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Does your marriage exhibit one or more of the typical symptoms of an unhappy marriage?

It’s normal to wonder about the viability of your marriage when you’re not as happy as you’d like. And the wondering can be both frightening and confusing. “Are we really that unhappy?” “What does an unhappy marriage look like?” “Is this salvageable?” “Is it me?” “Is it him?” “Is it her?” “Maybe all marriages get to be ho-hum. We can’t expect to be truly happy forever, right?”

It’s not unusual for couples to spend years in an unhappy marriage before it dawns on them to ask, “What does an unhappy marriage look like?”

Yes, there are the obvious betrayals -- infidelity, abuse, addiction -- but symptomatically even these don’t guarantee divorce. The truth is, there is never just “one” reason, one symptom, that causes a person to choose divorce.

Unhappy marriages grow insidiously from a lack of correction of harmful -- even if subtle -- behaviors and choices. And happy marriages taken for granted and left undernourished can render their partners asking, “How did we get here?”

The very thing that makes romantic love so exclusive and unique is the same thing that can be its undoing. Intimacy involves vulnerability. And that kind of exposure means that another person has power to both heal...and hurt. That is an awesome gift of trust...and an awesome responsibility.

So what does an unhappy marriage look like? Are there specific qualities that are always present? Every marriage, happy or unhappy, is unique.

But if you’re in an unhappy marriage, you will undoubtedly recognize at least some of the following:
  • You’re not having sex anymore, and there is a lack of visible affection.

    Remember, intimacy, both physical and emotional, is what separates romantic love relationships from all other relationships.

  • You have nothing meaningful to say to one another.

    Your conversations revolve around the pragmatics of running a home, taking care of kids, going to work and paying bills.

  • One or both of you are having an emotional affair.

    Your spouse should be your primary confidante for communication about both happy and difficult matters. If you are reaching out first to a friend -- especially of your spouse’s gender -- you may be emotionally detaching from your marriage.

  • You are playing the blame game.

    Arguments should be about communication and improvement of the relationship. They should never be about inflicting pain. Use of blaming language -- “You always,” “You make me feel,” “It’s your fault,” etc. -- inevitably incites counter-blame and hurt feelings.

  • You are physically in one another’s presence, but there is no real engagement.

    You have essentially disconnected and become roommates who simply accept the fact that you live together.

  • You distract from your own feelings by focusing on the needs and problems of others.

    And most commonly the “others” are your children. Yes, your children do deserve to have your attention and love, but not to the exclusion of spending time with your spouse and fixing what’s wrong in your marriage.

  • You are delaying or avoiding getting help to fix things in your marriage.

    You know things aren’t right, but you continue sweeping the problems under the rug and won’t examine your relationship in the context of the question, “What does an unhappy marriage look like?” The result is that you don’t get the timely help you need to turn things around.

  • You fantasize about a life without your spouse.

    Your daydreams of happiness don’t include your spouse. This psychological detachment is a way of convincing yourself you really don’t care so that there is less pain when the final separation happens.

  • Your lives have different directions.

    If you are not communicating, you can’t align your goals. If you aren’t regularly communicating about the things that are most important to each of you, you’ll eventually begin noticing conflicting differences in your perspectives toward life and your goals.

    Your faith and politics may suddenly be starkly misaligned. Your ideas for the future of your marriage and family may not resemble anything you co-created in the early days of your marriage. And differences like these can be at the root of a miserable marriage.

  • You have separate lives.

    Even couples with children and heavy workloads can create and maintain intimacy with healthy, ongoing communication. If you and your spouse aren’t making the effort, however, to understand each other’s work and interests, the intimacy required for a happy marriage will quickly erode.

  • You have needs not satisfied by your partner.

    These needs could be sexual, emotional, physical, or spiritual. And when they go unmet you look for ways to satisfy them. You could address them all yourself, or you could look to someone else. And if you look to someone else to address your unmet needs, you’re definitely dealing with an unhappy marriage and could even be on the slippery slope toward divorce.

  • You or your spouse have unreasonable expectations and/or make unrealistic comparisons.

    Do either of you have unreasonable expectations that the other simply can’t meet? Do either of you make comparisons to “happy couples” and other marriages in an effort to apply pressure or guilt?

  • You have stopped fighting.

    Obviously, there is a fine line between healthy fighting and fighting all the time. But fights have the potential to lead to greater intimacy if they are processed and repaired with commitment and compassion.

    If you have stopped fighting, it is often a sign you’ve stopped caring.

  • You don’t feel heard, respected or valued.

    Listening -- true listening -- is the greatest tool in building intimacy. When couples truly care about one another, it shows in how they communicate, and especially in how they listen.

    Conversations, even arguments, have little to do with the topics themselves, and everything to do with listening for the underlying emotions and feelings.

  • You feel controlled by your spouse or your spouse feels controlled by you.

    For example, one spouse may impose financial control over the other, limiting that person’s freedom and inclusion in decision-making regarding money.

  • Ego and superiority issues that leave one or both spouses feeling disrespected instead of part of a team.

    If you truly believe you are better than your spouse, then you aren’t in a happy marriage.

  • No interest in spending quality time together.

    Date nights have gone by the wayside, and there is no interest in creating opportunities for connection, much less romance.

  • Infidelity.

    Many marriages survive infidelity, but their success comes from uncompromising commitment to repair the marriage and the issues that led to the infidelity.

    If you or your spouse is unfaithful, and you want to fix the unhappiness in your marriage you’re both looking at a lot of work to save your marriage from infidelity.

  • Abuse.

    Abuse in a relationship involves deeper issues and requires specialized professional help for both the victim and perpetrator. There can never be true intimacy when one person lords over another through abuse, intimidation or control.

    And abuse is one of the issues that often necessitates divorce.

  • Addictions.

    As with abuse, addictions involve deeper issues and require specialized professional help. Addictions require an enabling environment in order to survive, and both the addiction and enabling are blocks to intimacy.

    Yes, addictions that remain untreated despite requests to do so are another issue that often necessitates divorce.

  • Your relationship is riddled with criticism, blame, defensiveness, contempt, sarcasm and/or emotional shut-down.

    If these behaviors are the norm in your marriage, you have reached a critical point. Behaviors like these are definitely at the root of many unhappy marriages. And if left unchecked, they can lead to the annihilation of your marriage.

We started this article asking, “What does an unhappy marriage look like?” You may recognize one of the above symptoms, or you may recognize many. And there are certainly others you may be able to identify, that aren’t on this list.

The questions for you to consider now are: What would your marriage look and feel like if it were happy? And if it doesn’t look and feel that way, what are you going to do to address the problems and choose a direction for your life?

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. I help people make deal with unhappy marriages and choose a direction forward. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you want to learn more about working with me, schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation in my Time Trade calendar.

