Moving On After Divorce

Moving on after divorce to live the life you desire and deserve is Step #10 in the process of your divorce strategy education.

Believe it or not, sooner or later you will finalize your divorce and be ready to move on with your life.  Imagine that!

You might be thinking that the end of the divorce will be a life-changer.  Unfortunately it won’t be.  All that will happen is you’ll be done with lawyers (which is a good thing!) but that’s about it.  Everything else will remain where it is.

Realize now that there is no such thing as a “divorce miracle.” A piece of paper signed by a judge dissolving your marriage may be a relief, but that piece of paper is not going to radically transform your life.

Sure, you might finally be out of an unhappy, unhealthy, or unsatisfying marriage, but that is not where your story should end.

Keep Moving Forward!

Shouldn’t your life story include more than just getting away from a problem?I think so. So should you.

When you are moving on after divorce it is not the time to stop. It’s time to keep moving forward. Your divorce is only the beginning of your progression towards a life you can enjoy living.

You might feel like “you just need a break,” but you need to keep moving forward. Instead of slowing down, you need to ramp up your efforts to of working towards your Best Life possible. Old habits are hard to shake. If you do not keep pushing ahead you will substantially increase the odds of a “relapse” into a life or relationship that does not make you happy.”

This is not any different than trying to lose weight. An overweight person will feel better about themselves and realize some health benefits after losing a few pounds. However, if the person does not continue to keep up a healthy diet and exercise lifestyle the odds are that they’ll gain back all the weight they lost. And more.

The point is, if you don’t keep moving forward, you might end up right back in the same situation you just worked so hard to get out of, or something even worse. And this happens regardless of whether you eventually remarry or not.

You do not want to allow yourself to become depressed and unhappy with a huge hole to crawl out of. Instead, you need to be focusing on moving forward to enjoy every day of your life. You need be focusing on living your Best Life.

Action Items for Moving On After Divorce

So how do you make sure you stay in the right direction when moving on after divorce?  Getting moving with the items below will give you a good start:

  1. Get away for a while: If you can, you should clear your schedule and get out of town for a week (or more). Visit somewhere you’ve always wanted to go and so something you’ve always wanted to do. Having a break to clear your head will help you reflect on what should be happening next in life. Also, crossing a dream vacation off your bucket list will be motivating for you in terms of continuing to build the life you want for yourself.
  2. Spend time on the things that make you happy:Do what you love and you’ll love what you do. I realize this saying sounds cliché, but it could not be more true. You might not have a lot of free time or the ability to instantly reinvent your business or career, but take the time you do have for yourself to do the things you love to do.
  3. Prioritize your needs: During your marriage you may have always been putting other people’s needs above yours, or maybe you just did not ever have enough time to focus on yourself. For you to continue to improve your life, you need to start making yourself a priority. Prioritize your needs over the needs of other people, and make the time to pay attention to yourself.
  4. Have a plan: Face it. If being happy and living the life you always wanted was a simple than you would not have experienced a failed marriage or picked up this book. Also, statistically speaking, the fact that your first marriage ended in divorce makes in even more likely that a second marriage will end in divorce too. But enough about statistics, because you are not going to be one. When you realize that you need a basic plan for your divorce recovery and future life, and take the time to make and follow that plan, you will be on track for having the Best Life possible.  Hopefully you’ve already developed a strategy for this.  If not, go back and review this explanation of preparing yourself to excel in divorce and this section on developing strategies for your divorce and life after divorce.
  5. Get support: Possibly more important than having a plan for your divorce recovery and future life is having a person or people to help you develop that plan and hold you accountable to it. I recommend you get professional help with this and hire a no-nonsense therapist who can help you develop strategies for life improvement and hold you accountable to making progress. The reason I recommend you hire a therapist is because by doing so you can avoid having to share personal details with friends and family that you might one day realize you would have rather kept private. Also, experienced therapists can help you do all of this quicker which is ultimately what you need. There are plenty of great results-driven therapists out there. Go see one so you can optimize your personal life like you optimize your business or professional life.  If you are in South Florida there are plenty listed by city at www.StayMarriedFlorida.com.
  6. Make and keep healthy habits: If you are not doing so already you need to make sure you are making healthy choices. Try to eat right, exercise regularly, and avoid alcohol and substance dependency problems. You do not need to obsessively count calories, live inside a gym, or live like a saint, but you should make sure that you are generally living a healthy lifestyle. Think of it this way: going to all of the trouble of developing and executing upon Best Divorce and Best Life strategies will not do you any good if you are dead.
  7. Do not avoid or obsess over new relationships: With some of my clients it seems like they either avoid new relationships completely or are obsessed with having new relationships. Relax. First off, if you are ever going to live your Best Life, you will need to realize that it starts with you and does not require anyone else. You can be a very happy person without being married or immediately dating someone else.  Just as you should avoid being obsessed with immediately jumping into a new relationship, you should not rely on the “I never want to get married again” attitude to avoid new relationships (heck- you can always get a prenuptial agreement next time!).

