Coping with Divorce: The Times You Feel Like You Just Got Punched

coping with divorce

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

Have you ever done a kickboxing class? I’d highly recommend it as a tool for coping with divorce. When I was getting divorced several years ago, punching air or punching a bag really did it for me. It helped me get out all my anger, frustration, and even sadness. Punching made me feel strong and powerful and resilient. I actually still do kickboxing classes – on the Mirror.

But while going through a divorce, I can still remember the times when I felt like someone just punched me. Times when I felt like I just got a sharp right hook to my cheekbone, or a swift uppercut to my ribs.

I have to say, there were times during my divorce when given the choice, I’d probably have picked the physical blow versus what was actually happening to me emotionally.


My Divorce Solution


Here are the moments in divorce that seriously feel like you just got punched, along with suggestions on coping with divorce:

Any of these sound familiar? Remember that you’re not alone in coping with divorce!

1.    The moment you and your spouse have the conversation that ends with, “Okay then. It’s done.” – meaning you are going to move ahead and get divorced.

This can feel shocking, surreal, and numbing. Even though you have been talking about it, it’s now official, and now you just don’t know what to expect. It is both incredibly sad and scary. Just breathe. Deep breaths. It’s going to be OK, just not right this minute.

2.    The day you come home and all his stuff is gone.

The day my ex was planning to move out, we decided that I would take the kids to the community pool, and then go to a friend’s house for dinner. When we walked in, our house looked half empty, and I had to hide my tears from my 3 and 5 year olds. It was awful. You could see nails on the walls where the pictures had been hanging, empty spaces where furniture was gone, and knick-knacks off shelves. It was a very empty and sad feeling. I’ll never forget it. My advice in coping with divorce in this regard would be to put your kids to bed and then let yourself cry it out. Hard.


Jan Leasure - Mortgage Lender and Certified Divorce Lending Professional



3.    When your friend calls you and says she saw him at a restaurant looking very cozy and happy with some “blond who looks a lot younger than us.”

It’s crazy, and you might be thinking, ‘Why do I care?’ But the fact is, as bad as things are, he still feels like your husband and it feels very wrong to know he is seeing other women. It’s also scary to think that he is moving on.


4.    The night you get home from your first date and realize what a disaster it was.

I think something like this could cause a person to rethink the divorce because if the guy you just had dinner with is a sample of what’s out there, you are in big trouble. I’m here to tell you that is not the case! Don’t rethink the divorce after one bad date.

There are so many wonderful, normal single people out there. I always tell people, only get divorced if you would rather be alone than be with your partner. In other words, don’t get divorced because you want to try to do better. I’m not saying you will be alone, but don’t bank on meeting someone. In other words, get divorced because it’s not right with your partner, not because you want to hurry up and get married to someone else.

5.    When your lawyer calls and tells you he or she just filed for sole custody.

Ouch. This is a painful one. Sometimes when a divorce gets really bad and the gloves are off, an ex will talk his or her lawyer into filing for sole custody–just to get you upset. It happened to me and it was the worst part of my entire divorce. Here’s reality though. I truly do not believe any judge would award you or or your ex sole custody, unless one of you was abusing the children. Period. Judge’s don’t give sole custody very easily. You have nothing to worry about.

6.    The second you see your child’s facial expression turn to sorrow as she watches you and your ex fighting. 

It is heartbreaking. Please try not to yell and scream and argue with your ex in front of the kids. We did it a lot at the beginning and it really hurt them. I regret it so much.


Cherie Morris, J.D. - Divorce Coach and
Founder, Dear Divorce Coach


7.    The day you meet a bitter, angry divorced woman who has been alone since her divorce and is negative about the future. 

When people get divorced, they start meeting other divorced people. Some are wonderful but some are just awful. Stay away from the toxic, negative divorced people who are miserable. Make friends with the positive, upbeat, energetic divorced people who are like you.

8.    When your ex picks up your kids for the first time and you are sitting there home alone.

Perhaps the hardest part of coping with divorce, I used to hate when the kids left. It was a horrible feeling. My ex would come get them and be really rude to me, and then take my two babies for the weekend. It felt like I was in prison. I would just cry my eyes out and feel really scared. ‘What if something happens to them?’ ‘What if they want me and are crying and they can’t get to me?’ These are irrational thoughts and I would advise you to get them out of your head.

Your ex might hate you right now, but he or she loves your kids and isn’t going to let anything bad happen to them. And, when they get home, they will hug you and will have missed you and will be so happy to see you. So, try to enjoy your time without them. I know it isn’t easy, but it’s the best choice.

9.    When your ex tells you he never loved you. 

Remember that he or she is very very angry and hurt and in a lot of pain. Nine times out of ten, he or she didn’t mean it.

