Years ago, when I was in the middle of a divorce, I remembered thinking I'd never be happy again.
My life was in such turmoil and I was so consumed by sadness and anger that I couldn't imagine any future where I would be over my bad marriage or divorce, let alone be able to learn, heal, grow and move on.
If you are preparing to start the divorce process or are currently in the midst of your own divorce, you can probably relate!
But I want you to know that there is a such thing as a positive divorce.
And things eventually did get better in my life.
Once my divorce was far behind me, I chose to spend a lot of time reflecting on my marriage and everything that happened.
And I learned some valuable life lessons that made me stronger as a person, happier and more in tune with my authentic self.
I realized that I am the only person responsible for my own happiness.
And that I will only attract a loving relationship when I learn to love myself first.
These were just some of the many positive things about divorce I learned. And these lessons were life changing.
I am truly grateful for all of them.
I recently asked a few of our former divorce mediation clients to share why divorce is good.
I hope their insights will help give you faith that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that while it is no doubt extremely painful to go through a divorce, good can come from the bad if you let it.
There is a such thing as a positive divorce!
P.S. - All of these people have given me permission to publish their answers, but because divorce mediation is a confidential process, I am only using their initials to protect their identities.
What are some positive things about divorce you discovered now that your divorce is behind you?
"I learned that while my spouse made plenty of mistakes, I had equal responsibility in the process.
I was way too focused on keeping the peace and minimizing drama that I didn’t speak up when I really wanted to, or show vulnerability on a regular enough basis.
That did not maintain or build on the intimacy in my marriage, and instead made it seem like I was ignoring her or didn’t care at times. You must emotionally fight for the things you love.
I can say with 100% conviction that I have grown, been humbled, and have become a more empathetic person having gone through the process.
I’ve also found a new sense of confidence in my ability to persevere and have gotten very comfortable with being alone. I am not interested in jumping into a relationship unless its right. No more fear of being alone!"
"Since my divorce, I have learned that divorce involves grief and is a grieving process. There is loss not only of a spouse and an identity as a spouse, but grief and loss for the sense of identity as family that came from the marriage.
I have learned getting divorced means allowing time to grieve those losses as part of allowing time to make something new.
Personal growth comes from accepting and grieving loss.
I have also learned that divorce can reveal resiliencies that may have been buried or that emerge from the losses - resiliencies and strengths either found or created that can be unexpected."
"The emotional upheaval of ending our marriage was monumental, and I relied heavily on the support of a few close friends and a wonderful therapist as I worked through the pain.
I learned to truly ask for, and accept, this kind of help--and I came to realize how vital talking about and 'processing' my feelings is to healing.
On a more practical note, I've also learned so much in this past year about managing finances.
My husband works in a financial field, and during our 30 years together, that was always his "domain" in our family life. It never bothered me, but I have been kind of pleasantly surprised by the satisfaction of being more financially savvy."
"In any relationship (work, family, friends, etc...), I, by nature, seem to work very hard to make everyone else happy sometimes at the sacrifice of myself.
So, there were moments where I felt like I had placed restraints on myself so much that I never truly learned who I was or what potential I had (by my own actions).
Since getting divorced, I feel like I've gained a higher level of self-confidence and have started trusting my capabilities more."
"Before the divorce, every day had its challenges, but when I got divorced they multiplied twice over.
I have to be and do everything myself and YouTube tutorials have become my best friend.
I remind myself often that post-divorce, I may flounder a little every now and then, but eventually, I find my way.
It is a growing and learning process beyond my imagination. It is my experience which is filled with endless victories."
"Self-reliance and the ability to be stronger and more independent than ever thought possible.
Being alone is not lonely. Learning to find the peace and the beauty in solitude is a gift that keeps giving.
The more and the faster you can change your preconceptions of 'loneliness' and being alone, the sooner you will reap one of the biggest rewards of divorce - getting the space you couldn’t receive when married to truly build a relationship with yourself and discover how to truly enjoy your own company."
"I am far more productive! I am able to make decisions without second guessing myself - my relationship with my girls is 100% better - I have never felt better!"
"I love my kids and a divorce was actually something that made us better parents."
"I learned a very important health lesson through my divorce.
I’ve suffered with depression most of my life and I learned that my unhappiness wasn’t just the depression - it was a mix of a very unhappy, unhealthy marriage and depression.
Once we separated, I learned that I could manage my depression much easier by removing unhealthy, negative people from my life.
I can use my positive energy now to take care of myself better."
"I re-learned just how strong I am. I can do anything and do it well and I don’t need a partner to validate me."
"I learned that I have to make decisions for myself and do things for me, not in a selfish way, though.
I previously made decisions based on what I thought I should do by society's standards and did things that I thought family and friends would take delight in.
Now I've found things that I enjoy for me.
In a lot of ways it's a process of rediscovering myself and who I am as an individual."
"Now I am free of emotional pain, hostility, and anger.
I am now able to move forward knowing I did the best possible for my family.
Yes, I did make several financial compromises to keep the settlement amicable, however, I gained immeasurable value in the peaceful, loving family life that I have preserved."
"I learned to be a more open communicator and to focus on listening vs. trying to fix.".
"I learned not to focus on fighting the little things, to go easy and pay attention. To own the moment."
"I learned what happiness feels like again.
The burden lifted by being divorced is so much greater than the perceived weight of guilt of getting divorced.
I have also learned my kids are way smarter than I gave them credit for. They may have really disliked the divorce, but they saw the issues and understand them."
"The biggest thing I learned about myself is I cannot go through life without making the time to spend with my spouse/special someone.
My ex and I put our children at the top priority, especially at their younger ages and rightfully so. However, we also put off the time we should have been spending focused on our relationship as a couple.
That is how we started our lives together in the first place. Forgetting to set aside time together and putting the kids before our plans is a mistake I will make sure doesn't happen again. The small moments like just going grocery shopping, having coffee in the morning and talking, watching a movie - just the two of us, are important.
I always thought, because so many of those opportunities were put off, for whatever reason, the time we needed to spend together had to be BIG or I used the excuse that we would have our couple time back as the children got older.
I know now that it is so important to speak what you truly desire and important that those moments, no matter how small, need to happen in order to have the relationship we all dream of. There has to be a balance to that."
"I realize how independent I used to be, and how dependent I became over the last 10 years.
Now I believe in myself and my strength.
I CAN take care of myself and my family on my own."
"I learned (and am still learning) that life can be fun!
That while yes, sometimes it seems lonely to come home and not have a relationship with someone to ask you about your day, that it’s all just surface.
There were a lot of positive things about divorce in my situation. The biggest one is that I truly feel happy now!
You don’t need anyone else to validate you, you do it yourself!
We, humans, are way stronger than we give ourselves credit for and as long as we put our mind to something, we are fully capable of doing it!"
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Equitable Mediation Divorce Coach Cheryl Dillon is passionate about helping couples attain a peaceful, fair and cost-effective divorce while putting their children first. When she’s not supporting her clients through the emotional aspects of this significant life transition, you can find her trying to stick to an exercise program, tending to her garden, watching Cubs baseball, and trying to persuade Joe to adopt 5 or 10 more dogs.