Life after your spouse left you can be very painful and requires patience, compassion and determination to move on. Although this experience can seem devastating, having the support of your loved ones will help you get through it. Over time, you will find yourself healing from the separation and embarking on a new and better life.
Stop blaming yourself for the separation. Instead of being stuck in a cycle of regret and self-judgment, be kind and compassionate to yourself. People that practice high levels of self-compassion after a separation experience less divorce-related distress, found in a study published in the 2011 issue of Psychological Science that followed 105 recently separated people for nine months. Forgive yourself for any of the things that you wish you could have done differently. Accept that it's normal for some marriages to grow apart and end.
Acknowledge and Accept Your Feelings
A separation or divorce symbolizes the loss of a relationship and it's normal to experience the five stages of grief -- denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Allow yourself to feel your emotions instead of suppressing or ignoring them. Find outlets for healthy expression, such as sharing them with friends, journaling, writing letters to yourself, crying, and even naming your feelings. When you feel stuck or frustrated remind yourself to be patient, these feelings will pass. Keep in mind that everybody heals at their own pace. Don't allow others to rush or pressure you to move on.
Ask Yourself What You're Really Losing
Take a close look at how your marriage was doing prior to your spouse making the decision to leave. Analyze if your needs were really being met and if you truly felt fulfilled in the relationship. Toward the end of a relationship, people tend to develop a "fantasy bond" -- an imagined connection that gives a false sense of security. What you're really losing in a separation is the false sense of security that the fantasy bond provided and not the intimacy that we once felt with our partner, explains clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone in her Psychology Today article "Why Break Ups Really Hurt."
Let Others Support You
Dealing with separation all by yourself can be overwhelming. Seek out family members and friends to help you get through this difficult time. Even though you might not feel like facing the world, try to go out and spend time doing enjoyable activities. Slowly, you will find yourself enjoying them. Find people that understand your situation by joining support groups or spending time with divorcées. Consider hiring an attorney or a professional divorce mediator to help you through the negotiations says the American Psychological Association in their article "Healthy Divorce: How To Make Your Split As Smooth As Possible." These dealings can be frustrating and self-defeating, bringing up problems that contributed to the divorce. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need time away from your kids or need additional support.
- Psychological Science: When Leaving Your Ex, Love Yourself: Observational Ratings of Self-compassion Predict the Course of Emotional Recovery Following Marital Separation
- Huffington Post: The Emotional Stages of Divorce: What to Expect During and After the Divorce Process
- Psychology Today: Why Break Ups Really Hurt
- American Psychological Association: Healthy Divorce: How To Make Your Split As Smooth As Possible
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