Just after making it through one year of being a divorced woman, I knew I needed to start writing about my divorce and abuse healing. So I wrote just a couple posts to get my feet wet on this topic. With each passing month, after, I was contacted by other homeschool bloggers (like myself at the time) and women who were forced to leave an abusive marriage and facing an unwanted divorce.
In the several years since we’ve seen (as a collective whole) many famous Christian speakers, bloggers, pastors, entertainers, and our own family and friends, go through their own divorce. Some have been burdened with betrayal trauma while others were concerned about the impact that day after day of abuse was having on themselves and their impressionable children.
I think that the bright spotlight on divorce has helped some of us feel a little less shame but there is still this lingering fact that no one tells us “how to survive” these days, weeks, and months after we’re faced with an unwanted divorce – no matter the reason.
When your husband leaves, you’re served the dreaded papers, or you’re forced to escape the abuse… now what?
Top Five Tips for Surviving a Divorce.
1.) Remember to trust God no matter what is happening.
This may be hard to remember during this difficult divorce storm, as it threatens to take everything from you and then, drown you. But God would not have brought you to where you are, right now, if He didn’t have a very good reason.
Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ Jesus responded, ‘Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!’ Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. – Matthew 8:23-26 NLT
He probably won’t calm this storm instantaneously, but He can give you a feeling of peace and a calm knowing He is in this boat with you while you wait for the storm to eventually wane.
When we trust God we don’t take matters into our own hands, we don’t try to figure out which direction we need to be going, where we need to be, or with whom we need to be with (this includes our husband). Sometimes we just need to be still and breathe, while praying for guidance, knowing God is still God and in He’s in control. He opens doors that need to be opened and closes those that need to be closed.
Process through your divorce recovery while remembering His promises to all who love Him. If His plan is for your marriage to be fully restored, He’ll make it happen. Or He’ll walk with you while you travel through the next door… into your next chapter as a divorced woman.
2.) Seek out trusted community help – for legal, mental health, and spiritual guidance.
Yes, God is with you, but you don’t have to physically be alone on this journey. (Check out my divorce healing resource page for links to more help.)
I credit my community for my survival during and after my divorce. Because I had seen the signs of another affair (the lying and gaslighting, the rage, and felt that gut feeling) very early on the last time, I immediately sought out a Divorce Care group, a family therapist (only for myself and my children), as well as getting in contact with my local domestic violence shelter for their advice (they offer other services besides housing – I met with a lawyer there among other things).
3.) Take things one day – or even one minute – at a time.
You don’t need to plan out your entire future, move across the country, find a new career or your next husband, and decide where you’ll live, all today! No need to panic or rush into making any major life decisions, especially while emotions are running high. (Remember #1 above?)
From what I’m hearing, most divorces take about a year (or more) from start to finish depending on where you live. Use your “waiting period” to work on your healing, to make the needed transitions (if you’re forced to move or make major changes), work on reclaiming your life, while continuing to trust God to guide you.
There is so much less stress and anxiety in just trusting the process. Personally, I just let things fall into place… and even so years later when life can be uncertain at times. I trust God has got this too, just like He “got” everything else.
4.) Plan, organize and prepare yourself for the legal battle.
Even in the stress, people will expect things from you. So might as well get started so you don’t feel extra rushed.
Collect all passwords for all banking and bill pay accounts – have separate logins if possible. Open your own checking account (check with a local lawyer for specific laws in your area before taking money from joint accounts). Get a Post Office box, if you can’t trust your mail being delivered to where you live. Gather all important personal and household records and statements, making copies, and also keeping the originals in a safe place. Organize these papers to be prepared to meet with a lawyer.
[Read how creating a Divorce Binder helped me to be a strong woman *after* divorce. If only someone had told me before that.]
Going to court can be very stressful, especially if you are married to someone who is going to make this a battle over money and the kids (when it doesn’t have to be). This stress can cause PTSD symptoms in survivors, just being in the same room as your abuser. The more organized and prepared you are to represent your case, the better you’ll look to the judge, opposing lawyer, and your own attorney. Any weaknesses or uneasiness could be exploited and used to show your lack of sanity, while your abuser is calm and collected.
But don’t let him or anyone fool you, he won’t get everything he wants either! Presenting yourself as calm, organized and objective, with integrity, will give you a much more favorable outcome at the end of this legal battle.
5.) Last, but most important, self-care should be on your “To Do” list right now!
Before my divorce, self-care was not even in my vocabulary. My main job was to take care of everyone else, before ever even thinking of myself. And with all of the demands of stay-at-home, homeschool mom and wife, who was required to buy all the groceries, put gas in my own vehicle, and clothe the kids, without a job, that meant I was hardly ever taken care of. It was only when my body was showing signs of physical sickness that was I able to take time for me, my body, and my own needs. Long-term lack of care and concern led to irreversible damage to my immune system and my internal organs.
I’ve had a hard time saying no for fear of missing an opportunity to serve others or letting them down. God had to teach me that putting myself first was more important than any service I could do for others. I couldn’t continue to love others while putting myself last. I was giving more than I had to give. – You Can Survive Divorce: Hope, Healing, and Encouragement for Your Journey
Any other helpful tips you’d like to share? Join the discussion in the comments below.
God bless your healing journey,
Jen, I want you to know you’ve helped me so much! I just had to tell you that.. Chris
Jen Grice says
I’m glad! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂
Thanks Jen, just starting this road. Really good information.
Jen Grice says
You’re welcome, Maria. Glad to have you join us here on the road to healing after divorce.