How to Deal with the Ex?

Then there is the issue of that ex-spouse.  What to do…what to do?  I’ll tell you.

My advice for handling your now former spouse after the divorce depends on whether you have any children together or any ongoing financial commitments to each other after the divorce.

If you do not have any children, or do not have to deal with each other in the future over payment/receipt of support or financial matters, then my thoughts are that you should cut off all communication to your former spouse and interactions with your former spouse. There is not going to be anything good to come by interacting with them.

Your efforts to rebuild from the divorce and pursue your Best Life will be seriously set back if you re-initiate contact (especially sexual relations) with your former spouse. Even if you have successfully “moved on” from the marriage, you need to remember that things may be different for your former spouse.

If they did not want the divorce, and might not yet be “over you”, then it is not fair to them for you to be in contact with them. Doing so sends mixed signals, which makes it harder for your former spouse to recover from the divorce. Further, your contact with a former spouse might make them think “there is still hope” for the relationship, which can result in stalking and other fallout that can come with them trying to “get you back.”

None of this is good, and there is nothing to be otherwise gained by you contacting your former spouse.

If you are reading this while still married and think my “cut all ties” advice sounds “undoable,” this might be a sign that you should not get divorced. Try to take another shot at couples’ counseling to see if your marriage can be turned around, or try individual counseling to help you understand your feelings and whether divorce is really the best option for you.

What if There Are Children?

If you have children, then you are going to need to be able to get along with your spouse and communicate with them on children’s issues. This is true regardless of whether your children are young or are adults living out of the house. For your children, whether they admit it or not, it will be very important to them that you and your former spouse are able to present a unified front on parenting issues and get along at family gatherings, both when the children are young and when they are adults.

You need to realize that if you and your spouse cannot get along, your children will bring your conflict into their life and future relationships. Worse yet, the animosity might result in them withdrawing from both parents, and will make them more prone to being programmed to think that it is acceptable for parents to routinely fight about children (it is not).

The bottom line is that if you have children, you need to “suck it up” and learn how to get along, even if this results in you having to keep your thoughts to yourself every now and then.

Keep in mind that your ability to “get along” with your former spouse is probably going to improve as you continue moving on from divorce.  Also, if there are challenges to your interactions with your spouse, you should consider several sessions of family counseling for purposes of improving the relationships.

Sometimes, one or two sit down meetings with a neutral person can make a world of a difference in improving interactions. This is worth doing for the sake of your children.

Stay Cordial If Financial Support Is Involved

If there are not children, but are ongoing financial commitments, you will benefit long term from having a cordial relationship with your spouse.

It should go without saying that if you are depending on your spouse to pay your ongoing financial support than it is not helpful to be nasty or disrespectful.

The same goes if you are the person paying support. One day you might have issues come up that require your spouse to “ease up” or “cut you a break” if you have financial problems. It is much easier to get some sympathy from your former spouse down the line if you treat them with respect at all times.

Best Tip for Moving on From Divorce: Stay Out of Divorce Court!

