistake they make is they focus more on what they don’t want, instead of what they do. Now, there is some value in being clear about what won’t work for your life. But, if that’s what you focus on, that’s all you will see.


You can avoid both errors. All it takes is a willingness to try out new ideas so you can decide what you want. Doing so will be incredibly helpful in putting your divorce behind you.



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2. Be honest.

You can see past the hurt of your divorce, set aside the blaming and fault-finding, and know your part in the end of your marriage. Spending the time to understand your part will make your life easier. With this knowledge, you’ll know what to modify to make your next relationship better. (This knowledge will also help you be a better co-parent.)


Another benefit of being honest with yourself is you’ll be able to let go of your emotional baggage.

relaxing at home on couch alonePhoto: Prostock-studio via Shutterstock

3. Show gratitude.

It’s amazing how your view of the world can shift dramatically when you start to view the world through the lens of thankfulness instead of criticism and judgment. Showing gratitude doesn’t mean you should be thankful for struggling financially or missing out on being able to kiss your children goodnight every night, or for your ex’s poor behavior. What it does mean is you focus on the positives — your children are healthy, and you have a place to call home.


Max Planck put it best when he said, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." And by showing gratitude, you’ll start seeing the good all around you, which will help you put your divorce into your past.

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4. Be adaptive.

Divorce introduces huge changes that impact nearly every facet of your life. The only way to survive the changes and thrive after your divorce is by being willing to adapt to them. Adapting to your new situation will require you to accept what has happened and may still be happening but not to let any of that define you. Being adaptive means you’re willing to look for alternative ways to achieve your vision for your future instead of getting (or staying) stuck.

Although using these four secrets will help you put your divorce behind you, you’ll probably discover you have a difficult time consistently embracing them. That’s because these are new ways of thinking and behaving when you compare them to what you’ve been doing to get through your divorce. Because they’re new, you may need some practice to master them. So be easy with yourself as you’re learning how to move on from your divorce.


As you perfect these secrets, you’ll naturally be more engaged with your life now, and your divorce will become just a part of your past.

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Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce and life coach. Her writing on marriage, divorce, and co-parenting has appeared on MSN, Yahoo, Psych Central, Huffington Post, Prevention, and The Good Men Project, among others.