Is a happy life after divorce possible? Absolutely! In fact, a happy life after divorce is not only possible, but probable if you decide to create a happy life for yourself.
We can prepare for many things in life, but going through a divorce is typically not something any of us anticipate and finding happiness through the process or beyond can seem so far out of reach that it’s not even on our radar.
As a coach, one of the first questions I ask people is “What do you want your life to look like on the other side of your divorce and who do you want to be?” We start with the end in mind and work backwards by building a roadmap to help you get from where you are to where you want to be. This works whether you’re at the beginning stages or contemplating a divorce, already in the process, or post-divorce.
Here are 10 things you can do to create a happy life after divorce:
1. Ask for Help
Invest in yourself and hire a trained professional who can help you navigate the practical business side of the process while overcoming the flood of fears and emotions that tend to hinder progress.
If I could have a “do-over” in life, it would have asked for help during my divorce (actually, if I’d enlisted the help of a coach during the first divorce, I might not have gone through the second one).
I had an attorney and therapist, and, of course, had a plethora of well-meaning friends and family members who were on the ready to give me their advice whether solicited or not. But none of this prepared me for the emotional roller-coaster or helped me navigate the process in a way where I didn’t feel completely pummeled by the end.
Having a neutral, nonjudgmental, supporter in my corner would have made a huge difference, especially as I emerged to my post-divorce life.
2. Create a Vision.
What does the life you desire look like and how does it feel? Write it down. Don’t worry about how it will all happen, simply create a vision, and include things like:
- What’s my ideal relationship with my ex-partner, with my kids, social circle, etc.?
- Where do I live; how is my home furnished? What do I love about this home?
- What am I doing? Do I have a job, a career, hobbies, etc.?
- How am I taking care of myself? What do I look like?
- Am I traveling, going back to school, meeting new people?
- How am I showing up in the world?
Write things not as they are today, but rather as you’d like them to be. This is an important first step no matter where in the process you are, because if you don’t know where you are going, it’s very hard to get to a place you want to be.
3. Give Yourself Time to Heal.
Whether you are the one being left, the one leaving, or it’s been mutually agreed upon by both parties, divorce is a major life transition, and it takes a lot out of us. Take time to grieve, heal, and discover (or rediscover) who you are. While it can feel comforting to get right back into another relationship, it’s rarely the answer to filling the void of loneliness.
It’s true, you might be uninvited to a few social gatherings because of the “couples only” requirement, or you might feel awkward sitting in a restaurant alone with your book, but trust me, it’s much better than settling for another relationship where you haven’t fully become who you’re meant to be, and possibly getting into the same relationship with a difference face.
4. Embrace Forgiveness.
This is a tough one for many of us. Letting go of animosity and anger takes time and conscious effort. However, forgiveness is a powerful tool that helps you move forward and create the life you desire. Whether it’s forgiving yourself, your ex-partner, or someone who has let you down, practicing forgiveness is a way to release the weight of the past and make room for a brighter future.
5. Shed Reminders of the Past.
A liberating step toward healing involves letting go of physical reminders of your ex-partner, such as clothing, jewelry, and photos. Even consider parting ways with your wedding memorabilia. Removing these emotional triggers will expedite your healing process and empower you to start afresh, crafting your new life after divorce.
6. Find a New Song.
“I miss the comfort of being sad…” the famous lyrics written and performed by Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, illustrates this point rather well. If you’re listening to melancholy music or tunes you and your ex enjoyed, you’ll most like feel sad. It’s time to put those on hold (or eliminate them all-together) while you get through this process. Find some uplifting new music to get your head out of the past and into a brighter future.
7. Cultivate a Strong Support System.
Your support system is like a warm embrace during this challenging and emotional time. Having someone to talk to when you’re feeling down can make all the difference. When selecting your support network, it’s important to choose non-judgmental people who genuinely care about you.
