Not many people are thankful for divorce ... or at least, not at first.
I mean, why would anyone ever be thankful that their life was turned upside down, their dreams dashed to pieces, and their family changed forever? Why would anyone be thankful for the pain, the misery, the disruption, or the financial devastation of divorce?
Why Be Thankful for Something so Awful?
Unless you were married to someone who was abusive, addicted to drugs or alcohol, or had a serious gambling problem, you may not feel very thankful about getting divorced. Going through a divorce is rough. Putting your life together after divorce can be challenging. In short, there just doesn't seem to be a whole lot about divorce that would make anyone thankful.
Yet, not only are some people grateful for their divorce, but they see it as one of the best things that ever happened to them.
How do they do that?
- They consciously shift their perspective and look for the silver lining; and
- They have the benefit of hindsight. (It’s hard to be grateful that you’re going through hell when your hair is on fire.)
Adopting an “Attitude of Gratitude”
In order to understand how you can find the positive side of a negative situation it helps to identify what "being thankful for a divorce” means.
Being thankful for your divorce does not mean that you are thankful that your marriage fell apart. It does not mean that you are thankful that you hurt children. It does not mean being thankful that you ended up in misery and pain. Nor does it mean being thankful that your life is a mess and your dreams are in shambles.
Being thankful for your divorce means looking beyond the pain and struggle of ending your marriage to find the gifts that only divorce can bring.
- Are you stronger now than you were when you started? That's a gift.
- Have you found out that you are more resourceful than you ever imagined? That's a gift.
- Has your ex stepped up his or her game and become a better parent than while you were married? That's a gift. (You may not be happy about this one, but it is a gift for your children.)
In short, divorce can bring gifts. Finding those gifts, and actually being grateful for them, can be the first step in transforming your divorce from the worst thing that ever happened to you, into something that you are at peace with. Gratitude will give you perspective and help you heal.
To help you discover the gifts in your own divorce, here are:
12 Reasons to Be Thankful For Your Divorce
1. You are now free to live life on your own terms.
Now that you are single, you can go where you want, when you want, and spend what you want. You can structure your life, your activities, and your finances your way.
Yes, living alone is not always easy. It can be lonely and sad. (I know.) But, being in a dead marriage and living with someone you're not sure if you even like anymore can be lonelier than being alone.
So, even if you would happily trade “living on your own terms” for living in a connected, loving relationship, the truth is, you weren’t living in a connected, loving relationship while you were married! If that had truly been the reality of the way you and your spouse were living, you’d still be together.
2. You can create a healthier environment for your kids.
Research has consistently shown that parental conflict hurts kids. If you and your ex were fighting in front of the kids while you were married, then being divorced may actually be better for them.
Even if your marriage had not disintegrated into open warfare, if you were living in a cold, lifeless, or strained marriage, there was probably a lot of tension in the air. Your kids felt that tension. They felt the awkward silences, the lack of respect, the disgust. Worse yet, they probably felt that that kind of tension or distance between parents was “normal.”
Whether you realized it or not, you were setting an example for your kids about what marriage is just by the way you and your spouse behaved.
3. You can parent your way.
If you and your ex were constantly at odds about what was best for your kids, parenting “solo” can be a relief. Without your ex constantly telling you that you’re wrong, you will be able to parent your kids in peace, and in the way that you believe is best.
That will be better for you. It will also be better for them.
The flip-side, of course, is that your ex will be doing the same. (… which can be nerve-wracking!) But rather than making yourself crazy worrying about what’s happening to the kids when they’re at your ex’s house, try to focus on the advantage they’ll have of experiencing two different parenting styles AND two parents who are (hopefully) happier now than they were before!
4. You can decorate your home your way.
This may not seem like a big deal, but your environment plays a huge role in your overall well-being.
For you to function at your highest level, you need a home that’s comfortable, peaceful, and supportive. Now you get to create that kind of home for yourself. You can also do it YOUR way.
If your spouse was a pack rat, you now have the freedom to live in a house that’s NOT full of junk your spouse won’t let you throw out. If your spouse was a neat freak, you now have the freedom to leave dishes in the sink without getting screamed at. In short, you no longer have to live in an environment that raises your blood pressure, makes your skin crawl, or inspires you to be anywhere else EXCEPT at home.
5. You can finally stop walking on eggshells.
If you lived with someone who was abusive, controlling, or highly unpredictable, chances are you could never relax. You always had to be on “high alert.”
You had to think about everything you said, and everything you did, BEFORE you said or did it. Then you had to pacify your spouse afterwards if you did something s/he didn’t like. (And it seemed like you ALWAYS did something that your spouse didn’t like!)
Living that way is exhausting! … yet in a weird way, after a while you probably started to get used to it. It’s not until after you’re divorced, and you no longer have to walk on eggshells, that you finally realize just how amazing it feels to be able to relax and live life your own way.
