Stop Trying To Stop Thinking About Him
Our friends and family, (people who love us), just want us to hurry up and move on after divorce. They all want us to get involved in anything that is not about our divorce.
Our culture, too, tries to suggest we can just move along, do “conscious uncoupling” like people in Hollywood do, and then go get another husband and another life. That’s definitely not how divorce recovery works in real life, no matter what the latest Entertainment/Gossip magazines say.
Here’s the reality of learning how to grieve and heal after divorce … and learning how to let go of our ex-husband:
We must do the grief work and the healing work we need to do, and then we can start replacing our ex in our thoughts and focus on what comes next for US.
We can’t avoid the grieving we have to do after divorce. The ending of our marriage is worth grieving and mourning. Even if the marriage was not good for us, we still have to grieve what we wanted and hoped the marriage would be. We also have to grieve that it couldn’t be fixed, as hard as we tried.
So give yourself the grace and the space to do the grief and healing work that you need to do after divorce. We can help you learn to set parameters around the grieving so that it doesn’t just seep into every minute of every day.
How To Stop Loving Him
Learning how to stop loving our ex-husband, especially after a long marriage, is complicated. I didn’t want to keep caring about my ex. What I really wanted was for him to fall off the edge of the earth, so I never had to see him again! But that doesn’t happen.
That’s also why divorce grief is more complicated and lasts longer than other kinds of grief. He’s still hanging around. He’s still doing things that make you disgusted or mad or sad. And it’s harder to let your ex-husband go, because you may still have to keep seeing him at family or community events and children’s activities. It’s no picnic watching your ex-husband get remarried either.
How Long Does It Take To Get Over Him?
Because he’s still alive, and often feels like his life has taken a great turn for the better, it’s harder to “Get Over” your ex-husband after divorce. If he had just disappeared, he wouldn’t still be in your face. He wouldn’t be hurting your children’s hearts. He wouldn’t be creating havoc in your head while you’re trying your best to create a new life.
The financial disparities that often happen with divorce are some of the biggest culprits in keeping him in our thoughts. A midlife woman was usually sacrificing through all of the lean years of helping her ex-husband fulfill his career goals.
Then when you divorce, you might get very few of the rewards that you helped make possible. You have to start over financially, and you may be decades behind, on building any kind of career for yourself. That reality causes bitterness and keeps your ex in your thoughts in a negative way.
Those things are unfair. But, as my older brother said, “I agree. It’s unfair, but that doesn’t change anything. It’s still what you’ve got.” The sooner we learn to stop thinking about our ex, and start focusing on us, and what we need to do NOW, the better off we’ll be.
In the end, we can, and we must, learn the tools to control our thoughts. We can decide what we are going to think about.
Think About Something Else
Last week at church, our lesson was about dealing with anxiety. Our whole country seems full of anxiety. More and more teenagers are dealing with anxiety and depression. That’s especially true for families going through divorce.
The sermon focused on how we can stop thinking about things that aren’t good for us. We replace those unproductive thoughts with good thoughts that help us find peace and confidence that life is going to be adventurous and fun and full of all kinds of good things.
To get rid of the disruptive, anxious, angry thoughts, we have to consciously start putting different thoughts into our head.
Here is a suggestion from St. Paul. He tells us not to be anxious and to “make your requests known to God with thanksgiving.”
He also encourages us with this advice:
“Finally, friends, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen from me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9
That’s powerful and life changing!