What Helped Me Get Over My Divorce, According to 12 Dads 

Moving on after divorce is different for everyone.

Originally Published: 
a newly divorced man surfs in the ocean in a bid to get over a divorce

Divorce is an end but also a beginning. The truth of the matter is that whether it’s mutual or not, the end of a marriage is difficult. Very difficult. In addition to all the various work and management it requires, divorce also divides life into the Before and the After. And while the After can be a wonderful period of self-growth and renewal, it takes time to get there. Because getting over a divorce takes time. There’s a lot to work through, including grief. How long does it take to get over a divorce? The answer is, as is often the case, “it depends.”

There are plenty of theories regarding how long it takes to get over a divorce. But, with all the variables in play, there’s no real accuracy to any of them. A marriage is a unique part of your life, and only you can decide when you’re ready to move past it. As it helps to know what’s worked for other people, we asked 12 dads who’ve all been through the end of a marriage for advice on how to get over a divorce. Well, not advice really. But a sense of what worked for them and why. Some explored new hobbies. Some were drawn to faith. All found ways to cope with and eventually get over their divorces. Here’s what they told us worked for them.

1. I Got Very Into Yoga

“I’d always wanted to try yoga, and I guess my divorce gave me a reason to do a mind, body and soul ‘makeover’. Yoga wasn’t what I thought it would be. I didn’t expect it to be so physically demanding at first. But then it became like a challenge – I want to try and master this pose, then this pose, and so on. There are so many levels to yoga, like the poses, the breathing, and the mindset, that it’s easy to lose yourself in. And that’s what I needed. I’ve been doing yoga ever since. It’s helped my physical and mental health, which is great for me and my kids.” – Darren, 38, Virginia

2. Cooking

“I did a lot of cooking for our family, and I ended up really enjoying it. I’m good at it, too. So when my wife and I got divorced, I decided to keep pursuing the hobby and really got lost in it. I’m not a culinary genius. I just follow recipes. So I started ordering meal kits from HelloFresh and Blue Apron, and made a point to cook myself a nice meal each night. I felt accomplished, when I was done, and it helped me realize that, even though I got into cooking while we were married, it didn’t have to stay exclusive to that relationship.” – Shawn, 37, Arizona

3. Reconnecting with old friends

“During and after my divorce, I went through this sort of ‘Fuck It’ phase, where I felt like I had nothing to lose. So I started social media stalking old friends from college, high school, and places I’d worked literally just so I could say, ‘Hey! Hope everything’s been going well.’ Of course, there were a lot of people who didn’t respond, but I genuinely reconnected with a handful of awesome people who I hadn’t talked to in decades. My freshman year college roommate. This guy from high school who used to bootleg video games for me. It was nice to just start having conversations again and reminisce about good old days, instead of dwelling on my failed marriage.” – Sean, 39, Pennsylvania

4. Talk Therapy

“I used to balk at therapy. After I got divorced, I thought I could sort through my problems on my own, and just move past it. But what I learned was that divorce is a traumatic event. It’s not the same as going to war or being attacked in a parking lot, but trauma is trauma. I finally relented and went to a therapist that my sister recommended, and I immediately regretted all that time I’d refused to go. I’d spent almost two years after my divorce just struggling with my emotions, and my therapist helped me start making sense of things after, like, three sessions. I wasn’t the best version of myself during those two years, which definitely affected my relationship with my daughters. But, thankfully, she’s very forgiving and has been nothing but encouraging while I try to work things out.” – Keith, 44, Maryland

5. Journaling

“I’m a writer, both by trade and as a hobby. So, when I got divorced, it made sense to write things down. First, it was just rambling sentences about how much I hated my ex-wife. Then it got a little more sophisticated and insightful with thoughts about my kids and trying to still be a good dad. Then I started realizing I could use journaling to help me focus on the good things that happened to me each day. If I had a really bad day, I made note of it. But I also made sure to write down the positive things – even little things, like having a nice meal, or getting a good parking spot at work – so that I could take a moment to embrace them. I think that really helped me get my thoughts out of my head, and organized in a way that I could reflect on them later.” – Jeff, 35, Michigan

