How to Have a Healthy Relationship After a Divorce

by Christie Hartman

    Divorce is one of the toughest things a person can go through. Not only does it tax you legally and financially, it takes an emotional toll. Fortunately, one of the good things about divorce is that it offers you a fresh start and a chance to begin a new relationship, one that’s even healthier and more fulfilling than your marriage was. However, ensuring a healthy relationship after a divorce means following a few guidelines.

    Divorce, and all the marital troubles that led up to it, can leave a person hurt, angry, and untrusting of marriage. These feelings are a normal part of the grieving process. However, if you don’t work through these feelings before getting involved again, you can’t give your all to your new partner and you risk ruining the relationship. Work through the pain of the divorce with friends, family, or a therapist. Learn from any mistakes you made and resolve to start fresh.

    In the hopes of finding happiness again or getting their mind off the pain of divorce, many people seek a relationship too soon after divorcing. This is known as rebounding. The problem with rebound relationships is that they’re based on filling a void, rather than a true desire for a two-way relationship, making it very difficult for the relationship to succeed. Instead of rushing into something new, take time for yourself, date casually for a while, and then start a relationship when you feel fulfilled in other areas of your life.

    One of the biggest challenges of getting involved with someone who’s divorced is dealing with the “baggage” they come with. An intrusive ex-spouse, unruly kids, or ugly custody battles can wreak havoc on a new relationship. As such, it’s important to establish good boundaries with your ex, find your stride as a single parent, and work through any legal issues. Doing so will reduce conflicts in your relationship.

    Anyone who gets involved with a divorced person knows they have a “past” – i.e. that they have an ex-spouse they once loved. Most people are fine with this, as long as the past stays in the past. To maintain a healthy relationship, avoid talking about your ex, your divorce, or your former marriage. It’s okay to share important information such as what led to the marriage ending, but avoid too much detail or comparing your new partner to your old one. A new partner wants to feel special, not like he or she is standing in the shadow of your past.

    About the Author

    Christie Hartman is a psychologist and author of five dating and relationship books. She has written for several online publications and has been published in numerous scientific journals in the areas of mental health and addiction. Christie earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Colorado.

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