10 Steps to Speed Recovery from a Divorce or Breakup

by Relationship Coach Rinatta Paries on April 5, 2012

in Articles, Break-ups and Divorce, Marriage, Relationships

Divorce can be a devastating ordeal, and recovering can be a difficult, treacherous road. Sometimes people don’t recover at all. Others, although appearing to be past their divorce, still carry the pain of it and the fear of getting close to a partner again.

A breakup of a non marital relationship can be just as devastating. The pain can be intense even if the relationship did not last a long time.

Here are 10 steps to help you recover from a divorce or breakup, plus an opportunity to work on your own recovery, faster, right now! These steps will show you how to start to heal deeply, get your life back on track, re-create your life and your relationships to be far more fulfilling than before the breakup and start on a bright relationship future for yourself.

1. Grieve deeply and completely.

Many times people are terrified of their dark feelings, such as sadness, depression, anger, etc. The intensity of these feelings can seem strong enough to take hold of your soul completely. But you need to know that although these feelings are indeed strong, they will not last forever. Nor will feeling these feelings in some way damage you or destroy you. You will feel better once you allow yourself to feel.

On the other hand, if you do not feel the dark feelings arising in you as a result of the breakup, they will last forever and will deeply affect your life and future relationships.

Go ahead and feel your feelings. Feel the anger, the sadness, the betrayal, the confusion. Avoid going into your head and obsessing instead of feeling. Avoid overeating or using other addictions to escape your feelings.

This is your dark night of the soul, the time to dip into your feelings. Feel your feelings now, and you will be free to move on with your life post-divorce or post-breakup.

2. Grieve for the future of your marriage/relationship, which now will never be.

When people come together in a commitment, many dreams and hopes are created. These are not simple to let go of, because we use dreams and hopes to guide us to our future. Look into what dreams and hopes you had created for your relationship. Then separately grieve for each one. Know that your dreams and hopes are not dead. You will re-create them again with someone else, or even alone.

3. Spend time with people who will listen to your feelings with love and acceptance.

When recovering from breakup or any devastating loss, it is critical for you to be allowed to speak your mind as much and as often as you need to. Many people are not comfortable listening to others’ dark emotions.

Listening to someone else’s anger, fear, or grief often makes us afraid that their emotions will overtake us. This is why seemingly loving, caring people often try to “fix” us when we share our painful feelings. It is important that you are not interrupted or given advice – sharing your feelings is how you will heal.

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Letting go of an ex is painful!
If you are having trouble letting go, I can help.

Experience relief, a starting-to-let-go feeling and clarity about what to do next in the Get Clarity Coaching Session.



4. Understand what happened in your relationship/marriage.

In order for you to be able to come to terms with the breakup and to move on to create a wonderful life, you need to understand what happened. This is the part of your journey in which you will have to be extremely honest with yourself. It will do you no good to blame your ex or yourself. You need to clearly understand the dynamic you and your partner created together. You need to clearly trace the events that led to the animosity or the cooling off in the relationship.

You will have to find your part in what happened to the marriage or the relationship. You will have to look back and recognize the signs that your relationship was headed for trouble. You will have to look back and look for critical decision points for both you and your partner, at which another road could have been taken that might have led to a different outcome.

This introspection is not for the purpose of blaming yourself. It is for the purpose of returning your power to you. You are not a victim, and seeing yourself as such will only cause you more pain. When you see how you contributed to the demise of your relationship, you will begin to heal from the current breakup and gain insight that will save your next relationship.

5. Understand why you chose your former partner.

People choose relationships for many different reasons and call it being “in love.” But what many consider to be love has nothing to do with love at all. Here are few of the reasons people choose each other:

  • Deep need to be wanted, or wanting someone to make you feel good, loved, adored, etc.
  • Lifelong struggle to meet someone like his/her parents and save them or change them so as to heal childhood pain
  • Fear of being alone
  • Infatuation or chemistry, attraction
  • Security, support, etc.
  • Someone to have a family with
  • Wanting to stop feeling lonely

None of these reasons are bad in and of themselves; they are just not good enough reasons to end up in a relationship with someone. Why? Because they are not about connecting and having a relationship, they are about meeting your needs. When you choose partners out of need the relationship usually does not work out.

See if one of the primary reasons for getting into the relationship you are now in the middle of ending from is on this list. Which needs were you trying to meet?

If you can honestly examine and understand why you chose your partner, you will also start to build understanding to be able to choose differently the next time around.

