What You Need (And Don’t Need) For Happiness As You Move On After Divorce

move on after divorce

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

Happiness after divorce seems almost unimaginable while you’re going through one. It’s like you just can’t picture it. “What’s my life going to be like when the divorce is final and when all of this is settled? How am I going to move on after divorce? The answers to these questions are difficult because all the unknowns seem daunting and challenging.

But in reality, I think most people end up finding happiness after divorce. Sure, there are those who remain bitter, angry, resentful and stuck in the past—unable to accept what happened and move on. But I’d say the majority of divorced men and women end up happy after divorce.

Happiness starts for a lot of people the day the divorce is final. All that pressure is off and a lot of the unknowns are now in your divorce decree. And then I think happiness goes from being fleeting to more days that a person feels happy, and then eventually, you find yourself saying, “Wow, I think I’m pretty happy.”

Finding consistent happiness after divorce takes time, but it also takes making good life decisions, which involves knowing what you need and what you don’t need.

A reader just emailed me this question:

“My divorce was final a few months ago. What now? I want to start my new life but I don’t know how.”


Divorce Attorney Jason C. Tuchman


While I can’t tell people how to live their lives, here is some advice that might help guide you to happiness after divorce. It involves what you need and what you don’t need:

1. You don’t need: negative thoughts.

For example: “I’m going to be alone forever.” “I hate being a single mom.” “I can’t believe I have to go back to work.” “I’m never going to meet anyone.” “All single guys out there are losers.” What you need is: Faith. Have faith in God and in yourself. He will watch out for you and YOU will watch out for you. “I can do this.” “I am proud of myself for being a working single mom.” “I know there are some good guys out there.” There is actually proof that positive thoughts lead to good things happening.

2. You don’t need: Anxiety.

It’s bad for your physical and emotional health. I’m a worrier so I get it. But next time you decide to worry about something, shift your thoughts into what you need: gratitude. Instead of worrying about your kids at Dad’s house, focus on the gratitude you have because you have your kids. Instead of worrying that you are never going to find love again, think about the gratitude you have for your friends and family who love you.


Birt Family Law - Restorative Divorce


3. You don’t need: a better body.

You need: a healthy body. Nourish your body with greens and fruits and whole grains. Get your heart rate up at the gym and get strong and flexible by doing yoga. If you focus on being healthy, eventually it will show in your body anyhow, so why worry about it? I wish I could take my own advice!

4. You don’t need: a boyfriend or a second husband.

Actually, you don’t NEED any guy. But, if you decide you want to be in a romantic relationship, what you need is a guy who treats you well, who you enjoy being around, and with whom you have fun. Period. When I was first getting divorced, I was looking for husband #2 and all it did was cause me frustration, anxiety and sadness.



5. You don’t need: to be really wealthy.

You need: to make good financial decisions. That means taking a good hard look at your assets, having someone help you with a budget, and choosing financial advisors wisely.

6. You don’t need: a stressful, high powered job.

You need: a job that is stable and that you enjoy doing. That includes the company culture, the people, their principles, your day-to-day life, and what you are actually doing.

7. You don’t need: guilt.

Guilt is such a huge waste of time. Get the babysitter if you need one because you know what you need? The sense to know when you need a break. You have the right to have time for yourself. It is a must and if you don’t have it, you will find yourself irritable, mean, cranky and impatient. Your kids will be happier if you take time for yourself when you need it and not feel guilty.


Varghese Summersett


8. You don’t need: a toxic relationship with your ex.

Forget about the past, resentment, anger and the fact that he bugs the crap out of you and always will. You need: to co-parent with him. Your kids will be so happy when they see the two of you being civil. Also, when they see that both of you are on the same page, the message gets through and they are better disciplined and stronger and more self-confident. Nothing bad can come from co-parenting. You don’t have to be best friends, but if you can find a way to work with him when it comes to the kids, everyone will be so much happier, including you.

9. You don’t need: a million friends.

A couple besties is all you need. You know who they are.

10. You don’t need: a couple glasses of wine every night to take the edge off.

Trust me, there have been times I’ve been that person. It’s not physically healthy, and you don’t sleep as well at night. It just gets you into this rut and it’s hard to get out of it. Instead, try some tea, especially in the winter. It’s warm and calming and will have the same effect. Even better, try yoga or go to therapy to relieve stress and anxiety.

11. You don’t need: everyone to think you are happy.

You need: to find enjoyment in every day somehow. Not all day every day, but every day, even just for a little while, enjoy something or someone, and let yourself realize you are enjoying it (or them.)


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12. You don’t need: for everyone to love you.

Instead, try some self-love. There will always be the people who took your ex’s side, who won’t speak to you, and it will feel like injustice. It’s totally OK. If you love who you are and how you are living your life, that’s really all that matters.

