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Moving On When Your Divorce Wasn't "Fair"

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Recovery from a contentious divorce is never easy. Often one of the other former partners (or both) ends up feeling cheated or unfairly dealt with or taken advantage of. Even when there have been extensive efforts to negotiate a fair division of assets and possessions and social connections, it's not at all unusual for each partner to feel like they got the bad end of the deal. The second guessing that goes on about whether the lawyer did a good job, whether the outcome was fair, whether the partner is laughing on the way to the bank, or whether the system is adversely stacked can prevent resolution of the anger and disappointment that led to the divorce.

If each of the former spouses maintains an eye on what the other has or hasn't achieved or acquired or kept and measures it negatively against what they themselves have achieved or acquired or managed to keep or reclaim, it can make it difficult to impossible to move on - sometimes for years. Instead of moving toward the future, each is reliving the past. Instead of getting past the anger, the anger gets intensified.

Measuring your self-esteem in terms of how your ex is doing in the wake of your divorce is a set up for anxiety and depression. It is part of your recovery work to adopt the attitude that it doesn't matter what your ex does or doesn't do next. Keeping track of his or her life will only get in the way of progress in your own. What matters is what you are going to do.

3 important shifts in your thinking:

In order to move forward in life, there needs to be some important shifts in your thinking.

 Accept that life isn't always fair or balanced at the same rate for different people. It's not realistic to think that for every "this" your ex has, you'll get a "that".

 Consider whether it would be helpful to change your idea of what coming out "even" means. It's likely you will do better in some areas while your ex does better in others. It's likely that you don't even want or value the same things. "Even" doesn't require sameness. The only thing that matters is your sense that you are doing okay.

 Set your own goals and timelines (without concern for your ex's) and measure yourself only by what you are doing about them. Keep in mind that you and your ex are different people who have different priorities, different ambitions and different levels of energy. You and your ex weren't a match in those areas when you were married, you won't be a match now.

You have no control over what happens in your ex's life or how he or she responds to it. (Unless you've developed mind-reading skills, you don't even know the whole truth of what is going on with him or her.) The only person who can make things feel more "fair" is you. Letting go of comparisons and competitions with your ex is an important part of letting go of the marriage.

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