6. Forgive your partner, forgive yourself.

Now it’s time to forgive. Understand that you and your ex-partner did the best both of you could. Understand that even when you were doing things to hurt each other, it was still the best you could do at the time. Perhaps the painful actions came out of self-defense or self-preservation.

Perhaps they came out of revenge for the pain you felt the other was inflicting. Forgiveness is a sure way to free yourself up to have a wonderful life in the future.

Do not expect forgiveness to come easily, and do not expect yourself to want to forgive. Forgiving your ex-partner is something you may have work on again and again. Forgiveness is an action you will need to take daily, or even many times a day. Think of your ex-partner and forgive, again and again.

7. Create distance between you and your ex- partner. Spend three to six months with no contact.

One thing that is so difficult about breaking up is no longer having another person around, no longer having your best friend and confidant. It is difficult to let go of the everyday interactions and the friendship. And yet, if you are to heal well, you must sustain three to six months of no contact with your former partner (or as little contact as possible in case you have children together). This will give you the opportunity to grieve and work through your anger. It will also allow the relationship between you and your ex-partner to begin again (if at all) on a different footing.

The kind of contact you specifically want to avoid altogether is having your partner meet your needs or you meeting his or her needs. If you are to successfully heal and move on, your ex-partner must cease to be a source of need fulfillment for you.

Think twice about getting your ex to help you with anything or helping him or her. You may feel better temporarily, feel less lonely in knowing there are still feelings between you, but you will feel worse in the aftermath. You will feel the old pangs of attachment and the feelings of loneliness will redouble their strength.

8. Create a supportive community.

You need to be listened to. You need to know that you are wanted and loved. For these reasons, having a supportive community is critical to your recovery. A community can be a religious/spiritual group, an online community, or a group of friends you ask to support you. Make sure your community clearly knows that you need support and how you need to be supported.

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Letting go of an ex is painful!
If you are having trouble letting go, I can help.

Experience relief, a starting-to-let-go feeling and clarity about what to do next in the Get Clarity Coaching Session.



9. Resolve to learn everything about you and relationships.

If you are to create a better relationship in the future without repeating the same mistakes, you need to understand and examine yourself in regard to relationships. You need to know what you want in a relationship, what kind of partner would be best suited for you, what you absolutely need in order to feel satisfied, and what you absolutely will not accept.

You also need to look at your behavior in past relationships and start looking for what and how you need to change so that your next relationship can be happy, healthy and lifelong.

It is always a good idea to set yourself on a course of relationship education. Relationship skills are not taught in school, and they very much should be. Given that you ended up losing your relationship to breakup or divorce, you most definitely could use more healthy relationship skills. Throw yourself into the study of relationship skills with determination to learn all there is to know, and you will reap the rich reward of an emotionally healthy you and later a healthy, loving relationship.

10. Take great care of yourself in the process.

Divorce or breakup recovery is a stressful, painful and life-changing process. When people are going through fundamental life changes, they must take care of themselves extremely well. A good rule of thumb is to treat yourself as if you have a cold – delegate or reduce your workload, eat well, exercise gently and get lots of rest. To nourish your spirit, add in extras like a massage, taking a creative class, doing activities that you consider fun, reading, going for walks, laughing, etc.

Although recovering from divorce or breakup is not easy, it can be done. Take it gently, one step at a time, but do move yourself forward. You can succeed and come out of the process healed and eventually be ready for a healthy relationship if you follow the above suggestions.

[stextbox id=”info”]

Letting go of an ex is painful!
If you are having trouble letting go, I can help.

Experience relief, a starting-to-let-go feeling and clarity about what to do next in the Get Clarity Coaching Session.




roger madison August 20, 2012 at 6:21 pm

i’m going to try these steps, thanks for the input. i will read each on daily so that they can become part of my everyday life. thanx again

Donna V. April 5, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Helpful article during this challenging time, just broken up with a boyfriend of 5 years, and divorced for 11 years (with two sons, ages 21 and 15). New breakup is bringing up all sorts of pain from my divorce so I don’t even know which relationship I am grieving for – both I guess. Grieving for the loss of marriage/partnership/family that I haven’t been able to create that I wanted so badly and now my children are grown and I’ll never have it. I don’t even know what my dreams are anymore.

Wondering why there are no comments since Aug of 2011?

Relationship Coach Rinatta Paries April 5, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Donna, sounds very hard and painful. Hang in there, group to recover from divorce & breakup will be starting shortly.

kay August 28, 2011 at 10:16 am

I want to get through this. But I need help!

