Is Divorce Guilt Haunting You? Destroy Its Grip

The divorce rate nowadays is climbing. Most people have unrealistic expectations when they begin their marriage adventure. Then when it all ends there often are great feelings of regret for one or the other partner.

At the end of our marriage, I suffered from divorce guilt, even though I was not the one leaving. It was as if there was a huge letter “D” tattooed on my forehead.

Four years later I married again. Since most women outlive men, I anticipated that I would someday join the ranks of widowhood, something much more respectable, I thought.

Fast forward twenty-five years and I found myself with a second failed marriage. That was not how I pictured my future with more feelings of guilt.

For many women, unhealthy guilt haunts them almost every day. Don’t be one of them. It doesn’t have to be that way.

You are not a second-class citizen, used goods, or without purpose. God has a perfect plan for you despite your divorce. Problems can become possibilities, and burdens can become blessings. God never wastes anything in our lives.

What is divorce guilt?

This is a good definition that I found at Midlife Divorce Recovery.

“After divorce, we feel like a failure.  We feel ashamed and embarrassed and guilty, either that we married the wrong person, or that we couldn’t keep our family together, or that we stayed too long or that we just weren’t enough, and hundreds of others things we feel guilty about.”

It is quite normal to feel regret after the end of a relationship, even for the one doing the leaving. When we get married, our feelings are so intense, we can’t imagine it will ever end in divorce.

Most people promise to remain married till death parts them. Divorce means a promise has been broken.

Does God hate me if I am divorced?

Divorce is considered by many a sin. It is an ugly word. But, a blanket statement like this places many women into an imposed prison of shame by individuals who know none of the facts.

God created and loves all of us. But He hates sin and the stranglehold it puts us under. Our personal sin or that of our spouse will hurt us and that is what God hates.

But keep reading because you might be surprised about the subject of divorce in the Bible.

Why does God hate divorce?

Many women experience divorce guilt due to Scriptures that clearly state that God hates divorce. In order to grasp what this really means, we must look at the culture of the day. 

If you have gone through an unwanted divorce, you should be comforted by WHY God hates divorce.

The most recognized scripture on this topic is found in Malachi 2:13-16, although there are others. It was addressed to men, not their abused wives.

Ladies, don’t take these verses as written to you. He is telling men, “to divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty.”

Women were 2nd class citizens with no rights during the era when Scripture was written. They were more like property than people. They could be divorced for no reason.

Men could throw their wives away like trash. This would leave her with no means to support herself. Can you imagine walking on eggshells knowing your marital status could change at a whim?

God does not hate women. He hated the way men were treating them. A man like this was the bad guy in the relationship, not the “good guy.”

The consequences of divorce guilt

Continued negative feelings will place you at risk of losing your joy, hope, and purpose in life.

Joy is a gift from God. What is not from Him is continued guilt after we are forgiven. The two are opposites.

You can’t experience joy if you are guilt-ridden. You can’t enjoy your “new life” in Jesus Christ with the negative feelings found in guilt.

“Without a vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). We all need hope for the future. It keeps us moving forward.

In contrast, guilt will whisper in your ear,

  • “you have no hope for a productive future.
  • Look what you did. No one will want to marry you.
  • No one will want to be your friend.
  • No one will want to hire you.”

The last thing that the enemy wants is for us to have a purpose in life, especially if it is God-given. Thus Satan will try to keep you trapped in shame and a wave of guilt as often as possible.

When we know what God wants for us and are moving in that direction, nothing can stop us. Purpose from God gives us courage, strength, determination, and everything else needed to accomplish His will.

Bible verses about divorce

One of the most interesting passages in the Bible about this topic is found in the gospels where Jesus talks to the woman of Samaria (John 4:1-42). She had 3 strikes against her

  • First, she was a woman.
  • Second, her DNA was bi-racial which was despicable in the eyes of many people, an outcast.
  • Third, she couldn’t make a marriage work.  Not once. Not twice. But five times. She was an embarrassment to her community.

After my first marriage, I thought the next time that things would work out due to positive changes. The second divorce process nearly destroyed me.

Imagine how that difficult process must have felt to someone experiencing it 5 times!

Any respectable Jew of Jesus’ day would not even consider talking to this woman. She was not a “good person”.

She was shunned by her family members and a town full of bi-racial individuals. Even worse, she was living with a man who was not her husband. 

She was under a lot of pressure. She was so shunned that she had to go alone, during the hottest part of the day to get water from a well which was outside the city.

Talk about a difficult time with divorce guilt to the max. She did not have the advantage of a divorce support group like many of us have.

Even Jesus’ disciples questioned His stopping in Samaria. But as scripture reveals throughout the Bible, Jesus came to save the outcasts, not the self-righteous.

God has compassion for outcasts.

He often chooses people with few qualifications, poor family roots, or the lowest of social status to do some of His most mighty works. This was the case with the woman of Samaria.

Jesus does not despise sinners. They are stuck in a helpless place, unable to save themselves.

Don’t get me wrong. Jesus did not condone this woman’s past. But he did not humiliate her either or speak words of guilt.

Instead, she was the first to whom Jesus revealed that He was the Messiah.

After a dialog about her past, the woman of Samaria went quickly back to town to let others know she had met the Messiah.

But why should they believe her? She was a bad person, an outcast. She was a disgrace to their culture.