Looking for more information about unhappy marriages? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Unhappy Marriage.
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How to find your finish line for dealing with grief after your divorce.

The signs of grief after divorce really aren’t that different than the signs of grief after death or any other major loss.

And that shouldn’t be surprising. Divorce, death and other forms of loss are all permanent departures from what has become your norm, your rhythm...even your security. The unraveling, the unfamiliarity, the aloneness, the emotional upheaval — it can feel like a 24/7 bad dream in a foreign language.

No matter how you got to this point or who did what, divorce sucks. It hurts. It drains. It confuses. And it can even catch one of the spouses off-guard, with no time to plan an emotional response.

While the signs of grief after divorce are listed in a tidy, logical order, your experience won’t be so tidy. Trust me on this one. The stages of grief have minds of their own and a full tank of gas...and they like to take the scenic route! Knowing this as you navigate your divorce experience can save unnecessary heartache when you start recognizing landmarks you thought you already passed.

Let’s explore seven distinct signs of grief after divorce.

If you are in the early stages of your divorce journey, you may recognize them from previous losses in your life. Keep in mind that it is one thing to “know” the signs and stages of grief; it is quite another to live them.

  1. Denial

    Losing your marriage can be shocking and overwhelming, and the mind has outstanding coping mechanisms for easing into acceptance. Denial is one of them.

    Yes, it’s a defense. Yes, it’s a refusal to face reality. But it is also a psychological protection against emotional overwhelm. It softens the immediate shock and blocks out circumstances, so you don’t have to think about the pain that’s coming.

    Call it a temporary escape mechanism...with emphasis on temporary. Failure to face reality not only becomes unattractive but will keep you from moving forward in a healthy way.

  2. Pain And Fear

    Divorce sucks. It also just plain hurts. Even if “too much pain” is what brought you to this point, the process and finality are undeniably painful.

    And fear can rear its ugly head in all kinds of self-doubting, paralyzing ways. How am I going to go on? How am I going to afford to live? Will my kids be OK? Will I be alone for the rest of my life?

    As one of the signs of grief after divorce, pain can also be a motivator that moves you away from self-pity.

  3. Anger

    Anger often shows up after reality has set in. At this point, you’re a long way from acceptance; but the reality of the inevitability has taken hold.

    And here’s where the emotions have a free-for-all and increase in intensity. Both parties are in blame mode, and all that comes up is the “ugly.” Memories and resentments flood in, and nothing good comes out. He was the worst….She was the meanest….He never….She wouldn’t….

    Add irritability, frustration and impatience to the mix, and it’s easy to see why this is a stage in which you don’t want to park for long. But don’t be surprised if it circles back around when you least expect it, often with new material.

  4. Bargaining

    As a sign of grief after divorce, bargaining is a last-ditch effort to come to terms with the loss. It is also an attempt to repair the damage done to your life. It is prompted by panic, fear and a desire to regain control of the life that is being ripped out from under you.

    In the bargaining stage, you will do just about anything to avoid the emotional pain. You will fight to win him/her back. You will remind yourself of all the reasons the relationship “didn’t work” or wasn’t good enough in order to be okay with the decision. You will make unrealistic promises. Bargain with God. Sell out on your self-esteem. Anything...but the pain.

  5. Guilt

    Guilt can actually be a form of displaced anger. But as its own sign of grief, it usually sounds like, “It was all my fault.” Rarely is that true. But even if it is, the call to action from this stage is to learn from your mistakes so you can release the weight and move forward.

  6. Depression

    Depression can accompany all the other stages. Think of it as an undertow of sadness that sets in as you realize that the marriage is truly over.

    Aside from the loss itself, there are plenty of upsetting and difficult decisions that go along with divorce. Custody battles, splitting of assets, moving, loss of money — all can lead to sadness, shame and isolation.

    The fact that depression can be a silent partner throughout the divorce journey makes it one of the most insidious signs of grief after divorce. Having a trusted source of support can help ensure it doesn’t keep you from moving forward with your life.

  7. Acceptance

    At long last, there is light at the end of the tunnel! “Acceptance” may not sound like a sign or stage of grief, but it is integral to the whole journey of grief. Negative emotions may still be present, but you become able to slowly release them.

    At this stage you have accepted the reality of your divorce. You are not just “facing” it but are living through it and out the other side into a new life. You are able to embrace the guidance and support of others, and are no longer held back by the negativity of the other stages.


Seven signs of grief after divorce. All nice and orderly, with a predictable finish line, right? Well, the truth is you could place them all in a hat and draw one or more out on any given day. You may even get the same one over and over. But let’s hold onto acceptance as the finish line...because there really is a light at the end of the dark tunnel.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. I help people make it through their divorce journey by working through the signs of grief after divorce, so they can create a happy post-divorce life. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you want to learn more about working with me, schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation in my Time Trade calendar.

Looking for more about information about getting over your divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Dealing With Grief.
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Simply cheating won’t solve your problem. You can end your relationship in a better way.

If your relationship is over. It’s over. And yet you’re thinking about cheating to get out of it.

If you’ve already decided to end the relationship, why cheat?

There are three reasons why people believe cheating to get out of a relationship is a good idea.
  1. They’re afraid of telling their spouse that they want to end it.

    Owning up to the fact that you’re done with your marriage or relationship is difficult – especially if you’re afraid of how your mate will respond.

  2. They think their partner will end the relationship for them when s/he finds out.

    Cheating so that your spouse or partner will end the relationship for you is still avoiding owning up to the fact that you’re done.

  3. It’s the only “acceptable” reason to end your relationship.

    It’s unfortunate, but true that many people believe that being miserable in marriage despite working on things is not enough of a reason to end things.

Despite these reasons, cheating to get out of a relationship is a bad idea. It may solve your immediate issue of wanting out, but your mate, your children (if you have any), your family, close friends, your community and especially you will suffer for your actions.

If you choose to cheat and after the initial thrill wears off, you’ll likely feel anxiety, guilt, shame, worry regret, confusion, embarrassment, and self-loathing when you contemplate how your actions impact those you love.

When your mate discovers your infidelity, they’ll feel the stabbing pain of betrayal. They will begin wondering what part of the relationship they had with you was real and which part was a lie. The torture they’ll experience will be beyond words.

And because of their excruciating pain, they’ll lash out at you. It’s likely that you’ll get your wish and they will end your relationship, but it won’t be pretty. They’ll want to make sure you pay for the pain you’ve caused them.

They’ll probably also torture themselves in a variety of ways as they try to come to terms with your lies about your love for them.

But your partner isn’t the only one who will judge you for cheating to end your relationship. Your in-laws, parents, siblings, friends, co-workers and even your children will look down on you for your behavior.

