How do You Get Over a Divorce?


What to do to help yourself get over a divorce...


I am having a hard time finding closure from my last marriage. She has moved on with her life but I cannot stop thinking about her and wish we were still together. Any advice?

Dear Mark,

My heart goes out to you. I know how hard it can be when you haven't completely let go of someone yet. Even though it's difficult to imagine, you WILL recover, but it's just going to take more time. It's normal to feel sad but remember that time really is the best wound healer. I've heard that it takes half the time you were together to heal oneself but I don't know if it's true.

There are some things you can do, however, to help yourself move through the pain more quickly, learn from your mistakes, and distract yourself.

Instead of sitting around moping, get out and busy yourself with friends, family, work, and new activities. Work extra hours if that's possible. Do something you've always wanted to do but never had the time for.

Start an exercise program if you don't already do something regularly. Exercising has multiple advantages. If you join a gym, for example, you might make new friends there. Or if you join a group of some kind, like hiking, basketball, golf, or whatever, you'll meet people there too. But exercise is great because it will improve your mood and make you feel better all around.

Consider having a few sessions with a professional therapist to help you understand what happened in your marriage so you can grow and learn from the experience and have a better chance of success the next time around. Or if you prefer not to do that, at least read a few books about relationships to learn some things that might never have occurred to you. See the book page on our website for recommendations of good reads.

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Dr. Phil suggests giving your previous relationships an autopsy to understand what happened and help you move on. He recommends:

  1. Identify what your problems and frustrations were with your relationship.
  2. Write down the problems your partner had with you. Be honest here.

  3. Write down 10 key statements about the pain you still feel and the open wounds you still have.
  4. Reconcile each of the statements you wrote down. Ask yourself: What was my role in each of these? Own what you are responsible for.
  5. Look at the choices you made that led to the results you got in your last relationship.
  6. Figure out what you have to change to get over your last relationship. How do you need to heal?
  7. Figure out what you want to leave behind from your last relationship. Only when you acknowledge it, can you take the steps to prevent repetition.
  8. Give yourself emotional closure. To get that, Dr. Phil says you need to figure out what you can do to get the closure. It may be yelling and screaming, writing your thoughts down, or actually talking to your ex. If you need to take steps to feel like you've stood up for yourself, do it.

Try to take a philosophical approach to the issue and think to yourself that, painful though it is, it was meant to be this way. Life is packed with learning experiences and they can be opportunities if we choose to look at it that way, opportunities to look at ourselves and dig a little deeper into the anatomy of a failed relationship.

Be patient with yourself. Getting over a divorce can be awful but eventually you'll see the light at the end of the tunnel. And remember that there IS someone out there for you. You're just not ready to meet her yet.

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