Surviving Divorce Transitions from Initial Loneliness to New Friendships
There are many transitions one goes through when divorcing. There is the obvious change in marital status, but the are many ancillary losses and rebirths that follow. One of the first experiences that may strike you is that first weekend you spend alone when your children are with the alternate parent. You need to be patient with yourself since this is all part of the transition period, but there are things you can do to move yourself along this phase to a less lonely and more fulfilling life.
Push yourself out of your house to join activities that you’ve always wanted to participate in. Join a hiking club. Go to a community continuing education class and learn a language you’ve always wanted to learn. Whatever you’ve thought about in the back of your mind that you’ve always wanted to do someday…now is the time. Believe it or not, before you know it you’ll have a set of single friends to join you in your new independent life.
This point is another possibly unexpected transition. Which friends will continue to be your friend after your divorce? According to Nancy Fagan, the new divorce writer for the Huffington Post, there are 5 ways to predict which friendships will survive your divorce.
1. Whoever brought the friend into the marriage will most likely be the spouse who retains the friend. After all, those qualities that attracted you to each other as friends originally are most likely the commonalities that will continue to sustain the friendship.
2. While the Huffington Post article suggests that the friends from healthier marriages are less likely to retain your friendship, I disagree. It is true that a partner who is unhappy in her marriage may find camaraderie with your newly divorced self. A healthy marriage should be able to sustain and support an outside friendship with a single person. Don’t discount those friends with expectations that you can’t retain your friendship with an individual in a healthy marriage. You need to make the effort. While you should understand that your new activities and interests may diverge, don’t take it for granted if you want to retain the friendship.
3. There’s a good chance that your standard of living with change with your divorce. While the courts make an effort to support your continued standard of living, if you don’t have unlimited funds, you are forced to stretch the same income and assets over two households now instead of one. While your modified standard of living may be an issue that you see in your friendship that you hadn’t had to contend with during your marriage, do your best to try to not make it an issue from your end. This is one time that your should keep your feelings to yourself. Discussing your inability to spend like you used to earlier in your friendship will only serve to make your friend uncomfortable and less interested in spending time together. Suggest less expensive activities, he or she will understand the reason for your suggestion and as your friend will make the accommodation so that you can still spend time together.
4. You are much more likely to retain a friend of the same gender you are. Not many husbands or wives are going to encourage his or her spouse to spend independent quality time with a newly divorced friend of the opposite sex.
5. Returning to work due to your divorce will prevent you from having the same time to spend with your friends as you had if you’d been able to stay at home during your marriage. Make the effort to retain those friends during your off time the same way you would encourage less expensive activities. The positive outcome from this transition is that you will make new friends at work who share your current work life experiences.
The bottom line is that while you are experiencing many new things during this transition in your life, there is a lot you can do to make yourself happy and comfortable in your new independent life. Accept that your life will be different and be patient with yourself, but at the same time make efforts to create a new lifestyle in which you will thrive.