Let’s face it: Divorce can be overwhelming, no matter how prepared you are for the process. But, once it’s over, it’s time to start rebuilding, and, lots of peace can come with that process.
We checked in with several experts—those who are well-versed in all types of fields, including organization, retirement planning, co-parenting and dating—to ask for their best tips. Here’s their best post-divorce advice for women who are 40 or older, and starting over.
Make your house your own
Start with a fresh coat of paint, suggests Marty Basher, with Modular Closets. Give your bedroom a makeover by painting the room in your favorite color, Basher suggests. “Swap out your bedding with a new design so that you can have a fresh, updated look,” he says. “Rearrange your furniture. Replace old photos with new ones. Get excited about the extra space in your bedroom closet.” He suggests adding some shelves and other storage features so the closet’s layout is designed for you and your things, not for two people.
Check out our guide to buying a house post-divorce
If you’re planning to downsize or just want a new home to start the next chapter of your life, check out the Closetbox guide to buying a home after divorce. We asked experts for their best advice on the pre-qualification process, rebuilding credit, down-payments and how to qualify for a mortgage if there’s a gap in your work history because you stayed home to raise children.
Let Closetbox help
Staying in your new home, but want to do a remodel of the master bathroom or the kitchen to make it feel like your own space? Let Closetbox help. We can come pick up your belongings while you focus on making that Pinterest-inspired remodel come to life. Then, when you’re ready, we’ll bring your items back to you. Or, maybe you’ve decided to start fresh in a new home. Again, Closetbox can come pick up your belongings and store them until you need them again, making the moving process seamless. The idea? We’re here when you need us, and can save you time by letting our licensed, bonded and insured movers do all the heavy lifting.
Get into psychotherapy after you divorce
It’s best to do this before you start dating again, says Christine B. L. Adams, M.D., a psychiatrist who has been in practice for more than 40 years, and who has lots of experience working with divorced people who are starting over. “You need to discover why your prior marriage failed—your contribution and your spouse’s,” she says. You also need to uncover what you learned as a child about how relationships are suppose to work, as well as discover what types of people you are attracted to romantically and why, Adams says. “You need to assess if your automatic attraction to another person is the best way for you to proceed in forming a new romantic relationship or if you need to make changes in yourself before you repeat the same mistake as before,” she says.
Reassess your retirement plan
Going from being part of a couple to being single can significantly impact what your lifestyle in your older years will look like, explains Jennifer McDermott, consumer advocate with Finder.com. Consider this: according to the 17th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey, women are saving far less for retirement. Female baby boomers have saved on average $109,000 compared to $211,000 for men. “Removing the possibility of living off combined savings in the future places a greater importance on what you are doing with your retirement today,” suggests McDermott. “Look at tweaking your budget so you can make greater contributions, compare IRAs to ensure you’re getting the best deal and if you haven’t even started saving, make it a priority.”
Try a meetup group or online dating
With a proliferation of dating apps and websites, it’s fair to say the dating game has likely gone through lots of changes since the last time you were single. Isabel James, the founder of Elite Dating Managers, is a matchmaker and relationship coach, says she recommends women over 40 give online dating a try, and join meetup groups. “I recommend not spending too much time chatting online before the face-to-face meeting and to keep profile photos as recent as possible,” James says.
Don’t compare yourself to your ex
Social media makes it unnaturally easy to follow your ex’s every move, points out Jonathan Bennett, an author and dating and relationship coach who runs the website The Popular Man. “Resist the urge to keep tabs on your ex and compare yourself to him,” Bennett says. “Everyone moves in a different ways and at different speeds. It’s not a competition.” Also, he notes, social media isn’t always an accurate reflection of a person’s life. Think of it more of a highlight reel. “You will be comparing yourself to a fake image your ex is projecting to the world,” he says.
Realize your life will go better when your former spouse’s life goes better
You may have fantasies of your ex-husband’s life crumbling into pieces, says Elisabeth Stitt, of Joyful Parenting Coaching. But, consider your children. You want your kids to be happy and stable. “Your former spouse having a job that fulfills him, that pays well, that has benefits—all that will make your life easier,” she says. You want your kids’ father to be as relaxed and happy as possible so he will have the resources of calm and patience that required for good parenting, Stitt says. Also, she advises that once you’re divorced, the first filter through which you evaluate any decision should be the effect on the kids. It’s important, she says, for your children to believe that you support your former spouse.