Love Coach Rinatta August 29, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Kay, I am here to help! Reach out to me through the contact page and we can talk about how I can help you.

angelina jolie September 10, 2009 at 8:15 am

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sandrar September 10, 2009 at 5:17 am

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Chuck August 1, 2009 at 8:02 am

The thing that seems to be missing with so many of these views is that it does not take into account the past experiences of the person that is frustrated and angry over the breakup or divorce. It does not take into account that their childhood may have been full of events that show and prove reality to be a certain way. That is both inside the family _and_ outside of it. Infact, all of their life may have been built around this, for them, proven world view. They may have grown up and been around people most of their lives that held to “doing what you say you’ll do”, “taking responsibility for your actions”, “speaking up for your needs”, “thinking ahead” and “taking other people’s needs into consideration with your own to come to a compromise where all get something this time or the next time”.
Taking all of that into account, to expect someone to “forgive” without a step by step explanation of how that’s to occur without someone taking real, active and verbal responsibility for their hurtful actions towards them is ridiculous.
You’re asking the hurt party to forgive when they know they can be hurt again, in the same way, or slightly differently, becasue the other party does not take responsibility, grow or change to become aware of the downsides to their original actions.
How can you propose such a thing?
Please do not mention God.
Do not mention Codependency.
Do not mention any of those bs fall backs.
Deal with the reality of the hurts for they are real.
Deal with the reality of people actually dying of a broken heart (do a search on the life expectancy studies of those that were never married, married til death, divorced and never married again and those that divorced and married again before you discount that statement).
Asking someone to “move on”, expecting them to, treating that as the only “real” answer is short changing a lot of people.
People that _are not you_.
People that do not have the options that you take for granted as ubiquitous.
If the people that caused the harm are not brought to task for it why do you _really_ expect them to learn and _not_ do the same or similar things again to others, again and again and again?
A get out of jail free card is not what makes the society better without some work being done to benefit the victim and the victimizers. This goes for males and females.

Lucy July 7, 2009 at 5:59 am

My husband decided he didn’t love me anymore 4 months ago after 12 years together, 5 married with a 10 year old daughter. He’s walked away and left a massive mess for me, and we have lost our home because of debts.

I didn’t see this coming at all. I didn’t see any warning signs. I can’t imagine life ever being normal again. I am trying the no contact rule (well very minimal because of our daughter) but this is killing me.

How do you forgive someone who has destroyed your life and walked away without a second thought? I’m struggling with forgiveness. Any advice out there?

Love Coach Rinatta July 7, 2009 at 8:14 am

Lucy, I am not certain forgiveness is essential yet in your situation. It will become essential down the line, but perhaps not now. I would concentrate on setting your life straight, taking extremely good care of yourself and your daughter and when you finally feel on solid ground, I would work on forgiveness.

However, if the feelings over what your ex did to you are too intense, you may want to consider EFT to give you relief. EFT stands for emotional freedom technique and it’s amazing and always works in reducing intense feelings permanently. You could contact me for a custom tailored EFT session. But if money is an issue, look on youtube for EFT self-help videos. It won’t be perfectly fit for your situation, but it will help.

Amy Beck September 3, 2008 at 7:05 pm

I have been seperated from my husband on and off for 2 yrs now. We were having issues before. I’ve been in the army and spent quite a bit of time away. We see each other almost everyday because I recently relocated back so we could share our children more easily. He swears one day he misses me then flaunts his super young girlfriends the next. He shows up unannounced and when I call him on it, he makes it sound like I am being a bitch. We share children jointly, but when I’m not putting up with his shit he makes excuses not to bring the kids by. There is an attachment there that he is taking advantage of all the time. He pops by always to ask me to make him something to eat. he shows up drunk and swears he loves me, but when he’s sober, he is back with his flavor of the week girl. It is a struggle trying to share our children. He violates our custody agreement constantly, yet when i say I’m going back to court he freaks out. He manipulates my feelings, disrespects me constantly, yet I tolerate it so i can be with my children more. I am going crazy and don’t know what to do. Your article did shed some light on things, but even though I am a tough woman, I am falling apart inside. I have anger aggression issues that have developed pretty badly. What to do?

beth April 29, 2008 at 9:48 am

I too have been trying to follow this along. My breakup has been 8 days ago. Somehow I got thru the weekend.

