We live in a broken world full of broken people and broken relationships.
It’s a sad fact of life.
There’s not one person on earth that hasn’t been affected by divorce. Maybe it was your parents, or your siblings, or your friends, or you. But, the stark reality of divorce has left its mark on your life…and mine too.
We know that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).
But He doesn’t hate those who have been through a divorce. He loves them deeply.
In fact, I believe the love He has for those who have been through divorce compels Him to hate divorce. He knows the pain it causes. Whether the divorce was your choosing or not, it’s always painful.
So, you’ve been through a divorce. Now what? Here are some next steps for you to take:
Feel all the Feelings
While you want to move toward a place of acceptance, it’s also important to give all of your feelings space.
Much like the death of a loved one, divorce brings with it a complete range of emotions.
Shock and Denial
Guilt and Bargaining
Physical or Emotional Distress
And you probably won’t feel each feeling in isolation. For example, if your spouse left you for someone else, you’ll feel plenty of anger and resentment. But you also might still love them and miss them very much.
Or you may have sought divorce from an abusive spouse. While you may feel relief and comfort in knowing you did the right thing, you also may feel great sadness and loneliness.
Avoidance is no solution. The more you avoid these feelings, the more intense and obtrusive they’ll become.
As you sort through your feelings:
Make prayer and Bible study a regular, daily activity. You’ll feel so much more grounded and reassured as you navigate your feelings.
Seek out a trusted Christian friend or therapy group. DivorceCare is a national organization that specializes in helping people cope with divorce. We host these groups at Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, WA, where I pastor. You can also find a group in your community by going to divorcecare.org/findagroup.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed by the array of feelings, or you’re having a hard time eating, sleeping, or parenting, it may be time to reach out to a professional counselor.
No one thinks their marriage will end in divorce. Until it does.
The shock of the whole situation can feel almost impossible to accept.
What if I had only….?
Why didn’t we try to….?
But we were so in love at first…
Living with regret over the past, or obsessing about a future that never will be makes it nearly impossible to move forward.
As difficult as it may seem, you have to find a way to make peace with the situation and move on. It won’t happen overnight. Give yourself grace. But make sure you’re moving toward a place of acceptance.
Try New Routines
While you may find comfort in your normal day-to-day routines, it may be a good time to try some new experiences.
Maybe switch up your usual coffee shop, grocery store, or lunch spot. These places may carry with them lots of memories of your life with your ex, and switching up your routine could bring some measure of healing.
And don’t forget self-care routines. Make sure you’re taking good care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. A few ideas:
PHYSICAL: Invest in new skincare products or bath products. Take time each night to pamper yourself so you feel good as you head to bed. Join a new gym, take walks or go biking. Exercise is a proven way to fight depression and build up endorphins in your system.
EMOTIONAL: Be sure to press into healthy relationships as you recover. You may have to carefully navigate your friend groups post-divorce (we split the belongings, do we split the friends too?) Find the people who are truly there for you and rely on them when things feel too heavy. (It can be tempting to rush into another romantic relationship, but you’ll need some time before you’re ready to take that step in a healthy way. Proceed with caution.)
MENTAL: Now is a great time to join a book club, or take a college course, or learn a new skill or hobby. It’s all too easy to use cell phones and TV as distractions to your situation. But be sure to keep your mind fresh and stimulated with new information.
SPIRITUAL: Don’t do yourself the disservice of disconnecting from your faith community during or after a divorce. You will find so much encouragement, support, and care in a family of faith that will come alongside you as you find your way. The Lord wants to minister to your spirit through pastors and leaders who can present the truth of who you and who God is in a way that is relevant and inspiring.
There is life after divorce. Never stop believing or hoping in a life that is joyful and full of love, peace, and contentment. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11