Divorce Recovery & the Myth of Time – Time Alone Does NOT Guarantee a Smooth Recovery from Divorce

After divorce, we often hear people tell us, “Time heals all wounds,” or “Just give it some time,” or “You’ll feel better in the morning?” Used like this, time is seen as some type of healing source. But is it, really? Will the passage of time really “heal all our wounds?” Will it actually bring happiness to our life after divorce? Or is there more to it than that?

1. An Example of How Time Alone Does Not Heal the Pain of Divorce

Faye, my sister-in-law, was a teacher and school administrator. When I met her, she had already been divorced for five years. She had gotten the house, the kids, the car – and the humiliation of having her ex, also a school administrator in the same school system, leave her for one of Faye’s teaching colleagues. For the next fifteen years, Faye only mentioned her ex and his wife in derogatory or cynical terms. She threw herself into her work. She tried to begin new relationships – all to no avail. She died an early death from cancer without ever getting past the personal hurt and public mortification the divorce caused.

2. Another Example of How Time Alone Does Not Heal the Pain of Divorce

The daughter of a divorced man, Robert, approached me to help her dad recover from his divorce. He and his wife argued over renting out the basement in their house. He opposed renting it. She rented it anyway to a single mother with an infant. One day the renter’s ex came to the house and murdered his former wife and child. Robert could not take it and divorced her. He took the divorce hard. He isolated himself from his friends and family and started drinking heavily. How long he had been divorced? 13 years!

3. Time Alone Will Not Heal the Pain of Your Divorce

If time is supposed to heal all wounds, shouldn’t 13 to 20 years surely be enough! They weren’t. Time alone heals nothing. Andy Warhol, of all people, got it right when he observed, “They say that time changes things, but actually you have to change them yourself.” It is not time per sé that facilitates recovery from divorce, but what we do with that time, as Laura’s story below illustrates.

4. A Success Story – How Time Can Be Used to Make Divorce Recovery Successful

Laura had been divorced four years. The pain was as fresh as if it had happened yesterday. She was so distressed she literally could not even say the name of her ex out loud. She had been told, “Give it some time and the pain will subside.” She did, but it didn’t. She was at her wit’s end. She said, “I’ll do anything” to get rid of the pain. For five weeks she worked with me on the tasks of making a smooth divorce recovery – dealing with her reactions, finding her personal resources, removing her barriers to change, etc. Afterwards, she not only was able to talk about her ex, but even was able to meet with her twice to recover some of her belongings she had been unable to retrieve. She used the time to make the change herself. She was on her way to a successful life after divorce.

5. What’s the Point?

Time by itself heals nothing. Spending our time looking for what can be done that we can personally control is far more productive than sitting in the shadows waiting for time to “make things right.” Our job is to use our time to deal with the emotion-based as well as the rational demands of making a smooth recovery from divorce.