6. You no longer have to play private detective or wonder where you stand.
If the catalyst for your divorce was the fact that your spouse cheated, you’ve probably been going through hell for a very long time.
It started when you began to suspect your spouse was having an affair. From that point forward you likely found yourself acting in ways you never would have imagined you could act.
- You started spying on your spouse;
- You obsessively looked for opportunities to check his/her phone;
- Every time your spouse had to work late, or go out of town, or be away from you for any reason, your jealousy and suspicion just about drove you mad.
If you’re like most people, you confronted your spouse about your fears at some point. But, if your spouse is like most people, s/he lied about what was happening. Getting divorced lets you finally start dealing with the emotions you’ve been feeling for a very long time. It lets you start to heal.
7. Your divorce forced you to grow.
Divorce is usually one of those “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” kinds of experiences.
No one wants to go through the pain and struggle of divorce. But, once you do, you may find that you are stronger, braver, and more resilient and resourceful than you ever imagined. Divorce gives you an insight into yourself, your life, and your kids, that you could not have obtained any other way.
That’s not to say that anyone is jumping for joy about dealing with the pain of divorce. But, just like childbirth, the pain of divorce can be worth it to bring into the world something (or someone) new.
8. You can live in peace.
Peace is highly underrated. When we have it, we take it for granted. It’s only when we DON’T have it that we tend to see its value.
Whether your marriage was full of angry outbursts, quiet tension, or icy bouts of “the silent treatment,” it affected you. Ultimately, that stress of a difficult marriage (or even a simply loveless marriage) takes a toll on you, and your kids.
For example, maybe you gained weight. Maybe your kids were acting out. Maybe you were unproductive at work, or your kids were doing poorly in school. Or, maybe you got sick. The bottom line is that living with stress and tension – even quiet stress and tension - has consequences.
9. Your divorce probably made you a better parent.
Even if you considered yourself to be a good parent before you got divorced, spending at least some portion of your time away from your children somehow makes you realize how precious your time with them really is.
Your kids will not be kids forever. Yet, when you are in the day-to-day frenzy of parenting, it is easy to forget that. You get caught up on your phone, your computer, your T.V. Now that you only have your kids part of the time, you know the clock is ticking so you're more mindful of how precious the time is that you have together.
That is a gift.
10. Divorce gives you a second chance at love.
When divorce first becomes a part of your reality, you feel like your life is over. You feel like you’ll never find love again. The truth, however, is just the opposite.
You can’t find love when you’re stuck in a marriage where the love has died and can’t be revived. You can’t wholeheartedly dive into a new relationships when you’re still clinging to your old one.
(Okay. So you maybe didn’t want a second chance at love. You wanted your first chance to work out. I get that. But it didn’t. Would you rather have spent the rest of your life pretending to be happy, or do you want a chance at real happiness? )
11. Getting divorced teaches you who your real friends are.
One of the most painful and unacknowledged casualties of divorce is the loss of your friends.
Like it or not, when you get divorced, some of your friends will pick sides. Some will choose to stand with you. Others won’t. Still others will avoid BOTH you and your spouse. It’s as if they’re afraid that divorce is “catching,” and if they stand too close to you their own marriage will implode.
Losing those friends will be painful. Yet, for every false friend you lose, you will find a new friend you can trust. If you look for it, you can find a community in other divorcing people that will be as rich and wonderful as any community you can ever imagine. (NOTE: A great way to find that community is to look for divorce support groups, either online or in your area.)
12. Sometimes, divorce teaches you that you and your ex can be better co-parents than parents.
As Forrest Gump would say, “relationships are like a box of chocolates. You never know just what you’re going to get.” (Okay. So maybe that’s not exactly what he said. It’s close!)
When your marriage turns from good to bad (or from good to unbearable!) you lose a lot of things. Two of the biggest casualties are trust and respect. When those go away, it’s hard to parent well together.
Splitting up and getting some distance from each other often help start to restore the trust and respect – not as partners necessarily, but as parents. Many people find that co-parenting forces them to cooperate. It forces them to at least try to be on the same page for their kids. When that happens parents often find that while their romantic relationship may be over, they can still be effective co-parents, and sometimes even friends.
Why Gratitude is So Important
Divorce brings with it a host of negative emotions and challenging experiences. Being grateful for hard things seems counterintuitive in every way. Common sense tells us to be thankful for the good things in our lives, not the bad.
But, we live in a world of duality. Nothing is totally good or totally bad.
By consciously choosing to look for the good (once enough time has passed that you’ve started to heal) you can change your entire view of divorce. You can see that while it was stressful and emotional and painful beyond measure, it also forced you to become resourceful and resilient.
When you focus on the gifts divorce brought you, rather than the struggles it caused, not only will you heal and find peace, but you just might look back and be supremely thankful for your divorce.
This was originally posted on November 23, 2015 and updated on November 21, 2023.