Dr. Eileen Callahan, Ph.D.: Divorce/End of Relationship

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No one gets married believing his or her marriage will end in divorce. The break up of a union is no different than any other loss. For some people, it can be harder than a death though, knowing the other person is going on with his or her life without the former partner. There is a time of mourning in many ways as one person moves out of the house, a routine is changed, the children are shuffled back and forth between two households. Life is different.

Life doesn’t have to be bad though. It’s an adjustment that anyone can survive. The key is remembering there is no reason for anger. It hurts, yes, one can be angry for many reasons, but the reality is that the energy invested into that anger isn’t worth it. It gets one nowhere and ultimately keeps someone from moving forward. It’s difficult to be civil to a spouse one feels jilted or abandoned by. This is a chance to take the high road, however, and that will pay off in the long run when life turns a corner and the sunny days return. The tears don’t last forever. They are part of the process of letting go, part of the journey.

Divorce is an opportunity to reinvent oneself. It’s a time when life holds new promises. While the thought of dating and starting a new relationship when one is ready might seem daunting, the fact that there is that glimmer of hope for something great in the future should be enough to make one’s eyes sparkle.

Using Goodbye as an Opportunity

There is nothing worse in the world than the end of relationship, whether it is a long-standing friendship or a marriage/romantic partnership. When people exit our lives, it’s painful and leaves us spinning, often wanted to lock the front door and slither down behind it and ignore the world. Yes, it’s okay to do that for a short time, but don’t do it for long. Goodbyes are losses but they also are opportunities because we know that the reality is when one door closes, another will open nearby (and it might be the doorbell ringing forcing us to open that front door again).

  • Remember you were someone before this person came into your life. You were a complete person before you met this person. You are still that person. It might take you some time to reflect on that, but don’t let it escape you.
  • Take some time to process the loss. It’s okay to be sad. Someone you care about has left your life. It’s understandable and it needs reflection. Don’t let it consume you though. While you might not like that the sun is shining today, you’ll feel the sun’s warmth again and relish in how it makes you feel.
  • Take it minute by minute. Sometimes thinking about the day ahead and how much you have to do is overwhelming during times of transition. Take a step back and only think about the next minute. Then the next one. Slowly, build up to twenty minutes, to an hour, and before you know it, you’ll be thinking about the day ahead of you again. After loss though, sometimes we need to slow down.
  • Take care of yourself with exercise and by eating right. Loss and change are stressful and tax our bodies. It’s easy to want to stop for the fast food or reach for the ice cream but this is the time to pay extra attention to what will help. Look for those healthy foods and surround yourself with people who also want to eat right and exercise so that you can motivate each other.
  • Use this to do things you’ve wanted to do but always put off. Think back of ideas and goals you’ve had but never followed through with. Now’s your chance! Pull out those old to-do goal lists and see what you’ve still haven’t accomplished. You never know what could come from the experiences (or who you might meet).
  • Life gives us these opportunities. Seize them and don’t look back. Only reflect on the past if it can help the future.

Know that you will be great again. You might not feel it. You might feel sad and like the pain won’t end. But what you don’t realize is that while you might feel that way, there are many people who care about you and believe that you will be great again. Even if you don’t believe it, let them believe it for you. Slowly, you will believe it, too.

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