Although you may achieve your goal of ending your relationship if you cheat, the long-term repercussions to you (and likely to your spouse/partner as well as others you care about) will be deleterious.

So, instead of cheating to get out of your relationship, the best thing you can do is prepare to have a courageous conversation with your mate to share your truth. As uncomfortable as it is to contemplate telling them that you’re ready to end the relationship, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself.

If you’ve been afraid to tell them you want to end your marriage, what is it that you’re truly afraid of? Hurting them? Feeling guilty? What they will do?

If you’re afraid of what they’ll do when you tell them it’s over, then you need to prepare for the worst reaction and hope for the best. You might even need help telling them you’re leaving and that’s OK. The point is that you’re being honest about what’s best for you.

If you’re afraid of hurting them, there’s no way around that if they want the relationship. However, you can minimize the hurt they feel by being honest and direct about things being over. And when you do your best to minimize the pain you cause them, you’ll have fewer feelings of guilt.

If you’re hoping that your partner/spouse will end the relationship for you, you’re disrespecting yourself and them. When you manipulate someone else to make your decisions for you, you’re not behaving in an ethical manner which hurts both of you.

If you’re loath to break your marriage vows of for better or worse and ‘til death do us part, but you’re miserable in your marriage, then you need to do some soul searching.

For a marriage work, both spouses need to work to maintain it. You can’t do it on your own and you don’t need to remain miserable.

Regardless of the reasons you are considering cheating to end your relationship, if things are over for you, then they’re over.

The kindest and most ethical way you can end your relationship for yourself and your mate is not by choosing to cheat, but by having an honest, direct and respectful conversation with them.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. I help people make it through their divorce journey and create a happy post-divorce life. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you want to learn more about working with me, schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation in my Time Trade calendar.

Looking for more information about the repercussions of cheating? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Surviving Infidelity.
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These 13 steps will help you figure out how to heal from divorce heartbreak.

Going through a divorce is one of the most agonizing experiences you’ll ever face. And when you’re going through it, you’ll yearn for answers to your nearly incessant questions:

  • How can I heal my divorce heartbreak?
  • Will I hurt like this forever?
  • Will I ever feel normal again?
  • Can I survive this?

Logically you know that others have been through divorce and survived. So, there must be a way for you to get through it too.

But emotionally, you’re not so sure you’re going to make it.

Yet you will make it.

And although the exact way for you to heal from your divorce heartbreak will be unique to you, there is a general path to follow for your healing and restoration.

The following 13 steps are the most helpful ones for finding your direction as you figure out how to heal divorce heartbreak and feel normal again.
  1. Have compassion for yourself.

    You can’t force, cajole or talk yourself into getting over your divorce. You have to go through it and feel the heartbreak.

    It’s an exhausting process. Your ability to function physically and mentally will decrease dramatically as you wrestle with this dramatic change in your life. You may even have problems sleeping and eating.

    With all the stress you’re going through, you’ll need to take care of yourself and be kind to yourself. When you do, you’ll discover that you’ll slowly begin to have the energy for your healing journey.

  2. Allow yourself to grieve.

    One of the aspects of divorce that most people are surprised by is the intensity and depth of grief they experience.

    There are so many things both large and small that you lose when you divorce. So, it makes sense that you will feel bad about saying goodbye to them.  

    Allow yourself to grieve and let out all the disappointment and sadness about your divorce instead of bottling it up or trying to rationalize it away. It’s OK to cry – a lot. In fact, it’s probably necessary for your healing.



  3. Maintain as many of your routines as possible.

    It can seem like divorce turns your entire world upside down. Your living situation has changed. Your responsibilities have changed. Your financial status has changed. Your marital status has changed. The list of changes goes on and on.

    However, if you can keep a few of your routines unchanged, then you’ll have pockets of “normal” that you can retreat to instead of remaining caught up in the whirlwind of change.



  4. Redefine the meaning of forever for yourself.

    You probably took your marriage vows seriously and meant it when you said something like “until death do us part.” When you got married, you were in it forever.

    However, getting divorced means that forever isn’t going to happen for this marriage.

    Rather than beating yourself up because you didn’t have a fairy tale marriage that made it to the mythical destination of happily ever after, you can think about what forever meant in terms of your marriage.

    Maybe it meant until the death of the marriage, or until your love died, or until your relationship ran it’s course, or something else entirely. The point is that the gentler you are about accepting the end of your marriage without unnecessarily judging yourself harshly, the easier time you have finding your unique path to healing your divorce heartbreak.

  5. Don’t seek your happiness in the past.

    Part of getting over your divorce is trusting that you will feel happy again. The past is the past and you may have been very happy for the majority of your marriage, however you can’t live in the past. So, as uncomfortable as it is, going through the tumult of your emotions and the repercussions of your divorce is the only way you’ll find happiness again.

    And the reason the windshield is so large and the rearview mirror is so small is because what’s happened in your past is not near as important as what’s in your future. – Joel Osteen

  6. Vent to family, friends, your therapist or divorce coach.

    Taking your anger, fear and upset out on your ex or yourself will just keep you trapped in the misery of your divorce instead of helping you heal.

    Although, you don’t want to bottle your emotions up. You do need to express them. Just choose the appropriate people to express them to so they can help you process them.

  7. Find your center and remind yourself that you are loved and lovable.

    One of the most difficult thoughts that nearly everyone who divorces struggles with is wondering if they’re lovable or not.

    The truth is that you are loved. Even if your ex doesn’t love you any more, you have plenty of family and friends who do.

    It’s also true that you are lovable. If you weren’t, your friends and family wouldn’t love you.

    So when you struggle with thoughts of being unanchored because you aren’t married, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that you are loved and lovable. Then, treat yourself with love.

  8. Reaffirm your values.

    When you get divorced, your whole perspective of life can shift. It’s natural to begin questioning what’s truly important to you. And when you take the time to gain clarity about what you want out of life and how you want to interact with others, you’ll begin finding your way forward toward creating a meaningful life for yourself post-divorce.

  9. Stop fighting with your ex, reframe your anger and aim for indifference.

    Many exes see each other as adversaries and the source of the immense pain and anger they are feeling. When you react from pain, you lash out.

    Instead of remaining in the pain, you can work through it by expressing your anger in more helpful ways than arguing with your ex. When you persist in arguing, you are still controlled by the connection you have with your ex instead of letting the connection go.

    You’ll know you’ve let the connection between the two of you go when you feel indifference toward your ex.



  10. Take responsibility for your part.

    This is a tough concept to deal with. The reason that taking responsibility for your part in the end of your marriage is important is because it allows you step out of being a victim of your divorce and allows you to become the hero in your healing story.



  11. Forgive yourself and your ex – you can’t change the past.

    When you forgive someone, it doesn’t mean that you approve of what they did. It just means that you’re choosing to no longer be controlled by it.


