When couples get married, they expect this new relationship to be happy and fulfilling. Divorce is not on their radar. Even if they know the statistics, they don’t believe it will happen to them. The reality is that almost 50 percent of all marriages will end in divorce, leaving one or both parties asking, “Who am I now? And, how do I find hope after divorce?”
There is no getting around it. Divorce can be painful. In fact, “Divorce is the second most stressful life event a person can experience, second only to the death of a spouse.” (1)
Who am I during divorce proceedings?
Up until the judge signs the divorce decree, you are still legally a wife. I believe that the Bible teaches us that we need to be open to reconciliation and forgiveness. But let me caution you. If you are living in a dangerous situation, you should not stay in harm’s way. Forgiveness does not mean you have to continue to be manipulated or continue to live with the person. Forgiveness does not mean you are condoning bad behavior. Forgiveness is letting God handle the consequences for the other person.
The reality is that it takes two people to make a marriage work. If your husband is leaving, you have no choice. If your spouse is abusive, you have two choices:
- stay, and be in harm’s way (and if you have children place them in harm’s way) OR
- leave and make the most of it
Who am I when the divorce is final?
Once the divorce decree has been signed, your role as a wife is over. At this point in time, many go through an identity crisis, or “feel a lot of self-rejection.” (2)
So how do you find yourself after divorce? “Use this precious opportunity to rediscover who you are.” (3) First, remember that most of your other roles will not have changed.
- You are still someone’s daughter.
- You are still a grandchild.
- You are still an aunt, cousin, or niece.
- If you have children, you still are a mother.
- You are still someone’s friend.
- You are still a nurse or teacher or chef or whatever your occupation has been.
- You are still a child of God if you have a relationship with Jesus.
- You may be a part of a church family.
- You may be a volunteer for a service organization
You need to capitalize on these connections as they will help you get over the divorce and get through the days ahead.
Who am I after divorce?
Studies have shown that it doesn’t matter whether you were the one leaving the marriage, the one who is left behind, or if it is a mutual split. Divorce brings about major changes and both parties experience a great amount of stress.
That being said, you can expect to acquire new roles as you journey down this new road of being single again.
Most likely before the divorce, you and your spouse divided household responsibilities. Therefore, there is a good chance you will have some new responsibilities. In my case, prior to divorce, my husband took care of everything financial or auto-related. I knew nothing about 401K’s, paying bills, shopping for insurance, investing, or purchasing a home. I didn’t know anything about auto maintenance schedules. I had never changed a flat tire or even checked the tire pressure on a car. There can be a lot of self-doubt after a divorce. Other people who are still in your life can lend moral support, and sometimes relieve some of the pressure.
What is God’s plan for me after divorce?
You still have much to offer the world even when you may not feel like it. It is important that you find God’s purpose for your life both for the here and now, as well as for in the future. Being single again gives you the opportunity to “rediscover who you used to be … discover a new side of yourself …, and embrace new roles.” (4) This may be your chance to further your education and grow in ways that you were not able to do when you had to consider the needs of your spouse. God can use you in your singleness to accomplish things that married people may not be able to accomplish.
Some of God’s plans remain the same
If you have a relationship with Jesus, you are the daughter of the king and need to conduct yourself like royalty. Right after a divorce, you may not feel like a princess but just remember this. Feelings don’t always tell the truth.
What does it mean to live like a child of the king?
- All of your duties as royalty are summed up in two commands: Love God and Love people (respect, honor, serve, encourage, pray for, help).
- God expects us to become more and more like Jesus. That can happen even if we have gone through a divorce. He is continually working with us to become more loving, joyous, peaceful, patient, kind, gentle, and forgiving.
- God wants us to learn to be thankful for what we still have. Without a spirit of gratitude, it is much more difficult to process the changes that have taken place.
- God expects us to have a teachable spirit (1 Peter 5:5-6). This follows closely on the heels of gratitude. After a divorce, there is much to learn. We need to glean all we can as this will help us understand the new plans that God has for us.
Here is a song that has meant a lot to me, especially after divorce. Take a listen and enjoy. (from Casting Crowns, “Who Am I“)
Some of God’s plans will be new
Trust God in this new phase of your life
God’s plans for us are good (Jeremiah 29:11). We might not understand the how’s and why’s in the beginning. That’s OK. It doesn’t change the fact that God’s ways are always better than what we could imagine (Isaiah 55:9, Romans 11:33, I Corinthians 2:9). During the early days after the divorce, God’s plans might not make any sense. Just remember that God can turn something bad into something good. Thank Him that even when you don’t understand, you can trust Him.
Don’t play the “if only” game
While we can learn from the past, God does not want us to be constantly looking back and be thinking, “what if”, “I should have”, or “if only”. God wants us to learn from the past but move on with greater strength of character than we had before the divorce (Philippians 3:13-14). You don’t want your thoughts and past to be holding you captive. “There is life after divorce.” (5)
Find joy in the journey
It is important to find joy in the journey. Learn to live in the present. Learn to laugh again. Learn to smile again. There are so many things you can learn while being single again. People will say or do things that are very helpful. Remember them. Conversely, people will say or do things that do not help. Remember those also. File them away in your memory bank for withdrawal at a later date.
Living single-again is a “school of hard knocks“. As a student, God does not give us comfort to keep it to ourselves (2 Corinthians 1:4).
I pray that you will graduate with a high GPA (“God Preferred Attitudes.”) Make it your goal to learn as much as you can and to graduate at the top of your class. The reward is finding joy in the journey.
Divorce can be traumatic for many people. At the least, divorce causes increased stress for all involved. Regardless of which side you are on, there is still the opportunity for divorced people to survive and thrive. Ultimately, God wants to turn the divorce experience into something good. As hard as that seems to comprehend, He is the God of miracles. Nothing is impossible for Him.
A gift for you
To remind you of who you after divorce, I want to give you the following scripture card and a coloring page. No Email Required. Simply click on the images to download them.
If you are wanting further scripture cards or coloring pages, go to the resource page.
Other articles you may be interested in:
- Feeling Joyful Even When Single
- Conquering Loneliness In A Happily-Ever-After Culture
- Why Be Thankful When You Don’t Feel Like It
- (1) https://www.bridgestorecovery.com/blog/when-marriage-ends-the-impact-of-divorce-on-mental-and-behavioral-health/
- (2 and 4) https://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/life-after-divorce#2
- (3 and 5) https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-intelligent-divorce/201309/seven-ways-thrive-after-divorce