I’ve experienced the effects of a heartbreaking split, and I know the pain of divorce doesn’t have to be permanent. Here are several ways to make divorce less painful for you, your kids, and your loved ones.
In Divorce Care: Hope, Help, and Healing During and After Your Divorce, Steve Grissom and Kathy Leonard offer daily reminders that encourage, inspire, and brings hope to healing hearts. Daily you will be reminded that you are loved, cared for, and can face life with a renewed confidence that comes only from God.
A study from Michigan State University shows that the negative health impact of divorce is worse for younger people, as opposed to older ones. More specifically, sociologist Hui Liu said that baby boomers react more negatively to divorce than older generations do.
She was surprised by these findings, saying “I would have expected divorce to carry less stress for the younger generation, since divorce is more prevalent for them,” she said. Her study found that those who transition from marriage to divorce experience a more rapid health decline than those who remain married.
Liu’s research suggests it is not the status of being married or divorced, per se, that affects health, but instead is the process of transitioning from marriage to divorce that is stressful and hurts health. To learn more about her research, read Divorce Hurts Health More at Earlier Ages.
How to Make Divorce Less Painful
“It’s clear to me that we need more social and family support for the younger divorced groups,” said Liu, assistant professor of sociology. “This could include divorce counseling to help people handle the stress, or offering marital therapy or prevention programs to maintain marital satisfaction.” I believe in the power of counseling (in fact, I trained to be a counselor!), but I know not everyone benefits from therapy. However, a divorce support group or individual therapy might help you transition from marriage to divorce more smoothly.
Hang on to your spirituality. I’m reading Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Her chapter on resilience is particularly interesting to me because, after all, I’m the Bounce Back Babe! Maybe the reason I’ve survived so much is because I love reading about resilience, healing, and moving forward with life. I love self-help books.
While reading The Gifts of Imperfection, I wrote an article on how spirituality helps people transition to divorce because of Brown’s insistence that spirituality is one of the main components of resilience. I believe this because spirituality changes how you see yourself in the world. I feel loved, cared for, secure, and watched over by God. I believe things happen for a reason, and God has my best interests at heart.
Can your spirituality make divorce less painful for you and your family? Sometimes a crisis like divorce is what you need to take you back to you spiritual side and reconnect with the activities, people, and places that keep you grounded and whole.
Explore why divorce is so painful for you. I dreamed the other night that I had to tell Bruce I wanted a divorce. It was a painful, terrible, sad feeling – I felt as if my heart was being crushed. I couldn’t bear the thought of the pain I’d cause him, our families, and even the people who know us. I don’t know why I had that dream, because I am extremely happy in my marriage. Divorce wouldn’t be painful for me because of what people think, but because of how they’d feel. I wouldn’t have a problem saying “I’m divorced”, but I hate the thought of causing people I love pain.
If divorce is painful for you (as it is for most people), it may help to think through the reasons it’s causing so much pain. You may then be able to cope with that pain better. For instance, if I was getting divorced I might write Bruce and other loved ones a letter, explaining my reasons and apologizing for the pain I was causing.
What does divorce mean to you, and what does it say about you? One way to make divorce less painful is to sift through what you believe about divorce, and what you believe divorce says about you.
Stay focused on the ups. The reason “staying positive” is such a cliché is because it’s true, and it works! One of the most recent painful things Bruce and I have had to face is infertility. We can’t have kids, and it sucks. The more I focus on the negative, sucky parts of it, the worse I feel. The more I focus on the positive aspects of being childless, the better I feel! What do you think I focus on most?
Sometimes making divorce less painful – and moving on after a divorce – is about finding the silver lining in your marriage AND in your divorce. Sometimes the silver lining isn’t visible yet, such as the strength and compassion you’re developing for other people who will be divorcing in the future. Sometimes the silver lining is wrapped up in a black cloud, such as the full-time job you have to find to support yourself because your husband refuses to pay enough alimony or child support, and you discover that you love working.
I don’t know what your silver lining is, but I know life is better if you wrap yourself up in it.
My prayer for you as you deal with this painful divorce is that you find ways to heal and move forward. May you meet the right people, read teh right books, and go to the right places. I pray God gives you strength, courage, love, and even joy as you work through the painful emotions of divorce. May you say and do the right things to help your family transition to the new stage of life that awaits. Amen.
I welcome your thoughts on healing from the pain of divorce below. I can’t offer counseling or advice, but it often helps to work through your emotions and experiences in writing.