Life after Divorce

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Divorce: Life After?

    (7 replies)

    My spouse and I are heading towards separation and divorce, tremendously sad, but mostly not acrimonious. We have one adult child and another who will be going to college in a year. I'm curious to hear how others fared the first couple of years after separation/divorce. What tips do you have to ward off the sadness/pain/loneliness and eventually find happiness for yourself (and your kids)? Have you remained on friendly terms with your ex and even do things as a "family"? How do you make that happen? Any advice on how to maintain "friendship" throughout the separation/divorce? We both deeply want to remain on good terms, if not for ourselves, most definitely for our children. Thanks!

    Hi there! Recently divorced as of last August. We have a young child in first grade. While it sounds like you won't be coparenting minor children, you might still find "The Co-Parenting Handbook" by Karen Bonnell helpful. It sets the tone for what life will be like post-divorce in terms of having/sharing children together, and the spectrum of options depending on your relationship with your ex. Me and my ex are on friendly terms, so we were able to separate slowly, which was helpful for our child. I also joined a divorce support group after my divorce was finalized, and it was exactly what I needed to heal after my divorce. Check out www.sasforwomen.com - they are based on the East Coast but my group has women all over the country. She hosts one for women contemplating divorce, and one group for women who have their divorces finalized, which I have come to learn are two very different stages. Best of luck, divorce is tough, life changing, heartbreaking and painful. However, you may end up, like me, happier on the other end.

    Yes, as many will attest - life can be wonderful after divorce, especially if both of you are able and willing to remain amicable for the sake of your children. Take the time for yourself - pursue dreams and activities that will steer your attention and focus; honor your emotions, but also allow yourself to open up to new people and experiences - the essence of life while we're still alive. There is more than one tree to plant, house to build and relationship to nurture. Most importantly, stay kind to yourself and allow time to work its magic.

    My parents divorced as soon as I finished college and were terrible to each other and it has caused so much tension, just recently they have started to be able to be in the same room. It has made my 20s and now into 30s so painful and I just wanted to reach out and applaud how you and your spouse are prioritizing your children and that will help greatly. I wish you all the best as you discover this new chapter. 

    I think every divorce relationship is different - and what you want to happen, you can make happen as long as you are both on the same page. My son's dad and I have been separated for over 10 years and our relationship has had different phases. We both strongly wanted to be friendly and do family things, keep a real family life alive. We do many - we always attend kid events together, we tag team all the time on parenting tasks, and we have a family dinner every week (we have a teen - I don't know what life will be like after he leaves home). We often socialize with the same people. Sometimes it's easy and painless, but sometimes it's not. As we've been apart longer, we've grown apart. It just happens. If other people enter the picture, all bets are off. I can honestly say that we both put 120% effort in almost every day - we face MANY annoyances and frustrations and we just get over them and wade back in. We don't fight much about parenting, but we irritate each other over minor stuff constantly. It takes massive patience and a very clear vision of what you want. I just forgive and forget many times a week, and so does he. 

    When I first left I was both really sad and really angry. It was brutal bc we had been together for 20+ years. I mourned for probably 2+ years - and gained 30 lbs, drank too much, etc. I advise to really keep an eye on all those lame coping methods, but grief is tricky. At least for me, I was really in survival mode and with a young child. I found that the more I stayed angry, the worse everything was. My emotions, no matter how much I tried to hide them, set the tone for our relationship. We both had many angry exchanges and I was mean - I regret my behavior from that time. Divorce is everyone's fault - the best path is to look inward and work on yourself. I finally got a grip and realized that the nicer and kinder and more generous I was, the more of all those things he could give - and our child was dramatically happier. I lead with that literally every day of my life in interacting with my ex. I try to do more than I need to, always be kind, always reach out, always include, always be generous - every time I let anger or disrespect rule me, it comes straight back to me. 

    You can do it - but it is hard and stays pretty challenging as far as I can tell. I think it's worth it - kids need both parents well into midlife. Everything you do they will pay massive attention to - you're modeling just like you did when they were 5. Think empathetically about your kids and your ex, and yourself ... you can do it.