Exercise your intuition when sharing your emotions and vulnerabilities—not everyone needs to hear your story—just the ones who can keep your confidences inside the sphere of trust. Important note: Avoid using social media platforms as a part of your support system.
8. Focus on Gratitude and Appreciation.
This might seem counterintuitive at a time when life feels upside down, but when we intentionally cultivate feelings of gratitude and appreciation, we change the way we experience life—physically and emotionally. Practicing gratitude and appreciation is critical to our well-being and for achieving happiness at any given time, but especially when experiencing an event as monumental as divorce.
9. Self-Care and Self-Discovery.
My mother (aka Doreen) always said “when you look good, you feel good; and when you feel good, you look good”. It’s true! Whether you are still in the process or already in your post-divorce life, create a look that represents you.
Change things up a bit—get a new hairstyle, a new outfit, treat yourself to a makeover or take yourself on an adventure—a personal retreat or simply to a new coffee place. This will help others see you the way you want to be seen. It will also help you to approach this new chapter of your life with your head held high.
10. Love Yourself.
This is important and often gets confused with selfishness and narcissism, especially by those who don’t understand what you’re going through. Let them go. Loving yourself is the most important thing you can do to get over your divorce. It will help you improve your mood and maintain your confidence. If you spent a lot of time in an unhappy marriage, you might not know how to show yourself love. Here are a few ways to love yourself:
- Take alone time to do the things you enjoy
- Go on a trip by yourself
- Celebrate your accomplishments
- Create a vision board (you can include things from step 2)
- Enjoy a spa day
- Write in a journal (this is for your eyes only, so let your feelings and emotions spill out onto the page freeing yourself from the burden of guilt, shame, anger, fear, etc.)
- List all of the things you love about yourself and focus on them (if you need help coming up with something you love about yourself, ask one of the people in your support network, they will have plenty of kind and loving words to share about you)
- Learn to say no
Dealing with divorce can take the best of us to our knees, but by creating a vision, and adding self-compassion, self-care, love, and the right support, you can transition from mere survival to thriving in life. You have everything it takes for a happy life after divorce, but it’s up to you to decide what it is you want. Whether you choose to nurture yourself with self-compassion, prioritize self-care, or focus on gratitude, these tools and strategies will guide you towards a brighter and happier life.
Michèle has decades of experience serving in executive leadership roles in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Her nonprofit work has focused on youth development, domestic violence prevention, and relationship health education. She earned her degrees in marketing and the fine arts from Eastern Washington University, nurturing her creative spirit and business acumen.
For 15 years, Michèle served as an advertising executive, but her most treasured role came when she embraced the joy of being a stay-at-home mom. One of the most treasured chapters of her life.
However, life took an unexpected turn in 2010 with her second divorce, leading her to establish a consulting company. As she helped businesses flourish, she discovered that beneath the surface, people were yearning for something more profound – a transformation of their beliefs and patterns obstructing their path to success. Friends and family also began seeking her guidance through their divorces, an unforeseen entrance into the world of coaching.
Michèle’s evolution continued as she served as an executive for a national nonprofit organization, a role she had landed after working with one of her first coaches. Her belief in the power of coaching inspired her to earn her Life Coaching Certification through iPEC (Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching) and a Divorce Coach Certification from IAPCollege.
Though Michèle wholeheartedly enjoys assisting people with various life challenges, her natural gravitation towards divorce coaching stems from personal experience and the countless lives she’s touched throughout her lifetime. Divorce, an emotionally charged journey intertwined with practical necessities, drew her in. She understands that divorce can be one of life’s most formidable trials, and having a supportive advocate can profoundly impact the settlement outcome and a person’s well-being.
Service to others has forever been Michèle’s North Star, illuminating her path in coaching. Her genuine love for people radiates through every facet of her work, creating a safe and comforting space for those she serves. With a gentle, compassionate, and warm approach, she stands by your side, ensuring your journey is met with understanding, empathy, and unwavering support.