Divorce is always hard, and no matter what the circumstances are, going through something like this can be very challenging. But what hurts, even more, are the unexpected losses you face, when it comes to divorce.
Whether you have chosen to end your marriage, or the decision was made by your spouse, it may be hard to imagine how your life will unfold post-divorce.
Perhaps you are reeling with emotions like shock, dismay, grief, and anxiety, just trying to survive each day. You might be focused on the process of unraveling the marriage—the finances, the home, personal possessions, and the children’s schedule (if you have kids)—and working through a legal process.
It is hard to think ahead to what comes next. I have found through my own divorce, and in talking with many divorcing clients, that it is impossible to imagine the losses you will experience or how deeply you will feel them. Here are my top 10—and some thoughts on how to deal with them.
Here Are 10 Losses You May Not Expect in Divorce
1. Less time with your children (if you have them) is the biggest loss for parents.
When you’re not tucking them into bed every night, or sending them off to school with a kiss and a hug, your arms may ache for them. While you may have taken these little rituals for granted when they lived with you full time, now you treasure and appreciate the time they are with you.
You will probably feel lonely when they go to your ex, and this is painful. At the same time, many parents welcome the break to pursue other interests and relationships. When the kids are with you, you can focus on them more and perhaps even become a more attentive parent.
2. You lose a sense of partnership to share your kids’ successes or disappointments.
Over time, you will adjust to this, but it is painful for a while. If your child wins their soccer game or has a stellar performance on a test, you’ll find that your friends will share your pleasure. Perhaps your relationship with your ex will ease so that you can eventually share important events, such as graduations or weddings, without tension.
3. You may feel you’ve lost your best friend or someone you thought of as your best friend.
More than that, you’ve lost the person you once called when your kitchen was overrun by ants or you got a bad review at work.
One client struggled because she could no longer turn to her ex, a plumber, to fix a leaking toilet. It was a hard adjustment for me when I could no longer call my ex, a doctor when I had a physical symptom. Another client was used to getting free legal and financial advice from her husband, but he was no longer interested in helping her out.
Over time, however, you find different resources and connections, become more independent, and develop new skills.
4. You experience the loss of shared history, traditions, and memories, like family trips or holidays.
Perhaps your family had regular traditions such as camping in your favorite park every summer or celebrating Christmas with a trip downtown to see the lights. You may find that you no longer feel able to do those things, as they are painful reminders of a past that you have lost.
However, you can create new traditions and holiday celebrations. You may host Thanksgiving now, rather than always going to your in-laws. You may find a friend to go camping with you and discover new places to go.