Sometimes all it takes is a small shift in perspective to help you hurt a little less.
When your marriage ends and you start working toward getting divorced, it’s not like there’s some switch you can flip to stop feeling married or even to unlove your spouse. It’s more of a process. And all processes take time to complete. That’s why it is so infuriating, humiliating and painful if your spouse starts dating before you’re legally divorced, much less before you feel unmarried.
You do have another option. You can learn to put some distance between what they’re doing and you. It all starts with changing your thoughts (which, believe it or not, will give you the space you need to allow your feelings to change).
To give you an assist with changing your thoughts, here are some facts for you to consider:
- It’s all about them – Yup, their behavior is all about them. It’s a reflection of how they see the world, who they want to be and what they want to experience.As painful as it is to make the shift from thinking about you and your spouse as a couple to being individuals, it’s part of moving on from the end of your marriage. It’s part of the process and you’ll be able to move on too.
- If your spouse decided to end your marriage – Usually the spouse that decided the marriage is over began working through their grief before ever announcing that they want a divorce. Because they’ve been doing their healing for a while, they may be more ready to date than you are right now (at least from an emotional standpoint). Just because they’re dating doesn’t mean that they haven’t hurt over the end of your marriage too. It just means that they’re further along in their process than you are in yours. (And it doesn’t mean that you need to start dating too. Remember their behavior is about them just like yours is about you.
- You’re dating, but you’re not ready for your spouse to date – Yeah, this can seem a bit hypocritical at first, but it’s also pretty normal. Healing from a divorce is a process and it happens in pieces. Even though you might be ready to date, the thought of your spouse being with another person can make your stomach churn because you don’t quite feel like your spouse should unlove you yet. The reality is that your discomfort isn’t going to prevent your spouse from dating. After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander!
- Your marriage ended because your spouse cheated with the person they’re dating now – Cheating to end a marriage is really a chicken’s way out. A spouse will cheat because they don’t believe their needs are being met within the marriage. Instead of being willing and able to discuss what’s wrong with the marriage, they choose to have an affair to make it “obvious” that the marriage is over and can’t be saved. Feeling furious, betrayed and humiliated as you’re watching your spouse date the *@#$&* they cheated with while you’re going through the divorce is pretty natural. The key to getting through it is to remember that their behavior is all about them and that your life WILL be much better without them (even if it doesn’t always feel that way right now).
Getting more understanding about why your spouse is dating now, before your divorce is final probably won’t make you feel immediately better, but it will help you to think a bit differently about the situation and their behavior. Sometimes it’s only a small change in perspective that will enable you to get on with healing from your divorce instead of staying stuck in a dead relationship.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.
If you’re looking for more help recovering from your divorce, read more articles about Healing After Divorce.
My answer just might surprise you!
One of the loneliest times of your life is when you’re getting divorced. One moment you’re living with someone, having daily casual contact with someone you believe loves you.
And the next…you’re on your own.
Sure, the kids and the pets may still be living with you (at least occasionally), but that’s entirely different from sharing your life with a partner.
It can take a really long time to get your divorce legally finalized and the loneliness of being on your own can feel crippling. So it’s only natural to be curious about dating. (You’re probably also wondering if you’re still lovable and attractive too, but that’s a topic for another post.)
Unless the divorce laws where you live or the circumstances of your divorce would penalize you for dating before your divorce is finalized, casual dating before your divorce is final could be a great thing for you to do. That is IF you keep the following in mind:
- Dating has changed since the last time you were out there. I don’t know about you, but I sure didn’t find my first husband online. (Although that’s exactly how I found my current one.) Yet online dating is by far the most popular way for people leaving a marriage to find people to date.Online dating is a whole different world from meeting someone at school, at a bar or through friends. Once you finish agonizing over what to put in your profile, you’ll find that it’s very easy to get caught up in the winks, flirts, texts, calls and dating. Frankly, it can become a bit overwhelming and take LOTS of time.You’ll do best with online dating if you set limits for yourself on how much time you’ll spend doing it and if you keep following tips in mind.
- Be honest. You might be tempted to embellish the truth or even omit certain details (like the fact that you’re still legally married) about yourself when you start dating. But the best way to make sure that you protect yourself and that you’re respectful of others is to be truthful about your situation.You might find that being this honest will cause some people to not want to date you. That’s OK because you are who you are and if you’re having to pretend to get a date, that definitely won’t work for you or anyone else long-term.
- Keep it casual. Look at dating this soon after your marriage ends as a way to help you discover what you do and don’t like about potential partners AND what you do and don’t like about yourself when you’re with others. You might find that you’ve got some habits from your marriage that you want to ditch before you think about getting into a serious relationship. Honestly, that’s what this early phase of dating is all about – getting things clear in your mind so you can continue healing from your broken marriage.
- Your first job is to heal from your divorce. It’s incredibly easy to want to get into another relationship quickly after your marriage ends, but don’t until you’ve finished healing from your divorce.Your divorce is the death not only of your marriage but all your hopes and dreams for it too. As with any death, there is a period of grieving. You may have been grieving the losses before you (or your spouse) filed for divorce. That’s why no one can really tell you when’s the best time for you to start dating or to get into another relationship.Just keep in mind that grief has a way of popping up again even after you think you’re all done.
It’s really easy to believe that it’ll be simple to get back out there and start dating again if you keep these four tips in mind. But it can be more challenging than you think!
The challenge comes because you’re just coming out of a relationship. You’ve developed a comfort in or habit of being in a relationship. So it’s very, VERY easy to want to be in a relationship again quickly. While this does work for some people it doesn’t for everyone.
How do I know?
Because I got into a relationship before I was healed enough from my divorce to really be a good partner again. And let me tell you, the hurt and rejection I felt when that relationship ended was worse than when my marriage ended. The pain was so great because it brought up the unfinished healing from my divorce too.
So, is it OK to be dating during divorce? Yes, if you’re willing to accept the risks, it certainly can be a fun and wonderful part of your healing process.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.