The Best Books to Read after a Divorce, Separation, or Breakup

Sell Wedding Rings Nobody gets married wanting a divorce, yet marriages have close to a 50% chance of ending in divorce. And even though the divorce rate has dropped in recent years, many will face the prospect of how to move on after the relationship is over. There are thousands of books about the many issues surrounding the dissolution of a marriage, and in this brief review, we’ll take a look at some of the best that consider divorce from varied perspectives.

1) Crazy Time: Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life
by Abigail Trafford

The turmoil that comes with the end of a marriage includes dealing with loss, a sense of failure, and the uncertainty of the future. Trafford’s Crazy Time draws on her own personal experience and hundreds of interviews with divorced women and men, as well as extensive research, to offer an understanding of the personal and economic challenges that face divorcing couples.

From chronicling the telltale signs of a marriage in crisis through the legalities of divorce and on to the challenges of being newly single, Crazy Time offers sound advice and a sense of hope and confidence for anyone facing the life changing realities of divorce.

2) Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends by Bruce Fisher and Robert Alberti

Now in its updated fourth edition, Rebuilding has been a trusted source for people seeking to move on after divorce for over 35 years. Featuring Fisher’s “divorce process rebuilding blocks,” a nineteen step model for getting one’s life in order after divorce, this book helps readers put the pieces of their lives back together from the ground up.

Drawing on over two decades worth of research and feedback from thousands who have used the process detailed in the book, the authors offer a detailed “Healing Separation” model for unspooling a marriage, one that provides for a healthy alternative to the usual progression from separation to divorce. A perfect blend of empathetic understanding and motivational inspiration, Rebuilding offers the tools and advice for constructing a well-rounded life after divorce.

3) The Good Divorce:
Keeping Your Family Together When Your Marriage Comes Apart
by Constance Ahrons

Ahrons bases her book on over 20 years of research and the surprising finding that more than 50 percent of divorced couples do, in fact, preserve their families. Far from the myth that divorce inevitably results in traumatized children, The Good Divorce shows how divorcing couples can move through the difficulties of divorce to transition to a “binuclear family” that spans two households and meets the needs of the children.

Allowing the children to maintain “meaningful and unobstructed” relationships with both parents is the key to setting up what Ahrons calls a “limited partnership:” a set of mutually agreed to rules that preserve relationships within the family. For any divorcing couple with children, The Good Divorce is an essential guide to helping their kids through a difficult transition and to preserving healthy relationships with both parents.

4) Life After Divorce: Create a New Beginning by Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse

The emotional reactions to divorce include resentment, anger, and loss that can last well after the divorce is finalized. In this revised edition of the bestseller Life After Divorce, Wegscheider-Cruse draws on her expertise as a therapist to outline a path toward changing a life-altering event into a positive opportunity to reshape life into a better, more fulfilling experience. Noting that the sense of loss is similar for both men and women, from long marriages or short, the author helps the reader craft strategies for dealing with old and new relationships outside the marriage, including children often caught in the middle.

Updated chapters in the new edition include sections on how adult children of divorcing couples can deal with the guilt and pressure to take sides, and how contemporary technology plays a role in the picture of modern divorces.

5) Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing
That Ever Happened to You by Susan J. Elliott

Despite the depths of despair that often visit at the darkest hours of a divorce, Getting Past Your Breakup by Susan Elliott shows how you can relieve yourself of the notion of blame and move on to make a better life, inside and out. Through her popular blog and numerous workshops, Elliott has helped thousand transform their lives and redirect energies in positive ways.

Her plan includes some simple “rules of disengagement,” including when it is right to insist on “no contact” with your ex, and how to deal with obsessing over the failed relationship. Featuring informative anecdotes from real relationships, Getting Past Your Breakup helps inspire new beginnings, and guides the reader in re-establishing confidence and happiness after a relationship has ended.

6) Mars and Venus Starting Over: A Practical Guide for Finding Love Again
After a Painful Breakup, Divorce, or the Loss of a Loved One by John Gray

The end of a relationship can often feel like the end of everything. Loneliness, bitterness, guilt, and blame are only a few of the emotions present after a breakup or divorce. Dr. John Gray’s compassionate guidebook offers a promise of survival, and shows a pathway to finding love again. Noting that while men and women often experience similar kinds of healing responses after divorce, there are distinct differences between the sexes.

Mars and Venus Starting Over provides gender specific advice about dealing with pain, forgiveness, and how to build confidence and find the courage to let go, once and for all. Gray’s book ultimately guides both men and women in exploring the deeper meanings of loss, and shows that by processing that loss, they can discover the secrets to a happier, more fulfilling future.

7) Something Gained: 7 Shifts to Be Stronger, Smarter
and Happier After Divorce by Deb Purdy

Deb Purdy focuses on choices in Something Gained: choices about different ways you can view your divorce experience. If you’re newly divorced, or even if you’ve been apart for years, feelings of regret, shame, and anger can linger, and Purdy’s book show how a change in perspective can transform your divorce in a way that ultimately helps the reader become happier, stronger, and more at peace.

If you’re ready to acknowledge the lessons of your divorce and peacefully co-exist with your spouse, you can transform that anger and regret into acceptance, joy, and personal power. Purdy provides a concrete plan for shifting from the trauma of divorce into the possibility of a positive, life-changing experience.

8) Divorce: Think Financially, Not Emotionally:
What Women Need to Know About Securing Their Financial Future
Before, During , and After Divorce by Jeffrey A. Landers

The crushing atmosphere of a divorce is fraught with emotional pain. It’s an extremely stressful process, and certainly not the ideal time to have to make important financial decisions, but those decisions must me made nonetheless. The division of assets and debts, the home, tax liabilities, alimony, and more, are all issues that need to be dealt with, and Landers’ book adroitly addresses these issues from a woman’s perspective.

With specific advice on building a top-notch divorce case, uncovering a husband’s hidden assets, dealing with pensions and other retirement accounts, and negotiating alimony, this book is a must read for any woman going through divorce, amicable or not. Divorce: Think Financially Not Emotionally will help all women going through divorce establish a more secure financial future.

9) Divorce After 50:
Your Guide to the Unique Legal and Financial Challenges by Janice Green

Bringing over thirty years experience as a divorce lawyer to the task, Janice Green tackles the particular challenges faced during divorce later in life. Issues of blended families, health care concerns, and retirement planning are all more complex for those divorcing over 50, and Green’s book addresses them all systematically.

With sections on divorce options (including mediation and collaborative divorce), retirement plan rules, dividing marital property fairly, spousal support, estate planning, and health care, this book carefully dissects these complex issues. Complete with divorce “survival stories” that provide encouragement and inspiration, Divorce After 50 is a must for anyone facing a divorce after their 50th birthday.

10) The Optimist’s Guide to Divorce:
How to Get Through Your Breakup and Create a New Life You Love by Susan Riss

Using her own experience and the stories of the Maplewood Divorce Club—a community of women at various stages in their divorces—Susan Riss offers a positive, comforting, and uplifting perspective on the traumatic experience of divorce. Using stories and insights, the author chronicles strategies and resources for each phase of divorce, including “the talk,” breaking the news to friends and family, co-parenting, and even recreating your life.

Broken down into three sections, “Deal, Heal, and Reveal,” The Optimist’s Guide to Divorce is easy to dip into no matter what stage your divorce is in, and will ultimately help the reader make the decisions that will lead to a happy and joyful life after divorce.

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