    I'm very sorry to hear you're heading towards the end of your marriage.  I never post on here but I wanted to share my experience that yes, it is most certainly possible to remain on good terms with your ex after divorce.  I went through a divorce 15 years ago when our child was very young. There was an incredible amount of sadness and some very real anger but after a few years of channeling a lot of patience, humility, acceptance, self-care, compassion, understanding, space, and time (to name a few things that got me through),  I now consider my ex to be one of my best friends.  When we separated we went through about a year of therapy together which in hindsight served as a form of separation planning and commitment to shared values.  We also agreed to prioritize our child and take all the remaining love we had for each other and pour into co-parenting with respect and putting our differences aside to show up for our child.  It was very hard work at times but now we're all one huge blended family.  Just last year I vacationed with my ex and child and my wife and our younger child together and it was really special for all of us.  

    Not trying to give advice, just sharing my experience that I have been able to remain friends with my ex and to be honest it is one of the things in my life I am most proud of.

    I wish you all the best during this time.

    I'm sorry you are in this situation. Even under the best of circumstances, divorce is hard. My divorce was finalized almost exactly a year ago—we had been married for 25 years of 38 years together. My former spouse and I had a long separation leading to divorce. We made the decision to proceed with divorce the spring semester of my younger child's senior year of high school. My older child was two years older and working.

    I am happy to tell you that I am thriving. I started putting support in place long before the divorce occurred (family, friends, and professionals). My former spouse and I agreed to pursue a collaborative divorce process, as I strongly felt I needed the support of a divorce coach (mental health professional) as integral to our divorce team. The coach was essential to my ability to work through the divorce with integrity. While relatively expensive, the process worked well for me and I would not have done it any differently. For one thing, it allowed provisions for the children's support in the divorce agreement (at my insistence) even though they were over 18 (but far from launched) at the time of divorce. I was very lonely and sad at the beginning, but now I am engaged and happy. I have a healthy balance of being alone and being with others in many different contexts. While I have grieved the future we had planned, I've let that go and look forward to charting my future on my terms.

    I had hoped to remain on friendly terms with my former husband. We began the process with the expressed goal of being amicable with and respectful of each other. We discussed what holidays and family events might look like. Unfortunately, my former husband is not able to uphold his end of the agreement. He will barely speak to me, and not in a friendly or comfortable manner. His behavior is untenable, as he asks the children to keep secrets from me, and engages with them only at his convenience. He is unwilling to coordinate with me on holidays and school breaks, leaving the children to choose between us.

    Despite this, I am on good terms with both of my children (the relationships are better than they've been for a long time and improving). I have made it clear that I would never ask them to choose between their father and me. I do not disparage or speak ill of him to them, and I do not initiate conversation about him with them. I also don't sugar coat or ignore his behaviors when they talk about him—rather listen when they need me to listen, validate their feelings, and offer support including therapy if they'd like to engage in it. They see the work I am doing on myself to be in a better place than I was in my marriage. I am appropriately open and honest with them, and they respect me for that (which I am grateful they verbalize). It's a time of impactful personal growth.

    You can only control yourself through this difficult process. While much is studied and written about young children and divorce, little is written about adult children. My former spouse's attorney recommended the book Home Will Never be the Same Again: A Guide for Adult Children of Gray Divorce. I read it and recommend it.

    You can get through this with integrity and move toward a connected and meaningful future.

    Great answers to your post. 
    I would add that often things are going swimmingly until one of you gets a new partner. Sometimes that changes the dynamic. My new husband’s ex was fairly cordial until we got together and now she is ice cold. 
    good luck navigating all of it😬

  • Divorced for 3 years, missing something ...

    (7 replies)

    Divorced 3 years, stable financially and emotionally after a very challenging time. Great children, friends, nice house, good job... but... something is missing, there is an emptiness, like blanks... Reading, cleaning the house, shopping,  all helps but at the end of the day the void is still there. I am thinking taking a class, maybe some kind of dance, but maybe what I am missing is something more spiritual. Is being un-coupled the issue? What is your experience, what did you find?

    There is evidence that happiness dips in middle age and then improves as you move into your 50s and 60s. The theory is called the u shaped happiness. There is a book on it which is worth reading as it may be what you are going through. 

