Dating after divorce is a journey of learning to trust again. Once you have reconciled yourself to the understanding that there is life after divorce, you can thrive afterward. Learning to move past the grief of losing a marriage is the first step in dating after divorce.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. – 1 Peter 5:10, ESV
Processing grief after divorce.
Grief isn’t just about death. It also is experienced when you lose a way of life. Ending a marriage can bring the emotion of grief. In order to regain focus and start a new life, it is important to work through the process of grieving your marriage.
The stages of grief for divorce are much the same as grieving the loss of a loved one due to death.
Denial: The first stage usually begins with the denial of divorce. You may experience feelings of hope that there will be a change and everything will be okay. Wanting to keep everything the same you may keep telling yourself that “it was just a misunderstanding.”
Anger: Once the reality that this is really happening sets in, you may find yourself feeling angry. Having feelings of anger towards your ex-spouse or even yourself is natural. You may even find that you are angry at life in general. By allowing yourself to feel angry you are giving yourself permission to give it a place that will propel you toward healing.
Bargaining: This happens when you feel that you want to save the marriage, so you try one more time to resolve the issues before the divorce. Sometimes this can be met with rejection. This new rejection can lead to more feelings of loneliness and pain. Just like anger, you must allow yourself to feel the sadness of your marriage ending. Just don’t allow depression to become part of the healing process.
Acceptance: Finally, you are at a place of being okay with the decision. You have accepted the fact that the
marriage has ended and it is time to move forward in your new life. Even though it may be overwhelming to think that you are starting over, there is good to be found in all things.
You’re not a failure.
After you have begun healing from a divorce you may feel like you are a failure. It may seem like you have failed the kids because there was no reconciliation between you and your ex-spouse. But ending a marriage isn’t failure – it can be a new beginning with God’s help.
Not pursuing a healthy life after divorce can be what causes more anxiety and stress. We don’t always get it right. That is where God’s grace comes in. For those times when we feel like we have missed the mark and come up short, there is God’s love and mercy.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6, ESV
Overcoming feelings of vulnerability when dating after divorce.
Putting yourself out there in the dating world can be intimidating. We do not like to allow ourselves to feel vulnerable after emotional upheaval. The fear of being hurt again can bring about anxiety. Before dating after divorce, take time to understand that not everyone wants to hurt you. This is a process much like grieving the marriage. It takes time to work through the emotions and feelings.
The best way to move past these feelings is to connect with God’s Word. By seeking direction from the Bible, you can find faith-based answers to guide you through the emotions of healing after divorce. Because of God’s love we are made worthy. It is in this that we find strength in the face of vulnerability.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. –1 John 4:9-10, ESV
How do I learn to trust again?
One of the most important aspects of marriage is trust. When you decide to make a life with your spouse you are trusting that relationship is mutual. You believe that no matter what may come you will both strive to get through the challenge.
When divorce happens, trust is broken. Maybe that broken trust causes the marriage to end. Infidelity is a leading cause of broken trust. Dating after divorce takes a lot of trust. It’s not easy to give another person space in your life without fear of being hurt again.
Rather than jump into the relationship take time to get to know the person. Spend time understanding what their passions are. Spend time with them spiritually. God wants us to be equally yoked to our spouses. Being equally yoked spiritually is beneficial to living a life that God would like you to live.
He wants to be the third cord in your marriage in order to make it stronger than the influences of the world. This takes learning the spiritual life of someone you think you may be interested in dating.
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? – 2 Corinthians 6:10, ESV
Couples counseling through a Christian counselor is a good place to start getting to know someone. If you think you are ready to think about marriage again reach out to a counselor who can help you seek godly direction in a new relationship.
Children and dating after divorce.
Experiencing divorce with children is difficult. They don’t understand why the family is separating. Sometimes they may blame themselves. It is important to reassure them that the relationship between you and your ex-spouse is not their responsibility. They need to know that regardless of the divorce they are still a priority for you and your ex-spouse.
Children who are experiencing divorce will often begin to show signs of struggling to cope with these new changes. These signs can be caused by anxiety about the change in the family dynamic. Be sure to connect with your child so will know if they are struggling. Counseling for children is available to help a child cope.
On top of dealing with the emotions of the divorce and child can exhibit behavior issues when you choose to date again. The biggest problem with children and dating after divorce is rebellion. Most children do not feel like they need another person telling them what to do.
They don’t want to follow the authority of anyone but their parents. They may also feel like your affection and attention are divided between them and your dating partner. Reaching out to a counselor can help you as a parent guide your child through the feelings of misplacement.
Making a fresh start.
One of the most productive decisions you can make after divorce is to choose to start fresh. If you had to move into a new place, decorate in a theme that isn’t your normal fashion. If you kept the house, then redo the decor and give it a new feeling of inspiration. You may be in a different phase of life and able to take on a new hobby. Pursue new hobbies that promote the positivity of newness. Enjoy new freedoms, new places, and new people.
Another way to promote new beginnings is to seek opportunities to experience something new. Maybe you want to learn a new skill. Going back to school is another way to create a change in life. God doesn’t want you sitting in the darkness of a cave feeling like you failed. He wants you to experience all that He has for you. He is waiting to bless you with abundant life.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. – John 10:10, ESV
You don’t have to work through the anxiety and stress of divorce or dating after divorce alone. You can reach out to a Christian counselor to help you navigate the change in your life in a healthy and biblically based way. Do not wait to reach out to a counselor if you are experiencing anxiety or depression that is consuming your everyday activity. A counselor can give you guidance as you start to rebuild your life.
“Speechless”, Courtesy of Marc A. Sporys, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Stop Waiting”, Courtesy of James Lee, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Inhale the Future, Exhale the Past”, Courtesy of Toa Heftiba, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Love Shouldn’t Hurt”, Courtesy of Sydney Sims, Unsplash.com, CC0 License;