Let’s face it, divorce is tough and sometimes we need to encourage those going through a divorce that there really is life on the other side of divorce. Having been through a divorce I can speak with a bit of experience on how to survive and hopefully even thrive. Because I am a natural list maker I have produced some steps that I hope will be an aid to others who are either going through a divorce or advising someone going through it right now. Here we go!
1. For every five years you were married take one year to do the hard work of looking at your marriage, why it ended, and what you have learned from the experience. Grieve and analyze then move on. (Olsen from California formula I think) For me that has been seven years to full healing.
2. Do not lose your faith; do not put it on the back burner. Rather dig into the Bible and see what God has to say about what has happened to you. Not only will you come to a better understanding of what happened to you but you will also realize how God has been your anchor. Your trust in Him will be strengthened.
3. If you have children then be prepared to deal with not only your hurt feelings but also theirs. Read books to prepare yourself for what to expect and how to help your children regardless of their age. Adult children hurt too and sometimes need help to heal from their parents divorce also.
4. Learn all you can about forgiveness, what it is and what it is not, then put what you have learned into practice and forgive your spouse or ex-spouse. If you have been a part of the problem ask for forgiveness from those whom you have hurt. Forgiveness is the second best gift God ever gave, salvation is the first gift. Realize that Jesus told you how to forgive and know that you can forgive because He will help you.
5. Understand that betrayal is something Jesus had to struggle with and think of how He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane and realize that He was victorious and you can be too. Betrayal is the worst pain one can experience but you can and did survive it.
6. Know that you are not alone. You are going through a rough time, but there are others that have been there before you and lean upon them for advice. Keep in touch with your church family and if you don’t have one then get into a good church family. Build a support system around you because you will need them and they will help you with your struggles.
7. Find a good lawyer and follow their advice. Many couples today are trying to do their divorce the cheapest way but this is not wise. Yes lawyers are expensive, but they often have payment plans and if you have a liar and sneak as an ex then you will need protection that only comes from the court. Rely upon the expert lawyer to guide you through the divorce process and don’t take it personally, just realize that it is a strange process and one you do not want to go through alone. Your lawyer is money well spent.
8. Plan to downsize. Your income will most likely go down and so your lifestyle will change. Get used to it and the sooner you accept this fact of life the better your bank account will survive. Shop in discount stores or garage sales, buy generic rather than brand names, and watch for sales. And don’t plan to keep the marital home unless you truly can afford it. There is no disgrace in living in a home you can afford. I moved from a 10,000 sq ft home to a 1,000 sq ft home and then five years later to a 2,000 sq ft home and I am thankful every time I pay the mortgage because it is the amount I can afford to pay. A lot of stress left my shoulders when the marital home finally sold!
9. Realize that pride is a sin. If pride is keeping you from asking for help when you really need it then you are sinning. If your pride is hurt, then realize how silly pride really is and know that God expects the proud to fall but the humble (Proverbs 16:8) to rise so replace pride with humility. You will be much happier if you do.
10. Know that there is a wonderful life awaiting you on the other side of the process of divorce. And know that God wants what is best for you and your children. If your ex didn’t care about following God and was not willing to be obedient to God’s ways then God has done you a big favor in ejecting that sinful person out of your life. The sooner you realize this the sooner you will begin to see that God’s way is always better. You remain obedient to God and you will never regret that you did.
“For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the LORD of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” Malachi 2:16, (New American Standard Bible).
“The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the LORD Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful. Malachi 2:16, (New International Version).
You will notice that I have used the same verse twice but from two different versions of the Bible. I want to make the point that God hates divorce and no wonder! In my own life I have seen and felt the destructive force of divorce and I’m sure you have too. But sometimes we don’t have a choice in divorce. Sometimes we can’t stop our spouse from making this grave mistake and so we must do our best to persevere, survive, and take care of our family. I hope these steps that I have found from my own personal experience in divorce will be an encouragement and help to you today. Just know that you are not alone and there are people in your life that care about you and care about what you are facing. Don’t be too proud to seek them out and lean upon them when you need a little help. We all need a little help in one way or another sometimes.
Until next time…Katherine