Filing for divorce is already an emotionally exhausting situation without adding guilt on top of it. Unfortunately, even for people who are not at fault, it is common to struggle with divorce guilt. Stepping away from a marriage that you dedicated a period of your life to can feel like failing.
Guilt is a healthy response when we are in the wrong, as the feeling encourages us to make amends. There are times, though, where guilt can become an obsessive shame, even when you are not at fault. It is important to face our feelings head-on and allow ourselves to heal from them, so they don’t become a bigger problem down the road.
Acknowledge Your Mistakes
The first step is to honestly acknowledge any mistakes on your part. Problems can arise from both sides of a relationship. An important part of moving on is recognizing your actions. It is also vital to recognize that sometimes, you didn’t do anything wrong. You can’t control other people’s actions, and you can’t see the future. Anything out of your control is not your responsibility.
Whether you did anything wrong or not, you can’t start moving on from guilt unless you can forgive yourself. As humans, we tend to tear ourselves down for past mistakes or things we couldn’t prevent. Walk away from these negative patterns until you can forgive yourself. Remember, while we can’t change the past, we can learn from it.
Don’t Take Responsibility for Someone Else’s Behavior
You carry the responsibility for your actions, and no one else’s. When choosing to walk away from a bad situation by getting a divorce, the other partner in your relationship will often try to shift blame. They may blame you for their actions. This is not the case, and you do not need to carry the weight of their actions. You have enough of a burden already; recognizing that you are not to blame for their actions will help lessen the load.
Seek Professional Help
It is okay to seek help. You gave everything of yourself to this person so, understandably, you are hurting. Seeking professional help is nothing to be ashamed of. Having an unbiased person to speak with about your situation can help you reach clarity. A therapist’s job is to help you heal mentally by creating new behaviors and habits that will set you on a better path. A professional will help you work through your guilt, pointing out any thought processes that are not rational. The hardest part is admitting you need help. Once you get that far, you will be given the tools to get better.
Avoid Guilt Parenting
When there are children involved in a divorce, parents can fall into the trap of guilt parenting. This is where they feel bad about what their children are going through during the divorce. They try to make up for it through lenience, gifts, and lack of structure. It can also be used as a weapon, trying to make the kids love one parent more than the other. In the best of times, children need structure. They need it even more when times are difficult. Be steadfast in your love; kids know when you are trying to buy them. This is a time where you need to work healing for you and your kids, and guilt parenting is not going to fix it.
If you need a divorce attorney or family law advice, the Law Office of Paul Bowen would like to be there for you. Divorce is a difficult time in life, and you shouldn’t have to do it alone. Contact us at (727) 773-1554, or fill out our form online.