If you're thinking about getting a divorce, and guilt is making you question what to do next, the following advice may help you sort out your feelings.
Question: Is it normal though to have intense feelings of regret and guilt, dwelling on "What could be" and "Things may change"? Are there others out there that know in their heart of hearts that the relationship will not work, but stay anyhow because of their familiar comfort zone? I think what scares me the most is the knowing I will be on my own because I have a terrible fear of loneliness.
Gloria answers: Yes, I would say that many stay in a bad relationship because they hope that someday things will change, it is what they know, and as uncomfortable as it is, it is still familiar. Neil Postman said,
How very true! And I think you are so wonderfully wise in even recognizing this in your question. And when it comes to relationships, no one can or should tell another person when it is time to get out. There are a lot of variables that go into that decision, and it is very personal and precious. No one should toss aside a relationship with ease! So, the struggles that you are describing of regret, guilt, etc. are very normal, and again wise.
I would encourage you to take some time and ask yourself these questions: What do I feel guilty about? What do I most regret? What is the TRUTH of the situation now? How do I feel?
And maybe the toughest one of all: If I wasn't afraid of being alone, what would I do? Trust yourself and your heart to know what to do next. Take this time as your opportunity to begin getting to know once again who you are and the power you have to create the life you truly want.
Rene's Question: We've been married for two years, and my husband recently informed me that he cannot live with the guilt that he feels for not giving his first marriage a chance. It was a dysfunctional marriage, and he shares custody of 3 children with his ex-wife. We are both seeing Christian based counselors, albeit separately. He has refused to go to joint-counseling and I was forced out of the home with my teenage son last week. He now has removed all photographs and items that were connected to us from the home. I do believe he loves me very much but is racked with turmoil from his past. He feels that he is struggling terribly with the guilt of destroying his children's home. I am beside myself and have tried to convince him these are not uncommon feelings that divorcees experience. What advice can I give or where can I look to help us?
Gloria's Answer: I first want to acknowledge you for taking the time and putting in the effort to do whatever you can to help your husband and save your marriage! It doesn't sound like it's been a bowl of cherries for you over these last two years, yet your strength, courage, and dedication come shining through. I truly admire you for that!!
And as you already know, if he doesn't learn to let go of the past, it will eat the two of you alive because there is no going back and fixing things. The questions that have come up for me have been this: Why does he feel solely responsible for "destroying" the children's home, and why does he feel somehow justified in potentially doing it again? Does he not feel that he deserves a happy and healthy home now?
But these are questions for him, and not for you. You need to call on your strength like you never have before and begin to stand up with some tough love. Stop making it okay with you that he can kick you out of the house along with your son, and then justify his feelings and emotions as common and ordinary. They aren't healthy or ordinary!
I know you want to come across as loving and understanding, but sometimes, the truth isn't always easy, nice, and agreeable. Sometimes we need to hear the truth to help us wake up and see that we are sabotaging the joy and happiness that is right in front of us. "Speak the truth in love" is a verse in Ephesians and I would highly recommend you post it around you constantly as a loving reminder to yourself to balance the two.
Also know the truth that if your husband continues on this path, you will have a choice to make. You do have a teenage son who loves you and is watching you. Be a healthy role model for him, and continue to give him as loving and as stable a home as you can.
You can do this, Rene! You can be the leader, a loving wife, a healthy role model, and a woman who embraces the truth and seeks God's wisdom on how to carry it out the best you can.