If you spend your time hoping someone will suffer the consequences for what they did to your heart, then you’re allowing them to hurt you a second time in your mind.
-Shannon L. Alder
When two people get a divorce, the pain that follows can be overwhelming at times when faced with the reality that, “Till Death Do You Part,” is no longer valid. Feelings of deep sorrow and grief are common. Disputes over finances and custody arise causing feelings of frustration and anger. Children also have to be nurtured in a specific manner that I will go into in another article.
Questions get raised about what could’ve been done differently? How did I get here? How will this affect my family?
Divorce as a Christian can be even more difficult since the stigma is that Christians aren’t supposed to divorce as much as non-Christians despite current statistics (no significant difference).
Post-Divorce Studies are limited.
Post-divorce healing hasn’t been studied too extensively. If you look around the internet, some of the most commonly prescribed treatments are: allowing sufficient time to grieve, seeking group support with other Christians who have been divorced, and get individualized therapy if needed.
Post-divorce journaling has also been suggested as a way to healthily express one’s emotions and properly reflect when needed.
However, a study done by David Sbarra at the University of Arizona looked at 90 recently divorced or separated couples. Participants were divided into three separate groups:
Group one was told to write about their feelings in a journal through traditional expressive writing.
Group two was told to write in a form called narrative writing which is where you write about your feelings in the context of a story with a beginning, middle, and end.
Group three (control group) was asked to write down their daily activities only, no emotions or feelings.
All three groups were asked to write for 20 minutes a day for three consecutive days. They followed up eight months later to evaluate their emotional states (healing).
What they found was that people who didn’t write about their feelings at all (traditional expressive or narrative) showed the least distress among the three groups.
The thought process is that people who continually ruminate over the past have a harder time moving on and getting their life back together. Expressive writing appears to hinder emotional healing to a point.
What steps can you take to help heal after a divorce?
Despite these findings, there are some important things you can do as a Christian to begin the healing process.
One of the biggest problems I see with Christians after a divorce is the overwhelming feelings of guilt and blame they place on themselves.
There is no doubt that some accountability is needed in order to repent from past sin and learn from the divorce, however, many Christians take it too far.
Self-blame is one of the most harmful things a person can do because it amplifies our perceived inadequacies according to Psychology Today. You don’t need to make it worse, Satan loves when we fail to believe that God forgives us for all things, even divorce.
Once you decide to repent and ask for forgiveness, let bygones by bygones. You don’t have to continue to punish yourself for things that are now out of your control and in the past.
Take the next step by giving yourself adequate time to properly grieve, understand that what you are feeling is temporary and not a permanent state, and make time to laugh and incorporate humor into your life which was shown to improve the healing process.
Remember, even after a divorce, God promises to be with you to the very end. Focus your energy on him and your children (if you have any), draw strength in knowing that God will help you through it, and realize that God will still pick up the broken pieces of your life and make it into a beautiful picture.
Have you recently been divorced and struggle with the after effects? Feel free to be open with your thoughts and feelings and I’ll do my best to respond.