  12. Envision a new life for yourself without your ex by reconnecting with your dreams

    Remember how you dreamed about what you wanted for your life before you married?

    Remember how you chose to put those dreams to the side for the sake of your marriage?

    Well, now’s the time to dust those dreams off. See which of them still inspire you. Allow yourself to have new dreams and goals for yourself too.
    When you start can imagining a new life for yourself that doesn’t include your ex, you’re truly breaking free from the heartbreak of divorce.

  13. Create meaning from your losses. – can make you a better spouse in your next marriage

    Being able to learn from your past so you don’t repeat it is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself as you figure out how to heal divorce heartbreak.

    You might discover that because of your divorce, you’re no longer a co-dependent person.

    You might discover that you can be a better spouse in your next marriage.

    You might discover that you’re a better parent than you ever imagined you could be.

    Whatever you learn about yourself as a result of your divorce, will be gifts that you couldn’t have received otherwise. Use these gifts to make your life after divorce great.

At some point as you’re working through these 13 steps, you’ll realize that your divorce is no longer the most important thing about you. And the exact moment you realize this will be when you’ll know that you have healed from your divorce heartbreak.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. I help people with their journey of healing from divorce heartbreak. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you want to learn more about working with me, schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation in my Time Trade calendar.

Looking for more information about having a great life after divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Dealing With Grief.
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You’ll need to be proactive, but living a great life post-divorce is totally worth it.

You might not believe it now, but that doesn’t make it any less true. You can have a better life after divorce than you had when you were married. It probably won’t happen for you right away, but it will happen – if that’s what you truly want.

You’ll have to really want it because you’ll have to work for it. A great life post-divorce won’t be handed to you on a silver platter no matter how much you wish it would be.

A few of the things you’ll need to be proactive about to have a better life after divorce include:
  • Grieve what was and what will never be.

    When you divorce, you say goodbye to a lot – your marriage, your lifestyle, seeing your children every day, and your dreams of happily ever after with your spouse to name just a few. You need to mourn all of it before you can fully move on.

  • Let go of feelings of failure, blame, regret and guilt through compassion and forgiveness.

    Letting go of the painful feelings means that you work through them – not ignore them or stuff them down. It’s only by coming to terms with your emotions and the thoughts behind them that you’ll find the emotional freedom you’re looking for.

  • Feel grateful for what you do have and can do by releasing resentment for what you can no longer do or don’t have.

    When you focus on what you don’t have or can no longer do, you’re living in the past and ignoring the present. Your life is happening in the present, so when you ignore it you’re not really living and can’t be happy.

  • Gently remind yourself of why you divorced and learn what you can from it.

    Divorce is heartbreaking and it’s natural to feel sad about the end of your marriage. However, there was a reason you divorced, and that reason had to do with the fact that you and your ex weren’t both happy in your marriage.

    And that’s OK because you both deserve to be happy now. The way to find happiness now is to learn from what didn’t work in your marriage and use that knowledge to make your life better now.

  • Rediscover who you are before you find another partner.

    In marriage, it’s not uncommon that you compromised away bits and pieces of yourself to keep the peace and make your relationship less volatile. However, now that you’re divorced, it’s time to reacquaint yourself with yourself before entering another relationship.

    This doesn’t mean that you don’t have any relationships until you feel like yourself again. It just means that you don’t get into another “permanent” one yet.

    “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” 
    Joseph Campbell

  • Create a plan for your future that excites you.

    When you’re excited about where you’re headed in your life and you’re consistently and persistently working toward it every day you’ll feel happy. And when you take the time to celebrate each of your victories and learnings along the way, you’ll know the meaning of the saying, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey that matters.”

  • Look at the challenges you face as opportunities.

    Just because you’ve chosen to have a better life after divorce than you had during your marriage, expecting that you’ll never face another challenge is unrealistic.

    However, if you can look at each challenge you face as an opportunity to either course correct or learn something, you’ll be much more likely to continue having a great life instead of getting derailed by the inevitable problems of living.

  • Ask for help when you need it.

    There’s absolutely no reason why you should even consider living your life without the support of others. So, ask for assistance when you need it and be willing to give it in return when someone asks for your help.You’ll find that when you interact with people in meaningful ways that you’ll develop deeper and more satisfying relationships which will definitely make your life even more rich and wonderful.

As you can see from this list none of the items on it are impossible to achieve. But they will take effort on your part.

And even if doing this work is difficult or takes longer than you thought it would, having a better life after divorce is worth every single ounce of proactive effort it takes.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. I help people figure out how to have a better life after divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you want to learn more about working with me,  schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation in my Time Trade calendar.

Looking for more information about having a great life after divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Life After Divorce.
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When you stop feeling victimized and start feeling happy, you’ll be able to move on with your life.

No matter how you look at it, all divorces are unfair.

Is it fair that you’ve devoted x number of years to trying to make your marriage work only to wind up divorced? No.

Is it fair that you’re now paying child support instead of living with your children? Absolutely not.

Is it fair that s/he has already moved on with their life and you’re still in so much pain? No way in H#LL!

There’s nothing fair about divorce. But there’s a problem living with nearly constant thoughts of how unfair your divorce is. You will remain bitter, resentful and unhappy.

And when you remain in these emotions, you’ll be nearly unrecognizable to yourself and those you love. You won’t be the same fun, positive, energetic person you were before all of this happened.

Just in case you’re wondering if how you’re dealing with the unfairness of your divorce is really all that bad, here are some of the tell-tale signs that you’re focusing too much on the unfairness:

  • Complaining to anyone who will listen about how unjust things are.
  • Talking about your ex or the court or whomever you blame for the unfairness and who you view as responsible for destroying your life
  • Allowing yourself to focus on the past and continue to fume about the injustice of it all

The solution for finding yourself and your happiness again is to use the emotions you feel when you think about the iniquity of your divorce as the fuel you need to begin taking constructive action that will build your future and move you forward.

Here is one strategy you can use to get over an unfair divorce:
  1. Quickly list all the things that are unfair about your divorce.

    Doing this quickly is key here. You want to touch on the unfairness, but you don’t want to get sucked into dwelling on it.

    To help you get started, here are a few of the unfair things my clients have dealt with.

    S/he hid a lot of money when they were planning to divorce me. And now they’re living the easy life and I’m stuck scrounging for every penny!

    S/he won’t actively participate in co-parenting. They’re waiting for me to make every decision and then complaining about the decisions I make!

    S/he is still trying to control me. They’re threatening to take the children from me unless I agree to what they want.

  2. Identify which emotions you would rather have right now.

    Hopefully this step is fairly easy for you and the emotions you would rather have center around feeling happy again.