As much as I love what I do and value the services I provide as a divorce lawyer, it is hard for me to think of many examples of how your life would be improved after the divorce if you spent more time in divorce court.

Although divorce is difficult and usually an experience to try to avoid repeating, I am still continually amazed at how many people end up rehiring lawyers to fight with their spouse after the divorce. Believe it or not, typically 25-40% of my law practice is dealing with clients who are litigating with their spouse after their divorce has already been finalized.

So, as final parting words of advice, and at risk of reducing the income of my law practice, I’ll give you my top five no-brainer ways to stay out of divorce court when moving on from divorce:

  1. Follow your settlement agreement or court order: Your divorce was either resolved through a settlement agreement with your spouse or a judge setting the terms through a court order. Either way, you need to follow that agreement or order. Following the order is mandatory, not optional. When you don’t follow the settlement agreement or court order you make it more likely that your former spouse will retaliate, and you open yourself up to sanctions, which can include incarceration. In some cases it is possible to modify portions of your settlement, especially with spousal support, but unless your agreement is modified it needs to be followed.
  2. Keep things civil with your former spouse: I believe the root cause of most post-divorce family court litigation is fallout over an argument or incident between former spouses involving one embarrassing the other. You don’t need to be your former spouse’s best friend; but don’t be nasty or do something that would embarrass them. Also, it is generally not helpful to rub new relationships or your post-divorce success in your former spouse’s face. Basically, if you’re not a jerk, you’ll be fine.
  3. Learn how to have healthy future relationships: You need to learn how to have healthy future relationships so that you avoid going through the divorce experience with another person in the future. Based on what my clients tell me and what I observe, most marriages fail because there is a lack of communication between spouses as to how they want to be loved. This results, over time, in one or both spouses feeling like their needs are not being met. Eventually the marriage ends up drifting apart. Don’t let this happen to you (again). You should read the book “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman, which concisely explains in layman’s terms how to meet the needs of your spouse or partner. I tolerated the book and I am not naturally a touchy-feely person. If I can get through the book so can you. I especially recommend the audiobook version. The reader has an entertaining southern accent that I would not normally associate with someone reading a book about relationship advice.
  4. Avoid relationships with unstable people or people with personality disorders: Some relationships are destined to fail from the beginning because the other person is a hot mess or has a personality disorder. If you want to avoid another failed relationship, avoid dating people who will drive you crazy or make you hate them in the long-term. Dating or marrying someone because you want to “save them” or think you can “change them” never works (unless you change yourself and adapt to being miserable). If they are a crazy mess when the relationship starts it is only getting worse. With few exceptions, generally people who have lived in more than three cities or have had more than three job changes in the last two years are unstable. Also, you might be dating a legitimate psychopath if they cheat on their tax returns; have extreme “hot” and “cold” attitudes towards you; jokingly put you or your friends/family down; or subject you to an extremely fast “whirlwind” courtship. Life is too short to be spent with someone who lacks stability or has a personality disorder. Don’t do it!
  5. Get a prenuptial agreement: Next time, get a prenuptial agreement! The best Best Divorce strategy is to avoid divorce. The second best Best Divorce strategy is to resolve your divorce before you get married. You can do this through a prenuptial agreement. Just make sure to follow all of the rules in your jurisdiction when entering into a prenuptial agreement. If you get sloppy or cheap with these agreements, they can be worthless or create more problems than they solve. Usually, it is best to make sure that (1) both people have lawyers; (2) the agreement is signed at least a month before the wedding; (3) thorough financial disclosure is given; and (4) the signing of the agreement is taped and recorded, with it being made obvious that both people are sober, understand the agreement, and want to sign it.

Next Steps:

Remember that the end of the divorce is not the end for you.  Keep moving forward and progressing towards the life you desire and deserve as you are moving on after divorce.

If you are contemplating divorce and are new to the website you should now and read the divorce strategy overview to understand the steps you need to be taking to ensure that your divorce is the Best Divorce possible (which means it resolves as soon as possible on fair terms in a manner that allows you to pursue the life you desire and deserve after moving on after divorce).