Nov 192014 6 Responses

Three Mistakes Individuals Make After a Divorce

Divorce happens. As much as I wish it didn’t, it does.

Most divorces should never happen. Relationships end because one or both spouses are unwilling to do the difficult work which marriages require. It is a great tragedy. (See: A Map for Navigating Life’s Disappointments)

Yet some divorces have to happen. Even as a pastor, I sometimes recommend a husband or wife file for divorce. I never make my recommendation lightly, but some relationships cannot survive.

No matter the cause of the divorce, there are three common mistakes I see individuals make. While there are other mistakes as well, these three are the most common and should be avoided by those who endure the painful experience of divorce.

1. Downplaying the effects on the children. Even when a divorce is the right decision, it has lasting consequences on a child. Every child needs help after a divorce. Parents often assume because the child is talking about their pain or expressing it in negative outburst that they must be handling it well. Rarely is that the case. While children are resilient, divorce is still painful. They need assistance in walking through their pain and disappointments.

Parents can play a key role in this process, but they rarely can play the only role. Other mentors, teachers, and counselors are also important to the child. If I suffered through a divorce, there is no question both of my children would be in counseling no matter if I thought they needed it or not. They would be there until a professional told me they did not need to be there.

2. Failing to learn from broken relationships. They say divorce is always a two-way street, but that is not necessarily the case. While it takes two people to make a marriage, it only takes one to end it. One spouse can do everything in their power to make a marriage work and still end up divorced. Sadly, in those situations many individuals feel an extreme sense of guilt and shame even when they are the innocent party. Yet even if a spouse did everything they could to make the marriage work, there are still important lessons to be learned from a divorce. Failing to learn those lessons is a major mistake.

Attempting to understand why the relationship ended, knowing what your personal strengths and weaknesses are, and discovering what caused you to choose the other person, are all important lessons which can be learned from a divorce. The pain of a divorce can be one of the greatest motivators we will ever experience. Never wanting to go through the experience again should cause every individual to ask the tough questions and make important changes. Rarely can this process happen alone. (See: What to Do When Life Falls Apart)

The greatest predictor of the success of a second marriage is how much a person learned from the mistakes of the first marriage. Never waste a divorce by failing to learn the lessons which could only be taught through the depth of pain.

3. Rushing into a another relationship. Divorce hurts. The pain is so great it causes us to long for someone to comfort us and something to take our minds off the hurt. That other someone and the something is often another relationship. While it is extremely understandable why people quickly jump into a new relationship it is often foolish.

Divorce is like a death. Just as someone doesn’t just “get over” the death of a loved one, we don’t just “get over” a broken relationship. It takes time to process it, believe it, and understand it. The last moment in which you should be making important decisions, like who to be in relationship with, is when you are experiencing great stress, grief, and sorrow. Rarely will we choose wisely when we are under that much stress. (See: Divorce Is Contagious)

As hard as it is, a person should not get into another relationship soon after a divorce. Take a year. Grieve. Learn. Discover yourself. And then begin to test the waters of love.

Divorce is heartbreaking for communities, families, and most of all the individuals involved. It’s a pain which is so deep, I spend a good amount of time writing to assist marriages so they will not have to experience the brokenness. However, divorce does happen and when it does, an individual must make wise choices to keep from compounding their pain and the pain of others. There are many mistakes to avoid, but these are the top three. (See: How to Respond to a Culture of Broken Marriages)

6 Responses to Three Mistakes Individuals Make After a Divorce
  1. […] been reading a lot of blogs lately about marriage, divorce, and singleness.  This is one of them, a...

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