7 Ways To Reinvent Yourself Post-Divorce
Become A New, Improved You Despite Divorce
Can you believe it’s 2018 already? The Holidays are over and it’s time to get back to the grind of work and school. The month of January is the most popular time of year for people to reinvent themselves. Gym membership sign-ups skyrocket, people buy Fitbits and many try to break their bad habits. If you’re recently divorced, you probably want to reinvent yourself too. Being single and living without your spouse is a huge change, and part of being divorced is reconciling who you were before you married your ex with the person you are now.
2017 was a tough year for you, filled with paperwork, court dates, and custody battles. But now, it’s all in the past. You’ve been through a divorce, and you’re stronger because of it. 2018 is a new year, and you’re starting a new chapter in your life as a single man. Here are 7 ways to start a great new chapter after your divorce:
1. Choose whether you want to be labeled as Divorced or not
Which Label Will You Choose?
Your divorce probably took up plenty of your emotional energy in 2017. Moving forward, you may be stuck wondering how you should integrate your divorce experience into your life. You may be wondering if you should label yourself as a ‘divorced dad’ or a ‘single father’. It’s up to you to decide if you want to make your divorce a big part of your narrative or not.
For some people, making divorce a part of their story can help them move on. Hiring a therapist, talking to friends and family about it, and even blogging about it can help people grieve the loss of their ex. Some people choose to be defined by their divorce, and if that will help you move on, do it.
But, despite the strong feelings and trauma that divorce can cause, you don’t have to be defined by your divorce if you don’t want to be. You don’t have to refer to yourself as ‘the divorced guy’ if you’re not comfortable with that label. You don’t have to talk about your divorce if you don’t want to. You can refer to your divorce as a little plot twist in your story. It doesn’t have to define the rest of your life. Many divorced men go on to happy second marriages without thinking much about their first marriage.
Whatever way you decide to go, embrace it. There’s nothing wrong with choosing either option.
2. Think of the Ways your Ex was holding you back
Think of all the Ways your ex made your life less fulfilling.
Some people still miss their ex after divorce and reminisce about the good times. Some people grumble about their ex and think about all the bad times. You probably do both from time to time, which is normal. All relationships have great and not-so-great elements.
But, a new way to reinvent yourself after divorce is to think about the ways your ex held you back instead of reminiscing about the good times. Often couples make compromises with each other that they don’t really want to make, and you probably did this in your marriage. Maybe you like to eat comfort food, but you put up with your ex’s healthy cooking. Maybe you like going out, but your ex was a homebody, so you’d stay home with her. Maybe you’ve dreamed of moving to another city, but your ex wanted to stay put. Focus on the ways your ex was holding you back instead of thinking about how your life was better with her.
It’s also helpful to think of hobbies and activities you did before your ex. Spend some time reconnecting with the activities you used to do. This will help you get back in touch with who you were before you married your ex.
3. Commit to Being A Great Dad
You’re likely a great Dad already, but reaffirming your commitment to your children can give you a stronger sense of purpose.
Take your kids to their sports events and dance classes. Talk to your children as often as you’re able to, even if it’s just on the phone. Attend PTA Meetings and school events if your schedule allows it. Spend as much time with your kids as you can and make sure they know you love them. Remain respectful towards the other parent, and don’t make your kids the messenger between you and your ex. You understandably may feel betrayed and upset about the divorce, but don’t vent to your kids about it. Save your venting for a therapist or a friend.
Make sure your kids know that you love them with words and gestures, not just with presents. Many dads feel guilty and sad for their kids after divorce. To alleviate their feelings, they try to one-up the other parent by buying their kids expensive toys and by suspending all rules when they come to Dad’s house. While overindulging your kids may make them happy in the short term, long term, it’s not good for your kid’s self-control. Kids need discipline and structure to stay happy and healthy. They don’t need you to be their friend, they need you to be their parent, and good parents discipline their kids. It’s actually common for kids to be closer to their dads after divorce because they get to spend more one-on-one time with them, so don’t lose hope. Even though you’re not with their mother anymore, you can still be a loving and present dad.
4. Set New Goals For Yourself
It’s really common for people to set new goals for themselves around the new year.
