Finding What Makes You Happy After Divorce

Finding What Makes You Happy After Divorce

Sara was 28 when she got divorced and was ready for a new beginning. That new beginning meant being happy again, finding herself again, rediscovering who she was. I think many of us feel lost at the end of our marriages and embark on a quest so I asked Sara what that search meant in practical terms. Here’s Sara:

I rediscovered things that made me happy, activities I knew I loved doing in the beginning of our marriage and lost while we were married.

I used to love decorating for Christmas, inside and outside. By the end of our marriage, I don’t think I put up a single decoration. He moved out in the summer and that first Christmas I got tons of lights and decorations for the front yard. I was like,

“This is what I love!”

I loved photography and I love taking pictures and editing them. I did it at one point and kind of lost it. I started that again, it was just “this is what I like.”

I like to go hiking and he didn’t. There was no way I could even get him on a trail. Now I have a weekly ritual and I go on a five-mile hike. It’s part of my spiritual cleansing. People can come with me, if they want but I have to go. This is part of what I let go and it’s what I want now.

There’s so many things, even little hobbies or little stuff around the house that I wanted for me that I just lost in the marriage. You want to have those shared, common interests and if you don’t, then you try to find something to compromise on. Then you can lose yourself because it’s not really what you wanted to do and the other person wasn’t willing to do what you wanted.

I didn’t feel I was giving my kids all I could. For the last quarter of our marriage, I wasn’t what you’d call clinically depressed, but I lost the desire to do a lot of stuff with the kids. On the weekends when he was off, he was asleep until noon and I would want him to do stuff with the kids and he didn’t want to. He just wanted to stay at home so we would end up doing nothing.

When we got divorced, I decided we were going to go places and have fun because kids are little only for so long and then you grow up and wonder what happened. I didn’t want that. So now I find myself doing so much more with the kids and for them, volunteering at their school where before I didn’t feel like doing any of that.

Now I’m feeling more involved. I wouldn’t say he brought me down but we fell into this pattern of “this is how life is going to be every day” and I knew in my heart that wasn’t what I wanted. Now the kids and I have so much fun and I love it!

The Divorce Coach Says

Losing touch with your pre-marriage interests (and friends) is a complaint I hear often and taking up those interests is also a common strategy for healing yourself after divorce.

Why do we let this happen? I think some of it is a function of time availability – there simply isn’t enough time to follow all your own interests and to do activities together as a couple so something has to give. We have this model in our heads that the perfect married couple does everything together so we give up our interests in favor of “couple” interests. Then, when children come along each slice of the pie gets smaller to make room for theirs which typically keeps growing.

Then things fall apart, and we don’t have to do the activities we did as a couple. We can choose our own. We were a ski family. I’d been going to the mountains every other weekend in winter probably for more than 15 years. I did really enjoy that. My kids were both on skis when they were toddlers. Towards the end of our marriage, going away for ski weekends felt more like work. They weren’t fun anymore. I haven’t been downhill skiing now in four years … maybe I’ll go back to it some day.

Some people find new interests, like Jolene, who was scared of living alone after her divorce, becoming a qualified kick-boxing instructor. Have you discovered new interests or rediscovered old loves?

And talking about having fun with your kids, I’m off on vacation next week with mine. We’re headed to southern California and Disneyland, SeaWorld and Universal Studios. I’m looking forward to spending uninterrupted time with them, having fun and enjoying the downtime…

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