I want to take a moment today to acknowledge – and hopefully offer some help for – the deep pain a destructive relationship causes. Maybe you’ve stayed busy doing your own work, spent plenty of time in prayer, kept the kids busy, and checked off all the boxes – spiritual and otherwise.
You’ve made so much progress but, if you were to be honest, your heart still feels very broken.
First, let me commend you on whatever steps you’ve taken (including reading this!) to get safe and sane. To acknowledge and deal with the reality of your relationship. That can be a pretty brutal first step, especially when the truth is your husband doesn’t want to change or even admit he’s part of the problem.
Second, it’s important to realize that it’s very possible to deeply love someone while not being able to have a healthy relationship. It’s been said that you only hurt to the extent that you love. When someone isn’t willing or able to reciprocate your love it’s very painful. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of begging, of trying to change his mind or heart. It’s crucial to continue living in truth.
So, how can you deal with the deep pain of a broken heart? To start, give yourself plenty of time. When we’re dealing with major physical injury or illness, we understand it will take a while to get back to the condition you were before the injury or illness. The heart heals slowly. Be patient with your pain.
Second, allow yourself to grieve. This is similar to a death. It’s allowing all those plans to change him, all the dreams of the life you envisioned with a changed man…to die. Letting go of those dreams hurts. Deeply. You will experience some or all of the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and ultimately, acceptance). This is normal. Just don’t allow yourself to get stuck here, because there really is a good life ahead for you.
So how do you keep from getting stuck? Support groups like Divorce Care are an excellent way to process your feelings with other people who are going through similar circumstances and feelings. Journaling is also an excellent way of working through deep emotions. Read the Psalms and see how David did this, over and over again. He was real with his feelings and pain, pouring them out to God.
Also, take care of your body. Get extra sleep when you need it. Get out and take a walk. Look at God’s creation and allow it to take your mind off your circumstances. You might even find an outlet volunteering somewhere, working with others who are going through difficult times. This is also a good time to find creative outlets. Take an art class. Plant a garden. Paint pottery. Create a vision board by making a collage of words and pictures that express where you see your life a year from now.
Friend, my final – and most important – advice is to guard your heart and mind: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23. Don’t be distracted by the attention of another man or fall into negative gossip with other women, rehearsing all the wrongs done to you. Be aware if you’re abusing food, alcohol, or falling into other bad habits to numb yourself from painful feelings.
It may seem hard to believe right now but, trust me. You can have a fruitful, and even happy future in spite of the truth you’re facing today. Your heart is broken but it truly can heal. That is my prayer for you today.