Photo by Polina Sirotina
“…and they lived happily ever after….”
Most of the time. But not always.
But….“God hates divorce”!
Guess what, so do 99.9% people!
No one marries with the intention of getting divorced. Especially Christians. Unfortunately we live in a fallen world affected by sin and separation and divorce result. This post is not in any way advocating a Christian divorce revolution, however it is important that if covenants are broken irretrievably or well-being is compromised, people have the advice needed to get them through the tough times.
Here are my top 10 separation survival tips, in order of importance.
- Safety first
Safety is a basic, human need. Whether that is physical or emotional, get what you need in place to ensure you have a safe place to live and safe people around you. It could be moving in with family or friends, getting court orders in place or enlisting help from your community.
2. Be legally proactive
Get legal advice. Even if you don’t need it or use it.
Knowledge is power. Options allow freedom.
Keep a journal of any separation or co-parenting challenges and stick to measured, non-emotional written correspondence with your ex partner. Often there is pressure for separating couples to ‘be mature’ and the media exaggerates the functionality of celebs who are masters at ‘consciously uncoupling’, but that ideal is often unattainable. It also doesn’t allow for the grief cycle to play out or the normal expression of human pain.
Seek recommendations from anyone else you know who has been through this journey as many a people have been taken for a ride by professionals who are purely interested in draining your dollars instead of looking out for your (and possibly ex’s) well being. When you find responsible advice, listen to it.
3. Re-evaluate your social circles
Yep, hate to say it, but this might be a time to batten down the hatches socially. It may even mean not attending your church, gatherings with friends or your children’s sport matches for a while. The last thing you need is to provide the gossip train with more fuel and to be on the receiving end of well-meaning (but ignorant) people who throw one liners such as “affairs can be worked out” and“you’ll find someone else” . It’s highly likely they have no idea what you’ve been through, and probably never will.
Nevertheless, don’t isolate completely. Find your “people of peace”. The ones that have your back. These are the people whose actions, not just words, display their loyalty to you. The ones you can be real with about life, and who you don’t have to feel ashamed about expressing your pain to.
Keep your mental well-being in check with regular exercise. I can’t rate highly enough the impact that movement will have. Don’t wait to be in the perfect mood to start this, just get going however you can! Begin small so that you will gain confidence, then you’ll naturally increase what you do as those feel good hormones start firing. Also use exercise (especially visualisation when you’re pounding that punching bag) as a healthy form of stress relief!
5. Look after your health
High stress often expresses itself in health disorders, quite commonly related to digestion and mental health. Avoid addictive substances, eat healthy and find a GP who ‘gets you’, to keep on top of your physical well-being. Start paying more attention to your body and how lifestyle factors affect you.
6. Find a good counselor
One that understands the meaning of words such as trauma, abuse, addiction and the right of any person to have choice over their future. Be wary that often pastors don’t have formal training in this area and some counselors are more experienced than others. A therapist that dismisses your feelings, safety or pressures you into unhealthy reconciliation…should also be divorced.
7. ‘Whinge pray’ and read the Psalms, a lot!
You may feel spiritually weak, angry, sad or numb about what is happening.
Express to God every emotion you’re feeling. He gets it and he loves you unconditionally.
Jesus has been through all these experiences a billion times worse. But don’t feel like a failure if reading the bible is overwhelming. In this case, try reading the Psalms, which express all sorts of emotions from one extreme to the other. Allow other trusted people to pray for you, especially when you don’t have a clue what to express or even the words to verbalise it to God.
8. Pursue a career goal
Reality check! No one else is going to support you now….it’s all up to you!
Scary….yes! There’s no other way to get around this!
Although this may feel overwhelming, turn it around and make it empowering. Get excited about your future and goals.
9. Stay off them dating sites….for at least a year
Believe me, you really don’t want to go there until you are in a strong place! You will also require a healthy level of self-awareness, confidence and humor in order to do this well. Instead, devote yourself to study and reflection of healthy relationships. Find your worth in your Heavenly Father and focus on your friendships until you have healed.
10. Celebrate the wins
I admit I hosted a ‘Settlement Party’ during my divorcing season. I possibly offended some of my Christian friends. But this was not a celebration of a failed marriage. It was a celebration of God’s provision, my success in achieving stability for myself and my children and prioritising my own well-being for the first time in my adult life. It was also a toast to better things to come!
Separation and divorce are horrible and not a part of our Heavenly Father’s initial plan for our lives. However, our God is a master of restoration so amidst these seasons find your wisdom, hope and peace in Him.