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Today’s Question: I have been separated from my husband for almost 2 years. I have been dedicated to doing “my work.” This has included individual counseling, CORE, Conquer, and setting necessary boundaries. My husband has refused to take responsibility for his destructive behavior and refuses to do “his work.” I feel it is time for me to leave well and file for divorce. I am still incredibly in love with him and my heart is so broken. Any suggestions on how to heal my broken heart?
Answer: You’ve taken good steps forward. Hard steps and this last one of finally accepting his “no” is the hardest. No, he doesn’t want to change. No, he doesn’t want to admit he has a problem that is costing him his marriage and harming you.
Through all of your previous growth you’ve learned to walk in CORE strength, which starts with being C = Courageously committed to the truth.
You can love someone deeply and still not have a relationship with that person. Not because it’s impossible, but because the other person is unwilling to do his or her part to maintain and repair the relationship. And for you to beg, or cling, or refuse to accept his no, is not walking in reality or truth. Click To Tweet
You stated your goal is to leave well. You’ve learned that the only person you can work on and heal is you. How do you heal a broken heart? First, it takes time. There is no instant healing. If you broke your leg or had major surgery, and you did all the right things to heal, it still takes time. You can also do things that would impede the healing process but healing always takes time.
Can you start by accepting that healing will take time?
Second, there is a process of letting go in healing and that process is called grieving. If it was easy to let go of things we love or things we want, then we wouldn’t be sad or brokenhearted about having to say goodbye to them. You are now letting go of your marriage. Of a man you still love. You also have to let go of your idea of how your life was going to be, and your hope that he would wake up and get it and change. Intellectually you understand this has to happen but emotionally you’re not ready and don’t accept that this is where you have to be. In these moments, our feelings resist reality. We feel angry. We tell ourselves – “This should not be this way.” “Why is this happening to me?” “This is wrong.”
Grieving gives your emotional self the time and space to process your feelings so that they can catch up with reality. I’d encourage you to join a support group that specializes in this process such as Divorce Care. Journaling can also be helpful. If you read many of the Psalms, David wrote down his emotional battle with the reality he was experiencing. Injustice, enemies winning, the good guys losing and the seemingly unfairness of life (Read Psalm 73 for one example). Be kind to yourself during this time. Your energy level will be low. Grieving and processing feelings take time and energy and you won’t feel productive or perky. You may need more sleep. This is normal. Don’t beat yourself up.
Third, guard your heart and mind. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to do this above all else but nowhere is this more important than when you feel disappointed with the outcome of something. Satan would love to lie to you about God’s goodness and love for you. It’s tempting when you’re hurt and disappointed to believe Satan’s version of reality rather than God’s. And in your vulnerable spot, he may throw some juicy temptations your way like the attentions of another man to distract you from your own work and from God. Don’t let that happen. Be mindful of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Last, do something creative. In addition to journaling your feelings, make something beautiful as a symbol of your future self. It might be a vision board taking photos or cutting out words from magazines that express your heart, or where you see yourself a year from now and pasting them onto a poster board. It might be planting a garden, or a terrarium and watching the growth process. Maybe it would be art journaling, reading your Bible, and then drawing pictures or doing colorful lettering of what stands out to you right now.
As you are grieving, bit by bit you are also building a new life, a new identity as a single person, and a new future. It’s helpful to start that process even while you’re still in grieving because it too takes time. Just be careful of the false guilt that may hinder your freedom to do something fun or creative while you are still sad. Sometimes we live in a dualistic mindset where we think we are either sad or not sad. And if we’re having fun creating something pretty, then that means we’re not sad. That’s not true. It’s both, and you can be sad and still have some appropriate kinds of fun. Creating can be a good first step of learning to live anew.
Friends, many of you have walked these steps too. Share with this sister, how you healed from a broken heart.