FREE Divorce Guide

By Salli                                                                                                                           

(Click here: "Clicking on a Miracle" for the cutest LDS love story ever!)

When we marry we assume our union will last throughout our life. Unfortunately, disheartening statistics show that 50% of all American marriages end in divorce.

The choice to divorce is a very personal one—a decision between the individual making the determination and the Lord. Some divorces are made by people seeking escape from the selfless requirements of marriage. In the final analysis those individuals will be responsible to the Lord for their personal choices.    

In today’s trying times, with people, generally, becoming more and more polarized in their perceptions of what is right and wrong, sometimes that polarization of opinion can tear a married couple apart. Hopefully, when divorce occurs, it comes after sincere, focused attention on trying to make the union work, much fasting and prayer, as well as professional counseling and advice from church leadership.

Many divorces are a consequence of the behavior of one spouse that results in an inability to heal and cope as a couple. I have long felt that it takes two to make a marriage work, but only one to destroy it. Compare marriage to a bridge held up by two pillars; if one column is knocked down it doesn’t matter how strong the second one is, the bridge will collapse.

But as “good” as a divorce might be, offering healing and an opportunity to move forward, it still represents a death. In one case, even though one woman was the spouse that sought divorce, it still felt to her like an “amputation without anesthesia.” Many people who choose divorce may still have a difficult time healing and coping, grieving and suffering, significantly, as a result. Just remember: even the good transitions take some adjustment.

The Bible Dictionary says about divorce: “Permitted under some circumstances because of the hardness of the people’s hearts.” In 2007, James E. Faust stated, “In my opinion, “just cause” for divorce should be nothing less serious than a prolonged and apparently irredeemable relationship that destroys a person’s dignity as a human being.” (Ensign, 2007 April, “Enriching Your Marriage”.)

Though divorce is not sanctioned as the first option when marriage shows signs of trouble, divorce is still acknowledged and accepted by civil and church authority. Guidance on healing and coping with the effects of divorce is an important part of divorce recovery.

The good news is that whenever, or however, divorce occurs it can represent a new beginning--- a Sunny Dawn. Whether you feel you’ve experienced a “justified” divorce, or not; or whether you chose divorce or it was imposed on you by your spouse, here are a few key facts to consider: 

REPENTANCE

Someday we will each stand before the Savior and He will reveal all the intents and objectives of our heart. It will be His judgment as to whether or not our decision was warranted. For those of us who chose divorce, it’s up to us to examine the purity of our intent and where our motives lie.

For those of us who see ourselves as the victim of divorce, repentance is still mandatory. A repentant spirit keeps us humble, humility keeps us teachable, and our teach-ability allows us to heal. When going through divorce, it behooves us to stay teachable and open to the mind and will of the Lord.

Healthy self-scrutiny can be a means of coping with divorce and a great source of personal growth. When this isn’t accomplished, vital course corrections will not occur and more dysfunctional relations may ensue, not to mention losing out on eternal blessings we are entitled to as children of our Heavenly Father.

It’s seldom a bad idea to define our errors so that moving into the future we don’t make similar mistakes. Generally speaking, when divorce occurs, one party is often more at fault than the other, but sound introspection is always a good course of action for both spouses.

Going through the trauma of a marriage break-up never leaves us at our best; frustrations and hurts are expressed, feelings can be out of control and words are not measured carefully—sometimes for years at a time. When we aren’t at our best there is cause to repent. Is it natural and commonplace to sin at a time like this? Yes, but if we are to gather the strength to move on to a better place in life, repentance is the best place to start.

Everyone needs to look at themselves. If we breathe the breath of life, we have cause to repent. A repentant spirit grants us a soft heart, one the Lord can lead along.

FORGIVENESS

Though divorced, we are not exempt from our duty and responsibility to forgive our former spouse. The Lord requires everyone to forgive those who trespass against us. Hopefully, we have all experienced the privilege of forgiving someone, but in the case of forgiving a former spouse it may be a bit more complicated.

For example: If we forgive our ex-spouse, could we not have just as easily stayed together? If we can feel compassion and tenderness after the divorce, why couldn’t we have generated those feelings before choosing divorce? I expect some among us may feel justified—perhaps even obligated---to retain a sense of animosity, or worse yet, hatred, to validate our decision to divorce.

