There’s a reason why just about all wedding vows say “forever” in them. That’s what we expect: to marry someone and remain that person’s partner for the rest of our lives. When divorce cuts off your marriage, it can feel like your whole life’s plan has been uprooted.
Getting back on your feet is no easy task. You’re trying to heal emotionally while setting up a new home and life for yourself. Where do you start?
Begin with these essential steps to start over after a divorce.
1. Put Your Name Out There
It’s common for your credit to take a hit after a divorce. After all, you have attorneys to pay in addition to the sudden expenses of establishing a new home.
To start rebuilding your credit, look for accounts you can establish in your name alone, not your name alongside your ex. You need your own bank account and your own credit cards. If you need a vehicle, an auto loan can help you build your credit too.
Remember that these credit changes don’t happen overnight. It takes time to build a history of reliable payments. The sooner you get started, though, the sooner you’ll reap the rewards.
2. Identify Your Support System
During your marriage, it’s likely that your spouse filled a variety of emotional needs. They may have been your source of comfort, strength, motivation, and humor.
You don’t have to give up all this when you get divorced. You simply need to find others to fill those roles.
Invest more time and energy into your friendships. Find the friend who makes you feel hopeful, the friend who gives you strength, the friend who cries with you, and so on.
3. Rediscover Old Interests
You didn’t come out of the womb with your ex, even if it feels like you did. You were a person with interests, hobbies, and goals before you met them.
Think back to the person you were then and consider which of your old interests fell to the wayside when you got married. Maybe there were certain hobbies that your spouse didn’t approve of or you didn’t have time them in your married life.
Now is the perfect time to rediscover those old joys. The same goes for interests that may have sparked while you were married but that you didn’t have the opportunity to pursue.
4. Organize and Plan Household Responsibilities
When you were married, you and your spouse likely divided the responsibilities for the household. As a divorcee, your newfound independence comes with a longer list of chores and obligations.
To make it more manageable, start with a master list. Include everything from bills you need to pay to take out the trash.
Next, create a schedule of the tasks you need to tackle each day. This breaks up your list so it’s more manageable and helps to ensure that you don’t miss anything.
5. Consider a Professional Therapist
A divorce is a huge change in your lifestyle, and it’s never an easy transition. Instead of navigating your way through unchartered territory, ask for help from a guide: a therapist.
Therapists can help you heal emotionally and mentally. They can also guide you through the difficult transition of regaining your independence and reestablishing yourself.
The key is to find a therapist whose style feels the most natural and helpful to you. Your divorce lawyer may have recommendations for therapists their other clients have used.
6. Find a Job That Fits
When you transition from marriage to a single life, almost everything changes. The job that fits so well into your married lifestyle may not work as well anymore.
For example, maybe you could accommodate travel time when you had a spouse to take care of the kids. As a single parent, that’s much more difficult.
Either renegotiate the terms of your current position or look for a job that better suits your needs. Fortunately, in the age of technology, there are many jobs that allow you to work from home or offer flexible hours.
7. Create a Plan
Getting your finances in order is one of the most important parts of establishing your post-divorce household. When your savings have all gone to pay the attorneys and other related expenses, it feels like you’re starting from scratch.
The key is to create a solid ten-year financial plan. Establish your goals like contributing to your retirement fund and rebuilding your rainy day fund.
By laying out all this in one place, you can budget and determine how much to contribute toward each goal. You can also set goals for increasing your income and how to make it happen.
8. Be Patient
This is something you need to keep in mind throughout your entire transition: be patient with yourself.
You’re going through a turbulent time in your life, with emotional and practical challenges everywhere you turn. You won’t be able to jump up and start living your best life overnight.
Give yourself time to grieve the loss of your marriage, even if it wasn’t a happy marriage. Keep this in mind as you consider your goals for the coming years. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t making huge strides right away.
Along these same lines, don’t compare yourself to other divorcees either. You may have a friend who bounced right back after their divorce, but you can’t assume the same for yourself.
Learning How to Start Over After Divorce
Whether you initiated the divorce or not, whether it was out of the blue or a long time coming, divorce is difficult. There’s an endless list of changes coming your way. The key is learning how to handle them while you establish yourself independently.
The steps above will help begin to start over after divorce. Remember that the journey isn’t the same for any two people, though, and give yourself the flexibility you need.
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