He left you … maybe your kids too … with a broken heart and a diminished bank account. How can you be thankful for such a situation?
This may be a difficult concept to consider while you’re still hurting, but the truth is, you have the choice between wishing he hadn’t left and being okay that he’s no longer your husband. How is that possible?
Let me be clear, I’m not dismissing the loss of financial security you may have derived by staying in your marriage. He may have left you and your children destitute as well as reeling from the loss of love. Such treatment is horrible, and I’m so sorry. If you are both Christian, you may be sick at heart over his having left his faith too. But right now, let’s focus on you and ask the question:
Is the type of man who would leave, the right man for you?
None of us wants to feel rejected, even if the one who has rejected us isn’t good for us. In trying to undo the rejection, your ego may tell you to wish him back. Talk back to your ego! Tell it you need to get real and look at your situation differently so you can see the truth. Tell it you need to let go.
Ask yourself why you’d want this man … this kind of man … still yoked to you. Were you physically and emotionally safe with him? Have you been truly happy in your marriage? Has he changed over the years? Do you love him or do you love the kind of person he once was or you wished he was?
I ask these hard questions because for years I was the one who overlooked my husband’s hints he was not totally invested in our marriage. I dragged him to counseling several times without seeing permanent change. But I kept hoping he’d “see the light” and change as he promised. Your husband may have been more subtle, but I’m betting his decision to leave didn’t happen overnight, even if his sudden leaving took you by surprise.
It's okay to express your anger.
If you asked, my ex would tell you I was the one who left. In a legal sense, it’s true, but he’d abandoned me emotionally long before our divorce. (Read my memoir, God, the Devil, and Divorce if you want the details.) And when he quickly remarried, he left me heartbroken as well as angry … angry with myself for investing so much time trying to make things better as well as angry with him. And yet, I had a hard time letting go.
You, too, may cycle through heartbreak and anger. A first step is to express your anger in healthy ways. Scream, pound your pillow, go to talk therapy … do whatever healthy things you can do to let it out and let it go. One thing that helped me was taking the shears to the overgrown rhododendron in my yard. “Take that!” Whack! Whack! “And that!” Whack! Whack!
He is who he is.
As the shock of my husband’s abandonment wore off, I began reading books, trying to make sense of what happened and working on forgiveness. Lewis B. Smedes stunned me with this observation: “[Forgiveness] cannot heal our narcissistic resentments toward people for not being all that we expect them to be — nobody can forgive people for being what they are.” (Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve, HarperOne, 2007) In other words, who are we to expect people to be any different than they truly are? Even God does not change a person’s will. My ex was who he was. He knew who I wanted him to be, and he chose not to be that kind of person.
My ego was stubborn and I didn't find it easy to fully understand this truth. It took me a while after the divorce to not wake up from dreams begging him to come back, and to truly believe I was better off without him. Sad for me, but as I learned to accept my reality, the more peace I found.
Can you accept he isn’t the kind of man who is good for you?
If you had the chance to start over, knowing all you know about your ex now, would you choose to let him into your life? Can you accept he isn’t the kind of man who is good for you or will change for you?
Learning to live on my own after twenty-five years of marriage challenged and strengthened me. It unleashed multiple blessings in my life. I felt surrounded by both earthly and heavenly love. I even found a new passion in ballroom dancing.
Now that you’re free of your ex, you can open yourself up to more possibilities. His leaving has given you an opportunity to grow and learn and become emotionally stronger.
Try this exercise.
Imagine, as I did, a friend offering to set you up with someone like your ex. It might go something like what I imagined in my journal entry if you substitute his worst qualities:
“I want to introduce you to someone I think you’re going to like. He’s a bit overweight, I hear he snores like crazy, spends all of his time at the computer, wants to be waited on, and is a picky eater, but he really is a nice guy. Maybe a little passive-aggressive too, but nice.”
“You’ve got to be kidding!” I’d say “I deserve so much better!”
I pray the Lord provides you with the resources you need to survive and flourish. I pray you wake up one day soon with a smile on your face, knowing you’re free of the hurt and anger of your divorce, knowing you deserve so much better, believing he did you a favor by leaving.
Wishing you every happiness,
Linda M. Kurth is a writer and a divorced and remarried Christian. In going through the divorce, she experienced a dichotomy of responses from the Christian community. After sharing some of those experiences in her upcoming memoir, God, the Devil, and Divorce, she's heard many stories of divorced Christians who have struggled with the same issues. This blog invites divorced Christians to tell their stories with the goal of encouraging churches to resist condemnation and become a source of healing and grace.
Do you have a divorce experience to share? Have you been shamed by a church because of your divorce? Or encouraged? There are hurting people who would like to hear your story, who need to know they are not alone, and who need to be encouraged. If you are interested in sharing your story, email Linda for guidelines: Linda@LindaMKurth.com
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