It seems like a crazy question: Are you thankful for your divorce?
Who would ever be thankful that their life was turned upside down, their dreams dashed to pieces, and their family changed forever? Why would anyone be thankful for the pain, the misery, the disruption, or the financial devastation of divorce?
Why Be Thankful for Something so Awful?
Unless you were married to someone who was abusive, or addicted to drugs or alcohol, or had a serious gambling problem, you may not feel very thankful about getting divorced. Going through a divorce is rough. Putting your life together after divorce can be challenging. In short, there just doesn’t seem to be a whole lot about divorce that would make anyone thankful.
In order to understand why being thankful for your divorce makes sense, you first have to identify what “being thankful” in this situation, means.
Being thankful for your divorce does not mean that you are thankful that your marriage fell apart. It does not mean that you are thankful that you hurt children. It does not mean being thankful that you ended up in misery and pain. Nor does it mean being thankful that your life is a mess and your dreams are in shambles.
Being thankful for your divorce means looking beyond the pain and struggle of ending your marriage to find the gifts that only divorce can bring.
Are you stronger now than you were when you started? That’s a gift. Have you found out that you are more resourceful than you ever imagined? That’s a gift. Has your ex stepped up his or her game and become a better parent than while you were married? That’s a gift. (You may not be happy about this one, but it is a gift for your children.)
In short, divorce can bring gifts. Finding those gifts, and actually being grateful for them, can be the first step in transforming your divorce from the worst thing that ever happened to you, into something that you are at peace with. Gratitude will give you perspective, and help you heal.
To help you discover the gifts in your own divorce, here are:
1. You are now free to live life on your own terms. You can go where you want, when you want, and spend what you want. You can structure your life, your activities, and your finances your way. Yes, living alone is not always easy. It can be lonely and sad. (I know.) But, being in a dead marriage can be lonelier than being alone. So, even if you would trade “living on your own terms” for being married in a New York second, if you can shift how you are looking at your life right now, you just might find that living your way has its benefits.
2. You can create a healthier environment for your kids. Research has consistently shown that conflict hurts kids. If you and your ex were openly fighting in front of the kids while you were married, then being divorced may actually be better for them. Even if your marriage had not disintegrated into open warfare, if you were living in a bad, or lifeless, marriage, you were setting an example for your kids about what is acceptable.
3. You can parent your way. If you and your ex were constantly at odds about what to was best for your kids, parenting “solo” can be a relief. Without your ex constantly telling you that you are wrong, you will be able to parent your kids the way that you think is best. The flip-side, of course, is that your ex will be doing the same. Rather than making yourself crazy worrying about what is happening to the kids when they are at your ex’s house, focus on the advantage they will have of experiencing two different parenting styles.
4. You can decorate your home your way. This may not seem like a big deal, but your environment plays a huge role in your overall well-being. For you to function at your highest level, you need a home that supports who you are. It doesn’t matter whether your home is packed with junk your spouse won’t let you throw out, or everything you love is locked away in storage because your spouse is a neat-freak. If your home is not a comfortable place for you to live in, you suffer.
5. Your divorce forced you to grow. This is one of those “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” kinds of experiences. No one wants to go through the pain and struggle of divorce. But, once you do, you may find that you are stronger, braver, and more resilient than you ever imagined. Divorce gives you an insight into yourself, your life, and your kids that you could not have obtained any other way. Is divorce painful? Of course. But, just like childbirth, the pain is worth it to bring into the world someone new.
6. You can live in peace. Whether your marriage was full of angry outbursts, quiet tension, or icy bouts of “the silent treatment,” it affected you. Ultimately, that stress takes a toll on you and your kids. Maybe you gained weight. Maybe your kids were acting out. Maybe you were unproductive at work, or your kids were doing poorly in school. Maybe you got sick. The bottom line is that living with stress and tension has consequences.
7. Your divorce probably made you a better parent. Even if you considered yourself to be a good parent before you got divorced, spending at least some portion of your time away from your children somehow makes you realize how precious your time with them really is. Your kids will not be kids forever. Yet, when you are in the day-to-day frenzy of parenting, it is easy to forget that. You get caught up on your phone, your computer, your T.V. Now that you only have your kids part of the time, you know the clock is ticking. That is a gift.
8. Divorce gives you a second chance. Okay. So you maybe didn’t want a second chance. You wanted your first chance to work out. I get that. But it didn’t. Would you rather have stayed in a marriage that was a sham? Would you rather have spent the rest of your life pretending to be happy, or do you want a chance at real happiness? Yes. Going for real happiness is harder. But, in the end, it is infinitely more satisfying that living a lie.
Being thankful for your divorce may seem crazy. Common sense tells us to be thankful for the good things in our lives, not the bad. But, if you look at your divorce with different eyes, and focus on its gifts, rather than its struggles, I’m willing to bet that you will find something to be thankful for.
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