Think back to right before you were married, in most cases, it was a happy and exciting time in your life. Friends and family were happy for you, wished you well and even presented you with gifts. This just doesn't happen when you are getting a divorce, the only "gifts" that I received was a mountain of debt, loneliness and lots of decisions that I needed to make for the kids and me.
Twenty years ago at 32, being a single parent wasn’t what I wanted for myself or for my kids, but, after a grueling emotionally charged 2 years, the divorce process was over. That was the day I was now clicking a new box, “divorced” and continued to move on. Just me and my boys.
I had already gone through the motions of being single, but as you will see the divorce process takes up a lot of your time and attention. Most people are working full time, running a household and finances, taking care of children and much of what 2 once did, is now left for 1 to do. For me dating wasn't the right thing for me during that time, although my well-meaning friends always seemed to know just the right guy for me to meet. For some of you dating may fit into your lifestyle, but for me, I made the choice to focus all my time on my career and my kids. The kids were the priority and I needed to make sure we were all emotionally healthy and I wanted us to be successful, as a full time single parent household.
So, once you are separated or divorced, what is next for you, are you destined to be alone? The answer might be, well, maybe; but, you certainly don't have to be. That brings me to the focus of this post - A friend who had been through a divorce and remarriage once gave me excellent advice, advice that for me was critical in how I would move on and have the opportunity to start a new life. She told me for every five years you were married, you should remain single for 1 year. Some of you are cringing now, but for me, this time was MY time and after coming out of an abusive and controlling relationship, it made sense, I needed a rebirth, I needed to find out just who I was at 32, because the 23 year old me was somehow forgotten.
So what does "being single" mean, does it mean that I have to sit home alone on a Saturday night. Well, no, it doesn't. Being single during and after a divorce isn't always popular, married friends want to see you happy and may think that finding you a special person, is not only the answer but, is the key to your happiness.
Going back, the advice of staying single for 1 of every 5 years, for me worked, I found my new self, and I liked me. This isn't going to be the right formula for everyone, but for me it was; I was married for 9-1/2 years and at first, the thought of sharing my life with someone, besides my kids, made me ill. I certainly wasn't interested in jumping into a relationship. Some of you may be at the point where you have vowed never to marry again and that's OK, in fact, I was that person for a while. You may also be grieving your past life and if that is the case a new relationship is not going to help you get through it, it will complicate your emotions.
Taking time for yourself is healthy. The most important thing for you to do after your divorce is final is to heal from the loss, hurts and frustration. In order to be emotionally ready to move on you will need to find out who you are, who you want to be and what direction you want your new life to go. Hopefully, you want your new life to be stable, independent and emotionally and physically healthy.
Many people jump back into the dating scene eager to move on before they are ready. Your heart needs to heal, even in a divorce that you initiate; it makes sense for you to take the time to get to know yourself again as a single person.
Statistics show that when entering a new relationship or marriage too soon, the chances of that relationship or marriage being successful is greatly diminished. Before you hit the dating scene, make sure you know what you want for yourself and, if a parent, for your children in your next relationship.
I eventually remarried my best friend, our kids played together at first, we became friends spending time together at group events, and after 3-1/2 years were married and blended our families. Our kids tease us and say, you guys never really dated, and it’s almost true. My now husband, one day said, do you think we could take the next year and see if maybe we could all be a family? It was very natural, it wasn’t odd, we didn’t tell the kids, we just started hanging out more, we obviously were in love, but, that wasn’t the focus of our relationship, we were so afraid of failing at another marriage, even though, our exes took care of that the first time!
So after 5-1/2 years of being single again, more than the 1 year for every 5, I was married again. I was thankful for the advice I received; I took the time to find out who “I” was, sure of what “I” wanted (an didn’t want) and strong enough to know, that,” I” didn’t need anyone and if “I” choose singleness, “I” would be just fine.
Kerry is a Certified Divorce Coach and the Founder of www.divorceresponseteam.com
Divorce Response Team© 2017