What Divorce Will And Will Not Fix In Your Life

Divorce is not a panacea.

Divorce aftermath, what it will and will not fix in your life Daniel Martinez | Unsplash

Many people come to me struggling within their marriages. They are contemplating divorce for a variety of reasons, and trying to figure out how their lives and personal emotional wellbeing will be impacted by divorce. From my own personal and clinical experience with divorce, I can share some observations about what usually is and is not impacted by divorce, and the positives and negatives of choosing this path forward.


Firstly, divorce is not a panacea. Your own emotional and mental health may be impacted by it both positively and negatively, despite how many people hope that it will be the answer to resolving their decades-long mental health struggles. For example, divorce does not cure depression or anxiety. Only your treatment will do this.

However, divorce can eliminate a lot of conflict and stress that currently exacerbates your mental health issues. Fighting every day or feeling lonely and frustrated will amplify any issues you already face. On the other hand, these issues may also be exacerbated by the stressors of solo parenting or the stress of a conflictual divorce. The balance here is very unique for each individual. In therapy, I help people understand the likelihood of a divorce becoming a high conflict and ways to deal with this to minimize the bad effects on their health.


RELATED: I'm Thankful For My Divorce — But Not For The Reason You'd Think

Another issue is parenting. You will no longer be fighting constantly about how to parent your kids, but co-parenting conflicts will remain. 

It is an individual decision whether not having constant arguments outweighs the possibility that your ex will parent even more extremely than they do now. E.g., if you are always having fights with your wife about her being too anxious with the kids, if you separate, on her time alone with them she may truly overparent them in a way that your presence precluded. 

On the other hand, though, on your time with them, you may finally be able to parent in the ways you always wanted to, and you can learn to accept what she does when she has them because you also get to show them a whole new world on your time.

@heyqueenkae Co-parenting DON’Ts after divorce! ❌ These are some of the biggest pitfalls of making it hard to co-parent. Having a good coparenting relationship takes time and compassion. Focus on the kids!If any of these are you…its time to take a look inside and STOP! For your kids AND for you! 💕 #coparenting101 #lifeafterdivorce #divorcedwithkids #divorcedmomsoftiktok #liveabetterlifestyle #lifestyle #forabetterlife #coparentingdonewell #motivationallifetips ♬ Pieces (Solo Piano Version) - Danilo Stankovic

Remember that co-parenting works differently for everyone. It is not often said out loud that many people can parent better when they don’t have their kids 24/7. Especially if you had no family help before the divorce, it can be much easier to parent mindfully and well when you get breaks from your kids. However, this is not to minimize the sadness of not being with them all the time. There are pluses and minuses as with everything. When you are a Highly Sensitive Person and do poorly with noise and/or exhaustion, having breaks from the kids can help you be a lot more present and intentional when you’re with them. 

RELATED: How To Co-Parent Effectively With An Ex

If you are going from being a stay-at-home parent of tiny kids to 50–50 custody, this may be very upsetting, and practically speaking, you may want to delay your divorce until the kids are school-aged and you would have less daily time with them anyway. A therapist can be a good sounding board to help you make these decisions.


Changing focus, if you have always been dissatisfied with your sex life, divorce and finding new partners can be transformative. As I constantly say, dating in the age of dating apps is much easier for single parents than in prior generations. 

Most of the clients I work with are surprised at how easy it is to quickly find people with whom they are very sexually compatible. Particularly if sex was a massive issue in your marriage and if you didn’t have a lot of experience before marriage, you may feel extremely free and liberated by divorce, which allows you to finally become who you always wanted to be sexually. For people who have a physical touch/sex love language, this in and of itself may ensure you are a great deal happier post-divorce.

If you believe that your partner is the reason you are unhappy with all the rest of your life and divorce will fix this, I am here to tell you that this is not the case. Your partner is not the reason you are dissatisfied with your work, your social life, or your body image — unless they are abusive or insulting, and even then, you will need to explore deeply why you picked them and stayed with them. 

@12weekrelationships Divorce doesn’t fix your problems, it merely changes your problem set. But in some cases, a new problem set might just be your healthiest option. #divorce #separation #couples #relationships ♬ original sound - Doctor Glen and Pye

Working on yourself in individual therapy is essential if you view your partner as the sole reason that everything is difficult in your life. This is very unlikely to be the case; what is more likely is that you are deeply unhappy and this deep unhappiness predated the marital issues. You owe it to yourself to explore this before leaving your marriage.


Then there is the issue of what remarriage can and cannot fix. In second marriages, when people know themselves better and have more maturity and self-awareness, they usually find partners with whom they are more compatible on a range of issues.

RELATED: 7 Little Relationship Problems Most Common In A Second Marriage

This can make you feel deeply known and give you an easier life day to day. I am remarried and my husband is more compatible with me in so many ways that my day-to-day stressors are very low on a practical level. For example, we have similar ideas about keeping the house organized and there are no fights about chores. 

For anyone who fights about chores with a spouse, you know that this erodes a lot of your day-to-day life satisfaction. Same with the desire to spend time together. If you have been in a pursuer-distancer marriage and then your second marriage is to someone who enjoys spending time together as much as you do, this can also be transformative and get rid of a lot of stress.


However, despite being in a happy second marriage with someone who tries every day to make sure I don’t have stress in my life, I still struggle with depression. This is something that I have dealt with since childhood and is due to nature and nurture factors, like everyone else’s depression. As should be obvious, your new partner will not be able to reach into your brain and turn up the knob for serotonin, no matter how compatible they are with you, although as discussed, compatibility can help reduce the overall stress levels that exacerbate whatever you struggle with.

Regarding remarriage, it will only work if you can deeply and objectively know yourself and know who to remarry. For instance, if you had a selfish ex but you are still drawn to selfish people in your second marriage, then your life will get exponentially harder with remarriage because now you’ll also have to juggle co-parenting with the selfish ex as you deal with the selfish new partner. 

Do not get into the same bad marriage twice; therapy can help you figure out how not to do this. Also, do not ever marry anyone who turns down sex regularly if this was an issue in your first marriage. You would be surprised at how many people replicate this same pattern again because they still have low self-esteem and don’t believe that they can find someone who wants to have sex with them.


Therapy is not a panacea either but in the case of figuring out whether to divorce and whether what you’re envisioning concords with reality, it can be tremendously useful. I have worked with many couples who decide to divorce and end up better for it, and with many who come in considering divorce and begin to realize that the marriage can be fixed and they would be happier remaining together than splitting up. Discernment counseling is the term for therapy that focuses on whether you should stay together, and this can be very helpful.

RELATED: 7 Signs You're Truly Healing After Your Heartbreaking Divorce

Dr. Samantha Rodman Whiten, aka Dr. Psych Mom, is a clinical psychologist in private practice and the founder of DrPsychMom. She works with adults and couples in her group practice Best Life Behavioral Health.