No matter what finally led you to seek a divorce, the feelings of guilt you may carry with you as you exit the relationship can be severe.
You may worry that you gave up too soon or feel particularly emotional about breaking up the family (especially if there are kids involved) and the illusion that everything was okay in your lives. Maybe you meant it when you said, “to death do us part,” and admitting that you cannot keep what was a sincere vow at the time is very hard. How do you cope with your guilt? Here are two tips that may help.
1. Get into therapy so that you can gain some perspective
This is particularly important if your spouse doesn’t want the divorce and you feel a tremendous amount of guilt over breaking their heart. A therapist can help you explore the reasons you don’t feel fulfilled in your marriage and keep track of your real feelings.
They can also help you see when your spouse’s “objections” to the divorce don’t really hold up. For example, if they think you should stay together for the sake of the children, a therapist can help you better understand how growing up in a conflict-filled home can hurt the kids over the long-run. Do they say they’ll change? Will that even make a difference to you and your perspectives on the marriage? Are they just talking or are they actively taking steps toward self-improvement that matter?
2. Be a supportive ex-spouse (particularly if you have kids)
Sometimes, two very good people just aren’t good together. You can ease a lot of your guilt by remembering that you used to love your spouse very much and trying to channel that memory into a working relationship.
This is especially important if you’re now co-parenting together. Acknowledging that your ex-spouse is a good co-parent can help build a foundation of mutual respect and cooperation that will benefit everybody. Even if you don’t have kids, however, treating your spouse with compassion and respect during the property division process and other aspects of your divorce can help you feel right about your actions.
It’s easy to get caught up in the mistakes of the past, but you can get your emotional equilibrium back during (and after) your divorce. Experienced legal guidance can help.