life after divorce

Rebuilding Life after Divorce

For divorced men, the reality is painful emotionally, physically, financially, and just about any angle you can look at it. It’s simply an unpleasant experience. To rebuild from it or from anything, the anger needs to subside, whatever humor to be found needs to be brought forth, and a renewed spirit developed.

At the same time as rebuilding begins, there needs to be an emphasis placed upon not regressing to less- developed former states. Many men in this situation fall back to a younger adult mentality of late night partying and ill-advised romantic involvements. Instead, focus on using the experience to emerge wiser and more prepared for what is next in life. Remaining stagnate or regressing are traps that usually lead to even more heartache. [Tweet This]

There is hope for life after divorce. Divorced men can experience less trauma and create positive growth. There are ways to rebuild life and be a better parent. Here’s how:

Make Time to Grieve

The shattered dreams, the broken vows, and the reality of starting over all cause severe emotion. Shoving that emotion down and not releasing it will cause further damage in every case. Most do not realize the destructive paths they are going down until a lot of carnage is behind them. All the stages of grief come with divorce: shock, denial, anger, and acceptance. But for men, in particular, there can be a deep sense of personal failure. Finding trusted people to share these emotions with is highly recommended. That could be a clergy person, a counselor or just a wise and sincere friend or small group. As you move into this major life transition, being emotionally unstable is not beneficial to your cause. Address your grief.

Regain Individual Identity

Marriage is about partnership and teamwork, and now you find yourself on your own. It’s time to regain your individual identity and figure out what are the things that make life work well for you. It’s important to learn to respect yourself and feel worthy again. Hone the character traits and abilities you possess that lead to positive results in your life, and critically figure out the ones that contributed to the lack of success. Doing these things will enable us to better understand what we need and expect from the next relationship. Most of all, learn to pray with sincerity and purpose. God has not and will not leave your side.

Build a Network of Friends

Just because you’re single now, life after divorce doesn’t have to be lonely. Divorce will wreak havoc on some of your current friendships, but gracefully accept that and retain the ones that reach out to you. Moving forward, carefully work to make new friends in similar situations with similar goals. This is the area that is most vulnerable to regression. It’s certainly expected to have an active and enjoyable social life, but craft it with great care.

Prudent Financial Planning

You have enough stress from the divorce already. Accumulating mass amounts of debt will make life much more miserable as you transition. Alimony and child support are going to force serious restructuring. Doing so bitterly is going to send trauma throughout the entire family unit, especially landing right in the heart of your children. They will feel unwanted and as if they are burdens, when what they need more than anything at the moment is lots of reassurance that dad is still going to be there for them. Make the hard decisions and necessary cuts. It’s going to painful, but you’ll come out of it one day much better off.

Make a Goals Bucket List

Starting over requires deciding what are the things most important to you. Make a bucket list of goals you wish to achieve in this new direction in life. A better version of the man you already are. A better and wiser parent. Be a man that prepares himself for the best chance at happiness and success. Try and feel new things.

Sound Off

What are some of the ways you have moved forward after divorce in positive ways for you and your family?

  • AL

    It amazes me how insightful these articles are. I am 6 years removed from my divorce. I went through all of these stages and almost lost who I was while rebuilding and leaving carnage behind. Between family, friends, Men’s Fraternity and God by my side, I have slowly been able to realize that the most important ones hurt are the innocent kids (my boyz). Since working on doing what is right and focusing on who I want to be for them, myself and God, life has regained a sharp focus and my direction on life is much more clear.

    • Shawn Derritt

      I appreciate this article. My story may not be what happens for most but in many ways my ex having an affair and leaving me has been the best thing that could have happened for me. I have worked through a lot of pain but I am grateful for those who have walked beside me. In many ways God turned the whole situation upside down and know I am remarried to my Eve. An incredible woman. I have watched God honor me in front of everybody. One of my nephews even said that God favored me through the whole process . I love my father!!!

  • Brian N

    I am going through this right now and this article could not hit home any harder. Thank you for the knowledge and information. I believe I will get back to a positive state of mind and know that it will take time. Right now I am very low and just have to stay positive for my children’s sake. Thanks again and love reading these posts.

    • Jeremy

      Praying for you brother.

    • Marlene

      Hey Brian…for your sake and for the kids sake, don’t forget to enjoy the beauty of the present moment (otherwise you’ll miss that one moment with the kids to celebrate). It’s hard for sure, but in the midst of the difficulties, we still need to smile and love and enjoy. Praying for you.

    • Angel B.

      Brian, I know Rebuilding Life After Divorce is a long hard process. I am thankful to All Pro Dad for posting timely articles like this one. I pray that the Lord will restore and heal your heart and mind and that your relationship with your children continues to grow stronger and deeper each day.

    • BJ_Foster

      How are things going Brian? I would love an update. Sorry things have been so difficult.

