Managing Regret After Divorce: How to Heal Gracefully

It’s no secret that divorce can take a significant toll on your mental health.  Research shows that new divorcees are at a heightened risk for depression, anxiety, and substance use.

With that in mind, divorce regret is a real struggle, and many people aren’t prepared for its impact. They often feel angry or even guilty over this regret.

While some regret may be inevitable, it’s important to look after your emotional well-being during this vulnerable time. Let’s get into what you need to know.

When Does Divorce Regret Set In?

Divorce regret is often a type of grief, and that grief at any point during or after the marriage.

Some people experience divorce regret once they start realizing they have no choice but to leave the marriage. With this, the regret isn’t so much about getting divorced- it’s about their decisions or actions within the marriage instead. There’s often a profound sadness about the current situation.

However, inhibited grief can sometimes happen many months or years after the divorce is finalized. You may feel guilty or remorseful over how you treated your ex-partner. You might wonder “what could have been” had things been different.

Divorce regret tends to ebb and flow over time. Certain stressors may exacerbate disappointment, anger, or despair.

Here are some ways to cope with these feelings:

Acknowledge Your Regret

Even if it’s painful, it’s important to acknowledge the feelings you have about your divorce. Having regret doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. It also isn’t “bad” to have regret.

You may be tempted to try to move on as quickly as possible. Subsequently, loved ones may also encourage you to “get out there.” And while you should strive to heal from your pain, you shouldn’t dismiss your feelings.

You invested significant time and energy into your relationship. You’re allowed to acknowledge how it hurts to change direction. To acknowledge this acknowledges you’re an emotional being who cares about the people and experiences in your life.

Be Mindful of Euphoric Recall and Exaggerated Memories

When navigating divorce regret, many people struggle with romanticizing the past. Maybe you imagine things as much better than they were. You ruminate over the good moments and seemingly gloss over or disregard what wasn’t working.

This is a normal part of the healing journey, but it’s important to try to avoid getting stuck in this space. If you stay here, you risk exacerbated depression and remorse. You also risk reaching back out to your ex and trying to reconcile- even if that isn’t the best decision.

Instead, try journaling or seeking support. Aim to be realistic when overviewing your marriage. It’s okay to long for the beautiful moments. But try to hold space for the pain and agony you also experienced.

Ask For Support and Help

Friends and family will want to know how they can be there for you during this vulnerable time. And even if you have the urge to isolate, try to resist that temptation. We heal when we feel connected, and now is the time to lean on loved ones.

Remember that seeking support isn’t a sign of weakness. You shouldn’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself. If you still struggle with reaching out, ask yourself this: If my best friend were going through this experience, what would I tell them?

If you feel like people are continuing to side with your ex, you may need to avoid mutual friends at the moment. You won’t feel safe if you’re worried about someone sharing your feelings with your ex.

If you don’t feel like you really have anyone, consider joining a support group or seeking professional support. There are also numerous online forums or groups available for instant connectivity.

Focus on Building Your New Future

While you can’t undo the past, you can take steps to look after yourself moving forward. This is an important time for self-discovery and self-improvement.

Give yourself the gift of learning more about yourself. Lean into what feels meaningful to you. Consider trying that hobby or taking that class that always piqued your interest. Reconnect with old friends that have drifted away. Spend some time clarifying your values and thinking about how your current life aligns with them.

None of this erases the hardships of divorce. None of this mitigates the regret. But it does place you on a path of healing- and that can help you feel excited in your journey toward moving forward.

How Therapy Can Help With Divorce Regret

Whether you’re experiencing marital distress or the divorce is finalized, your emotions may feel overwhelming right now. You might experience any combination of loneliness, anger, frustration, and fear. While these feelings may seem exhausting, they can and will pass. You can learn to cope and heal from this challenging time.

No matter where you are on your journey, I am here to support you. Contact me today to get started.

4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 988-3363

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