PROB­LEM SHARED

It has been five years since I split from my hus­band and now he’s get­ting mar­ried again. His new wife had noth­ing to do with our di­vorce and I’m try­ing to be pos­i­tive about it for the sake of our chil­dren, who will be at the wed­ding with­out me. How­ever, p

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Contents -

TANYA SAYS Gen­er­ally, peo­ple don’t view mar­riage as a tem­po­rary ar­range­ment and so a di­vorce means the painful let­ting go of fu­ture dreams. What you are feel­ing is very un­set­tling and also very nor­mal. You may be won­der­ing how your ex could move on so eas­ily. Per­haps you fear he is re-cre­at­ing your old life but with some­one ‘bet­ter’ than you. You may also won­der whether he loves his new part­ner more than he loved you. All this cuts to the heart of your self-es­teem.

I ad­mire you for keep­ing pos­i­tive for your chil­dren – many exes do not. Your chil­dren

Stay­ing pos­i­tive will help you get through with your in­tegrity and sel­f­re­spect intact

are not re­spon­si­ble for the di­vorce, and in­deed their life out­comes will be en­hanced by hav­ing two par­ents who are happy and set­tled, al­beit sep­a­rated. It is nor­mal that one of you would have moved on first. What this may high­light, how­ever, is that you need sup­port to make the next step for­ward in your own per­sonal life.

Pre­pare for the date by reach­ing out to friends who un­der­stand how hard this will be for you. Cre­ate a day where you can have fun and be among those that love you. Stay­ing as pos­i­tive as pos­si­ble will help you to main­tain your self-re­spect and to get through it with­out too much an­guish.

But you should also fo­cus on the pos­i­tive as­pects of your life and your re­silience. De­spite the heart­break of di­vorce, you have con­tin­ued to func­tion. You have con­tin­ued to mother your chil­dren and, faced with this im­pend­ing mar­riage, your fo­cus is still on sup­port­ing them – even though you may fear they will be­come close to their new step­mother.

Next, ac­cept that your feel­ings re­late to a re­al­i­sa­tion of be­ing with­out a part­ner and feel­ing alone. The fu­ture may at times feel like a vast un­known that you have to deal with on your own. These feel­ings are valid and need to be un­der­stood. Maybe this event has jolted you into the aware­ness that you have be­come stuck in the process of mov­ing on and now need to ad­dress this.

Be kind to your­self. Find space to process these painful feel­ings, mourn the loss of a mar­riage and con­front any fear around be­ing in a new re­la­tion­ship. Em­power your­self and look at what your feel­ings mean. Coun­selling or psy­chother­apy may en­able you to face these fears in a safe and sup­ported space; see its­good­totalk.org.uk.

Just as your ex was able to find some­one else, you too can find some­body who will love you. This sits around be­ing open to that, be­ing able to trust another per­son and so be­ing vul­ner­a­ble. By think­ing, with sup­port, about why this feels like such a chal­lenge and some­thing you may have so far felt un­able to do, you can fi­nally be­gin to move on. In fact, the feel­ings stirred up by your ex re­mar­ry­ing pro­vide you with an op­por­tu­nity to learn from the past and move on with re­newed wis­dom and in­sight. I wish you well.

Pro­fes­sor Byron is a char­tered clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist. Each month, she coun­sels a reader go­ing through an emo­tional cri­sis

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