We all make mistakes! We often learn from our mistakes and some of us, learn from the mistakes of others, as well. Often mistakes are our tripping over roadblocks that halt our emotional healing, keep us stuck, making us feel worse about our situation. Some roadblocks often make us feel like we have no choices or no way out of this situation.
Thankfully God allows for U-turns in life!
That’s my hope and prayer, that if you are stumbling on one of these that you will accept God’s grace to repent while changing your course.
When we learn from others, who have gone before us in this divorce journey, we allow ourselves to be mentored to gain the confidence to make choices, for ourselves (teaching our children to heal as well) while rebuilding and reclaiming a much healthier life.
Recognizing these as roadblocks, that you can get around or work through, will help you to move forward in your healing… and eventually to thrive after divorce.
7 Roadblocks that Pause our Healing
1.) Not taking all the time that *you* need for whole-heart healing before seeking a replacement husband, father for the kids, partner, etc.
We all know that healing is important and necessary (so as not to pick the same type of partner), but what we don’t know is how long it will take for each of us to fully heal. Because each of us is different, our healing timetables are different as well. What takes one person one plus years to heal, may take another five years to heal. Also, situations may vary, which will affect a healing timeline too.
[Betrayal trauma is a whole different level of healing.]
Even with all the different healing times, I don’t believe anyone has been instantaneously healed (not since Jesus walked the earth) after a long marriage and then, unwanted divorce. Because of this, I believe that every single person should wait at least one year after the divorce is finalized before even considering dating again. (Longer if you were married more than 10 years.) Most of those who date during or right after a divorce is final will be sorry later on.
Also, do not “move on” (the world’s definition of dating after divorce – not my definition) too quickly hoping that relationship or another person will heal you. It won’t!
Don’t move on because you’re feeling lonely when you are merely alone (understand the difference between the two because two lonely, unhappy people don’t make for a happy couple).
Don’t be pressured to not take all the time that you need because of what others are doing or think you should be doing. And don’t date in order to compete with an ex-husband or to prove yourself worthy, wanted, or loveable to anyone because you are worthy and wanted without a man! That’s part of divorce healing… finding your worth in God while healing.
Learn to be content right where you are in your healing process, walk through the process in your own time… with plenty of time to feel whole and complete… and you’ll be better for it in the long term.
[You May Also Enjoy: Heal Your Heart First After Divorce]
2.) Not taking care of yourself.
Caring enough for yourself to put you first some of the time, is important to your emotional healing. Self-care is not conceited or narcissistic. It’s vital to an emotionally and physically healthy life!
Your heart is not going to heal unless you make it a priority. God is the ultimate healer and He wants you to heal so He can make something beautiful – and come live there.
Trying to do it all by yourself, not seeking help from others, will only lead to emotional burn-out. And honestly, if you are putting yourself last all of the time, at some point you’ll either emotionally explode (all that resentment can’t stay inside forever) or your body will give out from the weight of all that you carry. Not only is that not living a healthy life but it also leads to more emotional and physical pain.
Do yourself a huge favor and take care of yourself, asking friends, family, or neighbors for help, while resting, breathing, and loving yourself again. You’ll thank yourself later. 🙂
[You May Also Enjoy: Practicing Self-Care During Divorce]
3.) Dwelling on what should have been or what you should have said or done differently.
We can all say, “What if…“
We can all wish we had done things differently or said something differently. Our sought help for the abuse or had a better support system. And the list goes on.
But what’s done is done.
And staying there, beating yourself up over what you did or didn’t do when it wasn’t the main cause of the divorce (like the abuse and/or adultery was — that you had no control over and didn’t cause)…. this keeps you stuck in your healing.
Stop thinking (or obsessing) about what could’ve or should’ve been different. How he can change. Or how you could go back and try to fix the marriage. Marriage takes 100% and 100% work from both parties to make work. Do you see your husband, STBX, or ex-husband putting in 100% effort to gain his marriage back? Or is he too busy trying to retaliate (against you) and/or concentrating on another woman? If either case is true, it’s time to put those “what ifs” away and move on with your life.
You can only control you, so now is the time to concentrate on you and your own healing. Thinking about him, his issues, or him coming back to you will only stop your own healing. (And honestly, he probably wants you to be thinking about him… so use that reason to stop!)