10. When your ex tells you she cheated on you during the marriage (even though you already knew that).

This didn’t happen to me in my marriage, but it happened to me in a long-term relationship, and it hurt so badly, I cannot even express how much. I felt so betrayed, even though I knew in my gut it was true before he said anything. Still, it was so painful and hurtful. That said, it helped me get over him quicker because I felt like, if he told me he cheated, he wanted me to be hurting, so what kind of a person does that? Not someone I should spend time caring about.


Tiffany Hughes Law


11.  When you run into your in-laws for the first time since the separation and they give you a dirty look and turn away coldly.

Ouch. This is beyond hurtful. When I got separated, my ex’s family did not speak  to me again for almost a decade. They treated me like they didn’t even know me. They even came to both my kids’ Bar and Bat Mitzvahs (which I paid for and invited them) and they wouldn’t even say hello. It was horrible. But eventually, we all became friends again and actually, I’m really happy about that. I hope yours doesn’t take this long. My advice in coping with divorce on this issue is, don’t take it personally. It’s a blood issue. They have to be on your ex’s side, and you don’t know what he or she is telling them. Just be patient and let them go until they are ready to be your friend.


Bridging the Gap Between Conflict and Resolution


12.  The day you find out your ex is dating one of your friends.

This was horrible! My ex started dating my neighbor (who I thought was my friend) just weeks after we separated. I cannot even tell you how betrayed I felt by her, especially. It was awful. My advice is, you just have to wait it out. They will probably break up. If they don’t, there’s nothing you can do about it. Try try try to focus on your own life and every time you think about “them,” shift your focus to something else. Anything else. Thinking about “them” is toxic.

13.  When your young child, with tears in his eyes says, “I wish dad could come home.”

Painful. Ugh. Awful. You want to give your kids what they want and you just can’t with this one. I think therapy is a great idea for any children of divorce. Go in with them and talk about it in front of a therapist as a family.

14.  When you write your first big check to your attorney. Actually, when you see the bill is worse.

This causes financial panic. Am I going to run out of money? Do I have to go back to work? What if these bills keep coming for months and months? I have to make my marriage work so we can stop paying these bills. Or, I have to get divorced quickly so I can stop getting these large bills. It’s awful. I would suggest putting your resume together sooner than later. I waited way too long to go back to work and I suffered because of it in many ways. One, I had financial problems and two, I had no self-confidence when I interviewed for jobs because I hadn’t had one in so long. Going back to work was the best thing I ever did for so many reasons. I know it’s scary, but you can do it!


Joanne Litman - Eagle Strategies LLC - Financial Solutions for Women


I really want to end this on a positive note by saying that just as in physical injury, we heal. The punch you got starts out big and bloody. It then gets black and blue and becomes a bruise that gets smaller and smaller, and better and better with time. In the end, although there might be a tiny scar left, but it’s barely visible and you just forget about it. In coping with divorce,  these emotional punches you get have the same outcome.

On a much more optimistic note, here are a few things that happen during divorce that versus being punched feel like you are being hugged or kissed, which makes you feel happy and hopeful and inspired and loved.

1.    The first time a guy hits on you.

2.    When you get a job offer you never thought you’d get.

3.    When you realize your kids are happy, just like kids whose parents are married.

4.    The first time you kiss a guy.

5.    The night you’re having a really fun family night with your kids, and you’re laughing so hard you accidentally spit food out, which makes your kids laugh even harder.

6.    When you are on the plane taking a trip to an exotic place you know you never would have gone if you were still married.

7.    The day you look in the mirror and realize how incredibly strong you are, and how you never knew it until now.

8. When you realize you’re in love

Like this article? Check out “8 Great Things Divorce Does to a Woman”

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    Divorced Girl Smiling welcome video
    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

    6 Responses to “Coping with Divorce: The Times You Feel Like You Just Got Punched”

    1. Tamara

      When your 5 year old is the one to inform you that the girlfriend is now living with daddy.

    2. Chris Hildebrand

      SPOT ON!! All of these items listed above can either be a punch to the gut or a relieving pat on the backs. Overall, divorce is a difficult task and can be painful to endure. Being an Arizona divorce attorney I have seen many cases where people struggle with these emotions. If you or a family member need help please do not hesitate to visit our website or contact us at

    3. Thembi

      The day he dies having lived with a woman in your matrimonial house and the woman wants to continue staying in your house ,after you have thought you healed wounds become fresh as you have to fight for the estate on behalf of your children

    4. John

      I am a guy going through a protracted divorce. Divorced Girl Smiling in this article says things that apply to me, the man, especially, the one saying it actually makes it easier, when you know he/she cheated and then let you know because the meanness makes it easier to detach from the feeling of being married.

    5. Dor

      Can’t relate to the coward ex I had cause he surprised me with a divorce
      My 2 kids were in their 20’s so no custody issues thankfully
      My kids lied to me and knew their dad quickly moved on within a year and bought a house together with the new twice divorced older woman
      Guess they thought they were protecting me
      That was a punch to me


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