The proof was that being a stranger, Jesus knew her past, which helped many believe. Much of her town was converted that day. Her encounter with the “Living Water”, Jesus the Messiah, changed her life and spilled over into others.

That my friend is what He will do with your life story. When we realize that God has a plan to use our divorce in some way to benefit the kingdom of God, we can walk with our heads high. God can use anyone regardless of their history.

How to deal with the shame after divorce

Guilt is a difficult emotion. There is no one single thing that will suddenly erase your guilty feelings. It usually takes multiple actions and strategies.

Here are some specific things for overcoming divorce guilt and shame. Make yourself a concrete action plan from them. 

  1. Tell yourself the truth
  2. Connect with women who have shared experience
  3. Journal your recovery process
  4. Realize your feelings are not always the facts
  5. Claim God’s promises about guilt and condemnation
  6. Accept what you cannot change
  7. Glance at your past and learn from it
  8. Ask God to help you develop a story of hope

Yes, you are divorced, but you are also forgiven if you know Jesus personally.

If you don’t know Jesus, you probably have questions. The people at Chat About Jesus have answers. You can text, call, or chat with them online any time of the day or night.

Also, recall how you tried to make things work in your marriage. Furthermore, do not accept responsibility for what your spouse did no matter how hard they try to convince you it was your fault.

Keep remembering that God will make beauty from the ashes of our traumas and emotional pain. Look for ways that God might use your experience to help someone else.

These need to be women who love Jesus since He is the only one who can give you lasting relief from guilt.

These are women who have your best interests in mind and soon become trusted friends. Because they are in different stages of personal growth, some will have insight into the stage you are in. 

Recovery groups will help you realize that there are many stages to divorce recovery and that you are not alone.

The marks of a good group are not in re-hashing the past. It is learning how to cope, take the next step, and move on, while growing in your relationship with God.

Some good groups include, but are not limited to:

Journalling will help you see your progress, as well as remember God’s unconditional love, care, and grace through the whole process.

If you are not sure how to do that, a good book with journalling prompts is Your Restoration Journey: Rediscovering Your Faith and Yourself After Divorce. It is an eight-week Bible study.

Feelings can be intense and seem real, but can also change in the blink of an eye. They can make you a prisoner unless you learn to understand them and what they really mean.

Just because you feel guilty does not mean you are. Learn to challenge your feelings just like you learn to challenge your thoughts and tell yourself the truth. Only God’s truth will set you free.

“Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:18

You can’t change the past, but you can change the future by kicking “I should have” and “If only” to the curb. Don’t ever let these phrases be a part of your vocabulary.

“Forgetting the past, I press on to the goal for the high calling of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

There is a reason that cars have a small rearview mirror and a large windshield. The mirror is for glancing at what is behind, while the windshield is for paying attention to what is ahead. (Dr. David Jeremiah)

We can learn from the past. For instance,

  • Were there red flags about your now ex-spouse that you overlooked before you were married? This is important to know in order to prevent repeating the same mistakes in the future.
  • Do you have a fixer-upper personality that needs to fix other people’s problems?
  • Was he always needing your affirmations?
  • Did he seem jealous of your female friends?

These are only a few of the questions you need to ask yourself.

I have noticed over the years that the good things that attracted us to our spouse can also be their downfall if not channeled correctly. This was the case in both of my marriages.

  • A very outgoing, friendly guy can easily win your heart, but can also be misread by other women once you are married.
  • A very empathetic and self-learned phycology want-to-be can also turn it against you, manipulating you into thinking he knows your thoughts and motives when he really doesn’t.
  • A funny, always-make-you-smile guy can come across as not taking things seriously down the road. It can be his way of not having to deal with tough situations in life.

Learning from the past is hard work but well worth the effort. However, it might require professional help with individual counseling.

Sometimes we can’t see our own shortcomings. Continual negative emotions are detrimental to our mental health. 

When you reach this point in your recovery process, you will be filled with joy that you never thought was possible.

Being able to tell others how God brought you through the desert of divorce guilt, into a life of hope and joy is exhilarating. It gives you purpose. I know. I have been there.

My story of hope is why The Creator’s Classroom exists. I am not glad that my divorces happened, but I am thankful that God is using them for good. My friend, sharing with you makes it all worthwhile.

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2 thoughts on “Is Divorce Guilt Haunting You? Destroy Its Grip”

  1. This as very helpful. I was in my first marriage for 27 years. It wasn’t a loving marriage but we produced 3 children. I wasn’t attracted to my husband and we both had some trauma issues. My second marriage lasted 3 years. He was almost identical to the first. My issue is this one was I was not delivered from the trauma of the first one. I was angry and afraid. He was evasive, emotional unavailable. We just weren’t good for each other. I struggled being married the first time because my first divorce was not biblical. All I want now is to have peace in my heart. I truly love God and I hate displeasing Him. I want my relationship with God to be closer and closer but I’m letting this guilt get in the way. All I have that makes sense in my life is God.

    Reply
    • Scripture says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That gives us freedom. But the enemy wants us to continue to feel guilty. That way He can destroy our joy in the Lord. But one thing we have to remember is that not being condemned by God is different than continuing to experience consequences from the past. 27 years is a long time. Habits were formed that will take time to change. Sometimes we need professional help to get over those feelings and thought patterns from the past. Praying for you right now.

      Reply

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