Heal the Heartache of Divorce

For anyone who has suffered through divorce and would like to heal through their faith, I highly recommend Rose Sweet’s A Woman’s Guide to Healing the Heartbreak of Divorce. I think it would be applicable to men, too. Though the book holds much more wisdom, here are some excerpts from the ends of the first few chapters where the author asks,

“What does our fear say?” and, “What does our faith say?”


“What does our fear say?” “What does our faith say?”
God as healer: No one will help me through the turmoil. I’m scared, I’m hurting, and I just know it’s going to get worse. I feel all alone. My Heavenly Father is always there. He knows exactly what I need and he will help if only I will look up through my tears and call out to him. Whether I whisper or scream, he will hear me, any day, any night, any time at all.
God as our caring parent I can’t see any future happiness… ever. I doubt this pain will ever end. Nothing will make the hurt or emptiness go away. I’m   doomed to feel like this forever. God knows the plans he has for me, a future filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) The pain will end, if I let God help me.
Loss I have lost everything I ever held dear. I have lost everything that I need, that any [person] needs. I will never, ever get it back, and I am doomed to a miserable life because of my divorce. In losing these   things, God is asking me to draw nearer to him. Sometimes those things actually prevented my being closer to him. Stripped of all I hold dear, he can clothe me in his pure love and   prepare me for even greater gifts! All I need to do is trust and wait, even though I don’t feel like it right now… and that’s okay.
Shock and Denial This can’t be real. It isn’t happening. I don’t believe it. I’m afraid to believe it. I don’t want to believe it. My denial about any area of my divorce is secondary to my denial about God’s love for me and his promises to heal my heart, no matter how bad it ever gets. I need to learn to let go and start to trust him.
Rejection I can’t keep letting people reject me. It hurts too much. I’ve got to keep trying to get them to like me, accept me, agree with me, and love me. If they don’t, I have to find a way to manipulate or control   them so I can get what I need and deserve. I’m so tired of all this. My denial about any area of my divorce is secondary to my denial about God’s love for me and his promises to heal my heart, no matter how bad it ever gets. I need to learn to let go and start to trust him.
Anger People are going to keep hurting my kids or me. I’m   going to have to fight to get what I want. I don’t deserve this! I want life to be different; I want life to be fair. Life is not fair… but God is. People will try to hurt my children and me, but I can learn to protect myself and I can teach the children, too. I can change my attitude and let go of the anger. He can show me how.
Depression I’m afraid that life will only get worse. I’m often afraid that I will never be financially secure or loved, or that life will be easy again. What if I have to work hard for the rest of my life or never have the things I wanted, hoped for, or dreamed of? What if no one wants me? I feel powerless, hopeless, and angry at the same time. My Father knows my needs. He never would allow me to go through dark times without the comfort of knowing he’s right there. He’s got all the tools I need to get through this tough time. I can acknowledge my feelings as temporary and every day take one step toward his outstretched hand.
Guilt I’m a failure. I know all the areas in which I was wrong but it’s too late to go back and fix them. I’m tired of trying to make up for my mistakes to others, but I guess it will never end. I know God must hate me; why else would I feel so miserable? God does not   hate me; he loves me! He hates where I have failed, but he forgives and forgets. I can take a lesson from him and let go. I can choose to own my genuine guilt, let go of false guilt, seek forgiveness, and move on. I can bathe myself in his living water.
Fear Among a million other things, I’m afraid of being hurt, used, abandoned again, taken advantage of, getting ripped off in court, losing the kids’ loyalty, having others believe the lies, having to work too hard, being alone, and not being forgiven by God. Sometimes I am outraged with fear; other times I am paralyzed by it. My Master is right here, all the time. I have nothing to fear. If I do feel afraid, I will examine   my fears and take any necessary action. Then I will let my fears pass, knowing that my emotions are temporary   and fleeting, but God’s faithfulness stands forever.
Loneliness My fear tells me I will be stuck in this painful place of loneliness forever. I’m afraid I will never have anyone to lean on, to love, and to love me back. I’m worried that I will become even lonelier in my   old age. What if no one ever wants to marry me? What if no one ever even wants to love me? I know I was   created to draw close to my Heavenly Father and rest in his arms. My loneliness is temporary. I can take some steps to help the situation, and I know he can help me with the rest of my feelings. I will go to him and not wallow in self-pity.
Grieving I don’t want to grieve any more. It’s too big. It’s too   painful. I’m sick of it. I want to move on. It doesn’t feel good. What will people think if I’m weak with grief? Why can’t I just avoid it? I’ll be fine, really I will, won’t I? I know God has given me tears for a reason. He designed me to grieve so that I could heal. I will not be afraid of the pain, knowing he will give me his grace to get through it. After all, God’s people wept. Jesus wept. I am not alone.

On this solemn Good Friday, day of Jesus’ passion, remember Joy is coming!

