I like giving relationship advice to others, especially on how to recover after a break-up.
Recovering From the End of a Long-Term Relationship
Have you ever broken up with your long-term partner?
If you have, you may have experienced a variety of highly intense and stressful feelings. Most of these emotions are normal and occur in many people living separately.
Nevertheless, you still have to deal with the problem of your thoughts and feelings and the failure of your relationship for hours, weeks, and months.
This article will help provide guidance for how to move on after a separation by sharing advice about coping with your emotions, changing your thinking, and figuring out how to meet your practical requirements.
How to Deal With Your Emotions
A common dominant emotional state after the end of a long-term relationship is deep depression—one that may even extend to suicidal tendencies. In particularly bad cases, you can visit a physician who may prescribe you antidepressants.
The End of Your Relationship Does Not Mean You Are a "Failure"
Generally, you can expect an early improvement from this emotional state. Almost everybody suffers depression after a breakup. But despite it sometimes feeling overwhelming and potentially permanent, there remains hope that after a period of mourning you can still eventually move on.
If you see your separation as a sign of failure, inability, or worthlessness, be aware that this is usually not the reality. In most cases, both partners share some portion of the responsibility for the failure of a marriage. And even in cases where one party does deserve the lion's share of the responsibility for the relationship's dissolution, that does not necessarily mean that the other party is a failure as a person or that they are incapable or unworthy of a healthy relationship built around love, respect, communication, and collaboration.
When looking for new sources of emotional support and positive self-worth, try to find situations in which you are likely to experience fun and joy. And you should reward yourself when you do things you do not like!
Avoid Seeking Out Revenge or Retaliation
People often have feelings of anger or revenge after separations, especially if partners have suddenly pulled out or if they have been involved in extra-marital relationships. You can feel abandoned, degraded, and humiliated, and your sense of masculinity or femininity may be hurt.
These negative emotions are normal—you should worry only if you are unable to displace such hostile feelings. These feelings and anger can make you scream, strike thing, or potentially overreact in much more destructive ways.
Questioning yourself about your spouse's negative view of you tends to lead to thinking that a person you once loved cannot be such a bad person after all!
But you should never let yourself be carried away by revenge, as this will likely only lead to your humiliation. In addition, retaliation usually lead to reciprocal actions resulting in tension, perhaps additional legal fees, or even jail (following acts of violence or child abduction). Therefore, you only harm yourself—and potentially others as well—and the situation does not change at all. The best revenge would be to start a happy life.
You will often experience a surge of remorse and guilt, especially if you are the one who has initiated the separation. Your extra-marital relationship may be broken or your children may suffer greatly from the dissolution of their family.
Think how you would feel as a child if you were surrounded by constant marital conflict and unhappy parents. Incidentally, it would be very unusual for you to feel no guilt after the separation whatsoever!
Learning to Be a New Kind of You
It is normal after the separation to feel lonely, less attractive, and afraid of trying to find a new partner.
First of all, try to accept the feeling of solitude; learn to see the positive side of being alone and then go out and enjoy your social circles.
Eventually, you may feel free to escape into new relationships in order to avoid loneliness, but it is better if you first see yourself as single and adopt the appropriate lifestyle. Only then (and after your separation processes are over) does it generally make sense to begin the search for new partners.
For dealing with emotions of various kinds, you can take the following principles into consideration:
- Learn about the typical course of the divorce cycle. If you prepare yourself to expect certain emotions or reactions, you can raise your ability to experience them as rather normal, rather than as devastating.
- Read books on divorce, in which positive management options are presented, and get separation divorce advice.
- Be aware that you are going to experience strong negative feelings over a lengthy time, and also that it may take several years before the separation process is final.
- Keep a diary, as this will help you get your feelings out, and you can become aware of all the changes going on around you.
- Try to see the positive side of the separation or divorce, embrace the thrill of the unknown, and realize your ability to develop as an individual. You have a new life ahead of you!
- Play the some of the same roles as before. This way, you feel that there is continuity, and you can feel more secure, despite the separation.
- Be aware that you are responsible for your feelings and should try to be aware of them as much as you can—and try to intervene or seek immediate help if they turn more destructive (whether internally or externally). You also have your own fate in your hands (to some extent). The partner or the separation does not have to be responsible for your unsatisfactory situation for the rest of your life.
If you cannot cope with your emotions, you should go to a counseling center or a private practice psychologist. You will find a lot of understanding there, empathy, care, comfort, and emotional support.
Men are also welcome there as long as they do not play the "strong man" and are willing to admit that they need help. Men also have feelings and these advisers can help people express them.
Reframing Your Thinking Around Positive and Realistic Focuses
You may tend to deny the reality of separation, especially if you were suddenly abandoned by your partner. You may refuse to make the necessary changes in your life and in the lives of your children, and may even hide at home sometimes.
Though the impulse to act like this is understandable, you have to face reality! In most cases, the separation cannot be undone, and you have no control over your estranged partner's behavior.
Analyze New Situations With Rational Thinking
Analyze all aspects of the new situation and all the tasks and challenges. The problem is when you see only the negative side, or imagine that certain events (such as a smile from your ex-partner when you see them again) have more significance than they really have. This can result in negative behavior.
