I’m Gladly Divorced, Why Am I Hurt That He’s Moved On?

Morning friend,

I’m traveling this week. I’ll be at a meeting in New Orleans and then speaking at Lysa Terkeurst’s event on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I’d appreciate your prayers for my health, stamina, and safety as well as for healing for the women who attend the Haven House Intensive. It’s always a precious and sacred time.

Today’s Question: My marriage was filled with betrayal after betrayal and not just from my ex-husband (now) acting out with other women, excessive drinking, porn addiction, abuse of our finances, and constant lying. I endured this “for the children” and because I once believed that God hated divorce. My duty was to the institution! Jesus suffered, why am I any better than that? And finally, after 43 years and one final incident, I quit. I hated the person I had become and could no longer live in this way. I gave him lots of opportunities over the year of separation to show me he was serious about working on his issues including a very expensive long-term recovery treatment. Anyway, he finally filed for divorce after the year required in our state. I suspected there was someone else in his life because he said he would not file because he didn't believe in divorce. So now in a very short time post-divorce, he has a girlfriend and is vacationing with her and hosting her frequently. Why does this bother me so much? I have felt the peace of living alone without the stress and I have done quite a bit of work with E2C and Conquer, and worked with a betrayal trauma therapist. Obviously, I need more help! I'm trying to identify my emotions on the wheel and do a thought journal. I just want to understand why this hurts so much!

Answer: I’m so sorry you’ve suffered for so long in this destructive marriage. Now that you're free from this toxic person, you’re seeing he still has the power to hurt you, and that feels awful and confusing.

First, I want you to honor your own self for doing your work. It’s easy to look at his life and see what’s wrong with him and what harm he’s caused and get stuck in either blaming or trying to fix him. It’s much harder to do your own work to heal from that damage and pain. 

You’re distressed now over why his new relationship bothers you. Logically you’d think you would be happy he’s gone, you’re free, and preoccupied with someone new. And the first two fit, but the last one? – he’s with someone else now? “Why does this hurt so much still….even after divorce?” 

It’s a curious question and again good for you both for recognizing it and being perplexed as to your own emotions here. You’ll never know why for sure, but my best guess is that underneath the pain you feel is a lie that you need to discover in order to further heal. I’d encourage you to explore your inner thoughts and self-talk around his new relationship to dig out this lie. 

Here are a few possibilities that come to my mind:

I wasn’t good enough for him but this new woman is. Ouch.

He’s moved on so easily; our marriage wasn’t worth fighting for. I wasn’t worth fighting for. Ouch.

She’s getting the man I always knew he could be. Why couldn’t he treat me that way? Ouch.

I was easily replaced. Ouch.

I’ll never be happy again. Ouch

Maybe if I had given it more time he would have changed. Ouch

I don’t know if any of those thoughts/lies resonate with you but they’d be ones I’d be tempted to have. So, the first question you need to ask yourself is: Are these things true? And even if you believe some might be true, like “I was easily replaced”, the whole truth is you were being replaced regularly throughout your marriage. Why would you expect it to be different after divorce? His behavior is not about you. Over time he will treat this new relationship like he treated yours. It’s not about you, but you’re making it about you, that’s why it hurts. 

Second, once you pull out some of the thoughts/beliefs you are struggling with, how might you feel differently if you didn’t have these particular thoughts? Our thoughts are powerful, and they do stir our emotions. The psalmist writes, “My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught” (Psalm 55:2). When you believe you’ll never be happy again, or now he’s becoming the man you always knew he could be, you will feel regret and pain. Even when other parts of your mind are thinking logically and rationally about who he is, these sneaky or more hidden thoughts stir up painful emotions. That’s one reason the Bible tells us to “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6) and renew our mind with the truth. (Romans 12:2). Thoughts and underlying beliefs are powerful, but they’re not always truthful. Do you notice that when watching scary or sad movies, our emotions are stirred because we’re having sad and scary thoughts, even though another part of our mind tells us “It’s just a movie?” 

Part of becoming “healthy” or mature is learning to recognize what thoughts or lies we might have inside of ourselves that contribute to our present emotional state. The coaching classes you’ve taken and the work you’ve done have made you aware and curious. All good things. Having these new painful feelings post-divorce does not mean you haven’t gotten healthier. You have. Healthy isn’t perfect. Being healthy is being capable of recognizing when you’re not okay, not blaming others for your own distress, and having some tools to figure it out so you can deal with your painful feelings and get your peace and joy back. That’s exactly what you’re attempting to do.