But based on my experience it is best to let it go as soon as we are able and allow the Lord to heal us. Holding on to negative feelings of anger, jealousy, vengeance, and resentment only serves to damage our character, stifle our growth, and postpone our healing.

But just because we forgive does not mean we must remain in the relationship. Healthy boundaries and unfortunate natural consequences are the means by which life lessons are learned. Forgiving does not require staying together.

As you interact with your former spouse, set a standard of politeness that you can maintain just as you have a standard of morality, a standard of health, and a standard of reading and studying the scriptures. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “…by dealing nobly with all, all would show themselves noble.”

Whether your former spouse is pleasant to you or not, respond in charity and kindness. Don’t let someone else decide how you will act. Preserve your dignity, as well as that of your children, by showing a manner that is both civilized and considerate. Necessary time together will have a greater chance of being productive and compatible when we are respectful.

Let virtuous qualities be your habitual response as you navigate this emotional relationship. Sometimes what is required of us supercedes our comfort, but the Lord will sustain those who are truly serious about walking in His ways.

If there are children (young or adult) involved, dwelling in the accusing and embittered place will also serve to damage them, possibly resulting in their inability to work out marital issues later in their own life. The best gift we can give our children is to not express thoughts that defame or disparage their parent but look for opportunity to express positive thoughts. As a mature adult, we can speak honestly without being unkind.

In terms of our children, the good news is that it appears in certain studies that many young people, whose parents are divorced, exhibit a higher tendency to work harder at creating a better marriage than a child who has not experienced their parents divorce.[1] Recognize that as divorced parents, our children are not doomed to future relationship failures; but much depends on how we, as their parent, choose to respond to our situation. We can be bridge builders to the hearts of our children in forgiving others.

MOVING FORWARD

Life is all about our ability, and desire, to continue progressing as we overcome the natural obstacles life presents. Moving forward after divorce is critical. But moving forward into a new romantic relationship may not necessarily be the direction we will want to go when we are newly divorced.

It's been my oberservation that it takes a minimum of two years before sufficient time has passed, allowing the dust to settle in our life, to allow us to begin thinking objectively enough to make good decisions regarding a new romantic relationship.

The good news is that there is so much else to focused on, adjust to, and learn to manage as a result of all the changes in our life---who wants to deal with a love interest, anyway? If divorce can feel like an amputation, we need time for the wound to heal!

Following are a list of life issues that necessitate our focus and priority when we experience divorce:

Our Children:

Though it’s natural to feel a wide range of troubling emotions when you get divorced (anger, depression, fear of the future, isolation, disorientation, uncertainty and lack of confidence), your children need to see you moving forward with poise and self-confidence. Age appropriate, and frank, discussions about how you feel about what you are experiencing will help your children understand your emotions.

Be sure to express yourself as being positive and hopeful about the future even if you don’t feel that way. Trust that things will improve, that there are bright days ahead, and that the future will be good---even if it seems impossible. That sunny dawn will come.

Remember, it’s not uncommon for kids to act out in a variety of ways as a result of a divorce. Exercise patience and bear in mind the loss they are experiencing, as well as the conflict of emotions that are at the heart of their behavior.

It’s common that kids act out with the parent they feel secure with and loved by. Accept it as a compliment, but take action to help bring them back to a better, more comfortable, secure emotional place. Divorce is the time to channel as much love, affection, and time on your kids as they will let you.

Teen-age children may not always respond to your caring overtures, so it’s important to remember that life is not meant to be easy for any of us and your child is no exception. Though your divorce may be a stumbling block to their growth and happiness for awhile, in the end, it is their opportunity to deal with the hurt and disturbance they experience. They can handle it if you remain loving and consistent.

Point them in the direction of their Savior and trust the Lord will open their minds and heal their hearts. They are entitled to personal revelation if they will turn to Him. Someday they may look back at your divorce as a blessing.

When a temple sealing is involved, any temple-worthy spouse retains an eternal sealing with their child. It is possible for two parents to be sealed to their children even if they are not sealed to each other; only lack of personal worthiness can jeopardize the eternal bond of the parent/child sealing.