If you experience irrational attitudes and thoughts (such as "Life should be fair"; "I can only be happy with my partner"; or "I'm not lovable"), unrealistic expectations ("My ex will come back on their knees"), or divorce myths ("Every separation is a big disaster for all concerned"), you might consider checking in with yourself and trying to reintroduce more logic into your thinking. You will usually not find any evidence for these thoughts, and you have to gain a more realistic view of your situation.
Try to Direct Your Focus Toward New Pursuits and Goals
It is also important that you work through the separation experience, perhaps with the help of a consultant. Try to identify what "marriage", "family", "home", and their loss mean for you. Look outside of your marriage and the ideals once associated with it, and try to replace them with other hopes and feelings of security. You will often have intense positive and negative ties with your spouse or partner, which can only be resolved slowly.
You can succeed in doing this if you do not think of the spouse so much, if you spend less time thinking about the past, if you push the necessity of immediate reconciliation or revenge aside, and you do not fantasize about your current life (such as new partner relationships).
Talk less about the separated spouse, do not call them under silly pretenses, stop your sexual relationships, and don't threaten legal disputes. It is often useful to clear away items that constantly remind you of your partner, to learn techniques of stopping your thoughts, or to reward yourself when you do not think about them for a while.
How to Strategize for Meeting Practical Requirements
It is understandable to feel completely overwhelmed and stressed by the new situation after the separation, ignoring the necessary changes or running away from them. You may often feel without energy, like a passive person who sees the smallest problems as unsolvable.
Redefining Your Mindsets and Approaches to Accomplishing Tasks
One of the best things to do is try to accept that you do not bear all the difficulties in the world—that you can likely solve most any problems you may have, but that they can usually take a considerable amount of time.
Arrange the tasks in terms of priority or difficulty. Generally, it is advisable to start with small tasks. If you meet them, you may enjoy initial feelings of success, gain self-confidence, and become motivated to face even tougher challenges. You can discover your own strengths, skills, and resources.
You may also consider that since you have already faced very tough challenges and made it through, then you can likely overcome anything.
Look to Your Friends and Family for Support
Of course, relatives and friends are of great importance in such a situation. Through them, you may be able to find emotional support, practical help, and child care opportunities. The development of your children is also improved if you integrate them in different social networks.
Many relatives and friends take one party’s side, so that the network of friends as you know it may be divided into two camps. If this is the case, then you might want to try to find some new friends to help provide more support and opportunities to enjoy yourself.
Research Your Options and Find Organizations That Can Provide Aid
Very often, parents cannot resolve their practical tasks, because they do not have all the necessary information. But this is a problem which can sometimes be solved fairly quickly.
As a divorced woman, you need a lot of information about your financial rights (right to maintenance, social assistance, housing allowance, educational support, etc.), especially if you are unemployed. You should know that the Youth Office can make support payments under LAA and maintenance payments for younger children if the debtor does not pay. They may also represent the interests of the children with the other parent.
You may also be interested in information about school or college degrees that you are considering pursuing and on funding opportunities (spousal support, through the Employment Office, after EED). A vocational training company can also provide professional training aid.
The resumption of employment, training and retraining can be supported under the Employment Promotion Act (AFG) and other legal documents, but this is the kind of information you get from the employment office. If you do not know how to apply, you can visit a corresponding course at a nearby adult school.
If you are working or you have to work again, but you have to leave your children alone, you need information about child care. If there are not enough places in kindergartens or nurseries and daycare centers, don't worry too much. As a single parent, you can be helped with the allocation of assistance programs.
The Youth Office can often cover the costs of child care, or at least part of them. Sometimes, there are all-day schools nearby. A permanent placement of children is possible in foster homes, boarding schools, students’ and apprentices’ residences, professionally supervised youth communities, or homes.
You can look for a council house and get further divorce and recovery help from the housing office. If you have had nothing to do with financial management so far, definitely consider taking steps to learn about it. You can go for Adult Education and Family Studies, start attending cooking and baking classes, or learn about nutrition and home economics at a counseling center.
Seek Out Support Groups and Take Care of Yourself
You should not hesitate to go to a support group. Here, you can meet people in the same situation as you, and you can share your problems and get guidance. You can receive emotional support, useful information (on financial commitments, public services, low-cost shopping, friendly contacts in government agencies, useful books, etc.), and sometimes even practical help (such as reciprocal child care).
Finally, do not neglect your health; pay attention to a healthy diet and get adequate sleep.
- Our Favorite Resources for Life After Separation | Hello Divorce
A varied collection of resources that can help people ease into life after separation.
- Resources for Divorcing or Separating Parents | Kids First
These books and websites contain tips, tools and resources which are helpful to parents separating or going through divorce.
- The Divorce Center l Online Resources
Offers a large list of online resources for legal assistance, professional associations, parenting and childcare, health insurance, and domestic violence and substance abuse.
- Life After Divorce: 12 Ways to Rebuild Your Life
- How to Overcome the 6 Hardest Things About Life After Divorce
- How to Heal From a Divorce
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.