It’s easy to get swept up in negative feelings during a divorce. In addition to dividing the tangible assets, you’re likely also dividing precious memories and perhaps even friendships. But remember: You got this. You’re on your way toward new memories, new experiences, and a new version of yourself.
There are additional benefits of divorce that you may not have realized. Here are four of them.
You get a chance to realize your own worth.
Patricia Bubash, M.Ed., is a licensed professional counselor and author of Successful Second Marriages. She married her 20-year-old husband at the age of 16 1/2, and the marriage lasted 15 years. When they divorced, she became the single mom of their three young daughters.
“During the years of my marriage, I deferred to my husband. As far as I was concerned, he hung the sun, the moon, and the stars. Major decisions were his to make and, for sure, I was the ‘little woman.’
“I soon realized, once on my own, that I was a very capable person. My husband had not done much to boost my self-worth or self-esteem. He had me convinced that I was lucky he would choose me as a wife. I was just not good enough.
“After we separated, I began to realize my own value, my ability to parent three children, maintain home ownership, find a teaching job, and immerse in the community. I found that being divorced was a positive in my life, not a negative.”—Patricia
Today, as a former teacher and school counselor, Patricia encourages young women to see their value as individuals and not to think their value comes from being part of a couple. While having someone in your life can be wonderful, she argues that you need to complete yourself—not rely on someone else for fulfillment.
You get an opportunity to pursue your dreams.
Keenya Kelly was married in October of 2013 and began the divorce process in July of 2014. She had to vacate quickly, which left her homeless, living in a hotel room paid for by friends and driving a car without heat. She had just a few hundred dollars in the bank and was earning $22,500 per year at her job.
“The #1 reason I am thankful for my divorce is that it caused me to revisit me. I’ve always been an entrepreneur and a go-getter type of person. But for some reason, in my relationship, I lost my sense of drive, determination, and excitement about life.
“Less than one year after leaving my ex, I landed a six-figure job. Two years later, I launched my own branding firm and generated over $150,000 in the first 12 months. I like to call it the $400,000 divorce.”—Keenya
Keenya acknowledges that divorce is hard, and there is no easy way to go through it. But instead of focusing on things that went wrong, she decided to focus on herself. As a result, she’s happier, more in touch with herself and her relationship with God, and thriving financially.
Your kids see you happier.
If you have kids, chances are they are more in tune with what’s going on than you think. Children pick up on emotion, and it’s quite likely they’ve noticed your unhappiness.
But this is where the upside starts. Your kids now have a chance to witness resilience, strength, and happiness in both parents.
“Your children can also enjoy more one-on-one time with each parent. Seeing happier parents makes for happier and more thankful kids,” says Melanie English, PhD, MSW, who conducts child custody evaluations and family mediation services.
“A lot of parents say they stayed in the marriage for the children, but today’s kids are smart and savvy. They read emotions and know when Mom and Dad aren’t happy with one another. If Mom and Dad are happier apart, this is not a bad thing.”—Melanie
Gabrielle Moss echoes this sentiment in an article she wrote for Bustle. Her parents divorced when she was young, and she credits her adaptability to their separation. She’s grateful she didn’t have to see them suffer through an unhappy marriage but instead got to know each parent as an individual.
There are endless ways to reinvent yourself.
In an article titled “How I Became Thankful for a Divorce I Didn’t Want,” for DivorcedMoms.com, writer Margaret Dagles recounts the day she decided to stop crying about her divorce and start living. She bought a used hiking backpack, took her child up every mountain she could find, and reconnected with her love of yoga.
“I’m thankful for being forced to find myself again,” she writes. “And through finding myself, I’ve fallen in love with myself. And as much of a jackass as my soon to be ex-husband is, I want to thank him.
“So, horrible soon-to-be ex-husband: thank you. Thank you for putting me through the hell that led to my heaven on earth. I now know what real love is and the most important type of love … self-love.”