Your late teens and early twenties were fun: mac and cheese for dinner, hold the veggies, and lots of video games. You might have worked, gone to school, or both, and somewhere along the way you found some time to do your laundry. Then you grew up a bit and got married. You and your spouse got a home and had your own kids. You divided chores in some manner, and you became responsible for each other and for your own children. Then, you got divorced. Suddenly the life skills and necessary tasks that you had little concern for when you were young, and that you shared with another person throughout your marriage, were no longer sufficient as you took on caring for your new home solo. There would be things to learn, or re-learn, how to do for yourself.
Chores are a prime example. Shopping, cleaning, chauffeuring the kids around if you have them, were all tasks that used to be split between spouses. You now have to organize yourself to make sure that the things that need to get done, get done, without the aid of another parent. You also may be tasked with setting up a new apartment or house. This is a great opportunity to learn what your style is and how to achieve your ideal home environment, but will take significant work. You will need to learn how to manage your own time to accomplish what is now to be done by one person, particularly if you’re balancing the initial set up of a new home.
If your spouse was the chef during the marriage, while you usually just did the dishes, it’s also probably time for you to learn your way around a kitchen. Whether you need to adapt back to feeding yourself or will be cooking for your kids sometimes as well, having the basic kitchen skills to prepare balanced meals will be imperative while living on your own. The good news is that in our current foodie society, there are ample resources for you to learn how to cook at home. You can study YouTube videos, watch the Food Network, or sign up for meal kit subscriptions to take the mystery out of what ingredients to buy. Kill two birds with one stone and make it into a social event, taking the opportunity test out recipes on friends or seek some cooking advice, while reconnecting with your social network. There are many resources for in-person cooking classes (at least they were pre-COVID-19, and hopefully will return once the virus is manageable) and these are often attended with friends or a date, making them another great two-fold opportunity to get back out there socially and get some expert advice in the kitchen.
While on the topic of getting back out there: How long has it been since you were asked on a date or asked someone on a date? The last time you were in the dating world, dating apps such as Tinder or Grindr might not have existed. Swipe right or left? What does that mean? Is a dinner and a movie still a typical and acceptable first date? Are adventurous activities like bungee jumping still things that people seek out? Re-entering the dating world post-divorce can be a scary prospect, and it may take some time to learn about new dating culture and opportunities, and to re-learn about your own interests.
If you aren’t ready to date again yet, you may have to learn how to be alone for a while, and that’s alright too. Friends are great social support, but if a lot of your friends are parts of couples, you might have to adjust to feeling a bit like a third wheel. Learning how to be alone can be tough. Going to the movies or out to eat at your favorite restaurant alone might seem awkward at first, but can be great ways to get accustomed to doing things on your own and taking time to enjoy by yourself. Who talks during a movie anyway? Your mac and cheese and video games might have been enough stimulation when you were younger, but you may be at a point in your life where you require more than that, especially after sharing your life with another person or a whole family. If you can learn to love being with yourself, and work on being comfortable doing your favorite activities alone it will open a world of possibilities and take the pressure off of finding someone new to share your life with.
Life after divorce will take some getting used to as you learn or re-learn the skills needed to live on your own and get to know the world around you as a single person again. There is a whole wide world out there waiting to be explored. If you are ready to start dating again, exploring this new chapter of your life while meeting new people can be a thrilling prospect. If you’re not ready to date again, this time could be a wonderful opportunity to focus on your relearning and learn about what makes you happy on your own.