17 Surprising Things You Learn After a Divorce

broken heartWhen I made the decision to get divorced, I thought I had pretty much figured out what my life would be like after the papers were signed. Single parent. Working full-time. Every other weekend blissfully to myself.

Other than that, life would just go on much the way it had been going.

Boy, was I naive.

That first year had a really steep learning curve. And 10 years out, even after getting re-married, I'm still learning.

There were so many things I didn't know, and didn't even consider, when I got divorced. Things I really wish I had known before I became a divorcee. Not because they would have changed the outcome of my marriage but because it would have been nice to be forewarned.

So let me share with you some of the things that nobody tells you about life after divorce:

More from The Stir: 17 Surprising Things You Learn After a Divorce

1. It doesn’t matter how amicable your divorce is or if you were the one who initiated it, divorce flat-out sucks.

2. You will never feel like a "normal" family again. Even if you re-marry and do a great job of blending your new family.

3. You will have so much less of a say in parenting your children. And that will frustrate you.

4. Friends and family members will forever take sides. Even if adultery and abuse were involved.

5. People, even those you meet years after your marriage has ended, will look at you differently.

Divorce Lessons

6. At some point, you will want to have sex. There will be plenty of people willing to set you up. Let them.

7. Money will always be an issue between you and your ex-spouse. Even if you have a lot of it.

8. Your children will find out at some point who initiated the divorce. And they will not be happy with that parent.

9. You will have frequent differences with your ex. After all, there's a reason you're not still together.

10. When you wake up in the middle of the night, one of the first thoughts to run through your head will be, "Are my kids here tonight?"

11. No matter how broken your heart may be, you will want to date at some point. Don't push yourself to get back out there too soon.

12. Do not, under any circumstances, bad-mouth your ex to your kids. Sometimes, it's really hard not to, but it'll come back to bite you in the butt.

13. Being divorced gets easier every single day.

14. You will miss some of your kids' lives. And that is sad. You'll do what you can to minimize this.

15. People will always want to know what went wrong the first time. Don't be surprised if one of their theories questions your ex-husband's sexuality.

16. You will still share a life with your ex after the papers are signed. In fact, it's just the beginning of a lifetime of shared experiences which will include graduations, birthdays, weddings, and even grandchildren.

17. Over time, you will tell your friends about the perks of divorce. The Thursday night date nights, the extended childless vacations, lazy weekend mornings. But deep down, you'll always be saddened by being away from your children. Until they're teenagers.

What else would be good to know about divorce?


Image via BuzzFarmers/Flickr

divorce, breakups

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nonmember avatar TF

I have to disagree with #8- to a point. My husband is a child of probably the most bitter, acrimonious, childish divorce on the planet. My FIL did indeed initiate the divorce, to which he fully admits. And my husband and his siblings did hate him for that for years... But only because my MIL violated #12. She not only bad mouthed their father to them constantly, but she flat out lied to her kids about him. She told them he cheated on her with his current wife. My husband just found out a few years ago that wasn't true. My FIL stayed faithful to their mother until he left her. Then, he started to date his current wife. We also found out he initiated the divorce because my MIL was an incredibly selfish and mean wife, which we all believe because my husband and siblings say she was an incredibly selfish and mean mother. So yes, they were not happy with their father at first, but when they learned the truth, they applauded their father for getting out of a toxic marriage with his sanity and self-esteem. If the parent who initiated had damn good reasons, the kids will eventually forgive, and even commend that parent.

Darcy Nestler

I have to say in my case, I disagree with # 2, 3, 5, and 16.  I recently remarried and we do feel like a normal family.  It felt normal even before he came along, when it was just my kids and me.  Maybe that's just because their dad wasn't around much anyway.  I have full custody of my kids and have have everything to say about how they are raised.  Their dad doesn't get a say in it because he wasn't there.  I can't say that anyone looks at me any differently, unless its to comment that I'm much stronger than they thought.  And I do NOT share a life with my ex-husband-again, that might just be our circumstances.  We do our thing and he does his.  I invite him to programs at school and such when the kids ask me to.  He doesn't get invited to birthday parties.  We also had an extremely bitter divorce and we only got married because we thought we were supposed to due to have two kids.  I at one point had an order of protection against him.  I do make it a point to not say anything bad about their dad to them.  The weekends I don't have my kids are bittersweet.  I love them because I get time alone with my husband but I hate them because my kids aren't there. 

nonmember avatar Melissa

Divorcing my ex was the absolute best thing that happened to my girls and I. Sure, they were extremely upset with me when it happened. They were 8 and 6. I talked to them about everything. After a few months, they moved on and we became our own happy little family. Their dad was involved for the first year afterwards. We stayed good friends. However, he then started dating a girl (who happened to be my cousins bff, 11 yrs younger, stayed at our house all the time, and even babysat for us so we could go out!!) and she now wants nothing to do with our girls. And she basically told him he is not to have any contact with me at all! I talked to her one time after this and her response was "im just afraid you are going to want him back". Really? Anyway, he is out of the picture. The girls try to communicate with him, but have basically given up. Five years later, I am engaged to the most amazing person. My girls love him to the moon and back. Divorce was hard, for all of us at first, but we found our way in life to move on and we couldn't be happier :)

nonmember avatar jj

You sound bitter lady. Not all of us have suffered all of those 17 things you mention & to say this is what you should expect is very irresponsible of you. Each divorce is different & you can't base your experience to be the experience of every other person. Stop being bitter and write about uplifting things. GET A LIFE!!!

nonmember avatar Uncle Sherman

This whole list ought to begin with "This happened to me", not "This will happen to you", because only 2 1/2 of the predictions on this list apply to me, in 2 divorces, the first in 1978 after 10 years of marriage, the second in 1996 after 17 years of marriage.

The best advice is to not listen too closely to someone who's also having trouble getting around their own divorce. None of the bad things listed here need to happen if one has a firm sense of themselves and isn't in a hurry to triumph or to replace what's been lost, or to go on into the future while concentrating on connections with people and the contents of their lives that have been broken and have ended.

It’s of fundamental necessity to understand that looking within for one’s confidence and sense of worth and character is the only way to find them, they won’t be provided or proven to exist in people and circumstances outside one’s self.

When there’s no way to fix what one’s world has become the best one can do is to find ways to be serene and at peace with what can’t be changed

Larina Hendley Wainwright

You will find out secrets your kids hid from you... scary stuff.. like child sexual abuse... If only I had known...

marsh... marshsmom

Sometimes your kids will want (or even need) both parents at the same time, and you won't be able to give them that.

Homes... Homeschoolmom99

I fully do not agree with most of this sorry!

frend... frendleeT

no two divorces are alike. The only thing I can agree with totally is #12. 

nonmember avatar isaiah

#2 you make it sound like your new marrage is not normal. Like youre saying no matter how hard you try your new husband will never compare to your ex. You should reword that. Cause if your husband takes that the way i did im sure hed be pissed.

Cause thats how i take it.

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