The Person You Need In Your Life To Overcome A Painful Divorce

You're going to need help.

Last updated on Jul 04, 2024

Woman hold the key to overcoming a painful divorce. stevecoleimages | Canva

Making a good adjustment to life after divorce sounds simple. First, create and use a good support network to help you release the emotional impact of your divorce. Second, redefine yourself with a new life purpose. Third, set and start pursuing new goals for your health, wealth, love, and self-expression. Fourth, if you have kids, minimize the effect of divorce on your children.

However, it rarely works that way, as is evidenced by the fact that the typical divorce recovery time takes between three and six years. The culprit is the huge ball of emotional reactions triggered by your divorce that resides in your gut and mucks up your life decisions as you try to adjust to life as a single person after years of marriage. The issues that prevent a rapid adjustment to life after divorce are emotion-based and, as such, cannot be solved logically. All we can do is dissolve the disruptive energy they cause. For example, you got divorced and it's painful. You cannot "solve" the problem of divorce because, regardless of what you do, you are still divorced.


RELATED: 17 Healthy Signs You're Handling Your Divorce Really Well

The pain is the problem. It is emotion-based. Providing reasons why you shouldn't feel that way only makes matters worse. However, we can "dissolve" away the pain by disclosing and discussing it with a trusted person. I call this person a "Transition Partner" or "TP." If you hold the emotional reactions in, they fester and grow. If you disclose them to a well-meaning, but unhelpful, friend, they gather energy and grow even more. You must find a person who can be truly helpful in reducing the damaging impact of your emotional reactions to your divorce and subsequent life after divorce. But who?


When I first met my sister-in-law, Kate, she had been divorced for five years. The divorce was messy and publicly humiliating and she was still angry and resentful toward her ex. "Bill bashing" was a favorite sport. Twenty-five years later, Kate's professional life had blossomed but her personal life was much the same. She had achieved national recognition for her work in school systems. However, she was still angry, bitter, and resentful toward her ex. All efforts to start new relationships had fizzled, and the topic of relationships was considered "off limits."  

Then, at 53, she died from cancer, a professional success but an emotional cripple. Her effort to adjust to life after divorce had not worked. But why? Kate made the common but disastrous mistake of picking the wrong transition partner, and she paid for it dearly. By default, her best friend Jill became her de facto TP. After all, what are friends for, right? Jill joined in on the "Bill bashing" which helped Kate relive, rather than relieve, the pain. This prevented Jill from providing a reliable sounding board for Kate to be heard, and understood and allowed to move past her anger and resentment. The result was a 30-year life sentence of victimhood and loneliness. So, who should Kate have chosen instead? Beware of good friends who want to please. They may not have the courage to help. Kate's life would have been vastly different had she chosen a transition partner who had these five, critical qualifications.

RELATED: After Your Divorce, Do These 3 Things First

Here are the 5 necessary qualifications for your "transition partner:"

1. No personal agenda

Their only concern is your happiness regardless of what form the arrangement may ultimately take.


2. Truth-telling

Even when it is not what you want to hear.

3. Personal experience

You want a TP who has been divorced before, so he/she can truly understand what you are dealing with.

RELATED: 3 Phases You Must Go Through To Fully Get Over Your Divorce


4. Availability 

To talk with you regularly, frequently, and in-depth.

5. Non-judgmental

He/ she should be willing to withhold judgment and advice.

The Key To Overcoming A Painful Divorce Pexels / Christina Morillo


If you select a TP that meets these requirements and if you give him/her permission to do their job, then the odds of dramatically speeding up your recovery skyrocket. Ironically, this rules out the obvious choices: most friends, family members, and lovers. All these people almost always have a preferred solution they want us to accept. Pick Carefully. Pick wisely. Adjustment becomes almost routine. Pick poorly and the consequences are measured in the number of years lost.

RELATED: 24 Harmful Myths That Keep You From Moving On After Your Divorce

Jerald Young is a Divorce Recovery Coach and the Founder and CEO of Smooth Divorce Recovery. He helps professional men and women who are fed up with feeling the distress, resentment, disappointment, and helplessness that accompanies divorce — both when going through divorce and then when recovering from divorce.