The end of a relationship is always a difficult time. No matter who ended it or when, the future can look bleak and frightening. But life does continue and many thousands of people go on to have happy and fulfilling lives after divorce.

There are many things you'll need to focus on during this difficult time and at times it may feel overwhelming. But as well as that, you need to focus on yourself as an individual, deciding what you need to do to help you let go of the past and look forward to the future

Like most people, you're likely to experience a rollercoaster of emotions. Some days you may feel hopeful and maybe even relieved if your marriage had been difficult for a long time. On other days you may feel sad, angry, confused and anxious.

Understanding what went wrong

This is an important step towards recovery. Many people get locked into questioning: Whose fault it is? What did I do wrong? How could they do that to me? Unfortunately, all this kind of questioning does is lock you into the blame game which creates more bitterness and heartache.

It can sometimes be more helpful to focus on what the relationship was lacking and how the relationship failed to meet your or your partner's needs, rather than blaming yourselves as individuals. Though the answers may be upsetting, the greater the understanding, the easier it will be to let go of the past and move on.

Look after yourself

Over the coming weeks and months you need to really focus on looking after yourself. The end of a relationship can damage self esteem and self confidence. The following tips will help you to get through this difficult time and face the future with hope.

  • Keep talking - talking is the best way to prevent isolation and help maintain perspective. You're not alone and sharing your heartaches and victories with a trusted friend, family member or neighbour will help to carry you along.
  • Let yourself grieve - it's normal to feel shock when a relationship finally comes to an end and it can take time for the reality of this to settle in. You'll have good days and bad days - give yourself time.
  • Let go of anger. Many people feel stuck with their anger. They either feel angry at themselves or angry at their partner. Holding on to this anger maintains an emotional connection between you and your ex and slows up your ability to move on. Make time to relax. Whether you prefer reading a book, going for a walk, soaking in the bath, going for a run or gardening - it really doesn't matter. Just as long as you give your body time to de-stress. And remember, laughter is the best medicine so make sure you make time to see friends and have some fun too.
  • Set small goals - when times are feeling really tough it may feel as if you're getting nowhere. Setting yourself small achievable goals not only boosts feel good chemicals, but also boosts your confidence. Whether it's getting a chore out of the way, going out for the evening or starting a new project at work, it will help you to see and know that you're moving on.
  • Look after your health. Make sure you take regular exercise and maintain a healthy diet. Unfortunately comfort eating is more likely to make you depressed than cheer you up.
  • Plan ahead - write down a list of all the things you're going to do when you get through this. When you have bad days, you can use this list to remind yourself that you still have a future ahead of you.
  • Get help - if each day seems to be getting harder rather than better, then you may find it helpful to make an appointment to see a Relate counsellor. There are details of your local centre on this website. Relate also runs a one day workshop for people coming out of a long-term relationship.

How we can help

Thousands of people come to Relate every year for help with separation and divorce. We help all sorts of people in all sorts of situations, and we can help you.

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