Living Again After Divorce

L
ike a biting arctic wind, Roger's note stung bitterly and cut deeply into Ruth's heart. From outward appearances Roger and Ruth's twenty-eight year marriage seemed to be reasonably happy and secure. One afternoon, however, after a seemingly pleasant lunch together, Ruth returned home, to find this note on her pillow:

"Dearest Ruth, you have been a wonderful wife and mother. I could never have asked for anything more." After more flowery compliments, Roger continued, "But I'm in love with another woman. I've left home. You will hear from my lawyer very soon."

Ruth was devastated. It took several days to get over the initial shock so that she could even cry. She pleaded with Roger to come home, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. She was left with divorce papers, shattered dreams and a broken heart. Sadly, Ruth's experience is being repeated many times every day. Every year in the United States there are two divorces for every four marriages.

Divorce is one of the most painful experiences any family can experience. It's not only the death of a marriage, but also the death of dreams and hopes. It cuts at our deepest fears of being abandoned and unlovable, and it destroys years of invested love and caring. Divorce can be even more painful than the loss of love through physical death which at least has finality to it and may often have been unpreventable. Where children are involved, divorce has even wider devastating effects.

A broken arm takes several weeks to heal.
Broken hearts take much longer.

Of one thing we can be sure, however. Even though God hates divorce (as well as everything else that is harmful to people), he loves divorced people and families and wants them to be healed and made whole. Recovery may not be easy but it beats staying in the valley of despair.

As one recently divorced mother told me, "I didn't even know where to begin. I had to rethink absolutely everything in my lifeómy home, a job, my identity, my friends, my relationship with my children, and my relationship with God. I had to start all over." If you have experienced the tragedy of divorce, you can take several steps to start working through that difficult experience and, in time, you may even find that God has used that trial to make you a healthier, happier person.

First, acknowledge your loss. After the initial shock it's tempting to go into denial by refusing to face the reality of what has happened or by burying your feelings of hurt, anger and grief. The first step to recovery is to face the reality of your failed marriage and be truly honest with how you feel about it.

Second, accept your pain as normal. Don't run from it. Pain is God's way of telling us something is broken and needs fixing. Whether a broken arm or a broken heart, the pain reminds us that we need to take proper care of ourselves.

Third, realize that this, too, will pass. If you have recently gone through divorce you may think that life is over and that you will never love again. But if you commit yourself to getting through it, in time the pain will pass and you can become a healthier and more mature personóable to love and trust again if that is God's will for you.

Fourth, don't waste your pain, invest it. Put your pain to work and allow it to motivate you to grow and become a healthier person. Then, once you have progressed, you may be able to support others who are going through similar experiences. Help them see that they, too, can survive and become happier, healthier persons.

Fifth, give yourself time to heal. It takes time to face your pain, to begin again in single life, and come to understand what went wrong. A broken arm takes several weeks to heal. Broken hearts take much longeróbut not forever. It usually takes at least a year to make significant progress in working through the impact of divorce. However, if you haven't resolved your pain after say two years, chances are that something is keeping you stuck. If this is the case, I suggest getting professional counsel to help you resolve your loss and work through the recovery process.

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