Life after divorce for a woman might seem really scary. The lifestyle changes of divorce can be brutal: financial adjustments, living alone, dating… some of these can actually feel like a nightmare. But despite that change is really scary, there is a lot of good that comes with change. Most people don’t see it that way until they’ve been through it.
As I find myself waiting up most nights for my teenagers to get home, I often wish I could go back to the evenings when the routine consisted of giving my little children baths, helping them brush their teeth, reading them a bedtime story, and tucking them into bed with a kiss—all before 8pm. I remember feeling like this ritual made my kids feel loved, safe and secure.
A reader feels the same way I did, however, this young mom is going through a divorce and wrote this:
I’m devastated at the thought of not tucking my son into bed every night.
I remember having similar feelings when I got divorced and my kids—ages 4 and 6 at the time, were staying at my ex-husband’s new house every other weekend. It felt strange and uncomfortable to be a mom who wasn’t sleeping in the same house every night as her young children. It also felt worrisome. In other words, would my kids think Mommy was only there for them on the nights they stayed at my house?
Well, my kids are now almost grown, and I think they turned out great, despite having only one parent—either my ex-husband or me, tucking them into bed every night. What I realized is, kids feel love and security from both parents, and it comes from so much more than a nightly tuck-in.
It comes from:
*Taking care of them when they are sick
*Sitting with them while they do their homework
*Cheering them on at sporting events
*Clapping loudly and whistling at their theatre or music performances
*Talking through junior high-school mean kids
*Discussing their first love
*Answering questions you never imagined they’d ask about sex, body parts, and other topics that can be uncomfortable
*Teaching them right from wrong
*Answering their questions with honesty and non-judgement
*Encouraging them to pursue their passions
*Fostering honest, open heart-to-heart communication
*Providing self-confidence and self-love by showing them affection, respect and thoughtfulness.
Everything I just mentioned can be done whether you are married or you are a single parent. There’s no difference.
My reader’s concern got me thinking. Life after divorce for a woman means not being able to tuck your kids into bed every night, and that is only one big lifestyle change to which a divorced person might have to adjust.
Here are seven other things that apply to life after divorce for a woman, along with the surprising benefits of each.
1. Being alone a lot more.
When the kids go to Mom’s or Dad’s house, it can feel extremely empty, lonely and uncomfortable. The good news is, when you learn how to take advantage of alone time, many people actually find passions, hobbies or other outlets they otherwise would not have, and then they look forward to their time without the kids.
2. Doing and learning chores, tasks and other obligations you never did because your ex was responsible for those.
In most marriages, people settle into patterns of who does what. For example, one partner might be in charge of cooking, paying bills, and preparing tax returns while the other is responsible for household repairs, taking out the garbage, and shoveling snow. So, when you get divorced, both people are forced to learn how to do everything. Don’t even ask how I reacted when I was newly separated and saw a mouse run by on the kitchen floor.
3. Making parental decisions without the other parent.
What you get divorced, you are now the leader of your household. Sure, there are many decisions made by co-parenting, but at your house, you’re calling all the shots. On one hand it’s scary, but how empowering is that?
4. Going back to work or changing careers.
Life after divorce for a woman often means that getting a job makes sense. Or, maybe you are already working but a new career, different hours, or a closer work location makes sense. New jobs are almost always stressful, but they’re also exciting, and you might end up happier than you ever thought you’d be.
I’ve heard so many stories from divorced men and women who initially felt sad about having to move out of a large home. But, there are advantages to moving. These include easier home maintenance, a cheaper monthly mortgage or rent payment, and the feeling of a fresh start.
6. Curbing spending.
It probably doesn’t feel that great to have to cut out taking luxury vacations, shopping at high end boutiques, or driving an expensive car, but that’s what some divorced people have to do. When this happens, it’s definitely an adjustment, but I think many people realize how much of life they can enjoy just doing basic things. And because they are happier out of a marriage that wasn’t working, they oftentimes don’t give it a second thought. In other words, money really doesn’t buy happiness.
7. Dating again.
You went from being a married couple to swiping right and left. This is terrifying for divorced people—especially those who were married for a long time. Dating can be frustrating and disappointing, but it can also be really fun and interesting with the right attitude. And let’s not forget that dating can lead to meeting someone wonderful.
The changes that come with life after divorce as a woman can feel sad and scary, especially at first. But with a little patience, an open mind, and faith in yourself, your new life might just surprise you and empower you. And one day when you’re reading your kids their bedtime story and it ends with “they lived happily ever after,” you might just realize that you did, too.