Friend, how have you handled surprisingly painful emotions post-separation and divorce?

24 Comments

  1. Abi on January 25, 2024 at 8:25 am

    Thanks for explaining this . It’s a very common thought when a partners moves on. “Was I not worth fighting for “ was something I said often .

    • JoAnn on January 25, 2024 at 12:10 pm

      I think the answer to that question is: He didn’t appreciate me enough to fight for our marriage. It’s not about your worth, but his inability to appreciate you and your marriage. Do you see the difference?

      • Hope on January 25, 2024 at 1:36 pm

        That’s good, JoAnn. Thank you, it helped me! I think in my case I’d add “his inability–or his unwillingness–to appreciate you and your marriage.” Sometimes it isn’t just inability, but a choice, and he just “doesn’t wanna” because other things are a higher priority for him. And I have to respect that the choice (even if it’s an awful one) is his to make.

    • Julie on January 27, 2024 at 7:19 am

      We are worth dying for. Jesus died for us His chosen ones.

  2. Myra Furey on January 25, 2024 at 9:09 am

    I am wondering what it would be like for you to be completely peaceful, clear, neutral, and unaffected? as well as living your best life? I’m wondering if your focus could be redirected because maybe you’ve been unconsciously thinking things could have been different instead of seeing him for who he really is. You already have within you this light that cannot be damaged by him or anyone else. Focus on who you are and your inner peace and joy that is always there, who you were created to be and when you are focusing on that, it will grow. (Like when we are looking to buy a certain kind of car and we see more of them on the road than when we weren’t thinking of buying that particular car; when we notice what is working for us, our strengths, gifts, and adaptability, they also increase,)

  3. Evans Jeanette on January 25, 2024 at 10:46 am

    After being married 36 years in a spiritual and emotional abused marriage it dissolved and I found out through a cousin that he remarried after five weeks. Everyone of those thoughts ran through my mind. It has been 3 1/2 years, and I am remarried to an unbelievably godly and healthy man and my life is so so so different! It isn’t until you’ve lived away from toxicity for sometime that you began to see just unhealthy it was. It took over 60 years but here I am free and living in Christ. And you are right., After 10 months, I received a phone call from his new wife’s counselor, asking me if I could minister to her at an arranged appointment. She was devastated to find out what she was living in and I was able to bless her.
    The true man showed up. I covered for him all those 36 years as he was pastors right hand man until I could no longer do it, and God Himself delivered me out. I believed so hard that God hates divorce. I would never consider it. Then I found out that God Himself divorced Israel. I am living testimony that God IS THE deliverer.

    • Mary on January 25, 2024 at 1:59 pm

      I agree completely…. Many Christian women out there need to know that there are those of us survivors whom have dug deep into our understanding and healing from…. God hates divorce. We have done the work and truly believe God opened doors and provided a way for us to be free from toxic situations. There are women sitting in churches all over the world dying a little bit more each week because the church has chained them to an incomplete teaching of God’s word.

      • Pamela Reinhardt on January 27, 2024 at 9:17 am

        Thank you!!! Amen & Amen!!!

    • Cecilia on January 25, 2024 at 4:48 pm

      Thank you for your testimony! It was really helpful to hear your story of hope in your new Christ centered marriage. I’m not looking to remarry, at my age, but I think it’s great for reader’s to know that they still have a chance at a healthy marriage. So many struggle to trust again.

      I too hate divorce, and fought it for years, but I ended up being the one to file in September 2023 after 11 years of marriage. It’s not final yet. More than hating divorce, I believe God hates his children living in bondage. Emotional abuse kills the spirit and I believe God will deliver us from these marriages if we let him.

  4. K on January 25, 2024 at 11:01 am

    For me, the intrusive thoughts did come, and I was able to take them captive most of the time. Sorting out what was true and what wasn’talong the way. But I still needed to mourn my marriage, remembering that what I was mourning was a fairytale anyway. I had to decide that I wanted to live in the truth, no matter how much I wanted the dream. Feel the feelings, but move forward in the truth, about yourself, your ex, your marriage, and who God says you are. Be patient with the process too. 🙏

    • Wilma Lobbezoo on January 27, 2024 at 12:12 pm

      I think it’s pretty normal to feel lots of emotions around this. It could be grief for the life you hoped you had and your misspent years. His actions (and words) reveal who he truly is and remembering that helps me work through the feelings.. I used to “pick up” my ex’s words and be hurt until I looked from this angle.

