Marriage is filled with emotional landmines. We can’t recapture the excitement we had in the beginning of our relationship, but we’ll never forget it, either. But now you find your marriage has fallen apart and divorce is your new reality, stripping you of daily joy.
There are ways to safeguard joy during and after divorce; you just have to shift your expectations. (Yes, again. Divorce is doing that to you a lot, huh?) Here are a few ways to hold on to the joy you remember once came so easily.
Build Some New Traditions.
When a divorce has you off-balance, it’s hard to recreate the happiness you knew as a child or young lover. So stop fighting. Relax. Create new traditions for your children and yourself. When you do, expectations change. You can slow down. You needn’t frantically defend old ways in a time of extraordinary change.
Put Things into Perspective.
If you anticipate a gloomy day, week or month, plan ahead to volunteer your time. Give something back to others, whether loved ones or strangers, and receive the gift of perspective.
Spend time with a lonely neighbor or shut-in to hear reminiscences of happy memories long past. Or check with local nursing homes, hospitals, or senior centers to see if you can help. Bring small gifts in beautiful wrappings to create joy; the happiness you share will reflect back on you, too.
Reassess the Finances.
It’s not just hearts that are broken in a divorce; your household budget will probably take a hit, too – and it can be difficult to find money to spare on things that make you or your children happy. So think about what’s important. Simplify; think of thoughtful things you can do for yourself or your children, instead of buying fancy things in excess. Go green. Without that spouse, you can abandon traditions you never liked anyway. Now you can customize life to suit you!
If you have children, they already know that they can’t have everything they want. Try to avoid a buying competition with your ex. Your time and attention are the most precious presents your kids will unwrap, so plan outings and activities that they’ll remember long after the fad gift is forgotten under the bed.
You’re entitled to feel low during or after a divorce – but make sure you’re not avoiding happiness. Accept the help of family and friends. Grab a winter cocktail with a friend or see the lights with family. If you discover you’re smiling, don’t hide from it. Let those good feelings flow!
Divorce can truly be a fresh start – even if you didn’t think you needed one. This chapter in life can be a chance to let go of pain and guilt and maybe mend some fences if that’s needed. Allow yourself to feel excited about the new life ahead. Envision how you will do things differently – and better. Everyone deserves to be happy. That includes you, too.