20 Lessons from Divorce for Muslimahs
It is important to afford one’s former spouse and the nikah you had with them the dignity of not running each other down. It’s a noble stance. With that said, the years and life will go on, and you will need to contextualize your marriage and divorce, as well as the post divorce identity.
This is what I’ve learnt from my Divorce, and I hope it will be beneficial for those who aren’t yet able to articulate their feelings.
1. Marriage and divorce are very sobering
2. Iddah is bearing. It’s painful. It feels like forever. It feels like a jail sentence some days. It will pass. Expect to feel relieved and confusion after. It does take a while to establish a new balance.
3. Pray. Pray until your heart is firm.
4. It sometimes feels like your heart will kill you in your sleep.
5. You will experience identity change. You don’t go back to your life pre-marriage. You aren’t single anymore. You aren’t married anymore. You’re divorced. You will remain divorced until you remarry.
6. Society has stigmas. Get your brain around it. Plan your response for : “why didn’t your marriage work?” People never stop asking. It becomes infuriating… it goes on for years. Get used to it. Being asked why you’re divorced eventually stops feeling like a metaphoric slap in the face.
7. Don’t rush into filling the gap of seeking a new partner. You need to settle emotionally.
8. Refuse to be drawn into a battle of gossip and meanness.
9. Take it a day at a time. The first 6 months are the loneliest and emptiest. It takes 2 years to reconcile loss completely. (It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t remarry in that time if you’re ready to)
10. You can build new dreams. And yes it’s painful to have the old ones die out. Give yourself a pat on the back and say ‘its okay’
11. No one goes into marriage wanting it to end. Never consider yourself a failure. You may feel like it on somedays. But you are not.
12. It helps to have good friends and a sturdy support structure.
13. Life is like Maslows hierarchy of needs … divorce will initially make you feel like your life has been turned topsy turvy. You will need to regain a sense of self actualization. It takes time and effort. Don’t give up on yourself.
14. Marriage changes the way you see things. And Divorce can leave you jaded. Avoid getting stuck in your healing. Check-in with your emotive self. . . Often!
15. Ensure that you heal correctly. Seeking professional help shouldn’t be stigmatized. There is a vast difference between a person advising you from their point of understanding and a counselor who is trained to take your personality type into consideration – you will be better equipped with tools to help you overcome your challenges in this regard. It’s expensive. But it is worth the investment in yourself and your life going forward.
16. Give yourself permission to cry. It’s ok. You lost your spouse. Yes they’re alive and walking the earth however, not allowing yourself to process loss will manifest in other ways eg. Anger. Hatred. Etc
17. Divorce is not the worst thing in the world. Yes its sad and painful but you’re not a societal reject. You were married with noble intentions. You did the right thing, the right way, for the right reasons. You had a halaal relationship. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Qadr-Allah. The situation is what it is.
18. Be kind to yourself. Really. You need it the most when you’re fragile and lost. You’ve lost your footing. You need to revisit emotional maintenance daily. Cut yourself some slack and dont pressure yourself to just ‘get over it’. Time is a healer.
19. It doesn’t get better overnight. There might be many long nights and tear-stained pillows. You need to learn how walk in big girl shoes … by yourself. It won’t disappear but it becomes less painful to accept that life has changed course and that it is not in your control any longer.
20. Take care of you – mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Be thankful to those who are your support structure. When things settle, thank them. Learn gratitude for all the aspects of your life – it is empowering.