Fixing What Causes the Most Divorce Pain

I have a habit of jumping in and coming up with options to resolve problems. This habit really works well for me in my work. It allows me to see solutions others don’t necessarily see and to figure out how to quickly make the solution into a workable plan.

Like any habit, I take this one with me everywhere I go.

It came with me to the hardware store last week. I had my list with me and as I walked down the cleaning aisle I saw a grandma and her high-energy 4 year-old grandson. The little boy was BUSY as only little boys can be. He was trying to get into all kinds of things and coming up with fun uses for the fly swatter he found. It was obvious that Grandma was tired and just didn’t have the energy to keep up with her grandson while she was trying to get the things she needed. Well, my habit kicked in and I asked both of them if they saw Rain-X, the last item on my list, on the shelf. Grandma started looking. I wrote R A I N – X on a piece of paper and asked the little boy if he could find those letters for me. Luckily, after spending 5 minutes chatting over a shared task, we all left with smiles even if we didn’t find any Rain-X.

My habit also comes home with me and not always in the best way. Two weeks ago, I found my husband busy in the garage cleaning things up. Instead of telling him how great it was that he was tackling this project, I actually told him how he could do it better. Talk about a motivation killer! And, yes, after we finished our “discussion” during which I realized my error and apologized, I got to help with the garage.

Everyone has habits they bring everywhere with them. And it’s these very habits that can cause the greatest pain during divorce.

I often work with other take-charge people who experienced deep pain when their ex just won’t do what needs to be done for the divorce to be completed. These same people feel as if they’re betraying themselves when they wind up doing all of the work to move their divorce forward because they’re tired of waiting for their ex to take action.

I also work with people who have gotten into the habit of letting their ex do all of the finances or home repairs or child care. These individuals feel completely lost when all of a sudden they’re now responsible for making these things happen. They often feel abandoned by their ex not to mention feeling helpless and hopeless in the face of their new responsibilities.

It’s habits like these that make divorce recovery so incredibly painful. Not only is there intense grief about the death of the marriage along with the associated hopes and dreams, but there is also the realization that there are habits that challenge you to change.

Individuals who fully embrace the idea that their divorce is an opportunity for personal growth are the ones who will emerge from their divorce recovery happier and more confident than they were in their marriage. The ones who don’t use their divorce pain to fuel personal growth run the risk of being bitter and miserable for the rest of their lives.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Which habit is your divorce challenging you to change right now? Some of the more common habits that divorce challenges people to change include being a perfectionist, consistently ignoring emotions and being overly logical, consistently ignoring logic and being overly emotional, not asking for help because everything is always OK, being over-responsible, being under-responsible, and being a people pleaser.

What one action can you take this week to start changing this habit in a powerful, positive way? Here are a couple of ideas to get your wheels turning.If you’re a perfectionist, you might want to try leaving something non-critical undone this week. If you consistently ignore your emotions, take stock once a day and ask which emotions you experienced that day. If you’re a people pleaser, try telling someone “No” this week.

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 adviceAnd, 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.

When Will I Stop Hurting So Much?

Woman sitting on the floor by her bed crying and wishing she would stop hurting.

Loneliness is one of the first most painful emotions to appear when you get divorced. Even if you were lonely in your marriage, it’s just somehow different when you are living alone. (Yes, this is true even if your children are living with you.)

The ways that people express loneliness are unique to each person. You might be like a hermit crab and withdraw into your shell, peering out at the rest of the world with a sad and dejected expression. Or maybe you avoid experiencing loneliness by being with someone, actually anyone either in person, by phone or even via social media, so you don’t have to be alone. Then again, you may experience loneliness by keeping busy – VERY busy – with work, or volunteer efforts, or with your kids and their activities. Or maybe you like the buffet approach and use a little hermit crab and keeping VERY busy with a touch of never allowing yourself to be alone.

What I want you to know is it’s natural to feel lonely when your relationship ends.

At some point you’ll start to realize the pain of loneliness can be an opportunity to rediscover the best of you and heal from the pain of your divorce. And once you reach this point, you’ll be able to move through the worst of the pain of divorce much more quickly and not get stuck in it.

The realization that you’re experiencing the pain of loneliness is usually accompanied with the question “When will I stop hurting so much?“ Every time you ask this question, you’ve got the chance to try some other way of moving past the pain and on to some other emotion. Even if the new emotion is discomfort, I can tell you that it’s LOTS better than being stuck in the pain and misery of loneliness. And every single time you choose to experience a less painful emotion, you’re closer and closer to being able to say “I’ve stopped hurting so much.”

For most of us who have been through divorce, our realization of the cessation of the pain isn’t immediate. It’s a gradual recognition of being able to enjoy things more, a desire to participate more in life again and a genuine willingness to be happy.

I wish I could tell you exactly when your pain of loneliness will stop, but the truth is I can’t and no one else can either. But, I can tell you some of the signs that you’re getting over your loneliness and have started becoming comfortable with alone-ness and being you. Sometimes knowing the indications that the worst is over can be incredibly comforting.

The signs you’re moving forward beyond the painful feelings of loneliness include:

  • When you stop hiding out at home
  • When you stop trying to find any other relationship to avoid being lonely
  • When you stop being connected 24×7 with Facebook, your iPhone, and the virtual realities of computer and online games
  • When you are content doing activities by yourself – going to the movies, going out to eat, etc.
  • When you stop letting feelings of loneliness control your behavior
  • When you start enjoying the new things you’re doing as part of your Functional Divorce

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

The next time you’re hit with the pain of loneliness, take a moment, recognize that the pain will ease with time and know that you have some signs you can be on the lookout for to know that you’re heading past the worst of it.


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 interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.