Here’s how I feel about happiness, in general. Whatever is causing you anxiety or unhappiness, make a change. But do something different that gives you a chance to be happier. Because if you do nothing, then you have no chance of being happier.

Change is scary. Changing habits and the way we think is really hard to do and takes guts. But ask yourself if it’s time for you to let yourself out of that prison that’s holding you back—the bars that stand in the way of your happiness.

Also, a change doesn’t have to be a big change. It can be a bunch of little changes. One thing at a time. Start small. Don’t say “I’m going to start dating” and force yourself to have 10 dates in two weeks. Start with one coffee date and see how it goes. Or, don’t say “I’m going to make up with my ex and we are going to get along great.” Instead, start with one nice conversation.

In closing, I told you what you need and don’t need to find happiness after divorce, but honesty, you are the only one who truly knows what you need and what you don’t need, what will bring you happiness and what won’t. You deserve happiness. Always remember that.


Like this article? Check out, 9 Signs of a Healthy Romantic Relationship

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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: DivorcedGirlSmiling.com

    10 Responses to “What You Need (And Don’t Need) For Happiness As You Move On After Divorce”

    1. Bob Barlow

      This is so spot on and doing life on life’s terms right during separation and after divorce. I was married for 28 years , I was devestated my son was alienated against me and we were so close I lost lifetime friendships , family my total way of life I loved and cherished was stolen and over . It was like a tornado of total devestion to me you fall into a situational depression which is the most horrible feeling i have ever felt . I was totally broken and lost and codependent. I thought there was nothing left in my life . I was wrong , I seeked professional counsel and my close friends and good work and quit drinking alcohol now for three years , I got involved in my church activities started playing the guitar and being as positive as I can in my life . The past is over , the present is yours to live healthy and happy and future to plan for . Your article is so life true Jackie , good advice to moving forward from separation and divorce.

      • Jackie Pilossoph

        God bless you and your strength!! I am so happy that you have found peace and are enjoying life. What a strong and courageous person you sound like. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

    2. Michael Watson

      Really helpful article for any woman emerging from a divorce.
      Being happy and being and staying positive are habits that can be developed and become part of who you are.
      I like that your article explains that only the individual themselves will know what they need and want, but you have given them a lot of helpful pointers to consider along their journey

    3. Angela S

      Thank you so much for this inspirational blog post. I started reading your blogs almost 5 years ago when my husband and I separated and I still read your blogs regularly today. After so many years of working through my divorce, I realize that so many of the things you say are accurate. Thank you for your encouragement and for being so intuitive with all of the things that we go through in a divorce. I agree with what you wrote. I don’t practice it every day but I’m trying.

      • Jackie Pilossoph

        Awww, thank you so much for reaching out. I am so glad things are going well for you!!

    4. Denise

      My divorce just became final dec 28, 2018 after 34 years. My husband filed in August 2016 and long story short we went to court twice where he did not prevail, 1st he claimed we were separated a year earlier when we were not and 2nd he filed for spousal support. I retired in September 2015 after 40 years with the federal service and i was served a order for divorce on August 2016 one day before my birthday. I am so angry because he wanted my retirement, TSP, and half the house. He chose not to have a retirement plan even after our accountant would advise him each year and I would try to initiate an IRA, he said he would work until he died. All family and friends heard this. Now after divorce I am paying hims 20% of my annuity, $100k from my Thrift Savings Account and 103K, a 3rd of the value of our home. I had to refinance to pay him off as well as credit card debt (most of which was legal feeds). I now sit here is limited annuity and no back up of the TSP but yes I have my home. He has been extremely nasty verbally since this beginning. I am very happy and I know I am in a better place mentally and physiciallly. There is more to this story as we have two married grown sons and three grandchildren. I told my kids from the onset this was not about them it was about us so I did not intend to burden them with the process and the back and forth. My husband did the opposite. I am strong and will survive but have a tremendous amount of hate in my heart I’m so disappointed that he now took the position it is his retirement although he intended to only use his social security

    5. Becca

      Thank you so much for this article and your blog I am just starting to trying to get my life back together and don’t know where to start. Thank you for your amazing inspiring articles! Keep them coming!

    6. Dor

      Great helpful article about what you need and don’t need after divorce.
      I find happiness in little things now.
      I write in a grateful journal every morning.
      I continue to go to a gym 5 days a week.
      I look forward to spin class on sat mornings and tennis weekly.
      I have good friends and keep in touch and see them frequently.
      I’ve become closer to my 2 children, both in their twenties.
      I still do have anxiety thinking bout how my ex has moved on with someone else but I think bout him less than before.
      I now focus on what I have accomplished in the last 3 years by myself.
      Lastly, I’ve changed my name to my maiden name and that was closure for me.


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