Getting divorced with kids is a learning curve. Which is a mild way of putting it. To be fair, it’s more of a learning rollercoaster where we are forced to do things that are upsetting, unnatural and waaaay outside our comfort zone.
That said, every challenge is a lesson. And as I sit here eight years after my divorce, I can clearly see the lessons I learned. More importantly, I can see how they changed me for the better.
Whether you are in the midst of your break-up, coming through the other side, or in a state of shock thinking ‘where did it go wrong’ I am here to highlight the good bits.
Here are 12 surprising life lessons you can learn from divorce.
And, in case you’re wondering who I am …
I’m Lucy, a single mum and the founder of the website you are on. I spend my time helping other single mums embrace independence, redefine their paths and be the best they can be, all whilst being brilliant single mums.
You can get more in-depth, personalised support from my “You’ve Got This” Single Mum eCourse.
12 SURPRISING LIFE LESSONS YOU CAN LEARN FROM DIVORCE
1. CHILDREN ARE MORE RESILIENT THAN YOU THINK
Your children are going to fine. Your separation will not turn them into crazed hermits or cat women. They will live perfectly normal lives. In some ways divorce can be positive for children. Living in two happy homes is better than one unhappy home. Plus, they learn empathy for others, become more organised and can create better relationships with each parent and their siblings. So, stop worrying!
Further reading: The positive impact of divorce on children.
2. YOU HAVE HIDDEN STRENGTHS
I often worry that if my marriage hadn’t broken down, I wouldn’t have discovered so many strengths hidden within me. Your divorce journey will have you showcasing just how strong you really are. You are a protector, a warrior. You become resilient and fiercely independent. These are strengths that will make you an even better mother, employee, friend, lover.
3. YOU LIKE YOURSELF AGAIN
It is not uncommon to feel like a failure when your relationship breaks down. We try and analyse what we did wrong and what is wrong with us. But you will soon realise that there is nothing wrong with you. You are a perfectly imperfect human being like the rest of us, and that is enough. From there, you will learn to give yourself some slack and like yourself again. Then, loving yourself is just a stone’s throw away.
4. THE LITTLE THINGS DON’T MATTER
Did I really used to worry about the type of car I drove? Or that my daughter’s top matched her pants? Irrelevant stuff no longer matters to me, and it’s a weight off. When you don’t sweat the small stuff, you free your mind to concentrate on what really matters. Swapping your attention from worrying about your kids wearing Bonds undies, to focusing on the real-life bond you have with them, is far more fulfilling.
Further reading: Things I no longer give a sh*t about now I’m a single mum.
5. IT’S OK TO BE DIFFERENT
Even with the ever-increasing number of single parents hitting the school playgrounds, as a single mum you may still feel different from the norm. And that is perfectly ok. Married life was about fitting in and keeping up with the Jones’s. Single mum life is about doing things your way. Which would you rather?
6. YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR WORTH
It is not unusual for a single mum to look back at her married life and wonder ‘what was I thinking’ or ‘why did I put up with that for so long’. This is because you will have learnt your worth. One of the most important lessons you can learn from divorce is to know your worth. You will then accept nothing but the very best for yourself and your children. You’ll be amazed how much this will change your life … for the better.
12 SURPRISING LIFE LESSONS YOU CAN LEARN FROM DIVORCE (CONT.)
7. YOU ARE A WOMAN!
Once you find your groove as a single parent, you will start to remove the layers of armour and find yourself again. For many, this means discovering themselves as an individual and as a woman. This could be finding love again or at least intimacy with a partner. For others, it could be about self-pleasure or just enjoying the freedom and power of womanhood. This is one of the most empowering things you can learn from divorce.
Further reading: How to have the best sex life ever … with yourself.
8. YOU CAN HANDLE ANYTHING
If I got through the nightmare of my beloved family breakup, then so can you. And once you have, you will be equipped to deal with anything life throws at you. You’ll know it, and so will everyone around you. You become capable, fearless and oh so proud. Even better, your kids will see this in you and respect you all the more for it.
9. FINANCIAL CONTROL IS FREEING
Many women worry about finances when they separate. Earning money and managing money can seem daunting. But when you have control of your money, you have the power, and with that power comes freedom. Save for things you want. Spend on the things you want. No more outgoings on slabs of beer, or anything that isn’t purely beneficial to you or your children.
Further resources: Get excellent, free support with your finances from MoneySmart.
10. YOU ARE FINE ON YOUR OWN
Becoming single again in my late 30’s gave me nightmares involving lots of empty shelves and me choosing which one to sit on. But you know what? It’s fine to be single at any age. So many people are separating and re-partnering later in life now. Not only is it completely accepted, but it’s actually gratifying, freeing and a wonderful learning experience to have a period of singledom later in life.
11. IT IS A BEGINNING, NOT AN END
With divorce comes sadness. It is the end of something that you honestly believed would not have an end. Yet, with every end comes a new beginning. And new beginnings are exciting. Once you learn you are at the beginning of something new, you will be able to embrace the change and enjoy your journey.
12. REAL FRIENDS WILL SHINE
Any traumatic life event will shine the light on your real friends … and leave the imposters out in the cold. I learned very quickly who my real friends were when I separated from my husband. It was great. Since then, my life has been enriched by friendships with wonderful people who really get me.
OH AND ONE FINAL LESSON YOU CAN LEARN FROM DIVORCE
13. EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS OK IN THE END
However hard things get, however low or desperate you might feel, you are going to get through this. And not only that, you will be OK. You will be more than OK. I work with hundreds of single mums every day who are not only surviving, but thriving. This. Will. Be. You.