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (1 Peter 1:7 NLT)


Fair Fighting

During this week of our Lord’s passion to redeem our weaknesses and faults, I thought it might be fitting to offer some insights about fair fighting. Read through these and, with your spouse, choose what your disagreement rules will be. Or write your own!



Fight like the world’s happiest couples from The Exceptional 7 Percent by Gregory K. Popcak:

  • The argument must move things along to a mutually satisfying solution. Unhealthy if it never resolves anything.
  • There are certain lines the couple simply doesn’t cross no matter how heated their discussion gets. Disallow anything that makes one defensive or quickly escalates the argument.
  • Maintain your own dignity. No matter how crazy you think your spouse is acting, you must be able to be proud of your own conduct at the end of the day.
  • In the couple’s overall relationship, there is a five to one ratio of positivity to negativity. You must be five times more complimentary than critical.
  • Is this an argument worth having? Know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. Is it about something that will stop you fulfilling your values, ideals, or goals?
  • Begin with the end in mind. What do I need to know from my spouse to feel better about this problem? What do I think needs to happen so we can avoid this in the future? What changes will I have to make to solve this problem?
  • Take time outs to cool down if necessary. If you start to think your spouse is the problem, take a break to think more lovingly.
  • When things heat up, practice “red hot loving” by doing something loving for your mate—a touch, compliment, or service that reminds you both you are partners in problem solving.
  • Look for the positive intention behind your spouse’s negative behavior and work with spouse to find more respectful alternatives to meet needs.
  • Never show contempt whether gesture or words. This always escalates the disagreement. One of the worst acts of contempt is threatening divorce. It undermines your spouse’s ability to trust you, damages the security of your relationship, and offends the dignity of your marriage.
  • Don’t nag. Solve! Set a deadline for something to get done and if it doesn’t, call for help to get it done or do it yourself as an act of love. Your spouse’s help is a gift that should be freely given but, like any gift, you have no right to demand it.
  • Don’t parent each other. Never deny what your spouse wants to do, but freely negotiate the how and when.
  • L.O.V.E. Look for the positive intention. Omit contempt. Verify what was meant. Encourage each other throughout the conflict.


Judith Viorst suggests rules of engagement for fighting in Grown-Up Marriage: What We Know, Wish We Had Known, and Still Need to Know About Being Married:

  • Never irretrievably lose it. Refrain from physical violence, intimidation, or coercion, as well as remembering words can damage the heart and soul. All of us have the capacity to choose to exert some restraint, to choose to control ourselves.
  • Keep in mind that we probably won’t always feel the way we currently feel.
  • Accept responsibility when we’re responsible.
  • Don’t practice psychiatry on our spouse without a license. Or even if we do, in fact, have a license.
  • If possible, try to laugh.
  • Don’t wait too long before saying what is bothering us to avoid getting meaner as our grievances are bottled up.
  • Know in advance what you want from the fight. “I’m upset; here’s why I’m upset; here’s what I want.”
  • No fair reproaching our spouse with, “If you really loved me…”
  • Stick to the point and stick to the present. Don’t draw on the past and on every other grievance you’ve ever had.
  • Never attack an Achilles heel. We know each other’s most sensitive vulnerabilities. Attacking them may be forgiven but probably not forgotten.
  • Don’t overstate your injuries.
  • Don’t overstate your threats. Ultimatums might backfire.
  • Don’t cite authority, “everybody says,” or the latest magazine article.
  • Don’t just talk; we have to listen, too.
  • Respect the feelings as well as the facts.
  • Sometimes simply agree to disagree.
  • When finished fighting, don’t continue to snipe.
  • Compromise rather than going for a win. How can we win if the person we love the most loses?



Let’s review John Gottman and Nan Silver’s recommendations from Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: and How You Can Make Yours Last:

  • At a most basic level, we all want love and respect in a relationship.
  • Complaints are specific and about one behavior. They can enhance a relationship if spouses are open to growth.
  • Criticism, on the other hand, attacks the person.
  • Contempt attacks the person with an intent to hurt.
  • Defensiveness, or the poor-me stance, relinquishes our ability to accept the challenge of self improvement for the sake of the ones we love.
  • De-escalate a disagreement by reaffirming your admiration for your spouse, interjecting healthy humor, touching affectionately, stepping back to make a comment about your current feelings, or trying to look at things from your spouse’s point of view.
  • When we want to turn our backs (stonewall) is when we must keep turning back toward each other.


And from the greatest Source, two Bible verses to ponder:

  • Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you? (1 Corinthians 7:16 NLT)
  • These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (1 Peter 1:7 NLT)


Throughout Lent we strive to improve ourselves. May we also improve our relationships so our example brings grace to all who know us.



PS – On Friday I will offer an additional post particularly for those who have suffered the heartbreak of divorce.



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