We dated for 8 years and recently i grew up and wanted more of a committment and I guess he could not handle that. He felt that part of him wanted to be with me and the other part he was not sure about so he ended up cheating on me. The weird part is that i am not mad at him I hate what he did to me.

I can understand what he felt in a way cause our coummincation was gone and we were distant for awhile.

but this is pretty hard to go through. I love and miss him but just want him to be happy.

i am trying to be strong by not having any contact with him because he called me twice yesterday but what gets me thru this are:
He needs to feel the pain of not having me around him and if I talk to him he will not get this part.
i also do not need a reminder that we are not together I know this and do not need to hear it again.

Jacky April 26, 2008 at 3:44 pm

I have just read your article and it is really helpful.
I’ve just separated from my partner of 6 years. He decided that we couldn’t be together any more last week. I don’t really understand why this has happened. He called it quits just out of the blue. Maybe it’s because we are young. We got engaged at the end of last year and I was looking forward to our next step. We lived together for a long time and in december of last year his job required him to move to another state. I couldn’t follow him straight away but I was going to join up with him this august. We had made plans for our future together but now they won’t happen. I don’t hate him but I want to understand the reason for it ending. I have called him and asked him to come and talk to me and give me a reason for him leaving. I won’t ask him to come back but I needed closure from him to move forwards. He agreed to the talk and is coming down to see me. Is this a good thing to do? Having a talk to understand the situation? This is my first long-term relationship. It’s been a very dark week for me but I have amazing friends around me and my family has been very supportive. I’m trying to move forward. I’ve stumbled and fell but I’m trying.

R. Ambrose February 18, 2008 at 10:06 am

I have been married to my husband for seven months (but we’d been dating about two years before) and recently I found out he started talking to an ex, his “first love” to be exact. They are currently living together and have plans to be married some time next year. This article is real great advice, but the part about no communication is the hardest since we have a one-year-old daughter. I also don’t know if I’ll be able to forgive him any time soon. I just sit and wonder where I went wrong and why I just can’t get over it. Is it wrong, though, that I sit here and pray they won’t work out? Is it wrong that I want to be happy too? That I hope their marriage isn’t nearly as successful as ours is (because we are separated and not divorced)? I just need some answers.

R. Ambrose February 18, 2008 at 10:03 am

I have been married to my husband for seven months (but we’d been dating about two years before) and recently I found out he started talking to an ex, his “first love” to be exact. This article is real great advice, but the part about no communication is the hardest since we have a one-year-old daughter. I also don’t know if I’ll be able to forgive him any time soon. I just sit and wonder where I went wrong and why I just can’t get over it.

sally January 25, 2008 at 3:02 am

I can’t believe I’m going through what I’m going through. I’ve been married for 22 years to a go man, but very emotionally cold. We have children together and I’ve tried to be everything I’m supposed to be. I met someone else 5 1/2 years ago. We started an affair. At the time my husband and I were seperating but the man I was seeing thought we had completely seperated. I know this sounds incredible but for 5 years I continued seeing this man (although he broke up with me many times because he wanted more) he didn’t know my husband still lived in my house. He came over very rarely, which bothered him. We broke up for the last time 4 months ago and he’s already moved in with his step brother’s ex girlfriend. I had not called him but once I found out I left a horrible voicemail. I’m so angrey and hurt. I feel lied to and betrayed and I realize I have absolutely no right to feel that way. How do I cope?

sandy January 21, 2008 at 12:25 pm

I have been divorced now for 10 years and most days I feel I am over it, however somedays I grieve for the loss of a marriage and a complete family. My kids are grown now and I grieve for those lost years. I have since met a man who wants a serious relationship, but I keep backing away. I am afraid of another breakup, and I could not stand another hurt like that. Any advice out there?

Yani January 3, 2008 at 11:21 pm

Dear All,

I recently break up with my partner and i feel the hurt so deep as my relationship with him was for 2.5years..we know each other for so long but in year 07 dec hhe found a new gal and was into it together.

Im so shocked and they have plans to get engaged already..

Ive been wondering where are my wrong doings? Advice how should i overcome everyday of my life?

Thank you

jeanette December 30, 2007 at 4:10 pm

This article just hit the nail on the head. It is everything that I am learning to do with my divorce. My marriage was 14 years long and it is hard, but I know that I will make it. If a person can follow this advice they will feel tons better. My problems is not the forgiving it is the no contact.

paula December 11, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Great article. All of your points are exactly what people should do…but usually have a hard time doing….during a divorce. Number 6, forgiveness, is the hardest….but possibly the most important.

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