How Divorce Changes a Woman: 9 More Things I Learned

how divorce changes a woman

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

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article called “Am I Happier After Divorce? 9 Things I Learned in my Divorce.” The article gained a lot of attention, so I thought I’d write a part 2, which is How Divorce Changes a woman: 9 MORE Things I learned in divorce.


Here is how divorce changes a woman, 9 More Things I Learned in Divorce


1. I learned that you’re never too old to reinvent yourself.


Before I was married, I was working as a pharmaceutical sales rep, making a ridiculously wonderful amount of money. I quit that job after I had my first child and became a stay-at-home mom. When I became separated with two young toddlers, I did not want to go back to a 40 hour work week and hire a nanny. It was just too hard for me, emotionally.


I had a masters degree in journalism and in the past had worked as a TV reporter, a job I absolutely adored. Not to mention, when I started having marital issues and through my divorce, I started journaling to the point I ended up writing 4 novels! What I’m saying is, I re-discoverd my love of writing. So, I started dabbling in the journalism industry, taking odd jobs in writing articles for various companies and publications. $30 here, $50 here, etc. etc.


A friend of mine posted on my neighborhood yahoo group that the Pioneer Press (local newspaper owned by the Chicago Sun-Times) was looking for someone to write a small weekly column about things to do in our town. The pay: $50 per week. I landed the job and was ecstatic!


That little assignment led me on a career path that would change everything for me: writing 8 business feature stories a week, my own column in the Chicago Tribune, syndicated across the country, a job as a Huffington Post blogger, and of course, starting Divorced Girl Smiling. My journey was step-by-step, organic growth that was driven by my love for writing. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t easy. It took years, and I also had a sales job for several years while doing all of this so I could pay the bills. But eventually, I got to the place where I am living my dream. I enjoy this every single day.


My point in telling you this story is that I can’t even count the number of women who have similar journeys after divorce. One friend of mine started a successful comedy club and school for kids, another friend has a lucrative real estate career, someone else I know started a successful coffee shop and restaurant. These women were all in their forties, fifties and sixties! My advice is that if you follow your passion, success, happiness and money will follow.



2. I learned how to be strong and resilient.

Divorce is a tough deal. There are so many moments when I felt like “I just can’t do this anymore!” I wish I had a dime for every time I said that! There’s the divorce process itself, your broken heart, the kids, finances, and so much more that can feel scary and stressful.

But here’s how divorce works (in my experience.) Yes, there are problems and things thrown at you all the time for months, even years (and even in everyone’s lives all the time-not just divorce.) And when you start handling the issues, that’s when self-confidence and self-love start to take over. It’s amazing how much stronger you are than you ever thought. You realize you CAN keep doing this. You HAVE TO keep doing this. What choice do you have? And eventually, the good stuff starts to outweigh the negatives.


3. I learned how to be vulnerable and trust again.

Many people ask me, “How can I ever trust someone again after my husband (or wife) did this to me? My answer is: Because there’s one person you can trust: YOU. And YOU cares about you and your gut will tell you if the person you are dating is trustworthy. You have to be really careful because sometimes we ignore our gut because we don’t want to be lonely anymore, or we want to be married again, etc. Just be honest with yourself because you don’t want to end up divorced again!

Also, remember that every person is unique. What I mean is, he’s not our ex-husband. He is entirely different, so try not to judge him too soon. Also, trust your friends, family and kids. If they don’t like him, then trust them!! They love and care about you.

Lastly, remember this: if you never trust someone and you refuse to show vulnerability, then there is no gain. What I’m saying is, if you want to find love again, you have to take the risk. And if you take the risk and it doesn’t work out, you will be fine. You’ve survived your divorce, haven’t you? It’s sad but empowering: divorce makes people tougher and more thick-skinned.

4. I learned how to Forgive.

Forgive who? I’ll start with the ex.  People think that if you forgive him/her, it means that you are forgetting what the person did to you and basically saying his/her behavior is OK. That is NOT the case at all. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. It means accepting and moving forward so that YOU can have a better life without toxicity blocking happiness. Forgiveness means peace and calm. Isn’t that what you want?

Also, I learned to forgive myself. So often, people getting divorced say things like, “I can’t believe I was so stupid for marrying this jerk.” Well guess what? At the time, you were in love. That doesn’t make you stupid, it makes you human. When you forgive yourself, it not only gives you peace, but it makes room for you to love yourself, grow, and help you realize you deserve a really good life.


Discernment Counseling for couples on the brink of divorce


5. I learned how to let things go.

I’m talking about having regrets. Everyone has them and that is understandable. But there’s a difference between feeling regret and holding onto it for a lifetime. People will say things like, “I never should have gotten married in the first place. I saw the red flags and I ignored them.” Or “If I would have shown him more affection he wouldn’t have cheated.” Or “I wish I wouldn’t have pushed him into moving.” Thoughts like this are so unproductive!

