I have walked alongside two ladies I dearly love as they were suffering the heartbreak of divorce. Their disappointment, disbelief, and pain were palpable in every breath they breathed. I know for them this was never the intention when marriage began. Truly, I don’t believe that anyone making this vow purposely, giving their whole heart as well as their all, believe this commitment will not last forever.
The truth is the institution of marriage was designed for “till death do us part.” It was created as a life partnership, sharing every segment of this journey. Only ending when one of the “two shall become one” leaves this world. That is not only the intention of marriage, but it is by far the best path. But today that is often not the case.
I am not here to debate the whys, place the blame, nor offer simple platitudes. I am here to help ladies walk through this as I walked alongside those I loved. My role was not to sit back in judgment, but to offer support, helping them move to where life was taking them.
So to those who are walking that heart-breaking, mind-numbing path, I want you to know that you are dearly loved. My heart bleeds with yours. I also want to offer a few things that I learned as I walked with my loved ones through their road toward healing.
You will grieve.
No matter what the cause of your divorce is, or even if you believe your heart is so damaged that love is no longer there; you will grieve.
Divorce is the loss of what should have been. The family that began on the promise of marriage was to be one of the major foundations in your life. It is not just heartbreak you will experience; it is deep, middle-of-the-night, no-holds-barred grief. Don’t hide from it, don’t wallow in it, but allow yourself the necessary time to mourn the loss completely and fully.
You will be angry.
Whether it’s due to the difficult choices you will now have to make—where to live, how to pay the bills, or who gets the sofa—there will be a desire to place blame. Even if your spouse was the chump that had multiple affairs, blew out the bank balance, and was caught repeatedly lying over even insignificant things. Dwelling in or holding onto anger only ends up harming you.
That’s not to say you should hide your anger, deny it, or keep it to yourself. You shouldn’t. Feel it, kick a few doors, throw a few dishes, share it with the ones you’ve chosen to trust. But then work through it to the other side. It will take time, may require counseling but to move on it has to be dealt with. An angry heart will never be a peaceful heart.
You need time.
You need time to heal and that doesn’t come through quickly replacing one relationship with another. This is not the time to start looking for a new man. Relationships that begin before your healing is complete will be built on unstable ground. You are hurt and vulnerable, which is never a good time to go looking for love. You must know this: you do not need the attention of a man to prove you are worthy of attention from a man. The best way to know that about yourself is to prove you are whole and capable without it. Give yourself time, and by time I am not talking about months, but maybe a few years.
Your emotions will pay a price.
The optimism that you held as the girl that walked down the aisle is gone. This is one of the biggest reasons a new man too early will not work. The ability to again believe that a love relationship will last is tenuous at best when you have lived through one that didn’t. Doubt will raise its ugly head even when dating the greatest man on earth. But it can happen again. I have seen new relationships blossom when it appeared the only thing left of the heart was desert sand in which nothing would grow.
Financially life changes.
Moving on by yourself, whether it’s from a marriage of assets and income or one where you both worked to simply pay the rent, your economics will change. A joint household sharing expenses is managed differently than trying to do on your own. After the settlement of assets and the child support agreements you are still by yourself to make ends meet. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You can, but what it does mean is you will have to make economic choices you may not have had to before. But it is not beyond your ability. When you have mastered this new normal is a reward of it’s own. You will grow in self-confidence, strength, and fortitude when you realize you can do this! That “feel good moment” beats the agony of having to walk away from that great pair of new shoes on clearance any day!
You cannot walk this road alone.
You will need support. Find friends, family members, those who not only understand you but also are willing to care for you as well. You’ll need them to help you find that new home, to answer the phone for those late night conversations, to pull you out of bed when you never want to see the light of day, and to simply be willing to put an arm around your shoulder when there is nothing to say, only tears to shed. These friends are worth their weight in gold.
Take the time to look inward.
As difficult as divorce is, it’s also an opportunity to rediscover you. You will learn invaluable lessons about marriage, relationships, and especially about yourself.
You may be wandering the land of “If I’d only…” or “Where did we first go wrong?” Honesty is your best friend. This is not the time to heap condemnation upon yourself or your spouse, but take this opportunity to review and assess. It’s part of the healing process and is necessary to ensure that the future does hold promise—because you’ll have gained wisdom…wisdom and understanding, especially about yourself.
Finally, if divorce is the place in life you find yourself, there is hope…there is healing. There are groups that meet that will walk you through this painful journey. There are ones who love you that will serve you as well. Again, don’t go through this alone.
Each stage of the healing process will enter hard and leave at its own pace. But leave it will. When each part of this journey does depart, remember where you came from, how far you’ve already come, and let that bring hope. Hope that there is a future, because dear lady, let me encourage you: there is. One of joy, promise, and wonderful life to come. I know that you, my dear, have both the grit and the grace to handle it because I saw those I love do exactly that even when they doubted healing would come.
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You may enjoy this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: If You Can’t Avoid Divorce, Can You Do It Honorably? With Attorney Leesha Newkirk Crouch – 059!