How to Find Closure After Your Marriage Ends
Your relationship has come to an end. But you aren’t satisfied.
You want answers. You need closure.
But how are you defining closure? Is it a clean break with everything ended to the satisfaction of you both? Is it having all of your questions about what went wrong with your relationship answered?
The textbook definition of closure is not a requirement for healing. If your definition of the closure means that your ex has behaved a certain way or that ending your relationship will have a certain outcome, you’ll only be disappointed.
Everyone ending a relationship will have to define closure in their way, but it will also have to mean that you accept things, let go of the past and start planning for the future.
Accept that you may never get an apology or explanation from your ex
Asking your ex why they broke up with you or why things didn’t work out is often an exercise in futility. Sometimes, your ex may not even know exactly why themselves.
If you can only get closure by getting the answer to this question, then you may never get it. You may think you need or deserve an apology or explanation--and maybe you do—but you can’t control what other people do.
Usually, the more you push someone for answers or apologies, the more you will tend to upset and anger them, which will certainly not increase your chances of getting the information you want. If you do manage to discuss with your ex about what went wrong, you may not like the answers you get.
It’s also important to remember that we all interpret things through our lens. There is no one truth or interpretation of events in a relationship. You each have your ideas and versions of what happened and what went wrong.
The truth is messy.
Attempting to answer every question will only leave you confused and frustrated. Most likely, the answers to these questions aren’t going to help you anyway, because not everything will be something you can understand or even wrap your head around.
We hate ambiguity.
People can get stuck by longing for a sign that their ex is sorry for what happened. In many cases, he or she has moved on while you’ve been wasting time dwelling on the past.
As much as we would like them to, relationships don’t end with everything tied up in a neat little bow and everyone able to go on with their lives. Realize that you will have to live with some questions unanswered. There is no rule saying that you have to understand every little thing that happened in your relationship to get closure.
Quit obsessing about your relationship
It’s natural to try to play detective and try to find out what went wrong in your relationship.
You retrace every step, you re-read every text and email, you replay countless scenes in your head. You do all of this in the hope that you will be able to figure out the clues to the mystery of what happened in your relationship.
You can invest a lot of time and energy trying to make sense of things--which only prolongs your pain. It’s not easy, but try to shift your thoughts elsewhere when you start to replay scenes from your past relationship. If you need to, find a friend, family member, support group or counselor who can listen to you.
The only way you are going to get closure is if you let go of these thoughts and your past relationship. If you have children it's even more important to move past your old relationship and focus on the best way to co-parent in the future.
Focus on your new life and work on dealing with your feelings about the relationship ending. Learn to accept that things are over and use your energy to develop a plan to move on with your life.
Stop fantasizing about the past
You also had some good times together as a couple and maybe thinking about them while forgetting everything else. We often remember only the positive moments in relationships--which is both understandable and natural but has nothing to do with reality. It’s easy to fall into the trap of fantasizing about a past that never was.
Why thinking about the past and analyzing what went wrong can be helpful, dwelling on your old relationship for too long is unhealthy and can take away your chance at current and future happiness. Obsessing and constantly rehashing the relationship doesn’t fix things or give you closure, it only prevents you from moving on.
The happy times together are great memories, but if you block out the bad, then you just set yourself up to live a lie. Every relationship is made up of both good and bad stuff. If you're no longer with your ex, the bad stuff in your relationship most likely came to outweigh the good.
Remember the letter you wrote earlier? Put your pen to paper again and write a list of all the things that were good about your relationship with your ex.
Next, make a list of all the bad things. If you are having trouble coming up with negative things, friends and family members will usually able to point out that time when your ex forgot your birthday, or how they constantly put you down in public or were never emotionally available.
Looking at these lists side by side will help you gain better insight into why you need to romanticize your relationship and how it's not connected to the reality of what you went through.
You can always control your emotions
Ending a relationship will cause you to feel a variety of emotions—including sadness, anger, guilt, and fear.
Don’t run from these emotions when you are at the end of a relationship. Give yourself the freedom to feel these emotions and acknowledge them. It’s okay to acknowledge that you are experiencing suffering and pain.
Everyone has negative emotions and bad feelings. But as adults, we are responsible for whether we act on them or not.
Your emotions can influence you, but they don’t force you to do anything. Constructively deal with your negative emotions. No matter what bad feelings you have, you need to stay in control of your actions.
Don’t give in to a desire to hurt or get revenge on your ex. Vengeance may feel good in the short term, but it is not going to help you heal or get closure. Negative actions have bad consequences, and most of the time, you end up hurting yourself as well.
Make your definition of the word "closure"
Closure doesn’t come from your ex, you have to find your own. You may expect or want your ex to do or say a certain thing so you can find closure, but most likely this won’t happen.
You don’t need validation, friendship, answers to all your questions or grudging apologies from your ex to get closure.
Only you can help yourself. Don’t waste time expecting your ex to provide you with closure. Get closure by looking within yourself to truly look within yourself to learn about what you want and need.
Nobody has the power to give you closure, so it is up to you to find and define it on your terms.
Think of closure not as having everything wrapped up neatly, but as accepting what has happened and moving on. Closure doesn’t mean that everything about this person or your relationship with them disappears from your brain, it’s about taking responsibility for your well being by accepting the past and moving forward.
Start your next chapter!
As much as we may like it to be, life—and relationships—doesn’t happen in a step by step, orderly fashion. But this isn’t always a bad thing! Life isn’t a book, which means you don’t have to wait until one chapter ends before beginning another.
This means you don’t have to put your life on hold waiting for closure. Don’t fall into the trap of putting off living your life waiting to heal and get over your relationship.
Invest your energy into your life. Look ahead and plan to move onto better things. Make your plans and goals into actionable steps.
Reconnect with the person you were before the relationship began.
Romantic relationships can absorb so much of our time that we can lose a bit of ourselves and neglect the things that we used to enjoy. Sometimes we end up with a controlling partner who made us feel we needed to become someone else so they would love us.
Take this time to rediscover the things you used to enjoy doing. If you don’t like to do them anymore, why not try something new—or try something that you wanted to but didn’t because of your ex.
Take a class or get a degree. Learn to cook a new type of cuisine. Go for long walks or start a workout regime. Volunteer to help others. Engage with the world differently than before.
Take a look at where you're living, what you're doing, where you're working, and see if this is what you want in life. It may be that you find that you're happy where you are, but you also might find that you want to make some changes.
Accept that the textbook definition of closure will most likely be impossible.
Being in a relationship--and ending it--will change you, but it’s up to you to decide how. You’ll remember your ex for the rest of your life and those memories of your relationship will inevitably pop up from time to time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t heal from them.
There is no perfect answer or definition of what closure is supposed to mean or the best way to find it. But accepting the facts of why the relationship ended as well as putting your energy into creating a new future for yourself is one of the best ways you can begin to heal.
Facing the end of your relationship and need divorce advice? Contact Jack's Law Office at (740) 369-7567.