Our children are our greatest assest. Invest in them. Believe in them. Encourage them. Celebrate that they are ours every time we're with them!

Our Finances:

Most people that experience divorce also experience financial reversal. Channel your creative energies into discovering ways to fill your needs—and many of your wants—through means other than spending your limited income.                        

Credit card spending is an extremely non-productive, even a destructive way, to handle your financial needs. Let your temporal wants be known to your eclesiastical leader. And find help through the Relief Society; the sisters of Relief Society can be a great resource. When visiting relatives were coming to stay with me, rather than buying extra toys and games for them to use, I sent a request for toys through our ward’s Relief Society email newsletter. Within days I had more toys than I could have ever imagined and my need was met at no expense.

Another time, when school was starting and I had no money for new school clothes for the kids, a friend from church suggested that I wash and spray starch all their clothing (including their t-shirts!) so that they looked especially nice and gave a sense of feeling new.

A few years later, when my son went on a mission, someone in our ward unknown to me, volunteered to pay his expenses. I found that as I tried to be prudent and conservative, money and favors came to me in ways that seemed miraculous. I know the same can be true for you, too.

Most importantly, remember the divine influence that comes from paying tithing and fast-offerings. Giving the Lord His tenth, upfront, will insure He will always see that our needs are provided. Giving regularly to the needs of the poor, through fast-offerings, will help remind us there is always someone whose needs are greater than our own.

If there is financial debt to be dealt with, take a look at this great handbook: "One For the Money:Guide to Family Finances", as well as the new resource: "Online Financial Course: Peace in Your Heart."

Resist the tendency to be overwhelmed by the bondage debt can create, rather focus with confidence that the Lord will open doors of opportunity to deliver you from all burdensome challenges—including financial debt. Remember, “Earth has no sorrow but heav’n can remove.” (Hymn # 115, “Come Ye Disconsolate”)

Our Emotional Needs:

Even if you’ve been a fairly independent person in the past, divorce is no time to “go it alone”. There are simply certain times in life when we all need a friend and facing divorce is one of those times.

Find a friend or family member in whom you can safely confide; someone who is strong and able to bear up under the weight of your emotional need. Let them help carry you through the worst of your emotional trauma. There will be times when the depth of your hurt and grief will surprise even you. Let the waves of grief come and go, knowing that though they may seem to overstretch their boundaries, trust that they will gradually wane with time. During the hardest periods talk through your sorrows with your faithful friend.

There may be times you need to talk to church leaders or a professional counselor. Do not hesitate to ask for special support. The weight of your troubles can be immediately relieved when you access the counsel of someone who understands what you are going through and can offer authoritative advice.

This type of guidance helps to facilitate your healing and can rocket boost you to more sound and safe emotional ground. If professional counseling is necessary, and you do not have the funds, ask your church leader to refer you to LDS Family Services.    

Priesthood blessings are indispensable at this time in your life. You need to be regularly assured of the Lord's love for you when your spirit flags. Key words and phrases will stick in your mind for years to come; blessings and promises that will encourage and sustain you. Ask for blessings regularly.

This juncture in your life is a wonderful occasion to study your patriarchal blessing. Filtered through the unique experiences you are having, your patriarchal blessing will reveal undiscovered insights and promises that have the power to renew your trust in your relationship with the Lord. Allow Him to heal your broken self-esteem as you feel the words He will speak to you as you read your patriarchal blessing. What an amazing gift!

Divorce can represent one of the first life-altering tragedies that a person experiences. Trust that time truly heals all wounds. You will not feel broken and bewildered forever. The pain eventually lessens and joy, happiness, and contentment come again.

Our Spiritual Needs:

My spirit never felt as broken as when I was divorced. The balm of the gospel is essential at this time in our life. Seek for as many ways as possible to fill your spiritual vessel.

Listen to good music. I found The Mormon Tabernacle Choir never ceased to lift my spirits and anchor my soul in our Savior. In my home, in my car—I kept their songs as the background music of my life and it made all the difference to my grieving spirit. There’s a magic in music that facilitates the lessons taught by the Holy Ghost; music is a conduit for the spirit of revelation. Use it to aid the Lord in teaching you what He wants you to know at this time in your life.

