We hear all the time about how to have a happy marriage, but what about a happy divorce?

The dreaded D-word shouldn't be feared — it's your life, and you deserve to be with the right person

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The Independent Online

It’s been roughly a year since the D-word became a staple part of my vocabulary. Before that, I’d been a part of the smugly married group. Life was about work, kids, cooking dinner and bed; having fun just wasn’t a priority.

Yesterday was the busiest day of the year for divorces, and it’s not hard to imagine why. Christmas is a hothouse of pressure, a time of year when the race is on to buy the best, eat the best and wear the best. It becomes easy to crack. The simmering resentments, petty doubts, arguments and lack of affection come to the surface and you realise that you honestly just cannot go on.

A whole word of inescapable judgement comes your way when you decide that you and your partner can’t make your marriage work. And note that I say "can’t", not "won’t". My ex-husband and I married young, grew apart, and became more fraternal than lovers.

No one could have been more upset at that realisation, and launching the D-bomb into our social circle and family lives was heartbreakingly awful. For 10 years we had built a very stable, financially secure world up that we hid behind, desperately fighting the gut-churning knowledge that we were no longer compatible.

But, once the decision's made, you feel a lightness to life. Imagine going home to arguments you know you will have, dinner you know you won’t eat, and a solitary bed that fosters more and more resentment by the hour.

There is another way. Being brave enough to admit when something isn’t working is a mindset that we aren’t used to; marriage is an institution in our society that’s rather hard to break away from. The first step is trusting yourself.

Recognising that you've been trudging along with a person that doesn’t meet your needs isn’t failing, it’s being honest. Have you ever gone out for a meal with your partner with nothing to say, and just played with the pasta and paid the bill, only to get into work the next day saying what a brilliant time you had? How about actually having that brilliant time? There is no shame in being selfish when you have to put up with yourself for the rest of your life. Choose someone who is worth sharing it with: don’t put up with less.

My 5 tips for a happy divorce

1. Support Divorce is never going to be fun, and you will go through a roller coaster of emotions before your first coffee in the morning. Reach out and let people take care of you, keep your friends and family around you as much as possible.

2. The legal stuff Emotions are our best friend or worst enemy; leave the thrashing out of terms to the people who do it best. Emotions will cloud your judgement, so sign off to your solicitor and take a step back.

3. Have fun It's easy to get down in the dumps at your decision. So make time for things that make you smile and get you out - spa, cinema, meals - and say yes to all invites. You'll feel so much better for it.

4. Cry ...and cry and cry. Let it all out, and I mean proper throaty, snotty sobbing. It's the end of an old life, but the beginning of a new one. Embrace the negative emotions, and pave the way for positive ones. Writing a journal helps with perspective.

5. Space Once you have both made the decision to divorce, give each other some breathing space. It might not be forever; you may find that the decision in itself is enough to spark he lost love, but taking a step back and avoiding all non-essential communication will give you a chance to listen to your heart.