When you got married, you deposited all of your hopes and dreams into your partner and the marriage with the belief that your investment would flourish and grow. You trusted that your return would come in the form of forever.
Now that your marriage is over, you have to reconcile what you thought you had, the future you imagined would be. Letting go of hopes and dreams is a painful process. This experience of loss feels like a betrayal because you feel you were promised forever and got never.
As hard as this is, if you don’t work toward relinquishing this disappointment, you will be stuck clinging to a belief that no longer exists. In the face of uncertainty, your tendency will be to return to what was or to focus on what could have been. However, you need to turn your attention to what is.
The rug has been pulled out from under you, which means you have to find your footing again.
Your dreams have been crushed, which means you have to reimagine a future grounded in a new reality.
Your fantasy of forever served you at the time you got married, but now you need to apply these healing salves to your wounds so you can find your way back to your own truth.
Five ways to get there:
- Define the meaning of forever: Forever is a term that comes from fairy tales and romantic movies. Most married people expect to grow old together, and remain married until death. This still isn’t forever. Reflect on what you really expected because sometimes the fantasy can create more suffering than necessary.
- Find your center: When your world changes overnight from certainty to surreal, and everything you thought you knew to be true is in question, it’s time to find your center. Your center is where you go to find peace and the answers to your questions. For some people, this is faith or spirituality. For others, it’s a meditative activity such as exercise or painting. Your center is your grounding, what will keep you sane.
- Reaffirm your values: It’s hard to feel confident in your own values and what’s important when everything you thought you trusted and knew is up in the air. You most likely held certain principles about your marriage and your commitment. You need to remember that your values are still in place even though your marriage isn’t. The standards to which you uphold yourself don’t need to change just because things didn’t work out as you planned.
- Reconnect to your dreams: You may feel that all of your hopes and dreams went down the drain with your marriage. While your dream of this marriage lasting forever has been crushed, you still have an imagination and capacity to create new dreams. It feels like you’ve been robbed of the future you thought you had, but you can still begin to imagine a new life worth living.
- Stay inspired: Despair is on the other side of hope, so once the hope is gone, things can become dark. It’s essential that you stay inspired to stay afloat. You can draw inspiration from role models, quotes, blogs, even your own children. You will want to give up, but you have to work at taking one step forward every day.
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Andra Brosh, PhD, therapist in Los Angeles, California
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