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How to Handle the Break-up of a Marriage

author image Gina Heyen, LCMFT
Gina Heyen has been a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist since 1999. She counsels individuals, couples and families. Heyen also has more than 10 years' experience teaching at the elementary and college level. She is a published author of two books, "Learning with Matthew" and "Creating a Therapeutic Classroom: A Teacher's Guide to Meeting the Needs of all Students in the Classroom."
How to Handle the Break-up of a Marriage
A couple talking to a divorce attorney. Photo Credit Minerva Studio/iStock/Getty Images


The death of a marriage, no matter how long it lasted, is intense and difficult. When you process the obstacles you faced as a couple, it is important that both parties accept their part in the discord that has led to the separation. Even in the midst of sadness and stress of the breakup, you have the opportunity to learn from the experience and grow into a stronger and wiser person. This helps you accept the situation and visualize a new beginning.

The End of a Dream

The romance of the relationship began with excitement and hope for the future. With the failure of that dream, disappointment, stress and grief evolves. The loss of the life you lived together disrupts your home, routine and relationships with friends and extended family. Your grief creates doubt about your future and even your self-identity of becoming a single person again. This pain must be endured because it represents the loss of the relationship, shared dreams and commitments you created together.

Society refers to divorce as a “failed marriage.” Your marriage isn’t a failure if you are able to retain what was learned from the relationship. In the course of life, things happen to people that cause them to change. Sometimes, those events cause relationships to end. That doesn’t mean the relationship failed when it was no longer viable. The marriage was successful for the years you were happy together.

A New Beginning

Many couples facing divorce concentrate on who is to blame, but it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. You still are facing the reality that the relationship is over and the question of how to move forward. Obsessing about the loss and filling your life with anger only hinders your progress in healing. Focus on yourself. Your new life is a work in progress.

It is important to heal from your divorce before beginning a new relationship. A rule of thumb is that you should allow approximately six months for every five years you were together. If you begin to date before you are ready, you can bring your past mistakes into the new relationship or experience the pain of a “rebound relationship."

Try to live independently first and learn who you are as a single person again. Then explore new ways to seek fulfillment by making time in your life for the fun things you enjoy doing. This helps you relish the freedom you now have over your own schedule. Always focus on the positive and what is going right in your life. To optimize this positive thinking, prioritize your self-care by eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep. Make this a part of your daily lifestyle. The best option you have for your new beginning is to live well and enjoy the journey.

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