 Stop looking back. Start looking at today and start planning for your future.

I recently heard a great saying by Divorce Coach, Lisa Lisser: Instead of saying Win or lose, say ‘Win or learn.’ Because every time you make a mistake, you aren’t losing, you are learning. The past is the past. You can’t change it. But you have so much power to change today, tomorrow and beyond.

 6. I learned how to be a better picker.

I am going to attempt to save you so much time, heartache and heartbreak by telling you my story. When I got divorced, I was a terrible picker, meaning I picked really bad people for me. That means the men I dated and the women I hung around with.  Be very careful. I wasted a lot of time in unhealthy relationships—both romantic partners and even girlfriends.

When people are newly separated or newly divorced, sometimes self-esteem suffers and subconsciously we don’t believe we are worthy of being with healthy people. So, we accept these relationships that are terrible for us. Mine included a guy who treated me terrible for almost a year, a drunk, a guy who was cheating, a pothead, a gambler, and a woman who I thought was a close friend who turned out to be a mean person and backstabber.

Be wise in how you choose both the friends you hang around with and the men/women you date. You deserve only the best!! Please believe that.


Feig Mediation Group


7. I learned not to lose Hope.

This is a major way divorce changes a woman. There were so many days during and even after my divorce where I would cry and say “Things are never going to change.” It felt very hopeless and frustrating and I would become angry: angry at the world, at God, at my life. But a little tiny piece of hope was always in my back pocket. Why? Because what choice did I have? If you lose hope, then you are paralyzed to do anything. Hope is what keeps driving us. Without it, forget any chance of having any motivation.


Examples of hope:


1. Every bad date is bringing you closer to someone good!
2. There are so many wonderful people out there dating who want the same things as you.
3. If you never give up on trying to find love, you will eventually find it.
4. Dry spells ALWAYS end.
5. Your ex will never change, but at least you know what you have.
6. God has your back. Trust Him.

My Divorce Solution


8. I learned how to get Self-love back.

 When people are going through a divorce, I find that they have a lack of self-love. Even someone who might be truly emotionally healthy and full of self-love can temporarily lose those feelings during a divorce. This can be caused by: blaming yourself for the divorce, low self-esteem caused by your spouse in the years leading up to the divorce (or even the whole marriage), feeling like a failure, or not knowing who you are supposed to be after the divorce.   

I cannot stress enough how important it is to love yourself during and after divorce. Self-love leads to: making better decisions during divorce, being a better parent, enjoying spending time alone when your kids are with your ex, being a better parent, performing better at work, having better relationships with friends and family, being physically healthier, having more gratitude, and just being happier, in general.

How do you get more self-love? Start by forgiving yourself. Everyone is human and we all make mistakes. Instead of saying, “I’m so stupid!” “How could I have stayed in this marriage for so long?” “Why did I cheat?” “Why did I turn the other way when I knew he was cheating?” “Why am I such an idiot?” Say, I’m a good person who made a mistake and learned and now I am forgiving myself and moving on.

Other ways to obtain more self-love are: doing kind and good things for friends, family, and even people you don’t know. Random acts of kindness are the number one way people find self-love, in my opinion. Also, feeling and expressing gratitude. Every time you have a negative thought, try to focus on what and who you appreciate, and that will actually squeeze out toxicity and it will become a pattern. Lastly, treat yourself like you would treat the love of your life or your best friend. That means talking nicely to yourself, doing nice things for yourself, and truly feeling worthy of a good life.

9. I learned how to Love.

This one took awhile, and I had to date many, many frogs, as you can read about in my upcoming book, “Who Let the Dogs Out.” I found the best, happiest love at age 49. How did I finally choose right? A few things. One, I worked on myself. A lot. I went to regular therapy for several years. I wish I’d have also worked with a divorce coach, but those weren’t really around back in 2008 when I was getting divorced.


I also changed my lifestyle a lot by cutting back on alcohol, eating better, and exercising. Another thing I did was get rid of toxic relationships in my life. It took me a very long time to realize that a person doesn’t need a lot of friends. A person needs a couple truly wonderful friends. Friends who aren’t jealous, friends who have your back, friends who are happy for your when things start to get really good for you, and friends who SHOW they care. You know what I’m talking about.


But I think I learned a ton about love from my current spouse. He truly brings out the best in me and as time goes on, I continue to realize more and more how much I didn’t really know how to be healthy and happy in a romantic relationship, and how to sustain the energy of a beautiful connection. Learning good love is all about working on yourself, picking the right person and not settling, not being desperate to meet someone (in other words being ok being alone for awhile), and learning how to be a true listener and giver (which I think will come back to you tenfold from him.)

Romantic love is truly the best in your forties, fifties and sixties. I have heard this from countless women and have experienced it myself. I hope it happens for you and it will. Just believe that you deserve it.

Like this article? Check out 20 Things I Wish I Could Have Told My Newly Separated Self

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    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:

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