    Whether you're coupled or not,  you need to have a social life.  If you don't have many friend or friends who are single like you,  look into something called Meet Up.  It's NOT a dating service.  It's a way to meet people in your area.  They plan trips, card games, and a  whole variety of activities.  You can opt in or out of any activity.  My sister did this when she got divorced and found a group of women to hang out with.  

    Good luck

    It sounds as if you may have depression. I urge you to see a psychiatrist and/or psychologist. 

    Hello "Missing Something":   yes, life is empty when I feel that whatever, whomever, outside of me is the key to my happiness.  The whatever includes money, power, possessions, how I look, how my kids do in school/at their jobs (& how they look), health, etc. etc.  "Whomever" would be making my partner, friends, etc.  responsible for making me happy. YET, there is a certain level of basic needs to meet, and, of course, having healthy, open-hearted friends is crucial (ditto for having a partner). Of all the influences in my life, it's the allowing of natural awareness and compassion to arise, i.e. my inner 'ripening' , that is life-giving.  Being part of the spiritual community I belong to and having a spiritual practice, plus wise teachings (in books and from my personal teacher) these are facets of the precious jewel I've been given. --- Please don't settle just for having a partner.  You have a rich spiritual energy within; it is knocking on the door.

    I'm 7 years post divorce (9 years post separation) and still don't quite feel on an even keel. So I don't have any great pearls of wisdom on that front, but if you are looking for a dance class, American Tribal Style Belly Dance is awesome. There's a class on Wednesday nights at Rhythmix Cultural Works in Alameda (https://www.rhythmix.org/classes/american-tribal-style-belly-dance/). ATS is a group improvisational form, so as you advance, you dance in small groups where the leader of the moment cues what move comes next to the other dancers. It's very fun and challenging, If you sing, my choir, Anything Goes Chorus (https://www.ellenrobinson.com/anything-goes-chorus/), starts back up after labor day

    Maybe exercise. Also, everyone needs challenges. Or maybe volunteer with an organization whose goal means something to you. Or, find someone new to fall in love with. 

    Dear recently divorced - i can relate to your sense of “missing something.” I miss running decisions by someone, having a sounding board, and physical intimacy. It’s not the same of course but singing in group is a wonderful way to relate to others. Music reaches emotional depths that I don’t experience in reading books. Have developed good friends from within the chorus as well. Good luck. 

Parent Reviews

RE: Divorce: Life After? ()

Great answers to your post. 
I would add that often things are going swimmingly until one of you gets a new partner. Sometimes that changes the dynamic. My new husband’s ex was fairly cordial until we got together and now she is ice cold. 
good luck navigating all of it😬

RE: Divorce: Life After? ()

I'm sorry you are in this situation. Even under the best of circumstances, divorce is hard. My divorce was finalized almost exactly a year ago—we had been married for 25 years of 38 years together. My former spouse and I had a long separation leading to divorce. We made the decision to proceed with divorce the spring semester of my younger child's senior year of high school. My older child was two years older and working.

I am happy to tell you that I am thriving. I started putting support in place long before the divorce occurred (family, friends, and professionals). My former spouse and I agreed to pursue a collaborative divorce process, as I strongly felt I needed the support of a divorce coach (mental health professional) as integral to our divorce team. The coach was essential to my ability to work through the divorce with integrity. While relatively expensive, the process worked well for me and I would not have done it any differently. For one thing, it allowed provisions for the children's support in the divorce agreement (at my insistence) even though they were over 18 (but far from launched) at the time of divorce. I was very lonely and sad at the beginning, but now I am engaged and happy. I have a healthy balance of being alone and being with others in many different contexts. While I have grieved the future we had planned, I've let that go and look forward to charting my future on my terms.

I had hoped to remain on friendly terms with my former husband. We began the process with the expressed goal of being amicable with and respectful of each other. We discussed what holidays and family events might look like. Unfortunately, my former husband is not able to uphold his end of the agreement. He will barely speak to me, and not in a friendly or comfortable manner. His behavior is untenable, as he asks the children to keep secrets from me, and engages with them only at his convenience. He is unwilling to coordinate with me on holidays and school breaks, leaving the children to choose between us.

