Not all divorce advice is created equal. For every good tip you receive from someone (don’t use your attorney as your therapist, keep those rants about your ex off Facebook), there are just as many unhelpful comments: “Don’t get mad, get everything!” Just no.
The best source for advice you can actually use are divorcés themselves. Below, 10 HuffPost bloggers and readers share the one tip they wish someone had given them during the divorce process.
1. Moving on is a marathon, not a sprint.
“The difference is, a marathoner trains for hours before the big race. Divorce strikes most of us unexpectedly with no training on how to get through it. Take things day by day and one step at a time until you find solid footing and each step doesn’t feel like you’re walking on quicksand. And realize that emotions shouldn’t be suppressed. As a man, I was raised in an environment where emotions weren’t to be spoken of — divorce taught me the opposite.” –Vidal Cisneros Jr.
2. Divorce feels a bit like death (without all the casseroles delivered to your door.)
“Losing your ex — and your ex’s family — is almost like a death. You need to mourn the loss of them and understand that your ex’s family will probably stand by him or her in spite of any wrongdoings.” -Jessi Ann Bigler
3. Post-split life is kind of boring.
“The one thing nobody warns you about is the most unexpected thing about divorce: boredom. The divorce process is so full of drama — from lawyers telling you how broke you’re going to be to the unhappily married dads at your kids’ school drooling as they ask what it’s like to be single again — that you start expecting every day to be as eventful as a Shonda Rhimes series. But trust me, it’s not. Maybe there’s some decent histrionics in the initial months of separation, but after that, life settles into a menial routine not that different from when you were married. You rush to get your kids to school on time. You figure out how to pay the bills. You fall asleep watching Netflix on Friday nights because you’re too worn out to go out. It’s less like the tear-jerking Lifetime movie you expected it to be and more like, say, a minivan commercial.” –Craig Tomashoff
4. There’s no shame in getting divorced.
“Why didn’t someone tell me there’s no shame in getting divorced? It can be a loving and positive decision for you and your spouse. In American culture, we shame people who divorce. We view them as are failures, as lazy, as immoral. Accordingly, the only way to avoid the shame of divorce is to fight, to blame, to win, to prove it was not your fault. By making divorce a shameful thing, we guarantee nasty combative divorces. The damage done is incalculable. We need to create new stories about what divorce means. Someone recently said on Twitter, ‘My marriage didn’t fail, I simply completed it.’ I wish someone had told me there’s no reason to feel ashamed just because you need to create something new.” –Mark Greene
5. A financial advisor is just as important as an attorney.
“I wish someone had pulled me aside and told me to hire a financial advisor. Divorce can leave you in pretty dire straits without the right information and the truth is, divorce proceedings are primarily about money.” –Beth Cone Kramer
6. There is no “right” way to be divorced.
“People couldn’t understand why I was still hurting a year later. Why I had trouble trusting men enough to start dating again. Why, five years later, I’d be having a perfectly great day and then *boom* a little jolt from the past would bring everything back to the surface. We all have our own timelines. Some bounce back immediately, ready to take on this new life with lustful enthusiasm. Some retreat into a Greta Garbo/hermit mode and just want to be left alone for a while. I wish someone had told me that it’s OK to take as long as you need. I often felt as though I was scrambling to meet some make-believe deadline: Time to date! Time to remarry! It would have been good to know that there is no ‘right’ way to be divorced.” –Jennifer Ball
7. It can turn ugly. Really ugly.
“I didn’t realize divorce could be so downright cataclysmic. Sure, you hear all the horror stories, but you think you and your soon-to-be ex are above all that. Guess what? You’re not. There’s something about the complex combination of bloodsucking lawyers, wars of words and mental anguish that causes you to channel the dark side with a vengeance that would make Darth Vader proud. At some point, you experience every negative emotion under the sun. For the average person, this means stratospheric levels of rage, spite and anger coupled with ample amounts of loneliness, depression and despair. Even if you’re so delighted to be out of the relationship you could do cartwheels, the process of getting to the other side is, at times, akin to undergoing an anesthesia-free root canal.” –Austin Blood
8. You might second-guess your decision.
“Even if you’re certain of your decision when you split, you might not be a year from now. When your ex moves on, it will be hard. You may feel jealous of the new person, even if you know you were miserable in your marriage. You may wonder if your kids would be better off if you had stayed in a two-parent household. You could start second guessing the divorce. You look back with rose-colored glasses, remembering the good times and glossing over the bad. But really, no marriage is all good or all bad. There was sickness and there was health. You have to do whatever you can to keep a realistic perspective post-split.” –Kim Caloca
9. Your family and friends may react in unexpected ways.
“I was the first person in my family and friends to get a divorce. I had to figure out a lot on my own. I wish someone had told me that my grandparents would not understand and treat me like the black sheep of the family. Or that the hypocrites who never said a word about how they felt about my ex would finally speak their truth and tell me how they never thought he was good for me. I wish someone had told me that my happily married friends would treat me like my failed marriage was contagious and that I would lose friends because I was divorced.” –Kim Tanis
10. Moving on is a choice.
“When the shock and awe has passed, when you’ve forgiven the betrayal, you have a choice: To stay cocooned and venomous or to look on your divorce as a lesson. And to then make it work for the sake of your children. It’s not always easy, but it’s always necessary. I am happier and more peaceful as a result.” –Ellen Watson Cady
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