Divorce is unquestionably difficult. During the process, one experiences heartbreak and anger and a sense of grief similar to what one feels after the death of a loved one. But, when, after a divorce, do you finally come to terms with it? Is there a lightbulb moment, or is it something that becomes easier to deal with over time? It’s hard to say, and letting go of the anger and pain and grief can take years. But like all loss, things do eventually, somehow, get back to normal. Just ask these five divorced dads, who explain how they finally came to terms with the end of their marriages and how, eventually, they moved on.
“Our Divorce Felt More Like a Death”
“I think my desire for things to improve was much greater than anything else. It took years for me to cope with the loss of my marriage. Mine felt like a traumatic loss. I reeled for years, trying to understand it. We agreed it was best to not communicate. Talking or seeing one another hurt too much as we both still loved one another but we also knew it wasn’t meant to be. Our divorce really felt more like a death. It probably took me about the length of time I was with her to get over things: about six years.
I ended up getting married again about four years after my divorce was final. She had also gone through a divorce and understood what that was like. What was healthy about it all is that we would mention things as they came up, but each of us had done enough work that those things were not constant.”
— William, Texas
“I Realized I Wasn’t Stressed Out Anymore.”
The end of a marriage is psychologically pretty devastating. At least it was for me. But we had gotten to the point in our relationship where there was no salvaging it. For the sake of our children, I would have suffered through a miserable marriage. But she wasn’t willing. So I asked for a divorce. One day, when I was sitting in my apartment, I just sort of realized that I wasn’t totally stressed anymore. But I will always, until the day I die, regret not having my kids with me full-time. That’s never going to be something that goes away.
You know how there are those Claritin commercials? “There’s clear; and then there’s Claritin clear.” My life, before my children came along, was clear. On a dime, it became Claritin clear. But I don’t have the stress; the hypercriticism. I realized that it was easier for me to work out some things for myself, that I don’t think I would have had an opportunity to do had we stayed together.
— Brian, Pennsylvania
“I Had to Learn How to Be Comfortable With Myself.”
My then-wife actually moved out. I came home to an apartment complex agreement on the counter. I think the reality hit me then, but I actually kind of expected it, but wasn’t in a place where I could say our relationship wasn’t working. Once she left and I moved out — we both got our own places — it was very calming. It put me in a place of, as crazy as it sounds, tranquility. I became a better overall person.
I had to learn how to be comfortable by myself. That following year, I traveled, I took vacations by myself, I went to the movies by myself. I had to find happiness in me. And then I had to address, and get comfortable with, acknowledging my PTSD and my Tourettes. I had to learn what was right for me, from a medical standpoint. I saw a shrink and professionals to help me along that journey. Divorce changed who I was as a person. And now, I’m remarried, and I’m in a place where I can love without expecting anything in return. I know who I am; I know what my non-negotiables are; I have standards of self. And I can enjoy life with people who want to enjoy it with me.
— Dom, Arizona
“I Just Took The Time I Needed.”
I was trying to think about an event, like where something happened to help me move on, but I really just think it was the passage of time. It just sort of happened. Maybe, once I decided I was ready to go out and meet new people, new women, that made me realize, yeah, it’s over. Before that, I didn’t really have that interest.
You have to come to the point of asking yourself: what do I have to learn from all this? After divorce, I started realizing I had a lot to learn. Realizing how I should have been different. You have to look back and say: I’ve learned, I’ve grown, and I’m a different person because this forced me to learn about myself.
— Elliott, Toronto
“I Had To Let Go Of My Ego.”
I’ve been divorced twice. The first time, I was young: 24. The second time I was in my late 30’s. My biggest issue was overcoming the anger and resentment. My ego was so tied up in it. When divorce happens, I felt like, maybe I didn’t do something right. Or maybe there’s something wrong with me. It’s this weird thing where you want absolutely nothing to do with that person ever again, and you want them back, because your ego is tied up into it.
The biggest thing for me was to realize was that chapter of my life was done. I had to come to terms with the fact that my life is not going to be the same, and that this is my new reality. And that it’s actually okay. If I had to really boil it down, it was about letting go of my ego.
It’s like breaking a bone. You’ve gotten used to having your arm or your leg in this one position. It’s uncomfortable. You want it to be done. And yet, when you finally get it off, it feels really weird, and yet free at the same time. Divorce is kind of like that. Especially my second divorce. It took a year and a half to negotiate and once that was done, I finally let go of the anger. It was like the cast was off. Why was I so silly to hold on to that? Let go! Life will be better.
— Daniel, Florida