  5. Anita on January 25, 2024 at 11:19 am

    This! I needed this! My situation is similar, in that I’ve been struggling with my ex seeing someone else. I was married 32 years and it was 2 years since our divorce that I found out he is seeing another woman. Even though I know I did the right thing in leaving my marriage because of a lot of deceit and lying among other issues, I have still been having a hard time. I too have done a lot of work on me in the last 3 years (Conquer, Forgiving What You Can’t Forget, Good Boundaries and Goodbyes), whereas the ex has done nada. I have had to ask myself why is this bothering me so much. I had always hoped for reconciliation, but I think I finally realized that that is not going to happen. So I feel like this is another step in the grieving process. I do feel like I have been obsessing about him for the past few months though. I think part of my issue is that I’m struggling with him having her stay in the home that we raised our family in for 30 years. I wonder if it wouldn’t be so difficult if he were in a different house. Anyway, what I’ve been doing just recently is whenever I start to think about him, I stop and say out loud, “God, he is yours and I turn him over to you.” This has really helped me in taking my thoughts captive. Also, when I think of the other woman I pray for her, that God would give her discernment to see the red flags because I really don’t want anyone else’s heart to be hurt by him. While things with him may seem good in the beginning to her, I know those behaviors are still there and will show up at some point. I also have to keep reminding myself of the truth of his behaviors and remember all that God has provided for me since the separation and divorce. And I know that God heals the brokenhearted and binds their wounds. (Psalm 147:3) So I just try to keep my focus on God and continue to trust in him.

  6. Jennifer Bakker on January 25, 2024 at 11:59 am

    Before our divorce was finalized, I wrote him a letter. I don’t know if he’s read it or not, but it made me feel better. I did say that I must have been a really good teacher because everything I ever wanted him to say to me, he said to women he’d never met yet (overseas dating). I was still angry that he thought it was “no problem” but it was healing to realize that there was nothing else I could do. He was not remorseful nor willing to change.

  7. Bonnie on January 25, 2024 at 12:02 pm

    After ending 37 years of abuse , I struggled with the same questions.. Prayer, self reflection and wise cousel has helped me to realize that, first of all, it hurts because it is the breaking of a very strong bond. And secondly, it doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’ t seem fair that I carry all this grief and residual damage to deal with while my ex just “happily moves on.” We see this in accidents. A careless driver hits someone and walks away while the other party is left with trauma and a lot of recovery to face. So how do I resolve this in my soul and not allow myself to contain bitterness, self pity or other destructive emotions? Speaking it out,as you did is so important! We can’t heal what we don’t reveal. Please give yoiurself grace. Trauma bonds take time and work to heal. First they have to be broken and that is painful. I let myself feel but sometimes I have to set a boundary on how long I allow myself to feel that way. Feelings are visitors not long term residents. Tell yourself the truth. This person could not meet your needs, and still can’t. YOU are the one who has “moved on” You are the one who is growing and becoming healthier. You are away from toxic behavior and in that space you will experience the love God wnats you to know, intimately, inside. That is a process and it will set you free from all of the lies that seek to bind you.
    Grace and Peace for you in this process!

  8. JoAnn on January 25, 2024 at 12:26 pm

    To All: In doing the work on “you,” it is important to really see clearly who HE is. For many years he showed you he is incapable of truth, fidelity, honesty, sobriety, etc. (Fill in the blank) Put the blame for the marriage failure where it belongs; on his lack of character. You tried, and maybe too long and hard, against such odds. But now you are free from him, and it’s hard to watch him go on to destroy another life. But the Bible is clear that he will have to answer to a righteous God for his unfaithfulness. Now you can enjoy the Lord’s blessing on your new journey with Him, and without the toxic relationship. Let it go!

    • Kim on January 25, 2024 at 5:34 pm

      I was married for 26 years to the boy across the street. Had 3 girls together. He had multiple affairs, addicted to porn, etc. I finally had enough. I had the same thoughts most of you have or had. He married his 4th affair. I remarried but ignored the red flags. Drinking, temper, put daughter first, controlling, etc. We have been married less than 3 years and I moved out in June. I struggle back and forth with what God wants me to do. Recently, he has taught me to focus on Him and depending on Him. No matter what happens, I will be ok. God has always been faithful thru every affair, heart break, fight, abandonment, you name it. I love my husband and know he is used as a pawn by Satan. Satan is thr real enemy in every situation that is not of God. Satan wants to destroy marriage! It’s under attack. I am refusing to give up and what the power of the holy spirit is capable of. The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in me and still performs miracles….if we believe, trust him and are obedient. It’s awful being betrayed, hurt and treated badly, but I am growing in christ and this separation is slowly forcing my husband to grow in christ. I know he loves me…he just needs to get his life right with God. Never stop praying and hoping in Jesus!!!!