6. The stock market

“I actually walked away with some money from my divorce, and I decided to start investing it. I started learning about the stock market and started to get really interested in how people pick what to invest in. I watched a lot of YouTube videos, then just dove in. I’m not a millionaire, but I’ve done pretty well in terms of learning what makes a company strong. And, through all this, I was able to distract myself from the messiness of the divorce, start learning a new skill, and get better at helping my kids with math homework. So, overall, great returns on that investment.” – Marc, 40, Texas

7. Comic books

“My ex-wife hated my comic collection. It’s a lot – probably more than one thousand issues and books – but she just hated them because she thought they were dumb, a waste of money, and childish. Obviously, there was no contesting for them in the divorce, so they were a real, whole piece of me that I felt like I got back after the whole thing was done. I started reading again, which I hadn’t done in probably five or six years, and it just brought back so much joy. They are childish. Some of them are dumb. But they were the perfect distraction from reality while I was trying to get my life back on track, and our kids love them.” – Craig, 39, Ohio

8. Focusing on my MBA

“I always wanted to get my master’s degree, and being divorced gave me the time to do it. I knew I couldn’t just sit on my ass and dwell about my situation, so I considered my options and went back to school. It was such a great, productive distraction. There were other parents in the class, too, which was reassuring and encouraging. We talked about our kids. One of the other women was also recently divorced. It was hard work, and a total grind, but it kept my mind busy, and kept me from feeling so alone. Plus, once I’d finished, I was able to get a better job.” – Bryan, 38, Massachusetts

9. Dating

“I think dating was honestly what helped me get over my divorce. My ex-wife and I disagreed on so many things that it felt like we were always moving backwards. I needed to move forward. And I figured the best way to do that was to get out there and start meeting people. It was weird at first – I hadn’t been on a ‘date date’ in forever – and I didn’t really have a plan. Like, I wasn’t looking for my next wife. I just wanted to keep looking ahead. I definitely think I rushed into dating as a way to avoid processing the divorce, but I think the unfamiliarity of it all helped my self-confidence in the long run. I was doing something new, scary, and way out of my comfort zone, which was a way to start the next phase of my life, I guess.” – Sam, 33, Indiana

10. Bird watching

“I know, right? But when I got divorced — like, the day I got divorced — I saw an owl in my yard. I’ve never seen an owl in my life, let alone my own yard. So, I took that as kind of a sign. At first, I started watching the birds in my yard – cardinals, sparrows, blue jays. Then every once in a while a ‘rare’ bird would show up. Like a yellow finch. Or we have these giant woodpeckers with big red mohawks. When my kids would come over, we’d sit in the backyard and just observe – it’s such a peaceful experience. I have no idea why I gravitated toward bird watching, of all things, but now it’s a passion. I go on hikes to look for birds. I follow the webcams of the nests. Thanks to my divorce, I’m a legit bird nerd.” – Rich, 37, Ohio

11. Faith

“I’ll never be one of those ‘throw my hands in the air and yell ‘Praise Jesus!’ people, but I think my divorce forced me — or helped me, rather — to reconnect with my spirituality. My wife and I split pretty amicably, all things considered. I was surprised when she invited me to go to church with her and our kids – that was usually their thing – but I felt like it was a chance to strengthen my bond with them in a new way. I was surprised at how touching the services were, and how they left me thinking about my own path, including the divorce. This part of my life is still very unclear, but my experiences at church helped me feel more confident that one day it’ll all make sense.” – Todd, 36, Minnesota

12. Art

“When my wife moved out of our house, I was left with a spare bedroom that was just empty and boring. I decided to paint it, and somehow I landed on this bright, teal blue. Even though the painting process was pretty boring — it was just rolling paint on four walls — there was something relaxing about it. Seeing the room change color from dull to vibrant, and even the sound of the roller smushing on the wall were just very calming for me. So, I took it a step further and made that room into a ‘studio’. I started painting on canvases to help me slow things down when everything seemed to be happening so fast. And you know who loves to paint, right? Kids. So they think it’s super cool and fun when they get to come spend time in Dad’s art studio.” – David, 41, Florida

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