“Plan for the future because that’s where you are going to spend the rest of your life.” Mark Twain.
Divorce is defined as a judicial declaration dissolving a marriage in whole or in part, especially one that releases the marriage partners from all matrimonial obligations. Released from matrimonial obligations? A number of men and women alike feel the sting of matrimonial obligations long after the divorce papers have been signed. Specific state laws and many religious dogmas require certain obligations become responsibilities which in some cases continue indefinitely: Paying for housing, school, life insurance, medical insurance, child-care and alimony to name a few. Although courts have begun placing time limits on alimony, it remains an obligation many find unfair. Then there are the debts – divided or undivided, if both names are on the account this obligation lives on the lives of both parties. A familiar phrase to many is “it’s cheaper to keep her”. More recently we have seen the “her” become “him” as women become primary bread-winners, and the number of “house-husbands” grows.
Yet, you are divorced. Whether you initiated it or not life is changing – for many drastically. Although you began sleeping alone long before the papers were signed, sleeping alone post-signing can be hard. Placing a row of pillows on the opposite side, sleeping on the sofa, buying a new bed and sleeping in a different room have been tried and failed – the emptiness is real. One of the reasons people rush into new relationships is the fear of being alone. Not wanting traditions, habits and behaviors to change. Scared, isolated, alone and lonely with – “One less bell to answer and one less egg to fry.” There are thousands of song lyrics from varying music genres about loss, yet very few about the delights of being alone, especially during the holidays.
Many family and divorce lawyers suggest talking to a psychiatrist, psychologist or mental health counselor as you’re going through the process and once the process is over. Loneliness can lead to stress, depression, behavioral disorders and physical illnesses. However, learning to be alone can be rewarding: You become empowered, independent, self-aware and self-confident. Yet surviving the holidays might be your biggest test. First and most importantly, live in the moment. Look at making all the choices, buying all the presents and decorating alone as an adventure. Seeing all the couples and families in the mall and at holiday events will bring back memories; smile (there were good times) and move on.
As stated in my previous blogs, make plans. Now is the time to make new friends, invite people over, watch that movie no one wanted to see, read a book or take yourself out for dinner (you won’t be the only person sitting alone). Do the things you never had time to do, all those things your ex-spouse suggested you avoid. The world is changing and so are holiday traditions. Five to seven day cruises the week before, during and after the holidays are more popular than ever. You are a strong independent person; love yourself, your situation and the choices you make. Your new normal is so much more than everything you agreed to in the divorce proceedings. Your new normal is all about you and the many days ahead.