Video: Author and founder of Power and Success Ministries Ellard Thomas teams up with top executive, author and entrepreneur Alexandria Smith to discuss overcoming divorce from the perspective of a man and woman who've had to overcome divorce themselves!
Do you remember the moment you got married? How happy you were when you saw your wife-to-be…your husband-to-be? You never had to think about living life as a divorced man or as a divorced woman, did you? You shouldn’t have. If you did, then you shouldn’t have said “I do.”
Well, here you are. The unimaginable has happened. The person you were supposed to build a happy life with is no longer there. Now, you’re facing some tough decisions. And, most importantly, have to answer the following question: “How will living life after divorce be done?”
Whether you’re a man or a woman, and regardless where you are in your life following the divorce, you’re in the right place. Together, we’re going to discuss the steps you can take to reclaiming your happiness and start living life again. Afterwards, you’ll have the power to start healing, living and loving again!
Why People Get Divorced
Couples get divorced for different reasons—some of these could be deemed reconcilable differences and others as irreconcilable differences. As a man living life after divorce, I’ll share why my previous wife and I joined the exclusive club of divorcees.
As I reflect on my life, I realized that I had unaddressed issues that lay dormant in my mind. Although my ex-wife was a great woman, (and had her own unresolved issues), I was a man who struggled internally with overcoming the abuse I suffered as a child. As a result of the toxicity I brought into the marriage, she didn’t feel loved—nor did I.
By the time I sought counseling for my issues—as I didn’t want my marriage to end—it was too late. She had removed herself emotionally, and later physically from our home. I was devastated—a mess to say the least. Life sucked. Perhaps you can relate.
If we’re being honest, I am not a fan of divorce, especially if there are issues that could be resolved. Yet, there are some boundaries and challenges that can’t be overlooked, tolerated or accepted—especially if negative behaviors and actions endanger the lives of others in the home.
Now, I don’t know why you got divorced. It could be for several reasons. Yet, I’ve learned a powerful lesson. By understanding the reasons for the divorce, the “easier” it’ll be to put together a game plan for living your life happier.
Top 11 Reasons People Get Divorced
As I mentioned before, your understanding of the reasons for the divorce will help you start life anew. So, which of these reasons caused the end of your marriage?
· Lack of commitment
· Infidelity or extramarital affairs
· Too much conflict or arguing
· Getting married too young
· Financial problems
· Substance abuse
· Domestic violence
· Health problems or complications
· Lack of support from family
· Religious differences
· Little or no premarital education
When you look at the list, you’ll see that you’re not alone. Millions of people have gotten divorced due to one or several of these reasons. Yet, the majority of these men and women learned from these reasons and then created strategies to living a happier life after. And guess you? You can too.
Here's something to remember. Divorce isn’t the end of your life. It’s just the end of an era that you must accept. The following steps will help you do this.
7 Steps to Living Life after Divorce and Reclaiming Your Happiness
The ultimate goal following divorce is to get to a place of healing and happiness. This is very difficult due to the intensity of negative emotions you might be experiencing. Let these seven steps guide you toward reclaiming your happiness and overcoming the loss of your marriage.
Step 1: Let yourself grieve
The demise of a marriage is equal to a death. When you no longer have that person in your life as you did once before, you’re left handling many matters on your own—as with anyone when dealing with a death in the family.
Jen Freed, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist in Santa Barbara, California explains. “Divorce is similar to a death because there’s fragmentation and a vacuum where there was order and routine.”
So, as you would the death of someone you love, take the time to mourn the loss of your marriage. Take a moment to consider the reality of what’s happening. Whatever you do, do not attempt to fool yourself into believing you’re “alright.” If you really loved your ex, you won’t feel remotely happy—despite the cause of the divorce.
Therefore, take a moment for yourself. Cry if you have to. And do your best to refrain from destructive behaviors such as substance abuse, casual sex encounters, violence, etc. Instead, think about what constructive actions are available. If you can’t think of none right now, then do nothing until you’re enlightened with something constructive.
Step 2: Rebuild your spiritual foundation
You must remember something very important. God doesn’t want you wallowing in pain. I know this might be hard to understand, especially if you feel abandoned by Him during this tough time in your life.
Oftentimes the reasons for divorce stem from the lack of a strong spiritual foundation in the marriage. If one person, for example, believes in the sanctity and roles within the marriage—and the other doesn’t, then the initial attraction or reasons that brought you together will eventually dissipate.
Let me be clear. Rebuilding your spiritual foundation doesn’t necessarily solely mean delving into the “ways of the church.” Rather, it’s about getting realigned with your Lord and Savior so He can start guiding you to the path of healing, joy, forgiveness and happiness.
Additionally, rebuilding your spiritual foundation can include any of the following:
· Praying and practicing thankfulness
· Practicing meditation and yoga
· Reading scriptures and empowerment books
Whether you’re a man or woman trying to navigate living life after divorce, it’s important that you rebuild yourself spiritually. This is a critical step.
Step 3: Practice forgiveness
For the majority of people, this is a very tough step to implement. Here’s why.
Most divorces occur due to a violation of agreements, standards, expectations and arrangements. And as a result, these violations create emotional, physical, financial and psychological scars. Thus, forgiving the culprits of our hurt isn’t something we’d like to do.
Even as a Christian man, it was hard for me to practice forgiveness. As long as I didn’t cause “physical” harm to my ex, we should’ve been able to move on. Not true.
Marriage is a set of both spoken and unspoken expectations and standards. Sadly, when these expectations aren’t met, and when standards aren’t upheld, either party may feel driven to bring the marriage to an end.
