Get Back to Happy After a Breakup

If your relationship or marriage is on the verge of collapse, we’ve got some advice for you from Theo Pauline Nestor. The author of the book ‘How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed’ made the transition from coupledom to singledom and agreed to share a bit of her story — and secrets — on how she healed post-split.

Q: What caused the breakup of your marriage?

A: My husband and I broke up because of the break in trust caused by his gambling addiction. We’d gone through a few episodes where he’d gambled and lied about it early in our marriage and we got counseling to work through it. I thought it was past us, but, six years later, I found out he’d been secretly gambling for over a year and had created thousands of dollars in debt. That day, I decided I could no longer trust him and could no longer be in the marriage.

Q: What was the toughest thing about your transition from being married to being single?

A: Making a living and being there for my kids. Before the divorce, I’d worked only part-time and was home with my daughters, who were five and nine at the time. After the divorce, I couldn’t figure out how to get back into the workforce and make enough money to offset the costs of child care.

I was also torn. As much as I wanted to make a decent living, I didn’t really want to get child care for my kids. I wanted to be there for them the way I’d been when I was married. The toughest part was adjusting to a new image of myself as a mother and to believe I was still a “good mother” even if I couldn’t be with them as much as I had been previously.

Q: How did you get back to a place of happiness?

A: I had to create a one-person life where there had once been a two-person life. In a two-person life with children, you can go to the gym at night or out with a friend while your partner watches the kids. You can both be earning money to pay for necessities and extras. You go to social events together and, hopefully, you work through problems together.

To be happy in a lasting way, I’ve had to develop a life that works for me as the only adult in the house. One thing that has really added to my happiness was developing a career to the point where I could work at home. The main thing is it takes time. People going through a divorce have to be patient with themselves and have faith that happiness and a sense of normalcy will return.

Q: What’s your advice for any woman currently going through a breakup?

A: Use the support you already have in place and count on needing all of it… And then some. My friends were a huge help. I also went to therapy (I probably could have used more, but the time/money shortage held me back). Since then, I’ve heard about divorce support groups. I think I could have benefited from one of those. Also, don’t let self-care go by the wayside. As someone said to me when my husband and I split, “Now you’re the only one who can take care of you.” Ask yourself what you need and then find it. Exercise, friendship, rest: We need those more than ever when our lives are falling apart.