  3. Quickly list all the things that you are happy about.

    No matter how unfair things are with your divorce, you can find things to be genuinely happy about. Maybe it’s that you’re healthy, or that your kids are amazing, or that you’re not married to your ex anymore.

  4. Now look at each of the items on your list from step 1 and ask yourself “What’s one thing I can do about this item to move me forward?

    It can be difficult to come up with action steps when you’re mired in the iniquity of the situation. So, here are some examples of things you might consider doing.

    Call your attorney. Just remember that if you choose to do this that there will be a cost in doing so, so be clear that calling your attorney will be worth the cost.

    Decide you want to increase your income and figure out what you need to do to make that happen. Maybe you need to take a second job or start a side gig. Maybe you can go back to school. Maybe you can ask your boss for a raise.

    Spend time every day being grateful for what you do have. Sometimes shifting your focus to the positive can make all the difference in your outlook.

    Establish and communicate the boundaries needed with your ex. This is important if you’re feeling manipulated or controlled by your ex. (Here’s an article to help you get started.)

  5. Get into action to take your life back

    Begin working on at least one of the ideas you came up with from the previous step. The longer you remain focused on how unfair things are, the longer you’re letting your ex continue to control you and the longer it will take you to get over your unfair divorce. You’ll be spending the majority of your time and energy focused on what has already happened instead of using it to live your life.

In some ways it feels really good to know that it’s not your fault that things are the way they are for you now and to vilify the one(s) responsible. However, if you’re not doing anything to move yourself forward from the unfairness and victimhood, then that is your fault.

And the beautiful thing about being able to take some responsibility for moving yourself forward from where you are now is that you will start to feel better and much less bitter.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach. I help people navigate all the challenges of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice.

Looking for more information about getting over your divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Healing After Divorce.
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You don’t have to settle for feeling bored and unhappy with marriage. Things can be better.

Many people simply accept being bored and unhappy with marriage as normal. They believe you can’t feel the elation and attraction you felt when your love was new forever.

However, there’s a huge gap between the feelings of being in love you had when your relationship was new and feeling bored and unhappy.

Choosing to settle for feeling meh about your marriage is not only extremely sad, but it can negatively impact your health. Do you really want to accept this as your fate? Probably not.

Just because you know you’re tired of feeling bored and unhappy with marriage, doesn’t mean you know what to do about it. So, it’s time to consider your options.

One option you have is divorce. Yet if the only problem in your marriage is that it’s in a rut and it’s lost its spark, divorce is an extreme response.

Another option you can consider is continuing to feel bored and unhappy with your marriage. If you were truly willing to settle for this type of marriage, you wouldn’t be reading this article.

The final option to consider is bringing life back to your marriage. This may initially seem an impossible task. But if you and your spouse still love each other, reviving your marriage is the best course you can take.

Reviving your marriage really isn’t as hard as you might think because boredom can be fixed – if you’re willing to break out of your marital rut.

Just about everyone likes new ideas, or new experiences, or new things. And knowing this is one of the keys to making your unhappy marriage happy again.

There are several ways you can use the idea of newness to begin feeling less bored and unhappy with your marriage.

You might plan adventures the two of you can look forward to. The size of the adventure doesn’t matter. You might be thrilled with simply going someplace new for dinner. You might decide to plan an exotic vacation together. The idea here is for you both to feel excited about doing something together.

You might decide to learn something new together. Some couples really enjoy exploring gardening, ballroom dancing, robotics, skiing, kayaking, and bird watching. If none of these inspire you, that’s OK because they’re just meant to open your thoughts up to what will be fun for the two of you.

Reviving old dreams you shared, but shelved, is another way to inject some newness into your marriage. Even if you can’t make you dreams come true right away, dusting them off and beginning to plan and work toward making them a reality will definitely get the two of you thinking about and doing more exciting (aka less boring) things together.

Your marriage may have become boring and unhappy because you’ve both stopped connecting the way you did when you were completed enamored with each other. Back then, you used to share just about everything that was going on with your lives.

Choosing to be vulnerable again and sharing the thoughts you’ve stopped discussing with your spouse is another way you can bring the spark back to your marriage.

When you look at these suggestions to take the boredom out of your marriage, you may not feel a lot of excitement about any of them. That’s OK.

The goal isn’t necessarily for you to have an exact roadmap to follow that will drag your marriage out of the rut it’s fallen into. The real goal is for you to start thinking about how you can begin the work to stop feeling bored and unhappy with marriage.

After all, any marriage will become boring and can cause unhappiness when it is predictable. So choosing to shake things up, even if only in little ways to start, will help you to reignite the spark of love you each still have.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach. I help people who want support in deciding what to do about their unhappy marriage. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation with me directly in my Time Trade calendar.

Looking for more information about dealing with feeling bored and unhappy with marriage? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Unhappy Marriage.
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Whether you were betrayed, or you cheated, these surviving infidelity quotes can help you move past the pain.

Dealing with betrayal is very difficult because it triggers an avalanche of emotions for both of you.

If you cheated, chances are you’re wracked with guilt and confusion, yet yearning for your spouse’s forgiveness and love.

If you were betrayed, chances are you’re struggling with feeling insecure, unloved, and unwanted. You’re probably also wondering if you can ever truly trust your spouse again.

Whichever side of the infidelity you’re on, your emotions are running rampant because you and your marriage are facing a huge challenge – how to move forward. This is one of the most painful and confusing situations you’ll ever face.

In fact, sometimes the pain is so great that you can feel isolated and lost in it. These 15 surviving infidelity quotes will help you find your way back from the fog of your confusion and pain, so you can move forward instead of remaining mired in the repercussions of the affair.

Sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows.

~Unknown~

When a marriage is rocked by infidelity, both partners suffer. You’ll both feel a distinct difference between the logical facts of your situation and the emotions of it. Take the time to communicate with your spouse to start getting your heads and hearts back in alignment before making any big decisions.

Feelings are much like waves, we can’t stop them from coming, but we can choose which ones to surf.

~Jonatan Mårtensson~

Dealing with grief is normal after an affair comes to light. Feeling fearful of the gigantic emotions of grief is fairly typical. Yet, if you can remember that after acknowledging your feelings, you can choose whether to stay in them at the moment they appear or let them pass, you’ll find your way through your grief about what the infidelity means to you a bit more easily.

Life is about trusting your feelings and taking chances, losing and finding happiness, appreciating the memories, learning from the past, and realizing people change.

~Atul Purohit~

Accepting and making sense of what’s happened is critical to you being able to survive infidelity. The infidelity doesn’t negate the good times you’ve had together or the love you felt and shared. It just means that things are different now.

It might mean that your love for each other can grow and change to encompass the fact that an affair occurred. Or it might mean that your love can’t.

Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.

