The topic of divorce is one that can divide Christians who have opposing views about whether or not Christian divorce is biblically permissible. Regardless of whether you agree with Christians getting a divorce, the fact is that in modern society, divorce is so prevalent that in secular circles it has become a normal occurrence. In fact, almost 50% of first marriages end in divorce, and divorce rates for second marriages are even higher.
Though divorce is common, Christians sometimes face condemnation from other Christians when they get a divorce, which can make coping with a divorce even more difficult. In this article, we’ll be looking at the impact of divorce; divorce and children; dealing with shame and guilt as a divorced Christian; and how Christian counseling can help to rebuild life after divorce.
The Impact of Divorce
Whether your spouse asks for a divorce out of the blue or divorce is something that you’ve been considering for months (or even years) the actual process of getting a divorce is something that often causes an overwhelming sense of loss. No one enters into a marriage thinking that it will end in divorce, and regardless of what has happened to cause the breakdown of the marriage, your love for your spouse likely doesn’t completely go away.
During a divorce, you’re grieving for the spouse that you’ve lost, the relationship that you had, and the strength that comes from being united in marriage. The feelings you experience during a divorce can be surprisingly intense. They can include one or a mixture of the following emotions:
Some of the emotions listed above may be felt short-term and others long-term. . You may initially feel that your dreams and life are over, that you can’t enter into another relationship because you’ve been through a divorce, perhaps because you feel that you failed in your first marriage, or because your spouse hurt you so much that you’re afraid to trust others again.
Divorce and Children
Of course, divorce doesn’t just affect you and your spouse. If you have children, they will be inevitably caught in the middle of the relationship breakdown, no matter how much you try to protect them. They will be impacted by divorce, perhaps having to choose which parent they want to live with (if they’re old enough to make this kind of decision),or being the subject of a custody battle.
When their parents are getting a divorce, children often feel that the marriage breakdown is somehow their fault. Some may even be mad at God for not being able to bring their parents together.
When the father is the one leaving the family’s home, the children may feel unsafe and unprotected. If the mother is the one leaving the home, the children may feel they have lost guidance and care. This can cause depression and anxiety and cause children to become withdrawn or result in other changes in behavior, such as angry outbursts, difficulties at school, and rebellious behavior.
If older male children stay in the custody of their mother, they can feel as though they are now “the man of the house” and feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility to take care of and protect their mother and younger siblings – a responsibility that children simply aren’t able to handle in the long term.
In some cases, parents become overly dependent on their older children after divorce, putting extreme pressure on the children, which could create a negative impact on the children’s’ mental health. Counseling parents is not a child’s responsibility, and it’s really important to avoid making your children feel that it is.
Children many times love both parents equally and dislike talking or hearing about the wrongdoings of either parent. Children’s own mental health often feeds from the parents’ mental health. Thus, it is important that as an adult/parent you seek help from a professional Christian counselor.
Ultimately, most children don’t fully understand what divorce really is. Even if your children seem to understand what’s happening in the family, they may still have misinterpretations of divorce, resulting in unnecessary fears or feelings of distress.
For example, when parents are getting divorced and one parent is moving out, it’s common for children to panic and believe that they’re never going to see their mother/father again, or that the parent who is leaving is rejecting them by leaving them in the custody of the other parent.
Taking time to fully explain to children what is happening during divorce is vital in order to avoid psychological distress and behavioral problems. If you do see signs that your child is struggling to cope, it’s important to seek professional help for them, perhaps from a Christian counselor who works with children, or a support group for children whose parents are getting divorced.
Surviving Divorce as a Christian
Divorce is hard for everyone, but as a Christian, you may have the additional pressure of feeling that by getting divorced you’re disobeying biblical instruction or failing God in some way. This can increase your psychological distress during an already difficult time. You may feel that you need to withdraw from your church community and from God, but the opposite is true. In your distress, God desires for you to run to Him, not away from Him.
One of the greatest sources of help and strength when you’re struggling to survive a divorce as a Christian is your faith. You may be feeling hurt, let down, or abandoned by your spouse, but you have a loving Heavenly Father on whom you can always depend, no matter what.
By turning to God, who will never leave nor forsake you, you can begin to navigate through life after divorce. We have a mighty, merciful God you can trust with your problems, emotional wounds, and pain. Our Lord does not take someone or something away from your life without giving you new purpose and meaning. Thus, finding meaning in your life after divorce is a critical aspect of recovering from a breakup.
Bible Verses to Give You Hope for Life After Divorce
The Bible is a fabulous resource when you are facing challenging circumstances, like those you experience during divorce. There are verses to give you comfort that you are not alone in your struggles, and remind you that you have strength when you feel exhausted by the emotional toll of divorce:
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31
He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. – Psalm 147:3
When you’ve gone through a divorce, you may feel that you’ve lost your way and are simply drifting through life. You may find yourself questioning what God’s plan is for your life now that you’re in a state of upheaval after the breakup of your marriage.
However, the Bible reminds us that even when we don’t understand God’s plans for our lives, His plans are always for our good. We have to be patient in waiting for His plans to be revealed to us.
Rebuilding Life After Divorce
After divorce, it sometimes feels like your life has been knocked down and rebuilding from the rubble can seem overwhelming. It’s especially difficult to think about rebuilding your life when you and your children are still struggling with the intense emotional responses to the divorce. You may not know where to start, may not be sure if you could make it without your spouse, or perhaps think that you can’t ever rebuild your lives after a divorce.
If you are considering divorce or going through a divorce and experience any of the above, it is recommended that you seek professional help by contacting a professional Christian counselor who could guide and support you through your healing journey after divorce. Christian counselors have the professional experience and faith-based perspective you need to take steps to successfully move on with your life after a divorce.
Together with a Christian counselor, you will have the opportunity to explore your thoughts and feelings in a safe, non-judgmental arena. At the same time, you will be guided to recreate your life journey after divorce and bring happiness into your life again. Change is part of our own life development. Seeing life changes as an opportunity to grow closer to God is one of our goals for Christian counseling.
Contact a Christian counselor today to begin exploring faith-based strategies to rebuild your life after divorce with hope.
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