      • Brian N

        I am still best friends with my now ex-wife. I still cannot believe we got divorced, but I am ok. I learned a lot about myself and how to be the best Dad I could be during this time. For this, I am grateful. My kids are small so it is hard for me to tell how they are adjusting, but I cherish and never take for granted any of the times I get to spend with them. The daily emails and blog post have been a really blessing. Thanks and cheers to all the Dads out there! Being a Dad is an amazing opportunity and the most important thing I do in my life.

  • Seth

    My divorce was just finalized near the end of January, after over two years of separation. Financially, I’m in a horrible position, and I know I have regressed a little with some of the times I have spent with friends. However, I have made great strides in many other areas. I am discovering who I am without defining myself as a husband. I am still a good father to my two sons. As best as I can tell, I have moved through all the stages of grieving and did so over a year ago, while my ex still hasn’t. Now that the divorce is final, things have calmed down between the two of us, and communication has gotten a lot better.
    I’m hoping that we can get to the point where she can be in the same room with me and we can talk for a while without things becoming uncomfortable. It may take a couple of years, but it will make things much better for everyone. I’m also hoping that she can get some help moving through the rest of the stages of the grieving process, so that she can be the best mom she can be.
    One of the most important, and hardest lessons that I learned and took to heart early on is that I had to take responsibility for what happened. I’m not saying everything was my fault, but how I acted, and reacted was. By accepting responsibility for my role in things, I was able to forgive her, and more importantly, myself. That forgiveness given freely in my heart (I never said anything to her because that wasn’t what was important) allowed me to move on through the grieving process and emerge a much stronger person.
    I hope my rambling isn’t too difficult to read, and that it can help someone going through something similar.

    • Brian N

      Thanks for sharing Seth. Best of luck to you. Sounds like you are on the right path.

  • Paul_Sp

    I absolutely hate divorce. By far the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, and I grew up in a tough family.
    Married a bit young, but for 20 yrs, then she decides to bail and quickly found a better man to marry, leaving me in middle age alone.
    Focused on the boys for a few years, but one is married at far away in the military, the other finishing HS and off to college.

    Been 8 years and I still grieve some, as my life and house are so lonely. People at work and church are friendly, but don’t want to be friends to hang out with, as most are married and only hang with marrieds.

    I always knew divorce wasn’t for me, it would be the worse thing ever to me, other than tragedy to my kids, but divorce is like a death with no hope for a better life after.

    When this article says: “Just because you’re single now, life after divorce doesn’t have to be lonely. Divorce will wreak havoc on some of your current friendships, but gracefully accept that and retain the ones that reach out to you. Moving forward, carefully work to make new friends in similar situations with similar goals. It’s certainly expected to have an active and enjoyable social life”…..
    The opposite is true for me anyway. It is very lonely, no one reaches out (except a few married women friends who pity me, but they aren’t options), can’t figure out how to make new friends who will actually do things with me, and I’ve long since lost any expectation to have an enjoyable social life.

    Won’t do anything to prolong my life here, as I long for a better place where no one is married and everyone loves one another and feels included and wanted.

    • BBQ

      On Christmas Day 2011 my wife left me and took my 4 children to live in another state (without telling me). I had been a successful business man and was in the middle of a start-up, so was financially vulnerable at that time. Her actions forced me into bankruptcy. She also used the power of the court to take 75% of my income. I’m IVY League educated and hold advanced degrees. Yet I had nothing. My x is unstable and I’ve been dealing with her this way for almost 4 years now. But God touched my life in so many ways. He’s there if only you look for Him. It may not change your circumstances, but it can change you and how you view your circumstances. One of the best books I read after this happened is It’s not About Me, by Max Lucado. In essence, he urges us to show His strentgh through our suffering. It doesn’t mean I’ve stopped suffering. Far from it. And I still have my days where I use deragatory words about her. But what you need is Grace. I urge you to deal with it spiritually. I can’t imagine coming to terms with my unjust situation in any other way. Beyond that, we live in an era where anybody can find just about anyone else who shares a given interest. Use meetup. Join book clubs. Work out. Identify your interests. Get involved. Give to others. And you’ll meet who you are supposed to meet. Don’t suffer alone. It’s too much.

      • Paul_Sp

        I salute you, sir, for the progress you’ve made spiritually through these extremely difficult years of yours. No, I too am certain you haven’t finished suffering.

        Appreciate the suggestions, and I have joined a small group through church, help once a week at a local food pantry, mentioned the sports teams before, and lightly mentor a 17 yr old boy.
        Saying “get involved” and “don’t suffer alone” resonates, but so far, none of my activities have led to any deep/very close relationships. I have enough superficial “friends” and talk.

        Part of my point is that my marital status and age mean people keep me at arms length somewhat.
        Hate living alone too, but have issues trusting any roommates/strangers.

        Would love to not suffer alone, but can’t find a real way not to.