Despite this, I am on good terms with both of my children (the relationships are better than they've been for a long time and improving). I have made it clear that I would never ask them to choose between their father and me. I do not disparage or speak ill of him to them, and I do not initiate conversation about him with them. I also don't sugar coat or ignore his behaviors when they talk about him—rather listen when they need me to listen, validate their feelings, and offer support including therapy if they'd like to engage in it. They see the work I am doing on myself to be in a better place than I was in my marriage. I am appropriately open and honest with them, and they respect me for that (which I am grateful they verbalize). It's a time of impactful personal growth.

You can only control yourself through this difficult process. While much is studied and written about young children and divorce, little is written about adult children. My former spouse's attorney recommended the book Home Will Never be the Same Again: A Guide for Adult Children of Gray Divorce. I read it and recommend it.

You can get through this with integrity and move toward a connected and meaningful future.

RE: Divorce: Life After? ()

I'm very sorry to hear you're heading towards the end of your marriage.  I never post on here but I wanted to share my experience that yes, it is most certainly possible to remain on good terms with your ex after divorce.  I went through a divorce 15 years ago when our child was very young. There was an incredible amount of sadness and some very real anger but after a few years of channeling a lot of patience, humility, acceptance, self-care, compassion, understanding, space, and time (to name a few things that got me through),  I now consider my ex to be one of my best friends.  When we separated we went through about a year of therapy together which in hindsight served as a form of separation planning and commitment to shared values.  We also agreed to prioritize our child and take all the remaining love we had for each other and pour into co-parenting with respect and putting our differences aside to show up for our child.  It was very hard work at times but now we're all one huge blended family.  Just last year I vacationed with my ex and child and my wife and our younger child together and it was really special for all of us.  

Not trying to give advice, just sharing my experience that I have been able to remain friends with my ex and to be honest it is one of the things in my life I am most proud of.

I wish you all the best during this time.

RE: Divorce: Life After? ()

I think every divorce relationship is different - and what you want to happen, you can make happen as long as you are both on the same page. My son's dad and I have been separated for over 10 years and our relationship has had different phases. We both strongly wanted to be friendly and do family things, keep a real family life alive. We do many - we always attend kid events together, we tag team all the time on parenting tasks, and we have a family dinner every week (we have a teen - I don't know what life will be like after he leaves home). We often socialize with the same people. Sometimes it's easy and painless, but sometimes it's not. As we've been apart longer, we've grown apart. It just happens. If other people enter the picture, all bets are off. I can honestly say that we both put 120% effort in almost every day - we face MANY annoyances and frustrations and we just get over them and wade back in. We don't fight much about parenting, but we irritate each other over minor stuff constantly. It takes massive patience and a very clear vision of what you want. I just forgive and forget many times a week, and so does he. 

When I first left I was both really sad and really angry. It was brutal bc we had been together for 20+ years. I mourned for probably 2+ years - and gained 30 lbs, drank too much, etc. I advise to really keep an eye on all those lame coping methods, but grief is tricky. At least for me, I was really in survival mode and with a young child. I found that the more I stayed angry, the worse everything was. My emotions, no matter how much I tried to hide them, set the tone for our relationship. We both had many angry exchanges and I was mean - I regret my behavior from that time. Divorce is everyone's fault - the best path is to look inward and work on yourself. I finally got a grip and realized that the nicer and kinder and more generous I was, the more of all those things he could give - and our child was dramatically happier. I lead with that literally every day of my life in interacting with my ex. I try to do more than I need to, always be kind, always reach out, always include, always be generous - every time I let anger or disrespect rule me, it comes straight back to me. 

You can do it - but it is hard and stays pretty challenging as far as I can tell. I think it's worth it - kids need both parents well into midlife. Everything you do they will pay massive attention to - you're modeling just like you did when they were 5. Think empathetically about your kids and your ex, and yourself ... you can do it.

RE: Divorce: Life After? ()

My parents divorced as soon as I finished college and were terrible to each other and it has caused so much tension, just recently they have started to be able to be in the same room. It has made my 20s and now into 30s so painful and I just wanted to reach out and applaud how you and your spouse are prioritizing your children and that will help greatly. I wish you all the best as you discover this new chapter. 

