5 Mistakes Not to Make After Divorce

Beautiful woman enjoying life after divorce

Congratulations—your divorce is final! You survived the breakdown of your marriage, the often sad and stressful divorce process, and now you’re ready to move on with life after divorce. Moving on after divorce is different for everyone. Some people want to keep to themselves for a while and get their balance; others want to sprint forward into the future, leaving memories of their divorce in the dust.

There’s no one right way to adjust to life after divorce. But you can make choices that will either set you up for success in your new life or make it harder for you. Beware of these potential pitfalls after divorce.

Reaching Out to Your Ex

When we’re stressed, we tend to reach for things that bring comfort, from a favorite old sweatshirt to a big bowl of macaroni and cheese—and few things are more stressful than divorce. Unfortunately, an ex-spouse can fall into the category of familiar things that you turn to for comfort. After your divorce, you may feel lonely and anxious about the future, and definitely not ready to start dating someone new. That can make you romanticize the old days with your spouse, remembering the good times and downplaying the bad.

You wouldn’t be the first person to reach out for an ex for comfort. So many people do it that there is at least one love song written about the subject. But the truth is, it’s not romantic, and more importantly, it’s not helpful. Just like a heaping bowl of carbs, reconnecting with your ex may feel comforting in the moment, but you’ll regret it later. You can’t move forward if you don’t let go of the past.

Rushing Into a New Relationship After Divorce

If you shouldn’t reach out to your ex, is it a better idea to turn the page and find someone new? Eventually, yes. But rushing into a new relationship right after your divorce is not the answer, especially when you’re still healing from the wounds of the last one.

It’s easy to understand the temptation of a new relationship. The thrill of newness, the comfort of companionship, and the satisfaction of knowing your ex will probably see pictures on social media of you moving on from your marriage. But if you’ve ever heard the expression “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” you’ll understand how important it is to reflect on what went wrong in your last relationship before starting a new one.

Thinking You Don’t Need Counseling

There are still far too many people out there who think that if you go to therapy, there’s “something wrong” with you. The truth is that anyone who is going through a major life transition can benefit from therapy, which offers insight and tools for dealing with change.

For many men, their spouse is their primary source of emotional support. Life after divorce for men can be filled with unhealthy coping mechanisms. Life after divorce for women has its own unique stresses. Counseling can help both men and women find healthy ways to deal with the pain and stress of divorce (and learn how not to repeat mistakes in future relationships).

Speaking of the stress of divorce, you’re not the only one who’s feeling it. Your kids can benefit from counseling, too, and seeing that you’re in therapy will normalize it for them.

Isolating Yourself

While you shouldn’t throw yourself into the social scene as a way of numbing the pain after divorce, it’s also not healthy to isolate yourself. Yes, it’s good to take some time to reflect on your marriage and the changes you want to make now that it’s over. That’s one of the reasons we recommend counseling for anyone who has been through a divorce. But there’s a difference between “reflecting” and isolating yourself.

Especially if you are depressed or at risk for depression, you need contact with other people. When your own voice is the only one you hear, it’s easy to fall into a downward spiral. As another divorce attorney colleague notes, “You are an unreliable narrator of your own story.” Your social circle may have changed, but find a way to get outside of your own head and home. A divorce support group is a good option; volunteering for a cause you care about is another.

Failing to Follow Court Orders After Divorce

Your divorce decree is like a private law that governs just two people: you and your ex-spouse. Chances are, you aren’t thrilled with all the terms of your divorce. Most people aren’t. But you still need to abide by them.

Some people drag their heels on dividing up property because it’s a way to hang on to the marriage (or to punish their ex-spouse). Others don’t abide by visitation schedules for their kids. Whether or not you like the terms of your divorce, you need to accept them or you’ll end up back in court and keep paying for your divorce.

Some things in a divorce decree can be changed after divorce (like child custody arrangements). Others (like division of marital property) usually can’t. If there is something in your divorce decree that needs to be modified, call your divorce attorney—don’t just ignore the terms you don’t like.

If you have questions about what to do after divorce and what not to do, contact Brinkley Law Firm to schedule a consultation or to get some resources.