When Judith Wright’s
marriage ended, she launched a quest to understand why it happened, and how she could mend herself to become a better partner in the future. “It’s really a time to do some deeper looking, and really look at what happened,” Wright said. “What do I need to learn to have a satisfying relationship in future? How do I become a person who is whole and complete without a relationship? How do I become the person I would want to marry?”
Wright is now the co-founder of the Wright Leadership Institute in Chicago
. The institute helps people improve themselves and their circumstances to find more meaning and fulfillment in their lives. Wright is also the author of the "Soft-Addiction Solution
: Break Free of the Seemingly Harmless Habits that Keep You from the Life You Want," and "The One Decision: Make the Single Choice That Will Lead to a Life of More."
Wright said that after the end of her first marriage, which she describes as less like a marriage and “more like a long date,” she decided to use the time to improve herself and the way she participated in relationships. “I mean, I really did some work. What a difference it made,” Wright said. “Had I not turned toward it, I would have kept repeating that same pattern again. I might have gotten a new dress, or gotten my hair highlighted, but I wouldn’t have understood about my man issues.”
Wright’s experience after a marriage ends is a common one. Most people take on some sort of self-improvement journey after a divorce. According to results from a recent poll from GFK Roper
Custom Research, women are more likely than men to modify some segment of their lives after divorce. The poll, commissioned by Divorce360.com, also showed that the most common form of self-improvement for both men and women is weight loss.
Other than weight loss, people are also likely to change jobs, buy a car or furniture or a place to live. Women are more likely than men to get a new job, change their appearances or go back to school. The poll was conducted by phone. More than 1,500 people participated in the study, and the margin of error is plus- or minus-2.6 percent.
Wright’s self-improvement journey to understand her relationship issues brought her directly to her current husband. She attributes her positive experience to the fact that she made a commitment to herself to explore her relationship issues and repair them. “It can help guide you, define you, so you are not being guided by your relationships and instead by your values,” Wright said.
Her book, "The One Decision," is a 30-day guide that leads the reader through understanding and acting upon one choice that will help bring more satisfaction and meaning to life – it is about making a commitment to a quality-of-life improvement. Wright said the time after a divorce is an apt time for such an undertaking. The end of marriage can be the beginning of a new life. “There is a real need for a fresh start because you can’t define yourself the same way that you did when you were married,” Wright said.
There may be practical reasons for life changes: for example, a spouse needs to begin supporting himself or herself, so the person needs to finish a college degree or get a new job. Sometimes the changes are more natural – the person is no longer defined by being part of a married couple, and a new identity needs to arise. “It’s really an identity shift, not just change in circumstances,” Wright said. “You have to accept that there is a change, and that it is right to do something positive about it.”
She said she often sees clients at the Wright Institute who are divorcing and recognizing the need to change some patterns in their lives. The end of the marriage stirs them to wake up and re-evaluate the way they live their lives, Wright said. “Then, it becomes a metamorphosis, or a transformation of sorts that really brings something positive out,” Wright said. “That’s really when the phoenix starts rising out of the ashes.”
She said the experience can be a positive one, and often her clients question why they didn’t focus on improving their lives earlier. “Everybody , at a level, is going to get that new life needs to be formed,” Wright said.