Rediscovering happiness after divorce involves the systematic nurturing of all elements that define your life as a solo individual. It requires planning, constant reevaluation, and insight, potentially joined with social and professional counseling. This is a time for men to replace macho hardiness with self-care.
The trauma of divorce can result from the culmination of long, drawn-out interpersonal issues, tail-ended by a (sometimes) lengthy legal battle with permanent personal and material losses. Amidst the anguish, recovering seems like an impossible undertaking.
Walking the journey from heartache to happiness is a very doable process, requiring intention, commitment, patience, and energy. The prize is a life of joy, even after a divorce.
Related Reading: Ex-Wife Still Angry After Divorce, What Should I Do?
How to Achieve Happiness After Divorce
The key to creating happiness begins with taking ownership. Happiness won’t sneak up on you and, unless you work continuously and tirelessly at nurturing your environment, contentment will continue to elude.
In the following sections, we will outline specific approaches for achieving post-divorce happiness. Generally speaking, the following principles apply:
- Start Early: The best time to begin building post-divorce happiness is during the dissolution of the marriage, for a few reasons:
- Conducting yourself with happiness in mind makes you a better and more pleasing communicator. This has the effect of making an amicable settlement likelier.
- The momentum of procrastination is broken, which makes it likelier that you’ll continue to build happiness after the divorce is finalized.
- As discussed below, you will need to continue to share some elements of married life after the divorce. These include communicating with your wife when needed, sharing the parenting of your children, and relationships with any shared friends. During the marriage, these aspects are more accessible, which makes building the post-marital life easier.
- Be Explicit: Intuition, judgment, and off-the-cuff action are required for true happiness. But it is also important to make explicit notes to yourself about what you’re trying to achieve and how far you are in your progress to getting there. A key reason for this is that when you do succeed, it will be down to small increments that can be easy to miss if explicit attention is not drawn to them.
- Communicate: Since you can’t and won’t be blissful in isolation, learning to communicate well, kindly, explicitly, and constantly is a necessary behavior. By sending the clear message that you’re building a good life, you invite an unanticipated serendipitous response.
- Drop The Defenses: Paradoxically, opening yourself to injury makes healing likelier. This is because steely resentment often reinforces the pains that thwart, whereas a genuinely open demeanor is more relatable to the people who will help and makes you more susceptible to their positive influence.
Why Men Feel Unhappy After Divorce
Divorce is generally regarded as a top life trauma, ranking close to the loss of a child. For men particularly, this is influenced by a few factors:
Managing this trauma should take into consideration the male-tilting factors, and men should guard against taking on stereotypes and social roles that conflict with self-care best-practice.
Proven Paths to Post-Divorce Happiness
Guided by the principles above, we list a repertoire that the man in divorce should turn to without delay.
Therapy and Happiness
As mentioned, divorce is a leading cause of trauma, leading – in many cases – to a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. Professional therapy can play a number of roles here:
- Couples therapists can be useful not only for stabilizing an ongoing relationship but in helping couples transition to a new relationship – including divorcees.
- One-on-one therapy can help stave off the onset of a full-blown trauma. Professional therapists, being sensitive to the character specifics of the divorce candidate(s), are able to flag exacerbating behaviors.
- The traditional role of therapists as trauma counselors is relevant in the case of divorce. It is mistaken to seek counseling only in extreme cases.
A Healthy Relationship with Your Ex
Strangely perhaps, your ex-wife can be part of the key to your future happiness. A few factors are at play here:
- Nursing a grudge is not conducive to happiness, as it keeps you in some level of hostile engagement for a longer time.
- From disposing of assets, through sharing friends, to raising children, divorce doesn’t stop the need to make arrangements with your former spouse. This occasional contact must not distract from your happiness and certainly shouldn’t be a source of bitterness or anger.
- Marrying probably was a good idea for you at some point. This means that your ex is a potentially valuable friend. Having the support of someone who knows you intimately is an overall boon to maintaining happiness.
Important: this is not true in the context of an abusive or toxic relationship.
Life Planning and Happiness
Intentionality involves setting objectives and strategies for getting there. The alternative is goalless drift, in which setbacks seem more permanent and, because they’re unanticipated, tend to linger longer.
Planning ahead creates a context in which future goals crowd out temporary setbacks, and the attainment of set objectives encourages your sense of agency. This makes you happy.
Divorce opens a sea of possibilities, but even as you flex your Tinder finger, nurture these key relationships:
- Relatives you’ve married into still could potentially still be a source of friendship. Preempt the needless erosion of these relationships by sharing with them your post-divorce planning and healthy, respectful view of your ex-wife.
- Friends are decreasingly keen on the traditional practice of picking sides. They have been a source of happiness during your marriage, and its incumbent on you to facilitate their continued involvement in this role. Explain your continued affection for your ex, and don’t regard theirs as an act of betrayal.
- Learn from those who’ve successfully walked the path before. Search widely for happily divorced people (including women), befriend them, and seek their counsel.
Continuity After Divorce
Make a list of the things that brought you happiness during your marriage. Then, make an effort to cling onto them. Divorce might mean that you have to relocate. But if this takes you away from the local Kiwanis Club, find a chapter close to where you move to.
Researching Happiness and Divorce
By the time you’ve read these words, you’ve demonstrated an interest in learning about happiness and divorce. Keep at it. This is an ongoing process that’s not answered by silver-bullet answers. You may find that as you continue along the journey, your information needs evolve.
Health and Happiness
It is not possible to divorce happiness from health. Physical impairment and emotional distress will scupper most attempts at finding happiness. The perception that you’re miserable after divorce will unfairly blame a marriage on stressors that can arise independently.
Summarizing the factors that constitute mental and physical health is beyond the scope of this post. Check in with your GP, therapist, or life coach on the maintenance of your overall health.
The intentional approach to happiness means that joy is not merely an emotional condition. Having a philosophy or religious orientation creates a framework of coherence for your whole life experience. This allows you to organize a variety of life events, many of which will rattle at the visceral level.
Related Reading: Is It Possible to Find Love After Divorce At 35?
Regardless of whether it’s your first divorce or you’re a “pro”, life after breaking up needn’t end in a funk. A structured, intentional approach to the key elements of your life is the best way to reconnect with life’s treasures.