Bouncing Back after a Short Marriage: Divorce after 5 Years or Less
Are you getting divorced after a short few years (or months) of marriage? You’re not alone. Studies have shown that married people are most likely to have a difficult time with each other during years 1 and 2 and between years 5 and 8. That “seven-year itch” isn’t too far from reality.
How you might be feeling as a short marriage ends
Your wedding day may feel like it was just yesterday. At the same time, it may feel like a lifetime ago.
Regardless of the reason for your divorce, you may still be processing the events of your marriage and your feelings about them. You may feel confused, angry, embarrassed – or all three.
You may feel consumed by the shocking realization that you had your future all figured out … but now you’re starting back at “go.”
Cut yourself some slack. Even in the best relationships, the first few years of marriage are the rockiest. In those first years, you go from “me” to “we” with very little preparation. Dating simply cannot prepare you for living 24/7 with another person. (And, interestingly enough, some data suggests that cohabitation before marriage actually leads to a higher chance of divorce!)
What caused your divorce?
Many factors contribute to divorce. Often, it can’t be narrowed to just one or two things. In any case, there was discord in your relationship, and one or both of you decided it was best to part ways.
Whether you’ve been married for five years or fifty, here is a list of some reasons couples give for the conflict that ultimately leads to their divorce.
- Differences in spending habits
- Undisclosed debt
- Going into a marriage with kids or a pregnancy
- Differences of opinion on having children
- Expecting the marriage to fix the relationship or the individuals in it
- Lack of communication skills
- Inability to compromise
- Spiritual or religious differences
- Disputes over household responsibilities
- Overinvolved in-laws
- An underlying incompatibility
- Failure to take on responsibility
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Domestic abuse
While these aren’t necessarily problems that only afflict short-term marriages, relatively new marriages may not have assembled the tools necessary to work through serious problems together. These relationship tools can take a long time and a lot of communication to work successfully.
How to bounce back after a short marriage
Navigating a divorce can be emotionally and financially exhausting. Take a deep breath, and know that you will survive this. In fact, your life after divorce can be better than you ever expected.
Take care of your emotional and mental health
After your divorce, you’ll feel emotionally fragile, no matter how long your marriage lasted. Don’t let people diminish your pain just because you were “only” married for so long or suggest that you’ll easily jump back into single life because of it. People often don’t know what to say to someone after a divorce, and their discomfort can show in the unfeeling and awkward things they say.
- No matter how long you’ve been together, divorce is a huge loss. Let yourself experience the full mourning process as well as the healing process. Take the time you need to process your feelings. Let yourself feel angry, sad, betrayed. Grieving takes time and will look different for everyone.
- Cultivate your support system. Confide in people you trust who can talk you down when you’re upset. Join a support group. Explore your negative emotions in a journal. Run. Do whatever works to help you move through the overwhelm you’re feeling right now.
- Talk to yourself like a best friend. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Remind yourself of your worth. Seek the positives, and remember that you deserve the best and will survive. It will take as much time as it takes. Be patient.
Look after your financial well-being
Divorce isn’t just a legal and emotional process. It’s also a financial one, and you may be feeling financially vulnerable right now.
Once you get married, you’re bound by the laws of your state to divide your marital property fairly. This means your home, car, bank accounts, investment and retirement accounts – anything you acquired during your marriage – will be subject to this property division, even if you were only married a short time.
- Understand what you're entitled to keep and what property is subject to division. Some things can’t be physically divided, such as your home or car, so you will have to find ways to divide the value of those things. If you can work cooperatively with your spouse, you will be better equipped to find mutually satisfying ways to divide your property.
- From here forward, you’re financially on your own unless you’re receiving spousal support. Thus, it’s an important time for financial self-discovery. Know what your assets and debts are. Understand your credit score. Work on building your own credit and increasing your personal credit score.
- Get professional financial advice. A certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) can help you understand your financial picture and get a handle on what you have to work with. Even if you’re relatively young, you’ll want to create a long-term financial plan so you can be financially independent and invulnerable.
- Take a hard look at your lifestyle, and adjust as necessary. Divorce can be a real reality check on how much you spend in your daily life. Cutting out that daily latte habit may be the tip of the iceberg.
No matter how long you’ve been married, untangling your emotional and financial life from your ex-spouse can be complicated.
Setting important post-divorce goals and keeping to-do lists on hand can help you keep focused, organized, and optimistic about your future. Taking good care of yourself now means you will be better equipped to make better decisions for yourself going forward.
At Hello Divorce, we understand the divorce process and what people need in their divorce recovery. We provide free resources to help our readers set post-divorce goals and organize their to-dos. Our primary goal is to help divorcing people stay focused, organized, and optimistic about their futures.
If you’d like help with the legal aspects of divorce, we offer that, too. Schedule a free call to find out more.
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