Side note: Marriage counseling with an abuser or with someone with a psychological disorder will never work to reconcile a marriage. Please don’t get sucked into that trap. (What if your husband/ex-husband says he’s changed? Watch my opinion on that here.)
4.) Holding on to a false hope that the marriage will be reconciled.
Also, dwelling on what “should have been” get taken to the next level for some women (and men) to believe that God will reconcile their marriage if only they’ll pray without ceasing and wait for God to put the family back together. Some believe that a first marriage divorce is never really final in God’s eyes and all second marriages are adultery, so they stay emotionally married to the adulterer (and abuser).
Seeing and hearing this hurts my heart. That’s because I was once that woman who believed that myself. And when the marriage was reconciled (several times), the abuse became worse, as it often does, the lies (and gaslighting) continued and I realized that the marriage was never based on integrity. It was broken beyond repair… and I let go of trying to fix it or asking God to.
Moving on means letting go. When a marriage is not reconciled the party waiting with false hope, stays stuck and unable to move forward in her own healing. In order to move forward, you have to accept what is… the truth. The divorce. The adultery. Everything.
Divorce is final when the divorce papers say so. That’s it…. the end. Please don’t believe otherwise as it will continue to keep you trapped.
5.) Not feeling or dealing with your feelings and emotions.
I recently read on a men’s divorce blog that women usually heal quicker after divorce because we vocalize our feelings and emotions more than most men do. We tend to feel more comfortable asking for help and taking care of our emotional health, in order to find healing, especially after divorce.
Trying to move too quickly and brushing all of your hurt feelings, betrayal, and divorce depression under the proverbial rug will not heal them. Or trying to numb the pain with drugs, alcohol, or some other “drug” of choice (that makes you forget you have feelings) will only bury them deeper inside of you where they’ll come out in other ways or worse later down the road. Personally, I’ve seen more men choose these options (although some women do too) which will stop anyone (male or female) from healing.
I believe in either case there still seems to be a stigma attached to seeking out mental health professionals or openly expressing feelings when there shouldn’t be. But those who were able to get emotionally healthy after divorce sought help and worked through all of their feelings and emotions from any and all negative life experiences. Healing is hard work but it’s well worth it!
6.) Making decisions or doing things based on the need to be accepted.
Recovering people-pleaser here!! (Waving my raised hand.) So when I say this is a roadblock, I know this one from experience. Trying to please others so that you feel accepted and loved is like putting on a mask to cover a scar on your face. You’re just covering up the real you, the authentic you that God wants you to be, and that’s not emotionally healthy.
This usually means you lack boundaries as well. Lacking boundaries leads to resentment, pain, and more hurt feelings, so you never really heal them. Also, without boundaries, we often feel powerless to another person’s actions or behaviors. We can reclaim our power by making the best decisions for the situation instead of seeking to gain love and acceptance. This also means letting go of the control of what happens next when we refuse to people-please someone. It might mean people don’t like you or that they cut off communication (often trying to control us). But boundaries are necessary for any healthy relationship. Without them you only have dysfunction.
Also, don’t make decisions to get the kids on your side or make them like you more than your ex/STBX. Although most toxic people make parenting a competition, you don’t have to participate. Competing for your children is often parental alienation (which is morally and legally wrong). Raise them to be healthy adults instead of trying to buy their love (bought love is not real love).
Boundaries and honesty allow you to be authentic and have integrity. This is the best road to healing after divorce.
[You May Also Enjoy: 5 Emotionally Healthy Things I Learned After Divorce]
7.) Not listening to the advice of those who have been through a divorce.
I do believe that those who are able to self-evaluate know themselves better than anyone else. And most times we know what is the best decision to make for our own lives. But sometimes, hearing from another divorce survivor (now thriver) about how they made it through, how they learned to survive, and what helped them the most, is wisdom that we need to help us not to stumble over the same roadblocks, making unnecessary mistakes.
So in order to move through your healing and learn we need to listen to others. The thinking that we know it all, especially if we’ve been through a divorce before, and not seeking out wise counsel to help us through will hurt our healing. Maybe there is a reason for a second divorce? What if you didn’t learn what you needed to learn the first time around? (No judgment from me as I took back the same man… way too many times… until I learned my lesson too!)
