Survive Your Divorce
- Monday, August 09, 2004
Divorce breaks God's heart. And if you're facing one, your heart is likely broken too. No matter how much you want it to be otherwise, your marriage may indeed be over. But God isn't finished with His work in your life.
Here are some ways you can survive your divorce and find hope afterward:
• Face the truth. Don't deny the ugly realities of what is happening in your marriage. Honestly try to understand the factors that are causing stress between you and your spouse.
• Make every reasonable effort to save your marriage. Do whatever you can do - within reason - to try to save your marriage before proceeding with the divorce. Explore the situation creatively and look for win-win solutions for both you and your spouse. Ask God to help you, even if your spouse doesn't welcome His help. Go to marriage counseling, and enhance the work you do during the sessions by keeping a journal, praying, striving to communicate with your spouse like never before, being sensitive to gender differences in communication, and being gracious and loving in giving and receiving constructive criticism. If your spouse is abusive, separate for your own safety and seek the help of law enforcement officials, counselors, and others to protect yourself and encourage your spouse to seek healing.
• Consider a trial separation. Rather than rushing into divorce, try separating temporarily to give you each time and space to work on the issues, while leaving the door open for future reconciliation. Before one of you actually moves out, plan strategies to deal with issues such as finances, legal matters, household logistics, and relationships with mutual family members and friends. Don't be vindictive; consider your spouse's needs as well as your own. When communicating with other people about your situation, use discretion and tell them only what they absolutely need to know.
• Grieve for your marriage. If you cannot save your marriage, gradually let go of the emotional attachments you've invested in it. Don't be afraid to cry. Pray about your thoughts and feelings. Talk to trustworthy friends. Adjust your lifestyle so your schedule doesn't revolve around your missing spouse. Channel your anger toward trying to find solutions rather than venting rage. Acknowledge that some of your expectations were unreasonable or unimportant. Seek to learn from your past mistakes. Realize that God is with you in the midst of your suffering. Make choices that respect yourself, living as a victor rather than a victim. Focus on positive thoughts. Serve other people through volunteer projects so your own problems will fade into the background. Take good care of your health, eating a nutritious diet and getting the proper amount of exercise and sleep.
• Forgive. Rely on God's strength to help you forgive your spouse - and yourself. Release destructive bitterness and resentment, focus your anger on motivating repentance and healing, and offer to restore and reconcile broken relationships whenever possible.
• Use your divorce as a catharsis for change. Offer your pain to God and invite Him to use it to mature you. Look to God alone - not things or people - for the comfort and strength you need. Ask God what He wants you to learn from your struggles, then pray and read the Bible to listen to His answers. In every situation, practice asking yourself what Jesus would do, then make your own decisions accordingly. Assess your attitudes and behaviors honestly and with humility, and deal with your sin by confessing and repenting. Know that God can use right now, right where you are - so decide to bloom where you're planted.
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