4 Steps to Recovering After an Unexpected Marriage Breakup

Some relationship breakdowns are expected and even planned; others are sudden and shocking. These steps will help you recover after a marriage breakup that’s left you stunned, lost and confused.

In my “She Blossoms” blog posts, I typically begin with a reader’s comment and five Blossom Tips to help with healing and moving forward in life. This time, however, I’m sharing four different readers’ experiences with marriage breakups. Each of their stories offers steps to recovering after the shock of a marriage breakdown.

Before we jump into my readers’ stories and steps to recovery, I just want you to know you’re not alone. I know how devastating a marriage breakup is. Even if you were prepared, even if you had a plan to leave, and even if you know your relationship wasn’t healthy or good…it’s shocking and sad when a marriage breaks up. Be kind to yourself, gentle and loving. Forgive yourself. 

When you’re healing from the shock of a relationship breakdown, you need to give yourself lots of TLC (tender loving care!). Think of your heart as a broken arm or shattered kneecap. Ouch! It hurts, doesn’t it? You may even feel like you’ll never recover.

Your broken heart needs as much time, care and nurturing as a wounded arm or broken knee.

4 Steps to Recovering After Your Marriage Breaks Up

These stories of relationships ending won’t make you laugh, but they will help you see you’re not alone. 

I also encourage you to talk to people in-person! Ask someone who is recently divorced how they recovered from their marriage breakdown. Be honest about your struggles, fears and problems. This type of honesty and vulnerability is difficult, but it can be the first step to recovering from a shocking marriage breakdown.

1. Give your heart time to heal

“I was married for 35 years when my wife told she did not love me anymore,” says Alan on How to Overcome Depressed Feelings After a Breakup. “I was shocked that I never realized it. The shock was so intense that I packed my stuff and left our home. It’s been 3 weeks and I still can’t get over the pain. I try to keep busy, but you always return to your thoughts. She explained to me that it was my past. It was more my fault when we were young, but I changed the last 20 years. I know I have to move, but it’s so hard.”

Three weeks is barely long enough to unpack your stuff, much less recover after your marriage breaks up. Don’t expect yourself to recover quickly or easily from the pain of losing your spouse. Go slow. Take care of your wounded spirit and broken heart. Find ways to forgive yourself, if necessary. Forgive your ex-husband or ex-wife. 

2. Recognize the ways you’re blocking your own recovery

“I have become isolated and withdrawn,” says Annie on How to Cope When Your Husband Leaves You for Her. “I wish I could heal and start living life like so many other women do after divorce. I don’t want to let my ex-husband ruin the next 30 years of my life but I feel such great loss. I am afraid…what if the shock of my marriage breakdown is too much to recover from?”

Annie knows she’s withdrawing from her friends and family. I think deep down she also knows it’s not good for her. When you’re recovering from shock, you need warmth, love and comfort. You need people who understand and support you, who will walk alongside you. 

What obstacles are you setting up to your own recovery process? It can be difficult to see how you’re blocking your healing…which is why trusted friends and family are so  important. Talk to them about your possible steps to recovering from the shock of a marriage breakdown. Reach out.

3. Remove painful reminders of your marriage

“My husband just took his girlfriend to Mexico for a week,” says Mellie on 5 Healthy Ways to Cope When You Miss Him.

4 Steps to Recovery After a Shocking Marriage Breakup“I haven’t seen him since. He hasn’t been a father since he moved out at the end of January. He told me he was going with a guy friend and then she posted a picture on Instagram of Mexico. I’m so stuck. I’m always crying and I’m shocked. After together for 27 years and married for 20 I don’t recognize this man. I think he suffered a breakdown. He has totally thrown away his family and doesn’t even care. How do you get yourself to move on? It’s been almost five months and I’m still wishing he would come home.”

Are you connected to your ex-husband or ex-wife on social media? Disconnect. Find ways to remove those updates and free yourself from the constant reminders. This is one of the most practical steps to recovering from the shock of a marriage breakup — and yet it’s one of the least practiced. Disconnecting from your ex on social media also disconnected you from other people you care about. But for now, going “no contact” may be the best way to heal.

4. Push yourself to take one practical step to recovering

“How do I build a new life after my marriage broke up?” says Jo on 7 Ways to Adjust to Being a Single Woman Over 40. “Being a mom to my two girls was all I ever wanted. My whole reason for living was my family. Now they’re both going to school in different states and my husband said he wants to start his life over. I’m also dealing with stress induced chronic illness, so I can’t just move to a new city and start over. I don’t know who I even am anymore or what my gifts are were.”

This is the most exciting and interesting step to recovering after the shock of a marriage breakdown! Can you look at this season of your life as a chance to rediscover yourself, to learn what your gifts and talents are, to grow forward when you can’t go back? Is it possible that this really is a new beginning, and that your wounds might make you stronger, wiser, and more compassionate?

For ideas on figuring who you are, read How to Recreate Yourself When a Relationship Ends.

What do you think about these steps to recovering from the shock of a marriage breakdown? Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below! I read every comment, but don’t worry: I won’t give advice or tell you what to do. It’s your turn to talk.


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5 thoughts on “4 Steps to Recovering After an Unexpected Marriage Breakup”

  1. I just left my husband because of his drinking. It was a hard thing to do but I just couldn’t live in that kind of environment. Drinking is his way of.life not mine. When he met he wasn’t a drinker. I don’t know.what happen. I will miss the companionship but not the alcohol.

  2. Kristenia Smiley

    I’m a Christian and I was married for 17 years but we were separated for the last 7 years of our marriage. I’ve been divorced since 2013. What I want to know is how do I getting back to dating?

    1. Hi Kristenia,
      I wrote this article with you – and another She Blossoms reader who also wants to get back into dating after her marriage broke up – in mind:

      How to Prepare Your Heart to Fall in Love Again

      I hope it helps! I think the biggest tip is to be curious and open-minded, and not have high expectations for what could happen in the future. Enjoying yourself is the best way to get back into the dating life — even though I know it’s easier said than done.

      Be well, and keep in touch!
      – Laurie

  3. First time I’ve ever been in love at 34. Had an affair with a married man ( please dont judge ) friends for a long time and one thing led to another. I ended it after 9 months, the distance the dynamics with our kids and his soon to be crazy EX were taking its toll. Sadly we could be together if I didnt end it. He still is divorcing his wife ( problems before me ) just feel like my heart is crushed. Isnt it crazy how you go from talking facetiming every day all day and night to nothing? My heart is crushed but, is what it is.