Five Tips for Surviving a Breakup or Divorce

May 25, 2011

in Life Lessons

Elin Nordegren and Maria Shriver

“People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.”

~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

As I read the reports about the breakup of Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger, I have been thinking of Elin Nordegren’s divorce from Tiger Woods. Yes, the men’s behavior is similar, but what I have been focusing on is the behavior of the women.

Maria and Elin have exhibited dignity and grace when faced with embarrassing and disgraceful behavior from their husbands. These women have been able to maintain an impressive level of decorum.

While I don’t know how Maria and Elin have privately handled their marital difficulties, I know  focusing on healing was most helpful for me when working through the breakup of my marriage. The pain was still with me, but it was eased whenever I focused on these five things.

Focus on the children. Turning attention towards being a good parent helps keep the divorce in perspective. Behaving respectfully during the divorce will have a positive effect on the children.

Count blessings. There is always something to be grateful for, even the challenges that one faces in life.

Forgive the person. The person forgiving is freed in the process.

Focus on the future. Looking forward and embracing new opportunities is a great use of time.

Be human. Trying to achieve perfection eventually leads to unhappiness. Feeling anger and accepting this emotion when it comes is healthy.

Maria Shriver and Elin Nordegren’s lights have shone brightly for all to see as details of their marital difficulties were made public. Both have been able to show their true, inner beauty. Maria and Elin are to be commended.

What other ways can the light from within be cultivated during a breakup or divorce?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Oilfield Trash May 25, 2011 at 10:26 am

That right there is the best advice on this subject that I have ever seen.
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.endtransmission. May 25, 2011 at 10:55 am

I had an Affirmation List during that period in my life. I would put a situation, a nasty email exchange, or just a moment that clarified why I left on the Affirmation List in my head. As if to say, YES, you are making the right choice by leaving. You’d be surprised how helpful (and sometimes fun) it can be to cheer for yourself in a very difficult time.
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Melissa Hicks May 25, 2011 at 11:32 am

I’ve got to say that I’m a pretty emotional person, and when I can’t find a constructive way to vent them, I ooze unhappiness and negativity.
I actively find ways to let my rage or sadness out. One of the things that helped me most in the days after loosing a friend was, believe it or not, slam dancing a bit. Driving into the woods to yell, playing Patsy Cline until I can’t cry anymore, and throwing rocks into rivers have also helped.
I try to inspire a catharsis for myself so I can move on. I love your tips, but sometimes I’m in such a blownup funk of emotion, I can’t think that clearly.
My tip: Let it out(in a place where you are comforatable, possibly alone, and definitely kid-free)!

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andygirl May 25, 2011 at 11:35 am

Well I don’t have kids and have never been divorced, but I am a breakup pro.

my surefire ways to survive are thus:
get a breakup buddy who is there for you to cry with and to stop you from doing something stupid. force yourself to eat, but don’t make yourself eat healthy. you’re in pain so it’s ok to eat a pint of ice cream for two days. don’t drink; that makes it worse. take a bath, listen to sad music, and cry until you can’t anymore. journal it out.

all these things sound indulgent, but honestly, by letting yourself feel the pain, it moves on quicker than you’d think. it’s ok to be sad and weak for a bit.

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Heather O. May 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Great advice! My advice… do not communicate while angry. You have a right to be angry, especially if you’ve been cheated on or otherwise lied to, but nothing good can come from talking/emailing/texting while angry. I learned (the hard way) to walk away, go vent my frustrations and once I calm down, then call the ex and discuss whatever it is that needs discussing.
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ally May 27, 2011 at 9:28 am

I blogged about my own painful breakup experience yesterday. Your advice is great, though I must admit, forgiveness is never easy.
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Minka May 27, 2011 at 10:30 am

Loved that quote you have at the top. Gotta remember that one. in fact, I think i have to add it to my revolving quotes page on my blog. Hope you don’t mind sharing, I will of course give you credit :) This is a really important thing you’re addressing here, and you do it with elegance, much like the women you mention. Most people look at these situations as endings. But few realize that these “endings” are really just the beginning of something else. And often something better. The transition time is difficult, but instead of seeing this as a finality, it’s also a time of liberation, and an opportunity to reshape your life into something new and different.

When i got divorced, a friend kept telling me that until you close one door, you can’t open the next. I hated him for it at the time, but it turned out to be amazingly true.

I have no doubt Ms. Shriver and Ms. Nordegren will go on to lead fabulous lives once they recover from the hurt. (Though I kinda wish Ms. Nordegren had hit Tiger Woods just a little bit harder with that golf club….)

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Kimberly May 30, 2011 at 8:23 pm

For me, the light in my divorce was the self-reflection. I figured out all the things I had loved and been denied while married to the ex: art on the walls, cheese pizza, quiet reading time.

And I reveled in those things. I found me.
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