Think of some goals you’ve been wanting to reach. Whether that’s getting in shape, saving money, or pursuing a career goal, get to it! But, don’t overload yourself with goals. Some people make resolutions to hit the gym 5 times a week and eat 1,800 calories a day in the new year only to fail on day 3. You can’t set the bar too high, or else you’re going to fail. If you’re not a gym guy, you can’t expect yourself to go from working out 0 times a week to 5 times a week in one fell swoop. Set realistic and attainable goals for yourself. For example, if your goal is to get fit, set a goal to workout twice a week. Then, after you are in that routine, add on another day. It takes 30 straight days to build a habit, so be patient with yourself. You’re going to have days where you slip, but a slip is better than a crash. Don’t let one cheat day become a regular habit and ruin all your hard work. Stick with your goals until you’ve achieved them. As you’re pursuing new goals, you’ll probably find that it’s easier to achieve them without the influence of your ex.
5. Redo Your Social Circle
Get Rid of the Friends who left your side
When you were married, you probably had a lot of married couples as friends. You likely saw your single friends less because you were part of a couple. Sometimes married friends take sides in a divorce, and some of them may have taken your ex’s side. This really sucks, but it’s important to realize that these people are not worth holding on to. Let go of those people who chose your ex and rethink your social circle.
Check in with old friends from college or high school, or friends you had before you married your ex. Call your parents and siblings more often. Talk to some of your coworkers and get to know them better. Reach out to other single parents at your children’s school and arrange a playdate. Join meetup.com and find a group in your community that shares your interests. Joining a gym is another great idea. People get surprisingly close after lifting weights together. You can also join a divorced men’s support group to help you work through some of your emotions with other divorced men. You can still keep the friends you had when you were married, but only keep the ones that stayed by your side.
6. Don’t Get Caught up in the Fantasy
Don’t Fantasize About Something that Won’t Happen
Some men fantasize about getting back together with their ex after a divorce. They picture their ex calling them, saying they’ve changed their mind and they want to get back together. Not only is this possibility extremely unlikely, it just doesn’t make much sense. Why would your ex put you through the pain of divorce, only to want to get back together again?
Some men also fantasize about running into their ex in public. They may picture themselves arm in arm with a gorgeous woman, and then they run into their ex on the street. They picture their ex seething with jealousy over the good-looking date. Then, later on, they get a call from their ex begging for them back.
You may have had these fantasies while going through divorce, or you may have had entirely different ones. To reinvent yourself this year, let those fantasies go. While fantasies are fun and provide comfort, they’re unhealthy to hold onto. If you keep thinking about your ex and how much you want her back, you’re going to have a really hard time moving on. Don’t put her on a pedestal. Everyone has flaws and your ex is no exception. To move on with your life, fantasize about finding the right woman, or owning your dream house in Hawai’i. Replace your tired, worn fantasies with new, realistic ones, and you’ll start working towards becoming a new you.
7. Forgive Yourself, and Your Ex
Forgiveness may seem impossible right now.
You may be thinking, Why would I forgive that horrible woman after she ruined my life?! Whether the divorce was initiated by you or your ex, forgiveness is essential to reinventing yourself and moving on.
It’s normal to feel frustrated, angry and sad about how the divorce is changing your life. But holding onto grudges is bad for your health. It leads to resentment and the inability to move on. What you need to do is to go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Whatever stage you’re in right now is fine, and you don’t need to rush through each stage. Let yourself mourn the loss of your marriage, but also work towards forgiving your ex. Holding grudges only hurts you. Your ex isn’t affected by your grudge, you are because you’re the one living with it every day. Forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning anything, and it doesn’t mean forgetting anything. Forgiveness is simply the ability to let the situation go and accept that this is how it is.
Another person you need to forgive is yourself. Many men think they’re ‘bad at relationships’ after divorce, and they beat themselves up about it. The truth is that you’re not bad at relationships; it just didn’t work out with your ex for various reasons. Men also may feel frustrated with themselves because of how they acted during the divorce. These are unhealthy memories to hold onto as well. Forgive yourself and accept that what is in the past is over. Make any apologies you need to. To reinvent yourself, you need to let go of what happened in the past so you can move forward.
Divorce is really difficult to handle, but the good news is that you made it out. You got through it. Knowing this, you can have an awesome 2018 and reinvent yourself in positive, healthy ways. And, if you need any help moving on, Divorce Lawyers for Men is here with information and support for men and fathers.
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