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According to the American Psychological Association, around 40% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. While that statistic accounts for nearly half of all marriages in this country, what’s not telling of this percentage is the number of former spouses who are happier for it. If you’ve had a divorce or are going through one right now, it’s normal to experience grief, feel ashamed, or flood yourself with what seems like a never-ending barrage of questions, especially with cultural norms to worry about and religious expectations to uphold.

But divorce doesn’t always have immediately elicit the negative. In fact, many people post-divorce find that life outside of their marriages has been filled with the exact opposite. Many divorce papers aren’t filed because the marriage was unhappy, toxic, or because infidelity or abuse was involved. There are even those out there who can look back on their marriage and recognize it as a good thing that came to a mutual end. Whether your marriage ended voluntarily or whether it was something you never wanted out of, here are a few reasons why divorce isn’t the end of the world or your joy, from a few people who came out better on the other side and have never felt happier.

 

Self-discovery and a new lease on life

One common benefit that people post-divorce comment on is having more time to themselves. While that might seem obvious, we sometimes unknowingly put our needs and goals on the back-burner when we’re consumed in our relationships. When Rebecca, a small business owner from Dallas, married her long time best friend, they later realized that they were both good people who were just better off as friends.

“He was such a big part of my life and still is, because he was my best friend before he was my husband so we spent years hanging out and just being around each other all the time. When we got divorced I had to learn how to re-build my own identity. I found that in solitude I was more comfortable exploring and pursuing my passions because I didn’t feel like I was letting him down or being selfish, and because of that I’ve been able to build a fulfilling career and life, and still keep my best friend by my side.”

 

Forgetting the eggshells and being comfortable in your own skin again

Sometimes in marriages, you find yourself morphing into the person your spouse wants you to be. And while partners can definitely inspire positive changes in your life, sometimes it’s over the things that aren’t broken.

“I realized I was trying to change so much about myself to fit into his ideal of ‘perfect’, and I was starting to blame myself for the things I couldn’t change. I didn’t feel comfortable having a fresh face around him, because of my acne and hyperpigmentation that he always asked why I wasn’t able to get rid of, as if I wasn’t trying every product or diet suggestion out there. I couldn’t be real and talk about things like chin hair, blackheads, or passing gas because I wasn’t supposed to have or be doing any of those things. It was stressful trying to be this “perfect” person, and never feeling good enough. It feels amazing being able to be myself and feel beautiful again, every part of me – good or ‘bad’.” – Marianna, Lifestyle & Beauty Blogger

 

Getting to nourish other important relationships in your life

It’s not unusual to neglect certain relationships when you’re married, especially when your partner becomes your everyday and all-in-one person. For Carolina, a Worship and Children’s Ministry Leader from San Diego, it took the end of her marriage to bring her closer to her family and her faith. When her husband left her for another woman, she was devastated and alone for the first time in over a decade.

“Not only was I lost, I was completely blindsided. I had an estranged relationship with my siblings due to a loss in our family years earlier but I had no one else to turn to and I desperately needed their support, so I swallowed my pride and reached out to them. My divorce ended up being the reason we were able to reconcile and are closer than we’ve ever been. I started going to church again and began relying on God to fill the voids in my life. I soon learned that He was the one person who wouldn’t leave me, no matter what. Sometimes we can’t understand why things happen the way they do at the time, but there is a blessing to be found in the heartbreak. I gained true faith and my family back.”

 

Finding confidence and learning to lean on yourself

If you’re suffering from a marriage that ended due to infidelity or abuse, it’s easy to think that that’s a blow you might not ever be able to recover from. But women all over are turning these lemons into lemonade. Jessica, a Self-Help Coach and Writer from New York, spent months feeling unworthy after finding out that her husband of over 14 years, and dad of their 4 kids, had been unfaithful for almost half of their relationship.

“I felt like a joke. I struggled to even find the energy to get up in the morning most days, even with four bright-eyed babies staring up at me. Then one day, a light in me had switched. I realized I was capable and that there was nowhere to go but up, and I was going to show my children that if I could conquer anything, they could. It was at rock bottom that I found my inner strength and learned to love myself again. I had this toxic mentality that the way people treated me showed me how I should value myself, which was a complete lie. Now I help women all over the country realize their worth and eliminate negative self-talk. I love every second of what I do and I now proudly brag that I’m in a committed relationship with my career!”

 

Becoming a better parent by being a happy parent

Two people parent better when they are both in better places themselves. Constant bickering and unhealthy conflict handling creates a hostile environment for children and one they’re likely to follow in. For Teresa and Taylor, Software Developers from Las Vegas, they made the decision to end their marriage for the sake of their children because of their toxic relationship and inability to get along. They now have joint custody of their children and feel much more successful as co-parents.

“Our children now have the benefit of growing up in two happy households”, they say. “It’s really made all the difference and we have a much better relationship with each other now that we’re not at each other’s throats all the time.”