Starting Relationships After Divorce

Starting a relationship after divorce is a different process for everyone. While there isn't one correct way to start or maintain post-divorce relationships, there are clear and obvious wrong ways, and these wrong ways tend to mirror the failed marriage.

Joseph Fanelli, a marriage counselor in Syracuse, NY, says he is a big believer in the saying, "He who is ignorant of his history is condemned to repeat it." He reminds his patients to remember their past.

Stages of Divorce
There are four main stages of divorce. Relationships may occur in any stage; it will depend on whether the person is the "leaver" or the "leavee," Fanelli said, because the healing time may differ.

  1. Shock and Disbelief: This stage deals with the immediate reactions to divorce. People in this stage have to deal with facing reality, self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy, telling others and seeking help and support.
  2. Initial Adjustment: Adjusting to this chapter involves several tasks including functioning and responsibility, practical reality, legal issues and managing emotions.
  3. Active Reorganization: Becoming single after being in a committed relationship can be challenging. People in this stage deal with managing a new life style, re-defining relationships, rebuilding personal values and beliefs and ending legal procedures.
  4. Life Reformation: It's in this last stage when people tend to find and build new relationships. It is a time to find happiness whether that means being alone or finding new companionship.

According to Fanelli, the emotional divorce-coming to terms with the separation-happens long before the legal and financial divorce. Jumping into a new relationship too soon might lead to the same problems in the previous marriage. "Couples really need to take some thoughtful time to understand what went wrong and why," Fanelli said.

After divorce both men and women may have sexual affairs or meaningless flings, but that is all part of the healing process. It's possible to fall back into old habits with your first long-term relationship post-divorce, so it's advised not to jump into marriage quickly, no matter how special this new person is. It's important to know your new, post-divorced self before relying on another to avoid another problematic marriage.

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The divorce rate has been steadily climbing for the last fifteen years, and it shows no sign of decreasing. There are several reasons for the dissolution of marriage, but one thing remains common among them all: two people were unable to work out their differences.

When you're in the middle of a divorce, it can be difficult to pause and think about the lessons you've learned. But it is possible to learn from divorce and remarriage, turning heartache into life lessons.
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