RE: Divorce: Life After? ()

Yes, as many will attest - life can be wonderful after divorce, especially if both of you are able and willing to remain amicable for the sake of your children. Take the time for yourself - pursue dreams and activities that will steer your attention and focus; honor your emotions, but also allow yourself to open up to new people and experiences - the essence of life while we're still alive. There is more than one tree to plant, house to build and relationship to nurture. Most importantly, stay kind to yourself and allow time to work its magic.

RE: Divorce: Life After? ()

Hi there! Recently divorced as of last August. We have a young child in first grade. While it sounds like you won't be coparenting minor children, you might still find "The Co-Parenting Handbook" by Karen Bonnell helpful. It sets the tone for what life will be like post-divorce in terms of having/sharing children together, and the spectrum of options depending on your relationship with your ex. Me and my ex are on friendly terms, so we were able to separate slowly, which was helpful for our child. I also joined a divorce support group after my divorce was finalized, and it was exactly what I needed to heal after my divorce. Check out www.sasforwomen.com - they are based on the East Coast but my group has women all over the country. She hosts one for women contemplating divorce, and one group for women who have their divorces finalized, which I have come to learn are two very different stages. Best of luck, divorce is tough, life changing, heartbreaking and painful. However, you may end up, like me, happier on the other end.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Is there life after a midlife divorce?

April 2015

I know this is all my fault, I know I wasn't a great wife in the years leading to our divorce. He had his faults but I could have been more supportive, unconditionally loving, happy, and anxiety free. It has been over 2 years and I still cry about him several nights per week. I feel lost and alone, full of regrets. I am in therapy which offers me some tools and perspective, but I still wake up alone every day. I try to look at things from a positive perspective, but it sometimes feels like I'm just fooling myself and that it's not going to get better, it's just going to get worse. My ability to move on is further complicated by the fact that I have herpes (reduce the already small dating pool by another 80%). In ten years I can look forward to being poorer with more wrinkles and more health problems. Data and evolutionary theory are not encouraging. I don't think there are any ideas that friends haven't already suggested (online dating, therapy, ...), perhaps I'm posting here as a cautionary tale to anyone unhappy in their marriage or toying with divorce. You can always find something to love, build and grow from that. Anonymous


Whatever your reason for your split may have been and whatever you think of it now, it can be okay. I can't help but think that there is a world waiting for you to embrace and rejoin. I don't know how, but I do know that we always move forward in life even if it doesn't feel like it. Even if your goal isn't to immediately find a new relationship, getting used to the idea that your life is still brimming with possibilities sounds like it could be a salve for you. faye


You seem to be focused on the fact that because you are not with a partner, you are LONELY, which is not the same as being ALONE or SINGLE.

Sounds to me that you have to find joy and purpose in your life that doesn't center around a partner. Cultivate YOU and other ways you can have people in your life that fulfill your needs. Ask yourself what the exact things you need from having a man in your life. Someone to do things around the house? Teach yourself, hire someone, find a friend who can help. Someone to do activities with? Find others with same interests. Physical closeness, affection, sex? Yes, you can find someone even with Herpes. (I think you have your stats wrong - I think 80% of the population DOES have herpes simplex, so you're reducing by 20%; probably less if older). But you can find a FWB, indulge in NSA sex. Hell, you can even hire a professional ''cuddler''. ALL needs can be met - you just have to be creative, open-minded, shift your thinking. I'm glad you're seeing a therapist, but it doesn't sound like you have any insight - you seem to be dwelling on regret and the past and not envisioning a happy future at all. Surely you know someone (same age or older) who is single (for any reason) and lives a fulfilling, happy life? People can bounce back from more traumatic events that leave them single (death, abusive relationships), so why not you?

As for being a cautionary tale to others - no, some marriages HAVE to end, but yes, with a lot of deep thought and certainty. If even one person knows that they would rather be happy and single than miserable and together, then it's time to move on. Concerned Mom


I have been divorced for two years as well, and you are right - divorce is so hard. I think people who haven't been through it can't truly appreciate how difficult it is. And I have told friends before to stick with their marriage and really try to work out issues early on - I like to think I'm a good example of what not to be (divorced, middle aged, single mom) .

