Submitted by Deborah Moskovitch
“How could I have been replaced so quickly!” my friend Beth wondered.
We were discussing her husband’s soon-to-be new wife; she felt shock and disbelief as to how he could find a new “serious” partner so soon after their divorce.
Our ex-spouses’ new partners was the focus of discussion one afternoon with my friends and I, while keeping Beth company. Her children were out—at their father’s (and Beth’s ex-husband’s) wedding.
While none of us were jealous or angry about our ex’s new partners, we all certainly had different feelings about the matter.
Mary, the introspective one in the group, had a very objective opinion. She was happy for her ex’s new union and actually felt “lucky.” Her reasons were practical: “I didn’t think that my ex could handle the kids on his own, his girlfriend is a nice person and is good to the kids.”
Trying to see the positive
Mary looked at it as a bonus because she saw it as another pair of hands who could be nurturing and positively influence the father of her children to be a better role model.
While Beth wanted out of her marriage, she did feel a little sad. Yes, she admitted, the new woman was kind and nice too – but she felt cheated. This new woman had something that she didn’t – a lifestyle of “not having to work and being looked after.”
Jan Tanzer, a marriage and family therapist in Toronto, agrees that the emotions experienced when your ex has a new partner are wide ranging.
“Some people feel relieved when their ex has a new partner and it isn’t always difficult for them to accept this.” Nor is it always about being replaced. But, what people need to look at are their own personal issues and how this can affect other relationships.
Tanzer advises that you evaluate what you were missing in your marriage as a way of moving on and dealing with your mixed emotions. If you find it difficult to accept that your ex has a new partner, you need to look inward and determine what you really need in a relationship.
Here are the top 5 things to consider when working through the emotions of coping with your ex moving on and finding a new partner:
Speak with a coach or therapist to gain an understanding of your own relationship issues. Seek to avoid repeating the same relationship patterns. For example, are you constantly attracted to the same personality type that doesn’t work for you long term?
Figure out what you need in a relationship
Make a list of qualities you want in a partner. What qualities are deal breakers and what can you live with? Be honest with yourself.
Develop self awareness
Think of the work you need to do yourself to attract the type of partner you are looking for.
If you are feeling jealous, hurt, angry and so on, try to reframe your thinking. If your ex spouse wasn’t right for you, isn’t it better that you find someone who is?
Put your children’s best interests first
Your feelings about this relationship will affect your children. If you are finding it difficult to deal with, ensure that you don’t ask your children too many questions or discuss your concerns about this new partner. Work your feelings through with a neutral third person.
People have different emotions and experiences when disentangling from a former spouse. Some are saddened by the loss of the person with whom they had hoped to spend the rest of their life. Others are thrilled to finally be apart. The range of emotions are equally dramatic when your spouse finds a new partner—whether or not you are into a new relationship too. For some, it opens up new wounds and for others, it just makes them pause and reflect.
Deborah Moskovitch is a divorce consultant and educator, and author of The Smart Divorce: Proven Strategies and Valuable Advice from 100 Top Divorce Lawyers, Financial Advisers, Counselors and Other Experts. Deborah has become an opinion leader in the media and has shared her insights and research on television and radio to explain that divorce can be managed in smarter ways. To learn more visit thesmartdivorce.com.