Divorce is traumatic no matter how long you’ve been married. I filed for divorce seven months after marrying my first husband and it still was traumatic as hell. But, the pain can feel even more insurmountable if you’ve been married for several years, even decades. A client recently asked, “How do you let go of your husband you love after 15 years? Come on! How am I ever going to do that?”
It can seem like there’s no way you will ever be about to let go of your husband you love or happy again once your marriage of 15+ years has ended. In the early stages, it may seem like the world itself has betrayed you; that everything you ever learned about love and commitment is wrong. The world must be wrong. You must have been wrong and there must be something inherently wrong with you.
Do these negative self-talk statements sound familiar to you? If so, I want you to remember one important thing: You were never wrong.
I often remind myself that even though I’ve been divorced, I made the very best decision I could have for myself at the time. Sure, if I knew what I do now about what would happen, I wouldn’t have said YES to the marriage, but there was no way to know.
I was not wrong; the marriage just simply didn’t work out.
As hard as it is, you are not alone. Divorce happens all the time. And, you have the opportunity to get through it to a happier place on the other side. No one can effectively convince you of it when you’re really in the thick of divorce, but it’s so true!
How do you let go of your husband you love after 15 years?
Divorce is not the end of your life. Whether you saw it coming or not, whether you do the “right” things to try to save your marriage, and whatever anyone else thinks, the reality is that this divorce is not going to negatively define who you are for the rest of your life. In fact, the good news is that if you really do your work to process the feelings and emotions during this time, you will start to flow in powerful healing energy that will create opportunities you never imagined possible.
So, as you are faced with losing your marriage, which has been the cornerstone of your identity, take everything slowly with gentle loving kindness towards yourself.
When someone asks me, “How do you let go of your husband you love?” here are my secrets:
1. Know you won’t always feel the way you do today.
Even though you’re hurting, and I know how much you are hurting, you won’t always be hurting like you are in this moment. You may even eventually feel relieved you’re out of the marriage. You may feel ecstatic you were free to meet someone new. The only guarantee is that your emotions will continue flow through you, and that is a normal part of the process.
2. Become friendly with the process.
Your divorce recovery process will be just that, a process. Some experts say it takes a full three years to fully recover. That’s OK, that doesn’t mean you won’t be happy or even be in another loving relationship in that time, it just confirms this will take time. Befriend that process, know you can rely on recovery efforts.
3. Do small things in small ways.
In the early days of my divorce I was writing checklists of recovery items (seriously, so Type-A) to make sure I was doing absolutely as much as I could to get through it. The reality, some days the effort was as simple as taking care of myself by washing my hair. Start small. Wash your hair. Get out of bed. That’s all I’m suggesting early on. As time goes on you will find that you are starting to take actions to living a life you want on your own terms.
4. Make a list.
Write down the things you are happy to either shed or manifest now that the marriage is over. This can be small such as:
He’s not here to tell me I made the bed wrong … again.
Thank God I don’t have to listen to that album one more time.
Now I get to buy that green couch I always wanted for the living room.
I’ll get to host a family dinner without him fighting with my brother over politics.
Whatever it is, write it down and start to make these thoughts feel tangible. As you start to actually take action by buying the couch, or listening to music you like, you build more happiness for yourself. This is a time when you can step back and start doing things you couldn’t do while you were in the marriage.
5. Stay connected.
One of the best things you can do when you’re feeling sad about losing your marriage is to really invest in the relationships in your life that are thriving. Your kids, your best friend, your parents, cousins, neighbors, the people who make you feel whole. These are the people who are there to fill you up when you feel depleted. Reach out and nurture those relationships as much as you can and I’ll bet you will feel fulfilled in return.
Above all, handle yourself with more tenderness and kindness than you ever thought possible. You will feel sad, of course, it is perfectly normal to grieve a big loss and this loss is huge. Remember you are not alone. Join supportive communities online such as the Divorced Girl Smiling or Happily Better After private Facebook groups. There are many other women out there who welcome the opportunity to comfort you and help you let go during this time.
Andrea Javor is a Certified Divorce Coach and founder of Happily Better After, which offers one-on-one divorce coaching. Her mission is to bring sanity to the process of divorce, saving clients time, money, and energy, so they have what they need to create a life they love living. Andrea works with people considering divorce, in the middle of the process, and those who are post-divorce. She has a sweet spot in helping families affected by mental illness. Andrea’s coaching business mirrors what she learned after going through two divorces of her own: It’s not what happens to us, it’s how we handle it. To learn more or to work with her, visit her website.