  9. Jeanne on January 25, 2024 at 1:21 pm

    Just want to thank everyone fo your wonderful supportive comments!

  10. Jenna on January 25, 2024 at 1:42 pm

    I love this blog article! I really needed to hear this. What some TRUTHS that we can tell ourselves to replace the lies?

    “I wasn’t good enough for him but this new woman is. Ouch.”
    “He’s moved on so easily; our marriage wasn’t worth fighting for. I wasn’t worth fighting for. Ouch.”
    “I was easily replaced. Ouch.”

    These are lies that I wrestle with daily. My ex-husband is currently in a seemingly happy and blissful relationship with his affair partner (the woman he cheated on me with) so these lies intrude my thoughts and weigh heavy.

    • Leslie Vernick on January 25, 2024 at 8:45 pm

      Here are some truths. Ladies, what truths do you use to counter these lies: Lie: I wasn’t good enough for him but this new woman is. Truth: This isn’t about my worth and value. I don’t know how he treats or will treats this new woman. My worth and value is determined by God not by a human being.

      Lie: “He’s moved on so easily, I wasn’t worth fighting for.” Truth: Your marriage was something he used as a convenience for him with a free pass to cheat with other women. He doesn’t want a healthy relationship and does not have one with this new woman either. IT’s not about you, it’s about him. If he doesn’t want to change for himself, he certainly will not change for you. Take your worth out of it.

      Other thoughts ladies how you would re-think these wrong thoughts with more truthful thoughts?

      • susan on January 27, 2024 at 3:35 am

        Amen!

  11. Mel on January 25, 2024 at 3:33 pm

    Feeling for you. I too have had my ex husband start dating. It is hard to hear even though I ended the marriage. We were married 30 years and I am learning the term passive aggressive covert narcissist . The things I learned was he was punishing me with silence. I understand this can be due to childhood trauma and he did have trauma. so even though I still get upset ( sad angry etc) I can have some understanding. Grief is not linear and still can hit us even when we do our own work. Praying for you and your children.

  12. Maria on January 25, 2024 at 10:06 pm

    I can so relate! I felt the same way as I watched my now ex-husband ride off into the sunset with the mistress ( who had been my ‘friend’). Yeah, well that lasted a year. It took me a while. It’s been more than a decade and I am SO happily divorced. My advice, is sit back, watch and wait….. More than likely he hasn’t changed, and things are not as wonderful as they seem or they won’t be for long. The ex-husband is probably in the love-bombing stage and this poor woman has no idea what she’s in for. Your temporary ‘replacement’ is in need of your prayers!

  13. Shari on January 26, 2024 at 10:50 am

    While I believe that thoughts are a major part of it, I think an unacknowledged part is also grief. I hear you grieving for the relationship you had hoped for. While it may not have been achieved while you were married, that did not dismiss your desire for such a relationship. We found this model of grief to help support that life can happen even if your grief does not change: https://whatsyourgrief.com/growing-around-grief/
    With this, and the Worden’s tasks of mourning, (https://whatsyourgrief.com/wordens-four-tasks-of-mourning/) I hope this gives you some encouragement. You are a blessing to God and to others and we are so glad that you are able to keep growing past the toxic things that happened.

  14. Caryn on January 27, 2024 at 9:45 am

    I hear your heart… I too was married 40 plus years and my Ex had multiple affairs. He was a Christian man who led Men’s Bible studies and was in the Praise band. He kept saying I caused him to cheat! I believed him and lived with the guilt all those years until finally two Christian counselors told me it wasn’t me but his choice to cheat. It was like a light went on and I finally divorced him . He found a woman on a dating sight before I even moved out. He married her a year later. It hurt me tremendously. It’s been 3 years now and I’m haunted by memories and emotional pain. I did meet a man and married a month ago. I don’t feel I’m giving my best to my new husband as I too have all the emotional baggage that doesn’t seem to leave. I keep praying to God to help me… I guess the best advice that my Lord has told me is to leave the past behind and press forward to the high calling that Hid has for your life! Maybe God has a purpose for our pain… seek Him! There’s something great and powerful that will come out of all of this yhat will glorify our Lord if we don’t give up!

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