Divorce: It’s a weighty word for Christians. For those who have never experienced divorce, it can be a word that drums up fear or perhaps judgment. For Christians who have considered or have walked through divorce, it can be a word that carries the weight of crushed hopes and dreams for the life they never thought would end up the way it did.
Divorce has always been controversial, a hard topic for Christians to wrestle with and work through together. Because of this, many avoid discussing the topic altogether. But for Christians whose marriages are crumbling around them, the need for helpful, Biblical resources is a must.
The following is a resource guide for Christian women who are going through divorce, or women who are divorced and seeking guidance for building their lives again post-divorce.
Table of Contents:
A Brief Overview: What Does the Bible Say about Divorce?
1. You’re Divorced: Now What? The First Steps a Christian Should Take after Divorce
2. Finding Hope after Divorce
3. Dealing with Difficult Family Dynamics after Divorce
4. How to Help Children Heal after Divorce
5. Navigating Dating after Divorce
6. “Who Gets the Church?” Navigating Church Involvement after Divorce
7. Navigating Friendships after Divorce
While the purpose of this guide is for Christians who are going through divorce, we wanted to include helpful resources for those interested in exploring what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage.
· Thru the Bible: When Divorce is Scriptural and Marriage is Unscriptural Downloadable Booklet
· The Gospel Coalition White Paper on Divorce and Remarriage
· Desiring God also has a helpful resource page on the topic
· For more practical articles, see Crosswalk’s Divorce and Remarriage channel
Further sources and resources on grounds for divorce:
It can be hard to know where to begin after divorce. The following are just a few steps you need to begin taking to find healing.
A. Recognize the trauma, shock and loss and take time to grieve
B. Own your part
C. Readjust to singleness and avoid dating until you can truly say, “If I'm single the rest of my life, it's okay."
D. Deal with your feelings -- get counseling.
E. Avoid making any other major life decisions until you’re able to process your divorce.
F. Find your people –- join support groups, ministries and find wise counselors to walk with you as you heal from this loss.
Each step is integral to the healing process. You need to be able to grieve your loss and deal with the aftermath of your divorce before you can come close to healing. This means owning your part in the process, owning your emotions and finding a supportive community that will offer Biblical counsel as you go.
Dealing with your feelings is a huge step of the process. iBelieve.com writer Betsy St Amant writes this about the initial feelings you may experience after your marriage ends. “It’s okay-- Not “it’s going to be okay” which you have already heard and don’t believe yet, but rather—“it’s okay”. Right now. Exactly where you are, exactly what you feel, in this moment, right this second – it’s okay.” Whether you’re feeling betrayed, relieved, incredibly angry, horribly sad—whatever your experience is right now, understanding that experience and being able to process those emotions are huge steps toward finding peace and moving on with your life.
Further sources and resources on first steps after divorce:
You might not think you’ll ever feel hopeful again. But God is in the business of bringing hope into hopeless situations. Betsy St. Amant writes this, “Whatever pain you’re feeling today, whatever hurt you’re confused about how to acknowledge, look through the shadows for the light. Look past the divorce papers or the tombstone or the scars, and focus on the One who held you in those dark moments. His fingerprints are all over our worst days. Not because He caused them, but because He observed them. And not from the front row or from the wings—but from center stage, right beside you.”
Think how angry it must make the enemy camp when we transition our pain into praise. When we hold up our grief and say “I don’t understand this, but I’m going to thank you anyway.” When we give glory to God in the midst of those moments meant to destroy us.
Sources and further resources for finding hope after divorce:
A major consequence of divorce is dealing with broken and often painful family dynamics after a marriage ends. Whether it is a bitter ex-spouse, hurtful former in-laws or even your own family members, you must treat these relationships with great care and avoid causing further damage by sinful reactions. It’s always better to take the high road.
“I’m thankful that from the beginning, a wise friend counseled me to take the high road: to only speak words of grace, and to choose my words wisely and not to say anything I could regret later,” writes Vaneetha Rendall Risner at Today’s Christian Woman.