We all have to be taken around mountains to learn but that doesn’t mean we need to go around every single mountain there is to experience after divorce. We can seek help to prepare ourselves to see the hills, valleys, twists, turns, and roadblocks before they come at us if we listen to the wise counsel of other divorced thrivers.
Have you experienced any other roadblocks to your emotional healing? Please share your wisdom in the comments. (Real name not required.)
God bless this healing journey… no matter where you are,
I was married for too long to a Narcissistic abuser. I feel like I was a single mom for most of those years- just roommates with the ex. I feel like it was never a marriage. So I do want a partner in life to share a healthy lifestyle. When do I know when is the time that I have healed? I think healing is continous so am I to wait forever to find a mate or remain single? My heart says I would like that chance. Thoughts?
Jen Grice says
Marriage to a narcissist is (most of the time) a very lonely relationship. I believe the key to finding a healthy marriage is to spend time getting emotionally healthy so you’re ready – healthy people are attracted to healthy people. Be the healthiest you can be so that you only attract a similarly healthy man. And seek God to show you the right mate for you – listening to the Holy Spirit and not dismissing red flags (if you’re healthy you’ll see these right away and run from them). In the meantime, yes be content in your singleness. It’s a gift from God. He wants us to spend this time focused on Him and His plans for our lives. May God bless your journey.
My marriage broke down in 2008 due to infidelity on my husbands part. We finally divorced in 2017 after separation of 5 years. We got married in 1995. After reading your blog especially where it says to wait for over 2 years before getting involved in another relationship I am now confused. Should I remain single until 2020 before I can get back to dating?
Jen Grice says
Hi Noreen. In this article, I state to wait at least *one year*, not over 2 or 3. But really, a set time in months or years is not the point. We shouldn’t be counting down like some kind of jail sentence. I believe that every divorced woman should be actively working on their healing and not focused on when she could get back into dating. Work on healing and learning to thrive without a man. Every person is different and I’ll talk more about dating after divorce in a couple months, but no one has ever died from waiting years to date or remarry. In fact, I hear those who have waited have been relationships later on down the road. God bless your healing journey!
Jen could you please give advice on setting boundaries when you are a pleaser?
Jen Grice says
Giving specific advice on a certain situation with certain people or person is what I do in one-on-one coaching. I do have blog posts about boundaries and several YouTube videos. Be sure to subscribe to emails and/or on YouTube. More coming on that topic in the coming months.
These are all wonderful points, Jen. During my separation from my ex, the one thing that also really helped me was to actually sit down and consider what I wanted in my life – my own personal goals. As you know, when a marriage ends, it’s not only the end of the relationship. You have a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach because all your “we” dreams are ending too. I found it really helpful to establish my own goals and dreams for myself to have something to look forward to. Thank you for an awesome post.
Jen Grice says
So true Selin! You’re welcome! I share that same advice in other posts too. We have to grieve what we thought our future was going to be. And now make new plans as we move forward into this new chapter and hopefully healthier stage of life. Having goals and dreams for the future is great advice!
A marriage restoration blog recommends maintaining a friendship with the ex – allowing him in the house, having him join the family for holidays, answering the phone when he calls. But every contact twisted the knife in my heart. And it seemed to enable him. No, divorce is not okay, life doesn’t go on as before, lies and deceit have consequences. So I limited contact to emails and texts. Not only did I have more peace and less pain, I also had written evidence of our conversations.
One of the churches I visited had gone through a nasty split. The pastor asked the congregation to put the name of the person they wanted to reconcile with on a card and drop it in the bucket. For me this symbolized giving this person, my ex, to God. I don’t have to constantly hold him up in prayer. God will deal with him. My ex is no longer my concern. What a relief!
I felt like a bad Christian when I unsubscribed from the blog, but it no longer fit my life and what God was telling me. Thanks for #4 above.
Jen Grice says
I can totally relate. As soon as my divorce was final, knowing I needed to accept this path, I stopped following those marriage restoration websites too. I’m glad you’re finding peace too.
Going through my second divorce from my second husband, I can attest that every divorce is different. Whether it is a different husband, or different situation with the same man, what you’ve gone through together is different from the last, and what your friends and family go through is equally different because the people involved are also different. However different each marriage is, this article is spot on in advice of how to stay focused on your healing. Thank you Jen!
Jen Grice says
Thank YOU for sharing!