On the list of major life stressors, divorce comes in second; only the death of a spouse is first. It used to be that the death of a spouse was the number one reason why marriages ended. Now it's divorce (Steiner, Suarez, Sells, & Wykes, 2011). And, even though people are aware of the emotional and psychological consequences of divorce, it continues to be a common occurrence.

Most of us know someone who is divorced or are ourselves divorced. We have all heard of or even know of people who are bitter, angry, and resentful after divorce—some even years later. After being confronted with my own divorce, I began to pay attention to why it was that some people bounce back from divorce, some take longer than others, and some never fully recuperate. I began to ask myself:

-Why do some people fare better than others when it comes to readjusting to a new life after divorce?
-Is it their age or their gender?
-Does it matter if there was infidelity involved or who initiated the divorce?

According to recent research (Steiner, et al., 2011), it is a person's sense of well-being, both spiritual and existential, that helps the most with the adjustment to divorce. In this particular study, it did not matter who initiated the divorce, what age or gender you were, or if there was infidelity involved. What mattered most was their sense of well-being which translated into a better self-concept, physical health, emotional adjustment, and a sense of purpose in their lives.

What does this mean? It means that in order to process the emotional and psychological wounds of divorce, we must first have a healthy sense of well-being. It could mean using divorce as the catalyst you have needed in order to create a fulfilling and authentic life for yourself. By focusing on the present and the future, you can get unstuck from the past and thoughts of what could have been. If you are ready to focus on your future, enlist the help of a divorce support group or use a life or divorce coach. There are many resources that are available to help you transition to your new life. Or, if you just can't seem to get unstuck, it could mean seeing a therapist to work out the past.

When I first separated from my ex-husband I had already been in therapy for six months. Even though I couldn't afford it as a single mother, I kept going with an inner knowing that it was the best thing not only for myself, but for my children. I have never regretted that decision. As the product of a traumatic childhood, I knew at some point I would have to work out my issues so that they would stop reenacting themselves throughout my adult life. People who are self-aware and self-reflective are able to heal from their wounds much faster than are those who insist on repressing or suppressing their issues. Now that I am remarried, I know that I am not dealing with issues left over from my previous marriage or from my childhood.

Cultivating a healthy sense of well-being is essential to living an authentic and fulfilling life, even if you are not divorced. It is a gift to ourselves that is truly priceless.

"You cannot bandage a gaping wound; you have to heal it from the inside out." ~Nicole Nenninger

References:

Steiner, Lisa M. , Suarez, Elisabeth C. , Sells, James N. and Wykes, Scott D.(2011) 'Effect of Age,Initiator Status, and Infidelity on Women's Divorce Adjustment', Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 52: 1, 33 — 47

Author's Bio: 

Nicole Nenninger is the author of "Transforming Divorce - How to Get Back on Track and Create a Life You Love" and the "Transforming Divorce Workbook - How to Make Divorce the Best Thing that Ever Happened to You." She is currently working on an advanced degree in psychology and spends her spare time writing, running competitively, and being with her new husband, four children, two dogs, and cat. Nicole is a coach who specializes in parenting, divorce, relationships, and life. She is the founder of nicolenenninger.com and co-founder of mydailymotivator.com.