When you think about your divorce, it can be hard to find a silver lining. You had to endure the pain of losing your marriage and possible future while going through an impersonal process. Immediately after the fact, it’s not easy to gain perspective. Once you have gotten somewhat adjusted to your new situation, you may begin to realize that some good things have come into your life since the divorce. Here are 7 positive effects of divorce you didn’t expect:
1) Lower Stress Levels
When we are in a state of conflict, be it physical or emotional, our brains respond by releasing stress hormones like cortisol. When the body is subjected to consistent low-level stressors over significant periods of time, it suffers.
When you add ordinary stress, lack of sleep, and poor nutritional habits to constant stress hormones, people can experience weight gain, illness, and disease.
You may notice physical changes very soon after getting out of your unhappy marriage and away from the stress of divorce. As you adapt to living without conflict in your home, your stress levels will most likely continue to drop. The lowering of stress levels can have a positive domino effect on other health factors.
For instance, when your cortisol levels drop, your sleep can improve. With more rest and lower stress, you may reach for fewer snacks because your body will no longer try to fuel itself to escape a perceived crisis.
2) Better Quality Time with Your Kids and Loved Ones
Some marriages may end suddenly, but often, relationships tend to break down gradually over time. If you and your ex were unhappy for an extended period before the divorce, your relationships with those closest to you were probably affected.
For kids, watching their parents’ marriage fall apart is excruciating. Your children can’t take sides, and they feel powerless to keep the people they love the most together. Now that you and your ex are not together, you can focus on helping your kids heal and adjust.
You can make the most of your time together and remain focused on them and their relationship with you.
Your friends and other loved ones have probably become accustomed to seeing the version of you that is distracted by your circumstances. Now that you are out of the situation and no longer putting energy into the marriage, you can focus on meaningfully connecting with loved ones.
3) More Time for Yourself
Depending on how you look at it, being on your own after divorce can be intimidating or liberating. Yes, you are no longer in a relationship, and you may miss having a partner. However, you now have complete control over how you spend your time.
You are free to pursue any interest, decorate as you like, cook what you want, order food from your favorite places, watch movies you love, and dress as you please. When you consider all the concessions you may have made during your marriage, you may find that getting to focus on doing only what you like feels good.
Having time to be only about you and what makes you happy is a rare and positive opportunity.
4) A Better Relationship with You
Getting out of an unhealthy or unhappy relationship is the first step towards something better. The problem is that you may end up in another negative situation if you don’t take time to reflect on the experience and learn about yourself.
Your divorce can be a chance to ask big questions about you.
If your ex left the marriage, do you think you know why? Did you leave them? If so, do you know why? Are you replicating the same relationship over and over? Was there, alcoholism? Drug use? Violence? Infidelity? Was this the first time?
It may be time to explore some of your choices and experiences on a deeper level. You may want to find a therapist to work with as you examine these issues. If you think it would help to talk to others in your situation, you could join an area divorce support group.
Over time and through introspection, you can build a better relationship with yourself.
5) A Healthier You
Your post-divorce life can be an opportunity to embrace new wellness habits. You have control over your schedule, what you eat, and how you spend your time. Exercising, even for a few minutes each day can improve your mood and health. When you select nourishing, healthy foods over sugary processed items, your body will perform and rest better. Getting enough sleep each night also helps you maintain optimum health and reduce stress levels. By using this time to adopt a new routine, you may end up feeling healthier.
6) More Energy
It’s surprising how physically draining it can be to argue or have conflict in your relationship with another person. Being around your ex, even if you were not fighting, was probably tense. Your body may have had to work almost all of the time to manage the anxiety of your home life.
These conditions could have also impacted your sleep and drained you of your energy. Then the divorce introduced a new kind of stress into your life.
Now that all of that is behind you and you no longer have to pour energy into a failing marriage and endless conflict, you can rest and recover. In time, you may find that your energy has returned and is available for you to use on the people and activities you love.
7) A Step in a Better Direction
You may have searched yourself for the answer as to why this happened only to come up empty-handed. Although you didn’t marry your ex with plans for the marriage to end in divorce, it did, and you are still standing. You may have yet to see where your experience is going to take you.
Maybe getting divorced pushed you to focus on your goal of finishing your degree and becoming a nurse. You may have become a fitness lover after a lifetime of being unhealthy. Your divorce may have led to you accepting a dream job in a city you would have never considered before. Perhaps you will meet your best friend in a divorce support group. Your next spouse, and the true love of your life, might be another single parent you will meet at church/synagogue.
Your divorce may be the step that takes you in a better direction. The important thing is to recognize that your journey is far from over and may only be just beginning.
Karyn Youso of First Look Family Law is a trained Wisconsin attorney, Collaborative Attorney, and Mediator. She has extensive experience assisting clients before, during, and after Wisconsin divorce cases and can help you understand your options and find the right resources.