~Unknown~

Your self-esteem takes a beating when your spouse betrays you. It’s your belief that his/her actions are a direct reflection of who you are to your spouse that causes you so much pain. However, when you can remember that their actions are their own, then you can begin to reclaim your true value.

And if you’re the one who strayed, you may have cheated because you didn’t feel important to your spouse. You may have been searching for your value in the arms of another, instead of knowing your worth and talking with your spouse about your needs for connection with him/her.

On particularly rough days when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% … and that’s pretty good.

~Unknown~

You have always made it through your worst days before. You can find a way to survive infidelity too by just taking it one breath at a time.

You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.

~Unknown~

You can conquer anything you choose to. The challenge of an affair is just another life experience that you can overcome by choosing to let healing from it bring out the best in you despite how weak, hopeless, and alone you may feel right now.

Pain is certain, suffering is optional.

~Unknown~

There’s no denying the excruciating pain of infidelity on the betrayed spouse. Yet, for straying spouses who want to heal and maintain their marriages, there’s also great pain.

However, you can choose how you will let the pain exist in your life. You can choose to let it take control and color the rest of your life in hurt. Or you can choose to experience the pain and do the work necessary to heal so the affair doesn’t haunt you for the rest of your life.

Infidelity is mentally, emotionally, and physically painful to the betrayed spouse. Be gentle with yourself as you heal.

~Dr. Karen Finn~

Because infidelity to so difficult and truly exhausting for a betrayed spouse to process, you must take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. This will include allowing yourself to grieve without wallowing, to get enough sleep, to eat healthy meals, to get enough exercise, and maybe even work with a helping professional to process the pain.

Dealing with the aftermath of infidelity is also exhausting for a straying spouse who wants to save their marriage. In addition to taking full responsibility for your choice of being unfaithful, you must also take good care of yourself because your other responsibility is to be there for your spouse.

You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly.

~Sam Keen~

No one is perfect – no matter how you viewed each other on your wedding day. Sometimes, by learning to continually accept and even forgive your spouse’s imperfections you can develop greater compassion and love.

Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives.

~Unknown~

This is the essence of what putting the past behind you is all about. When you are completely healed from the infidelity, it will just be a part of your history instead of overshadowing every facet of your life.

Forget enough to get over it. Remember enough so it doesn’t happen again.

~Unknown~

Surviving infidelity doesn’t mean that you forgive and completely forget. It means that you do forgive, and you remember how you got to the place that the betrayal happened and then work to make sure you’re never in that place again.

Falling down is part of life. Getting back up is living.

~Unknown~

You both have a part to play in the infidelity that has occurred. That may be shocking news to you if you’re the spouse who was betrayed, but it’s true.

Infidelity is an indication that there’s something wrong with the marriage. And if there’s a problem with a marriage both spouses are responsible.

The truth of this quote is that everyone makes mistakes. And you need to learn from your mistakes so you can continue living your life instead of getting stuck in feeling the grief, guilt and shame of them.

Every test in our life makes us bitter or better. Every problem come to break us or make us. The choice is ours whether we become victim or victor.

~Unknown~

This beautiful quote is a reminder of the choice you have. The power of choice is the greatest power you possess because it will determine the outcome and quality of your life.

A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because her trust is not on the branch but on her own wings.

~Unknown~

When a spouse chooses to be unfaithful, they rock their marriage to the core if not break it entirely.

Whether you were unfaithful, or your spouse was, the infidelity will offer you each the opportunity to become stronger individually and maybe heal your relationship.

The best apology is changed behavior.

~Unknown~

You might assume that this quote only applies to the straying spouse. It absolutely does apply to them, but it also applies to the betrayed.

You see, your marriage was broken and you both have a part to play in it breaking. Changed behavior is the only way each of you will truly be able to apologize to each other and to yourselves for what has happened.

These 15 surviving infidelity quotes are just a springboard for your healing and finding your way back from the fog of confusion and pain. Hopefully, you’ve found a quote or two that really speaks to you and gives you a sense of comfort, a renewed sense of determination, or simply hope that you will get through this and feel better.

YT: Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce and life coach who helps people just like you who want support in dealing with the pain of infidelity. You can join her newsletter group for free advice or schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation with Karen directly in her Time Trade calendar.

Blog: I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach who helps people just like you who want support in dealing with the pain of infidelity. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation with me directly in my Time Trade calendar.

(H3) Looking for more information about dealing with unfaithfulness? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Surviving Infidelity.

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Healing from your divorce will teach you a lot about yourself – if you’re willing to learn.

It doesn’t matter which side of the divorce decision you’re on or the reason for the decision. The end of a marriage that began with dreams of happily ever after is heartbreaking.

It’s OK to experience grief after a divorce.

Grief after a divorce is profound because the end of your marriage means your entire life must change – whether you want it to or not.

Grief is also incredibly confusing. One minute you’re feeling hopeful about making a new life for yourself. And the next you’re crushed by the fact that your old way of living is over for good.

Of course, you’re also faced with uncertainty about how you’ll cope with creating new rituals and routines, so your life (and the lives of your children) can run smoothly.

You’re shouldering expanded responsibilities now that you’re on your own. And even having to learn how to do new things so your life can move forward in some fashion instead of simply falling apart.

Divorce means that your relationships change too – all of them. Obviously, your relationship with your former spouse changes. But so do your relationships with your children, your former in-laws, your extended family and even your friends.

All of this forced change is exhausting, overwhelming and extremely depressing.

Yet all of this confusion and upset is a normal part of grief after a divorce.

What is grief after a divorce really like?

At its core, grief is a process of transformation. It’s about accepting the full depth and breadth of all that comes with getting divorced. As you come to terms with what’s happened, you can work through the pain to make space for healing. This sets the stage for you to be able to create a new life for yourself.

And the strange thing is that you must want to create a new future for yourself in order to heal.

This seeming back and forth of the transformation brought about by grief is pretty typical. That’s because grief is a nonlinear process.

To make things a bit more complicated, grief is also unique for everyone and every situation. Even if you’ve grieved before or been divorced before, the grief you experience this time will be different. So, no one can tell you how long it will take you to heal from your divorce.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t signs you can watch for to know you’re making progress in your transformation.

It’s fairly common to experience six different types of emotions as you heal from grief after divorce.

  1. Shock and denial are powerful emotions that keep you from experiencing too much pain at once. Most associate them with the initial phases of divorce. However, it’s common to experience both shock and denial when you face any unpleasant or unwanted task or realization throughout your healing journey.

  2. Pain and fear are other feelings associated with a desire to cling to the past and a reluctance to move forward into the new and unknown life waiting for you.

    The interesting thing about these feelings is that you can use them as motivation. You can use your pain to motivate you toward healthy ways of feeling better. And you can use your fear to help you make plans and take steps that reduce the risk of your fears becoming reality.