“It was wonderful advice but alarmingly hard to do in real life. I was often tempted to tell my children unnecessary details of our separation and later divorce so they would be on my side. I wanted them to see me as the good parent and to ensure they still respected and trusted me. Since my children were often with me, it was tempting to let little sarcastic comments slip, especially when I felt misrepresented.”
Taking the high road and striving to honor God in all you say and do is the best course of action. Ephesians 4:29: "Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear it."
Sources and further resources on dealing with painful family dynamics:
One of the most important challenges you face after a divorce is making sure your children feel safe, loved and supported through the process. You must understand that your decision to end your marriage will have a lasting effect on your child. Children of divorce are often left with painful, traumatic memories and emotions that last well into adulthood. Many children are not given adequate support to help them cope with their parents’ divorce, so it must become your top priority to help them navigate this painful time well.
We recommend several resources as starting points for helping your children navigate your divorce:
It’s Complicated: Marrying Someone with Adult Children
6 Things to do When Your Stepchild Hates You
What You Need to Know about Kids of Divorce
5 Tips for Becoming a Blended Family
To the Sons and Daughters of Divorce
The Children of Divorce
Should a divorced Christian date and remarry? Is it biblical to remarry? If so, how long should you wait until you start dating? What should you be aware of if you re-enter the dating scene? These are all questions a divorced Christian woman should be asking as she considers dating.
Focus on the Family Provides these 4 practical guidelines. Click here to read their more in-depth summary of how to navigate dating after divorce.
A. Heal First, Date Later. Practically, many ministries and counselors suggesting waiting at least a year before considering any new relationships. You need time to process, reflect and seek help from professionals and pastors who can walk with you as you heal emotional and spiritual wounds.
B. Guard Your Sexual Integrity. Don’t compromise on this. Only date others who will honor your commitment to purity and are also pursuing purity themselves.
C. Think Before Involving Kids. If you have children, you must not only guard your heart but theirs too. Introducing dates as “friends” spares your children complicated, confusing emotions about people who may not be a part of their permanent life. Focus on the Family also advises meeting dates in neutral places when bringing children along.
D. Stick with God’s Plan. Know what the Bible says about the character and behavior of godly men and women, and only seek people who are clearly living in line with the Bible’s directives.
Sources and further resources for dating after divorce:
Focus on the Family: Reentering the Dating Scene after Divorce
4 Questions to Ask Yourself before Dating a Divorced Man
What Every Divorced Woman Needs to Know about Romance
Is it a Sin to Marry a Divorced Person?
Is it OK to Date While Separated?
When it comes to divorce, a topic not often talked about is how your involvement and inclusion at church will change after you and your husband separate. Many questions arise: “Do we continue to both go to the same church?” “Who leaves our church if we can’t both stay?” “Will our friends and church community look down on us?” Indeed, navigating church after divorce can be a painful, isolating process. Thankfully, there is a wealth of helpful information out there about navigating church involvement after divorce.
According to research conducted last year by Focus on the Family and Lifeway Research, 20 percent of churchgoers no longer attend church after divorce—“and the loss among their children is even higher.”
"Pastors say the repercussions of divorce affect others as well. Thirty-one percent say divorce has fractured other relationships in the church, and 16 percent say it created leadership voids. About 1 in 10 say divorce has hurt the church’s reputation (11 percent), halted its momentum (10 percent), or disbanded an adult small group or Sunday school class (9 percent)."
Sources and further information on navigating church after divorce:
Another element you must navigate after divorce is your friendships. Undoubtedly, you and your spouse shared many friends, and figuring out how to continue in those friendships once you’re single can be very hard. Should you both make new friends or work together to keep old friendships alive? What kinds of friends should you look for post-divorce? What should you do if your friends abandon you after divorce, or you no longer have anything in common with your married friends? Those are all questions you’ll have to wrestle with.
Friends of divorcées: resources to help you walk with your friend through her divorce:
3 Misconceptions Christians Have about Divorce
10 Ways to Help a Friend Dealing with Divorce
Relevant.com: How to Help People Going through a Divorce
5 Things People Don’t Know about the Pain of Divorce
What the Divorced Christian Wants You to Know