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How to Deal with Post Divorce Guilt

Posted By Attorney Jim Cairns || 13-Sep-2012

Guilt is one of the most common feelings during post divorce. Even a simple, no-fault, uncontested Pennsylvania divorce in subjects a person to an entire gamut of feelings ranging from euphoria to depression. It's easy to believe you are the only one who feels guilty, but the truth of the matter is that you are not alone- your ex-spouse most likely feels the same guilt feeling about your divorce. It doesn't matter who was or was not at fault for your divorce.

Feelings of guilt can range from occasional thoughts to tremendous overwhelming sensations which can be paralyzing. Start to deal with your guilt by understanding more about your guilt. Where is this guilt coming from? Is the guilt based on expectations of others for you to stay married, such as your parents, friends, or church?

Some people feel they should be punished because they may not have acted the way they wished they would have acted, or because they may have caused someone else pain. It's important to acknowledge the way you feel, and then move away from the guilt. It may take some time, but the guilty feelings should diminish. The next step in the process of dealing with guilt about your marriage is to move into a stage of remorse. With remorse you can start to look at your behavior.

Remember, it's important to accept your behavior, no matter what it may have been like at the time you acted the way you did. It is not productive or helpful to continually beat yourself up about your past behavior. After you accept responsibility for your actions, then you can start to focus on more constructive behavior. An example of this would be to take what have you learned about your behavior in your failed relationship and think about how you will act differently in your next relationship. Once you have accepted your behavior, you will likely pass into the next step, forgiveness.

It is important to forgive yourself for your part in your divorce. Take the past as a learning experience, something you will improve upon in the future. No one is perfect, and so no one should expect you to be perfect either – including yourself. Sometimes reminders help. Post a sticky on your bathroom mirror – I forgive myself and today is a new start. If you don't feel comfortable putting it on your mirror then find another place, perhaps in your wallet or purse.

You cannot change the past. What you can do is have a better and healthier future. As you move through the post-divorce stages, you will start to create new memories for yourself and your loved ones. New dreams will take the place of old dreams. Be patient with yourself.

Don't get trapped in your regrets. A helpful tool in processing your divorce is journaling. If you feel overwhelmed by guilt and/or having a difficult time processing your emotions, it is advisable to seek professional help.