  3. In all likelihood, you’ll experience some type of anger as you heal from your divorce. You may find yourself filled with rage about the situation you’re in. You may be frustrated with yourself for the part you played in the end of your marriage. You may be flat out angry at your ex for not being the person you want them to be.

    The great thing about anger is that it’s an energizing emotion. You can use your increased vigor to productively move your life forward. You might even use your anger energy to begin a new exercise routine or go back to school. The possibilities are endless.

  4. Guilt is another highly uncomfortable emotion you may experience during your divorce journey. It’s common to feel guilty for what you did or didn’t do as a way of attempting to make sense of your divorce.

    On the one hand having some guilt about your part in the end of your marriage is good. It means that you’re starting to take responsibility for what has happened instead of feeling like a victim.

    Taking responsibility for your own actions is empowering. However, taking responsibility for your ex’s actions is detrimental. This is the challenge of experiencing guilt. You must maintain awareness of what is your stuff and what isn’t.

    For the stuff that’s yours, you must forgive yourself and, if appropriate, make amends before absorbing the lesson from your poor behavior and moving on with your life.

  5. Experiencing situational depression is also common when you’re grieving the end of your marriage. This just means that the funk you’re in isn’t chronic. It’s due to your divorce. As you continue your journey toward healing, you’ll feel less sad and listless and more like yourself again.

    However, if your depression feels too intense or uncomfortable, immediately consult with your doctor.

  6. Throughout your journey, you’ll begin noticing moments when your divorce and the changes you’re dealing with aren’t such a big deal. Things will feel alright. Definitely different, but alright. This is how you know you’re putting bits of your grief behind you.

This list of six common emotions of grief after a divorce can be misleading.

It can seem like you’ll move from one emotion to the next and be done with your grief.

The truth is grief after divorce is tumultuous. Your emotions will twist and turn. Many people describe the experience as an emotional rollercoaster.

You won’t feel like yourself. You will yearn to feel “normal” again. You may even wonder if you’re still sane because of all the unfamiliar emotions and thoughts you’re having.

And all of this is the grief experience. It’s a lot to go through. And unfortunately, some people do get stuck in grief after a divorce.

However, that’s not how it has to be for you. You can fully complete your journey through grief and on to living a good life again.

Prepare for your grief work.

The first thing you must do is search for the best resources for you to help get through everything you’re facing.

You might consider reading books and blog posts, checking out quotes, movies and music to help you not only grapple with your grief, but inspire you to move forward.

You’ll also want to build a strong support network. One that’s filled with people who love you, can tell you the truth, and be there for you however long it takes for you to reclaim your life. Often the best people to do this are those who have themselves successfully healed from grief after a divorce.

Joining a divorce support group is a great way to find the support and community you need. The people in these groups are all on the same journey of wanting to heal from grief after a divorce. The camaraderie in these groups can help ease the intense feelings of loneliness and isolation that commonly accompany divorce.

Journaling is another great tool you can use to process your thoughts and feelings as you find your way back to feeling “normal” again. Scientific evidence shows that journaling provides benefits like helping you clarify your thoughts and feelings, reducing stress, solving problems more efficiently, and resolving disagreements.

How to process your grief.

After you have identified the first of your supportive resources, you’re prepared to begin working through your grief.

Knowing what grief is doesn’t really prep you for the up close and personal experience you’re having with it now. So, it’s important that you allow yourself to grieve without judgment. Judging your experience will just prolong your grief.

Instead, take the time to identify and acknowledge how you’re feeling even if your emotions and thoughts are rapidly changing. It’s by acknowledging what you’re going through that allows you to process it.

If you choose to instead ignore your thoughts and feelings, they’ll fester. They’ll also continue appearing – sometimes at inopportune or inappropriate times – until you deal with them.

As uncomfortable and unfamiliar as your thoughts and feelings are, it’s OK to have them.

Your brain is a problem-solving machine. And it’s trying to solve one of the biggest problems you’ve ever faced – grief after a divorce.

Because it’s trying so hard (and you’re probably not sleeping as well as you’d like), it’s throwing out every possible idea to help you feel better. And, frankly, some of the ideas are just horrible.

Then there’s an interesting connection between emotions and thoughts. It’s often a question of which came first an emotion or a thought.

So, as you’re going through your grief and not feeling like yourself, you’ll have strange thoughts. And as you have strange thoughts, you’ll have strange emotions.

With all of this going on, you’ll find that you may not be able to do things that used to come easily to you. It’s exhausting mentally, physically, and emotionally to grieve. Judging your diminished capacity as you grieve will only trap you deeper in your pain.

Instead, allow yourself to express what you’re feeling. Cry. Rant. Howl. It’s OK to let it out. In fact, it’s therapeutic.

And if you’re concerned that you might get lost in uncontrollable grief, set yourself a timer. And know that when the timer sounds, you can blow your nose, wipe the remnants of your tears, and pack up what’s left of your grief until the next time you choose to express it.

But as you continue to rely on the resources you’ve gathered, the strangeness of your thoughts and emotions will subside. You’ll begin to feel more like you again.

You must also set the intention of wanting to feel better and move on. Setting an intention like this will help you to stay focused on moving toward acceptance and creating the life you want. It will also make it less likely you’ll get stuck in negative, destructive, or painful emotions.

The intention you set initially might be small, like I just want to get through this afternoon without crying. As you achieve each of your intentions, continue setting them to be a bit more ambitious. And soon you’ll begin hoping and dreaming of all the wonderful things you want to experience and have again.

As long as you’re breathing, there’s still hope.
~Carolee Dean~

This is when you can truly begin planning for and creating a new, fulfilling life for yourself.

Because grief is so exhausting, it will leave you physically and psychologically vulnerable.

So, you must take very good care of yourself to most easily weather your journey of healing.

Physically, dealing with grief after a divorce is much like dealing with an illness like walking pneumonia. You’ll want to get plenty of rest, decrease unnecessary stress, drink plenty of water, eat healthy meals, and even decrease your workload if possible.

You’ll also want to nurture yourself daily by doing things that calm and soothe you. Consider spending time outside in nature, listening to music, meditation, getting a massage, watching your favorite movie, or reading your favorite book.

When you feel up to it, you’ll want to start exercising. Exercising, even going for a walk, can help you start dissipating troubling emotions like anger and sadness.

Learning how to truly care for yourself physically is one of the best lessons you can learn from your divorce.

Grieving takes time, so the gentler you are with yourself while you’re recovering, the easier time you’ll have getting through it. However, that doesn’t mean you should cloister yourself. You’re not contagious.

To help yourself recharge, spend as much face-to-face time as you can with those people who will go the distance with you, who support, energize and value you without judgment, criticism or directives. In other words, use your support group and reach out to a therapist or coach for extra help if you need it.

