Clearing Out the Old and Making Way For The New When You Divorce

Divorce spells the end of the marriage, as well as making decisions as a couple. That is

ground that is typically hard to navigate. Now you’re on your own, and with that comes freedom

of choice and the opportunity to decide for yourself the things you want to do as well as what

you want to get. Once you start thinking in those terms, there is so much to cover that you don’t

often consider the fact that your jewelry, particularly your engagement ring, wedding band, and

other pieces you acquired during your marriage, factor into this whole equation. So while this

might seem small next to so many of the other looming issues, believe it or not figuring out what

to do with those valuables – the markers of your time together – can be extremely challenging.

The important thing is that you are making a fresh start, a new beginning. With that in mind, you

can start to think about your transformation, and your jewelry being an aspect of that, to reflect

the new you and symbolize your newfound autonomy. You can ring in your independence –

literally – from the point at which you decide to no longer wear your wedding band, and/or

choose to completely let go and sell it, because perhaps it was not the one you would have

initially picked or wasn’t the ring you always hoped for, and now you no longer have to feel

stuck wearing it.

Getting into that mindset can be difficult and might take some effort. You can feel like

you are in a whirlpool of emotions: insecurity, self-blame, and self-doubt that you made a bad

marriage choice in the beginning, or that you stayed too long, and how can you trust yourself to

make a good decision in the future? All of this can lead to a loss of self-esteem as well. That can

get in the way of your making decisions including those surrounding your valuables. Do you

want to keep a certain piece for your children, for example, or remove it from your life

altogether? Are you ready to take off the wedding band you have had on for decades? These are

all small steps toward your new life. As hard as it might be, keep in mind that with each choice

you make you are moving further away from the unhappiness and stress you were living in, and

can now start to shape your new identity going forward.

Rather than letting pieces you no longer wear gather dust just sitting there, think of it as

an opportunity to turn them into something different that can make a statement about your new

style. A wedding band can become a beautiful watch that says now you can have the time of

your life and the fun to go with it. By dealing with your jewelry, you can release any negative

feelings the items may carry. And now is as good a time as any to tackle any guilt that might

come into play for you around giving yourself permission to have things that make you feel

good, and that you will enjoy. Perhaps you always waited to receive jewelry as a gift because

you felt you needed your spouse’s approval first, or didn’t feel comfortable buying it for

yourself. That no longer has to be the case, because you’re now in charge.

Rather than holding on to certain items for sentimentality, which can keep you stuck in

the negative feelings attached to them, now is the chance to rid yourself of the pieces you never

would have chosen, or didn’t like to start with, and replace them with something that is exactly

what you want. One big ticket item can become several smaller ones that can be like your

emotional vitamins. When you wear them, they make you feel better and keep you feeling

positive. In this new stage of life, it is important to have self-worth. And what better way to say

I’m worth it than giving yourself jewelry because you are worth it.

While this is a smaller decision than some of the big ones you’ve been facing, it can

become an opportunity to build up your confidence in knowing that you can define who you are

through your self-expression, secure for yourself what you desire, and begin to trust your own

judgment again. With this new exercising of personal freedom comes a fresh start that will raise

your self-assurance and help you feel good about yourself.

One of the biggest losses you are going through is one of identity. You are going from

being part of a couple and the “we,” to being solo on your own as a “me.” Make that loss of the

“we” into a gain for the “me,” and with your new individuality have something exciting to show

for it. Now is the time for you to reinvent yourself and shine. By clearing out the pieces of your

past you make room for a new and brighter future.


Dr. Jane Greer; Marriage and Family Therapist

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