It seems a cliché to write about resolutions in the new year, but when you have just ended a marriage, no matter how long it lasted, it can be helpful to use the new year as a starting point for some smart choices towards beginning your new life. Taking stock in all that happened in that past year, no matter how painful, will help you learn from those mistakes, heal from them, and make better decisions going forward.
It is never a good idea to wallow in misery, even when the something truly life-shattering has occurred. Bouts of clinical depression may be unavoidable after extreme change, even if that change is positive, because the brain is a mysterious organ that often deals with different kinds of stimuli in the same way. It is still wise to try to mitigate the impact of that adjustment by heeding the advice of mental health professionals, surrounding yourself with supportive loved ones, and engaging in various acts of self-care.
Staying positive means adapting a policy of “It could always be worse, but it WILL get better”. No one is saying don’t talk about the divorce, or your feelings of loss or lingering anger. But it is advisable to then turn the conversation (and thought patterns) to any other topic. When you are with those people you trust who are supporting you, its ok to lean on them…that’s what caring about someone entails…but also interest yourself sincerely in THEIR lives. Steer the conversation in a direction of positivity…What can I do for you? What can I plan? What can we look forward to? By focusing outside of yourself, you are reconnecting with your friends and family and most importantly, thinking beyond your own personal miserable past. It can be exhausting to constantly recount all the things that went wrong with your relationship and ultimately your life with your ex.
Letting go of past grievances
It is impossible to focus on your possible shiny future, if you are still bitter towards your ex…even if he or she totally deserves it. The thing about that is, even if the ex was abusive, a cheater, squandered all your money or stole your dog, your being unhappy and disgruntled towards everyone and everything does not get even, if there even is a way to do so. Imagining getting even can be a great exercise in creative thinking but spending too much time on those thoughts will bleed over into all you say and do. Honestly, your ex is not affected at all by your sniping bitterness, because they are gone. You and the people around you are the ones who will suffer, and if your ex returns your hatred, you may be playing right into their hands with your cynicism and visible hostility.
George Herbert famously said, “Living well is the best revenge.” If you think about it, allowing another person’s actions to change how you behave even after they are no longer sharing your life, is tolerating that person holding way too much power over you. Whether they want that power or not, no one else should be allowed to change who you are on a fundamental level, unless it’s for the better.
Should you decide to date, acting like a disillusioned cuckold will do nothing to help you keep the attention of a prospective mate. Again, no one is saying lie and fake being happy. You went through something, for some more painful than others. You should own that, but prove you bring more to the table than your past heartache. Faking happiness is counterproductive to truly BEING happy, which is the whole point, anyway.
Fill your life with plans.
Plan fun things. Plan interesting things. Plan to do things you really enjoy. Heck, plan to get out of bed, shower and go to the grocery store in something other than sweatpants! Whatever you put in your Outlook™ calendar, DO it!!! These plans are about setting small doable goals for your future, and every time you keep those plans, you are keeping a promise to yourself that life is getting better.
Sometimes things may get bad. You may choose to take a few days here and there to just be sad. You may break some of those plans to have those sad days, call a good friend and cry or yell about your ex. You are entitled, because it’s all part of healing. You must grieve properly in order to be able to one day have that big, beautiful future everyone deserves. Be kind to yourself. Be mindful not to let these slip-ups become all you know and are. Resolve that this is going to be a good year because you will do the work.
The New Year is fast approaching and for most of the world, this means a chance to jumpstart our lives on the right footing. New Year’s resolutions aside, bidding adieux to what may have been a painful year, filled with divorce and family reformulation, can be invigorating. On top of shedding all that sadness is the prospect of the possibility of experiencing NEW adventures. As humans, in constant search for connection, the search for a life partner can seem the most rewarding, exciting, and daunting adventure of all!
Are you ready for dating? Experts on the subject have differing opinions as to when it is appropriate to move on from a failed marriage. Heaven knows our loved ones give us plenty of encouragement to “get back on the horse”. For many couple friends, the sooner you find someone to round out the numbers for a dinner party, the better. What others advise, no matter how well meaning, there are many personal and complicated factors to consider when approaching a return to the dating scene.
The most sensible piece of advice, as described by WebMD columnist Lisa Fields, is to go by your own inner voice above and beyond all others. Everyone may be telling you it’s time to get out there, but for some of us, a grieving period is necessary. Depending on how long you were married, and what sort of divorce it was, you may need a longer period of adjustment just to get used to your new normal, much less the addition of someone else to the mix. Many people associate being in a relationship as being happy and successful, and they want that for you because they care, but it doesn’t mean it’s true. Finding out who you are outside of a long-term relationship can take time and is probably a good idea before engaging in another round of coupledom.
On the other hand, some people have checked out of the marriage long before the papers are signed. You may have felt for months or even years that you were done and just kept putting off ending it for convenience, or the kids, or for of the unknown. In this case, who could blame a person for itching to check out what’s out there. Actually, some will try to blame you if they think it’s too soon, but again, only you can determine when that right time is. Children should be considered, of course, but being respectful and discrete in your romantic endeavors will hopefully help to protect them from unnecessary discomfort until you have found someone serious enough to introduce into your lives.
One of the ways to tell whether you are ready to date is by examining your attitude. According to Dr. Dawn Michael, Ph.D., relationship expert and author, considering the type of date you would be able to offer is a good way to determine if you should be dating at all. If you can offer nothing beyond bitter stories about your ex and/or the divorce or can’t help being mopey and cranky about your lot in life, perhaps you might not be able to provide the best dating experience. In this article from AskMen.com, Dr. Michael advises, "A man is ready to date again when he has a good attitude about dating. When he's ready to have some fun and get out there and meet new people and be open. Dating with a bad attitude will only result in bad dates,". In other words, and valid for both men and women, would YOU want to date you?
Once you have determined that you are really prepared to get out there, and can claim to be jazzed about love and romance, and not just the physical aspects of a relationship, then you can begin to contemplate how to go about sorting through the many, many, MANY others in the same situation to find the one that is right for you.
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