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If you’ve been through a divorce, you understand the way it can shatter your worldview. Your illusion of happily-ever-after and faith in others can take a hit, depending on the circumstances surrounding your split.
Still, all of life’s hardships come with a silver lining. If you’re savvy, you learn from what happened in the past to create a happier tomorrow. Here are five lessons I’m glad I learned from my divorce.
1. What Love Meant to Me
What is love? Everyone from poets to neuroscientists has attempted to answer that question to little avail. That could be because this emotion comes in more flavors than Baskin Robbins has ice cream, and the definition varies from person to person.
For example, many couples divorce due to infidelity on one or both partners. My previous marriage survived such indiscretions. My former spouse and I realize that everyone is human. We both took ownership of our mistakes and used the experience as an opportunity to improve our communication and rebuild intimacy.
However, things fell apart when money matters strained our situation. Mysterious chronic illness symptoms robbed me of my earning capacity when we desperately needed my job to maintain needed health coverage. When the pressure dissolved into daily toxicity, it was time to go separate ways.
I learned two things about love. One is that physical intimacy means nothing without an emotional connection. The other is that a partner who will stand with you when the chips are down is worth more than a million folks who flee the minute the weather turns foul.
2. How to Be a More Patient Parent
Co-parenting with my former spouse taught me to control my temper. I didn’t want my irritation at him to show in front of my children. Therefore, I had to learn to tame my tongue and avoid blurting out the first frustrated response that rose to my mind when he told me he would be late picking up the kids — again.
Being a single parent was also an eye-opener. You don’t realize how convenient it is to have someone else handle a child crying from a nightmare at 3 a.m. until you roll over and realize the buck stops with you.
I had to improve my organizational skills 20-fold. It’s one thing to forget a needed item at the grocer’s when someone else can swing by on their way home from work. It’s quite another to have to bundle up a 2-year-old in December to head back out and retrieve what you overlooked the first time.
3. How to Get (Somewhat) Handy
One of my proudest moments came when I changed a flat tire by myself for the first time. I knew how to do so — intellectually, at least. I was a whiz at saying, “you gotta loosen the lug nuts first.” It’s easy enough to give those instructions, quite another to follow them on a dark desert highway by your lonesome.
Furthermore, home repair services cost an arm and a leg — and trying to find someone to handle smaller jobs in my rural town is well nigh impossible. As a result, I learned useful skills like repairing the gasket on my refrigerator by myself. Sure, it might take me ten times longer than the folks on the home improvement shows to hang a shelf, but I can get it done.
4. Creative Ways to Cut Expenses
Even though my divorce was amicable, it still cost money. What was even pricier? Moving out on my own.
The average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in America tops out at over $1,600 a month. To stay within the 30% limit of your income for housing, you’d have to bring in nearly $65,000 a year. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t paid anywhere near that much. Even taking on outside gigs didn’t get me close.
I’m currently trying to fix the situation by looking into alternative housing arrangements for my children and me. The idea of taking on a roommate doesn’t appeal to me with little ones, so we’re investigating tiny living. There are still significant hurdles — including choking up a 20% downpayment and maintaining a 670+ credit score. However, I have a better chance of keeping ahead of the cost of living if I succeed in my quest.
5. What I Wanted in Future Relationships
The most important lesson I gained from my divorce was what I wanted in future relationships. While I joke with friends that my laundry list is why I’m still single, I would rather fly solo than go through the heartache I did with my divorce.
Spend some time in mindfulness if you’re newly divorced or about to be. Give yourself time to heal, treating yourself like you would your best friend every step of the way. There’s no timeline. It might take you years to figure out what went wrong and what to do differently in the future. If you have the means, consider therapy to process your emotions and establish future boundaries.
Lessons I Learned From My Divorce
Going through a divorce can drastically alter your worldview. Please give yourself time to heal and absorb the lessons learned.
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