So yes, I do get down on myself and wish that my situation was different. But I also try to look at the positives of the situation -- I wasn't in a good marriage, and I really enjoy being independent now - I'm able to watch bad t.v. when I want to, the house can stay clean (or messy) without a husband changing it. My ex-husband was very anti-social, so I feel like I've been able to do social things that I was never able to do before. There are lots of other positives for me.

If it helps, write a list of ways that life IS better - and I'm sure there are some things if you really think about it. And just pull that list out when things are getting hard. Also, make plans with friends. I found that the first year, friends reached out to me, but now that time has gone by, I need to be more proactive in reaching out to people and making plans. I also get pressure from friends to do the online dating thing - and I just ignore it. I'm not into that right now, and I'm o.k. with that. I have developed a closer relationship with my kids and family because of the divorce, and I am thankful for that as well.

I guess I don't have any kind of concrete advice, but just know that there are others out there like you that have a hard time with divorce, but you've also got to have hope for the future and really appreciate the little things. I remember in the early days of my divorce, I would get a $2 coffee every morning, and my mom kept telling me that I was wasting my money. And I told her ''this $2 coffee is the one thing that gives me pleasure right now and is keep me going.'' And it was true, and it really worked. So try to find your version of a $2 coffee - and enjoy it! Hopeful


I'm a 63-year-old man you was divorced three years ago after 32 years of mostly unhappy marriage. Shortly thereafter, I met the love of my life. My gender probably hampers my credibility with you, but I'd like to try and help you anyway. So...

There is no easy fix for your loneliness because we, as a civilization, don't need or meet one another much anymore. We rely on grocery stores, utilities and google instead of each other. Here is a TED Talk that sums up what you are up against: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drv3BP0Fdi8

I recommend these first steps on you journey to attract another man:

1. Feed your brain and improve your skin by taking a spoonful of Nordic Naturals Complete Omega 3-6-9 every day.

2. All vital signs must be way up. Get yourself in peak physical condition. Become an exercise junky. If you work at a desk, convert it to or replace it with a stand up desk.

3. Guys are very superficial before they get to know you. After the exercise gets you back down to college weight, buy some new clothes. You don't have to spend a fortune. They just need to be feminine. Do NOT cut your hair short. DO fix your makeup before going out. DO pad your bra if they don't show up otherwise. DO wear heals and shave your legs. I know its a lot of work. But, my girl does it and I couldn't be more grateful to her. After 3 years, she's still up on my pedestal. I still want her badly.

3. Heighten your spiritual awareness so that you never look worried or unhappy. At the very least take advantage of the tried and true Buddhist techniques for minimizing suffering. Eckhart Tolle is the best modern teacher of such techniques. His books and audio tapes are well worth your time starting with ''The Power of Now''. Eckhart does not ask you to believe in a higher power, but it's pretty clear to me that you discover one by practicing his teachings.

4. What goes around comes around. Fix your karma. Do good deeds and have good thoughts for other living things EVERY chance you get. You will eventually start to believe that you deserve happiness. You gotta accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative and don't mess with Mr. In Between.

5. Join some social organizations where you can meet men casually. Churches, gyms, YMCA's and ToastMaster clubs can all be good. And when you put yourself out there, make sure you take advantage of all your feminine wiles.

All this is so much easier said than done. But, it will work. Carl


Is there life after mid-life divorce? There has to be, because there sure wasn't life before divorce, at least in my case.

Maybe you've already tried reframing the topic? I personally don't know if I'll ever have another long term partner. Sometimes it sounds like a nice idea, but it also gives me chills after what I've been through. It sounds like you liked your marriage better than I liked mine.

Divorce isn't the end. It may be the beginning, but it can't be if you're still looking back. Did you do some kind of ''goodbye'' ceremony when it was final, or a rebirth ceremony to welcome your new stage of life? For me that helped move me along into the next phase, and you still could do this when/if you were ready?

It sounds like you are trying good things but still are suffering. Maybe it is important to show how big your hurt is? My heart goes out to you. I wonder if something really radical like a silent meditation retreat or some other total change of environment would help push the reset button, so you can appreciate what you have? Paradoxically, maybe not caring if you meet someone to partner with is the precursor to being ready if that person ever does come along? Easier said than done probably. - Wishing you peace and joy