Pay attention to what you need. And speak up to express your needs even if others (including your friends or your ex) want something different. This is important because it’s a way to honor yourself and become more empowered.

Oftentimes, paying attention to what you need means saying “no” to someone else. You might find denying someone what they’re requesting of you an uncomfortable or guilt-ridden experience. But, if doing what they request isn’t in alignment with what you need and you’re not just being difficult, then you must say “no” to honor yourself.

As you heal more and more from your grief, you’ll want to broaden your social circle and begin building new friendships. Some of the ways you can find interesting people are by joining divorce support groups, networking groups, or Meetup groups. Taking a class, getting involved in your community and volunteering are other great opportunities for meeting people with similar interests.

You can also help yourself to psychologically get through your grief by developing a daily routine. The sooner you can develop a sense of structure and normalcy, the more comfortable your life will seem because you’ll have stopped at least some of the turmoil your divorce has created.

With the bolstering effect of the external support, you’ll be more effective at doing the internal work of healing from grief after a divorce. And this internal work is best done by being willing to learn and grow from your experience.

How to learn and grow from your divorce experience.

The hardest part of grief is coming to terms with the part you played in the end of your marriage. But when you do, you’ll have learned from your mistakes and be less likely to repeat them in the future. And it’s through this learning and growth that you’ll be able to confidently move on to the next phase of your life.

HelpGuide.org suggests asking yourself these questions to help you understand how the choices you made impacted your marriage:

  • Step back and look at the big picture. How did you contribute to the problems of your marriage?
  • Do you tend to repeat the same mistakes?
  • Think about how you react to stress and deal with conflict and insecurities. Could you act in a more constructive way?
  • Consider whether or not you accept other people the way they are, not the way they could or “should” be.
  • Examine your negative feelings as a starting point for change. Are you in charge of your feelings, or are they in charge of you?

Whatever your answers are to these questions, be willing to forgive yourself for your part in the end of your marriage. You can’t change the past. You can only learn from it.

Don’t get stuck in your grief.

Even though you take care of yourself physically and psychologically as you’re dealing with your grief, you can still get stuck along the way. Some of the most common ways people derail their healing after divorce are:

  • Rationalizing their grief away by saying/thinking things like “I wanted it” or “S/he cheated”
  • Pretending they’re OK, when they’re not
  • Wallowing in self-pity
  • Replacing the lost relationship with a new one to avoid the pain
  • Making major decisions that aren’t legally required before they are less emotional and can think clearly
  • Using alcohol, food, drugs and/or sex to cope
  • Believing that the time they were married was wasted
  • Going through their grief alone

The truth is healing from grief after a divorce is a process. It can’t be hurried or side-stepped.

Your grief will take as long as you need it to take. No one can tell you how long that will be, but you can certainly help yourself to get through it as thoroughly and completely as possible by following these recommendations.

You owe it to yourself to heal your broken heart and the only way to completely heal it is to work through your grief, and discover a new happily ever after for yourself regardless of whether you ever marry again.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach who helps people just like you who want support in healing from divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation with me directly in my Time Trade calendar.

Looking for more information about dealing with all the losses of your divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Dealing With Grief.
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Are you both open-minded and determined enough to consider this path instead?

Cheating isn’t always a death sentence for a marriage. In many cases, cheating is a catalyst for strengthening a marital relationship.

If you’re interested in learning how infidelity can save a marriage, you’re going to have to have an open-mind and be willing to make your own rules for your life despite what society may say is appropriate behavior.

Going against the norm isn’t easy, but when you make choices that reflect the true you the rewards are always greater self-respect and satisfaction with your life.

But, and this is VERY important, the only way you can have a chance of saving your marriage after an affair is if the straying spouse is genuinely remorseful AND the betrayed is willing to forgive. If either of you is unwilling to do your part, then there’s no hope for your marriage.

When the straying spouse does have genuine remorse and the betrayed spouse is willing to forgive, you can begin exploring the possibility of saving your marriage.

And the exploration begins with a broadening of perspective. Infidelity is betrayal without a doubt. It is also a wakeup call to the fact that it’s time to deal with your marital problems. If both of you can broaden your view of the betrayal in this way and are committed to putting in the hard work, then your marriage can be saved.

Trust must be rebuilt if your marriage is to make it.

To that end, the straying spouse must come clean – 100% clean – about what happened and be willing to gain his/her spouse’s trust. The importance of this can’t be emphasized enough. If s/he doesn’t tell all because s/he doesn’t want to hurt his/her spouse any more then s/he has already, s/he is continuing to lie. And lies destroy trust.

The betrayed spouse must be willing to trust his/her spouse. That doesn’t mean blindly. S/he has a definite right to ask for visibility into his/her spouse’s activities while trust is being rebuilt. And at some point, if the marriage is to survive, s/he must allow that his/her spouse is trustworthy.

Some sense of trust is required for each of you to feel safe. It’s from a feeling of safety that you both will be able to begin sharing your deepest thoughts and feelings about the issues in your marriage.

It’s also from a place of safety that you will each be able to honestly acknowledge your individual part in allowing your relationship to deteriorate to where it is today. And once you can each acknowledge your individual culpability to the other (without blame on either part), you can earnestly begin the next phase of your efforts to save your marriage.

This phase is when you really begin to understand how infidelity can save a marriage and what you each need to do.

You must both continue giving and being deserving of trust.

Trust is the bedrock of every successful marriage. That’s why it’s restoration is so important. Trust is what allows each of you to feel safe being together and know that your efforts to create a better marriage are worthwhile.

You must both be committed to growth.

Coasting along or accepting the status quo in your relationship is how you got to the point where one of you strayed. Making and keeping a good marriage requires effort.

If you are both committed to growth, you can create your better and happier marriage. It’s with a willingness to grow and become better spouses for each other that your marriage will become what you both believed it could be when you married.  

You must both continue to give to and receive love from your spouse.

Love is more than just telling each other, “I love you.” Love is about taking action and expressing your love in a way your spouse can easily accept and understand.

You must both continue to communicate in respectful, compassionate, open and honest ways.

Not talking about the problems in your marriage is what got you to this point. Rebuilding the trust between you can only be done by learning how to converse together in respectful, open and honest ways. Communicating like this must become your norm instead of just what happens when you hit a crisis.

As you can tell, this phase never really ends if you want to have a great marriage.

But you’ll only reach this point with each other if you both choose to be open-minded about what the betrayal really means to your marriage (despite what society may think) and carefully consider how infidelity might actually be the catalyst that saves your marriage instead of destroys it.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach who helps people just like you who want support in dealing with the pain of infidelity. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation with me directly in my Time Trade calendar.

Looking for more information about dealing with unfaithfulness? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Surviving Infidelity.
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