Although this may be the case, each party must understand that both positive and negative contributions to the union were given by each person. It’s a shared fault. So, what to do now?
There are two people you must learn to forgive: your former spouse and yourself. One pastor friend told me something powerful, which in my immature state, I didn’t understand. But after growing in spiritual maturity, it makes sense.
“No matter how long you may have known a person,” Pastor Hay stated, “you’re married to a stranger. And if two people do not state their concerns, fears, visions, purpose and ‘deal breakers’ in the beginning, a violation somewhere down the road is inevitable.”
This was great info, but I wish I had learned this prior to the divorce. Well, at least, it can be useful when you decide in the future to remarry or recommit to another. Yet, for now, you must get free.
If you’re struggling with forgiveness, here are a few helpful ways to practice it:
· Pray that God frees your heart so you’re in a place to forgive
· Pray blessings for your ex and that they live happier
· Pray for the power to forgive yourself so you can reclaim your own happiness
As I stated in the book Defeating Goliath, practicing forgiveness is hard because it’s a spiritual design. And no matter how hurt you are right now, it’s still possible to implement. You just have to enter the spiritual aspect of yourself.
Step 4: Seek professional assistance
Many men and women who are in search of living happier lives after divorce do not consider counseling. Men, perhaps due to ego and thoughts of feeling weak, push this option aside. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to consider it—with a few actually following through.
There are two bible scriptures I’ve learned to lean on when I feel like dismissing counseling: Proverbs 11:14 (KJV), which says, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellers there is safety” and, Proverbs 12:15 (KJV), “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”
No matter how good you think you are at overcoming your divorce, professional support will help you identify key areas that may still be unaddressed. If you’re looking for a way to live life after divorce with happiness, then this is a very important step.
Step 5: Surround yourself with POSITIVE friends
It’s baffling how quickly so-called friends will fill your ears with negative conversation. You know who they are. They’re usually more burdening than uplifting. Here are a few examples of what they say.
“I told you to never marry her (or him)…”
“I knew it wasn’t going to work…”
“You were too good for him (or her) anyway…”
“If I was you, I would do…”
In their defense, some of these friends may mean well and have no idea about the strain their causing you. But they are, aren’t they?
To get you to the next level of happiness and joy, you must surround yourself with positive individuals. People who won’t force you to remember the bad things that occurred. People who’ll speak life into you and your situation.
If you can't find a group, connect with someone who's non-judgmental and will pour positivity into you. You had enough negativity, no need for any more!
Step 6: Reinvent yourself
While you were married, you learned how to adopt a new persona and identity. Now that it’s over, you may be questioning who you are. Therefore, it’s time to reinvent yourself.
Reinventing yourself is a key part in living life after divorce. You’ve spent so much time and energy in being a spouse, and a parent, that you forgot about you. Not anymore.
Before you do anything else after reading this, I’d like you to take inventory. Make a list of things that you like about yourself separate from your former role as a spouse. What are your dreams, strengths and unique attributes? What would you like to experience? What do you feel is your purpose or calling?
Once you have your list, take the top two and then dig deeper. Create a strategy to fulfilling them or practice in the discipline you desire. Remember, though, this is about you and only you. So do not take this step lightly. Agree?
Step 7: Celebrate your new life
On the course of living life after divorce—both men and women—do not celebrate themselves. They’ve gotten so caught up in the emotional whirlwind of the divorce that they do not appreciate all they’ve overcome.
Look, getting a divorce is hard. Getting over one is even harder. It takes courage. It takes strength. It takes a boatload of energy. Yet, even with that being said, you’re making it. So, take time to celebrate the strength you’ve exhibited. Celebrate the personal strides and achievements you made separate from your ex-spouse. Keep in mind, you’re not necessarily celebrating the death of the marriage, but rather the newness of life that was given to you.
Examples of celebrating are taking a trip, mingling with friends, dating again (only if ready), taking yourself out, and doing the things you’ve always wanted to do—constructive and productive—that is. Strive to steer clear of unproductive and unhealthy actions. As tempting as they may be, they're not worth the headache.
You have tremendous value. No, the marriage didn’t end “happily ever after” as intended and expected. But now that you’re here, it’s time to shift. I know it’s hard, but you will make it.
Whether you’re a man or woman, living life after divorce and trying to find happiness again is a challenge. But keep in mind this truth. You will be triumphant. That being said, get your business done.
If there are child support arrangements that need to be made, get them done. Finances to get in order? Do it. Address anything that's outstanding so it doesn’t hinder you from living the life you ultimately deserve.
No matter what happened that led to your marital demise, just know that IT’S NOT OVER for you and your happiness. You still got a lot of living to do and a lot of happiness to acquire. It may not be with your former spouse, but that's okay. You have you.
So, congratulations. You’re on your way to beating this battle and gaining victory. I applaud your strength.
If you’re willing, I’d love to hear about how you’re living life after divorce. Connect with me and let me know. Also, share your personal story and victory too.
If you're need additional assistance with living a happier life after your divorce, here are a few that thousands of people around are using to reclaim their happiness.
Defeating Goliath: In this powerful and life-changing book, you'll learn strategies on overcoming obstacles and achieving your purpose. Rated 4.5/5 stars on Amazon. A must read. Check it out!
New Happiness Code: In this free presentation, you'll learn powerful and key strategies of living the life you deserve, especially after a divorce. Backed by research from Harvard University. Watch the video!
Ellard Thomas is the founder of Power and Success Ministries--an organization that's dedicated to helping people live their best lives as God intended. If you're looking for more inspiring and empowering messages, please join our online community. Also, connect with me on Facebook and tell us how you're doing in living your life after your divorce.