        • BJ_Foster

          I know it has been a long and difficult road and I don’t have any advice beyond what has already been said. I just wanted to let you know I prayed for you this morning. Don’t lose hope.

          • Paul_Sp

            It’s appreciated, thanks.

  • chris

    I separated with my wife 3 years ago and have been raising my two boys alone since then.That is about all I can do. Its almost impossible to go back to having a life of any kind.I hope one day my kids will finish growing up ( they are 18 and 15 ) and I will try to get some kind of life for myself. I don’t know how any single parent can look after kids and still date etc.Think I will have drink.

  • Robert M

    Have gone through this myself not too long ago. Seems all I have done lately is remind myself of everything I’ve done wrong (real or imagined) in my life. The one thing that I am having to go on with that is different from this article is that I am raising my son on my own (the x-wife decided it was better to move over 5 hours away with her new boyfriend). Does anybody have any advice on how to move forward while being a full-time parent?

  • Michael Teegarden

    My wife of 21 years (we married relatively young) decided to try to recapture her youth after being a stay-at-home mom for 18 years and ended up in an affair with someone over half her age. She left me and my two kids (16 and 18 at the time) while we were on a camping trip. I tried to get us help when she wanted to come back after being gone for six months but she ultimately left again after a month and she file for divorce about 5 months later. From the beginning I turned to God. I immersed myself in reading the Bible and got more involved in my Men’s Ministry and teaching in kid’s ministry. This has definitely helped me maintain a good perspective on the whole process.
    The court system is horrible. Even though she made the choices and decided to leave, they awarded her a pretty substantial amount of my income as spousal support while we are separated. Even though I still have the house and the payments, along with the debt that we have built up over the years, I got punished or at least that is how it feels. I’ve gone through all the stages of grief and my focus is now on helping my kids as they become adults and helping them to try to find a way to forgive their mother who abandoned them.

    I don’t have a lot of really close friends but I have a few that I know I can turn to if I need to. Live can be lonely, but I’m not looking at moving forward with anything as far as a relationship until I am actually divorced. I think far too many people think that it is ok for them to move on while they are separated. I am still married even though my wife is gone and I need to be above reproach before God and man alike. When this is all said and done, I plan to move forward. I have set goals of getting out of debt and moving so I can downsize. My biggest goal is keeping my focus on God and remaining spiritually strong through this process and beyond.

  • William R Johnson

    I was married 27 years and my wife left me for a 21 year old girl…it has been tough. I left my job moved with my two oldest boys to a different state, just to maintain my sanity. My wife was cruel and flaunted her girlfriend in front of me. She only cared about what I was going to pay her and nothing about my feelings. I m working hard everyday just to move on..but it has been the most difficult thing in my life.

  • Doug Keating

    Good article. There are a lot of sad stories in the comments, so I will not add my saga to the pile. Rather I want to encourage others.
    I went through a nasty divorce several years ago. It was a painful process. My kids definitely got the short end of the stick. Redefining myself afterwards took a lot of thought, time and energy, but it was well worth it. I am in a much better place these days and actually have better relationships with my sons, even though we don’t see each other very often.

  • Lionel

    I am going through a divorce right now and am so grateful that I came across this article “Rebuilding Life after Divorce.” I am still shocked that this is happening. I thought we would be in marriage for the long hall. I expected that we would work things out no matter what. I feel so unclear, disappointed, emotionally and spiritually chard and a huge sense of failure toward God, myself,my ex-wife and my children.

    I am thankful for the friends and family in my life that have been so supportive. However, as I write this comment I can’t help but cry for my children as I see them feel so insecure at times. I do my best to reassure them that mommy and daddy love them and that God will take care of us no matter what happens. However, in my grief I feel like I am lying to them an myself. Sometimes the heart break feels unbearable. I don’t know where things are headed, but I have fought on my knees to put my trust in God and surrender my anger, fear and sadness to him. I know my divorce is not God’s fault. I cry to him in my distress for insight, healing and repentance. God has provided some valuable and amazing insights through his Word, prayer and other men who have been through similar experiences.

    I have come to see (through the divorce process over the past 5 months) how childhood wounds for my wife and I have brought us to this point after 15 years. Over 15 years of marriage my ex-wife and I ended up on different pages. I have become aware of wholes in my manhood that left me emotionally and spiritually immature which prohibited me from accepting and providing the necessary love and leadership for myself, my ex-wife and my children. In my man nature, I want so badly to fix things, but have come to realize that there is no quick fix to divorce. My ex-wife has expressed a desire to remain friends and collaborate in parenting our children. I have resolved through my relationship with God to take it one day at a time, acknowledging my feelings, take daily steps of repentance and engage in my emotional and spiritual recovery. I do not yet see the light at the end of the tunnel. I just fight to focus on healing my broken heart and rebuilding my broken life so I can be the best parent and friend possible.

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