Prayer and scripture study are indispensable in securing a firm grasp on the iron rod and kept me moving in the direction the Lord wanted me to go. Spencer W. Kimball's words, from my youth, seemed often to be whispered in my ear: “I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.” (“What I Hope You Will Teach My Grandchildren and All Others of the Youth of Zion,” address to Seminary and Institute personnel, Brigham Young University, 11 July 1966, p. 6.)

There is no substitute for the serenity and confidence acquired when you take the Lord by the hand through prayer and scripture study. Be on your knees daily and use the scriptures to let the Lord speak to you. These two habits, alone, are simple treasures that will safely guide you through the storms of life and can keep you from making mistakes which could rob you of blessings you are entitled to.

Attend your church meetings. The most satisfying and soul-stirring experiences you can have will come as you attend your regular church meetings. Hearing the word of the Lord is invaluable, but gathering with others who are striving for the same things in life for which we are striving is pivotal to our success when we are single members of the church.

Think of yourself as a chopstick (yes, a chopstick…!!). By yourself, you can be easily broken when a little pressure is applied. But when you join with other members of the church, you become part of a handful of chopsticks---and together it is impossible to be broken. There is strength in numbers!          

Attending your church meetings is akin to standing in Holy Places. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! The Lord can bless us far more easily with protection and guidance when we keep His commandments. If we want to warrant the Lord’s special attention, we must obey the laws that insure those blessings. Be in church on Sunday.

And attend the temple when possible. When I was divorced, my bishop told me to keep my “temple recommend shiny!” I went weekly to the temple and was sustained and supported by heavenly hands.

While single, I could sometimes surprise myself at how blurred my perceptions could be at times; I was vulnerable and capable of mistakes that could take me in the wrong direction. I believe it was attending the temple weekly that helped me navigate this gloomy period of my life. Foggy perception or not, attending the temple is one of the best ways to clear our head and move forward in the correct and best direction.

Our Physical and Sexual Needs:

Human beings are sexual beings. When we’ve been in a long term relationship where these needs were satisfied regularly, a sudden loss of ability to have them met can represent a big adjustment. Those of us who have made temple covenants to abstain from sexual relations unless we are legally married are especially accountable to make wise choices in this area of our life.

I learned a special technique that served me well when strong sexual feelings overcame me—and it worked every time. Just as the children’s song advises: Hum Your Favorite Hymn! Choose a favorite hymn, one that has special meaning, and one that you can recall effortlessly, and when the need arises—just start singing! I know it sounds too easy, but if you are serious about managing your sexual feelings in the Lord's way don’t discount this powerful tool.

Being a slave to habits that degrade and undermine one's confidence and self-esteem can result in depression and self-reproach. At this sensitive and inherently difficult time in our life, don’t add unnecessary problems into the mix that will make repenting, healing and re-building your life even harder. Wipe the slate clean and make choices that "let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly,” which will allow for needed confidence to "wax strong in the Lord.” (D&C 121:45)

CONCLUSION

I decided, a long time ago, that earth life is like a birthing process—a succession of pressing and sometimes laborious challenges that can be painful to cope with and difficult to endure. The complexities of mortality are designed to teach and test. When we bear up well under the weight of life’s problems, and draw on healing strength from our Savior, the meaning and purpose of trial becomes apparent.                

When embarking on any serious challenge in life, such as coping with and healing from divorce, as well as adjusting to being single again, accept the experience as an opportunity to start fresh and develop your talents and character in new ways. When we came to earth we weren’t promised it would be easy—life is not meant to be effortless, but is filled with trial, tribulation, and sorrow which open the privilege for testing and growth, enabling us to become more like our Father in Heaven.

When we weather the hardships of divorce with a spirit of humility and grace, every new day thereafter can begin with a sunny dawn. I promise you!

[1] Elaine Wilson, “Children of Divorce,” Ensign, 2002, August, p. 36.

salli

My name is Salli.

Divorced and full of fret and regret, I found my 'Reason for Living' on the internet. Now, my life is lots of fun, married in Portland, Oregon.

Clicking on a Miracle

Salli's Love Story

Clicking On A Miracle proves even when your heart is broken, your dreams can still come true.

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