Regretting Divorce and Finding Closure

Some women find themselves regretting divorce, wondering if their decision to end the marriage was made in haste.

by WomansDivorce | Answers by Gloria Swardenski, Life Coach

The divorce process can be overwhelming and the aftermath leaves many people feeling lost and hopeless. It's not uncommon to regret getting divorced in the months and years that follow, and even the person who initiated the divorce can experience it.

Divorce regret can manifest itself in different ways, such as feeling a sense of loss or sadness over the end of the relationship, questioning whether the divorce was the right decision, or feeling guilty over the breakup of the marriage. In some cases, individuals may experience a sense of longing for their former spouse or the desire to reconcile.

How many people regret getting divorced?

Statistics show that a significant number of people experience regrets after a divorce. The number of people who regret getting divorced can vary depending on the study and the population surveyed. According to a survey by AVVO (1), 32% of the participants expressed regret about their divorce. Of the 254 divorced women who responded to that survey, only 27% reported regretting divorce. Whereas, a survey by the Daily Mail (2) found that as many as 50% of the respondents reported having second thoughts about their decision to divorce.

Common reasons for regretting divorce

Some common factors that contribute to people experiencing divorce regrets include:

  • Still being in love with their ex-spouse
  • Missing the life they had when they were married 
  • Missing the companionship of their ex
  • Feeling like a failure
  • Their financial stability has changed
  • Their children have been negatively impacted by the divorce
  • Their affair partner left after the divorce
  • Realizing life is not better on their own.

When does divorce regret set in?

Divorce regrets and doubt can set in at any time after a divorce, and the timing varies from person to person and the circumstances of the divorce. Some people experience regret immediately after the divorce, while others may not feel it until years later.

Some common triggers for regretting divorce include significant milestones such as birthdays, holidays, or anniversaries, which can remind people of the life they once had with their former partner. Other factors, such as seeing their ex-partner with a new partner, may also trigger feelings of remorse.

Divorce regret can be a challenging and emotionally complex experience for people to navigate, and it can take time to process the emotions and come to terms with the end of their marriage. If you’re dealing with regrets over getting divorced, just realize that you can’t turn back time. You can only move forward and start living for today.

FAQs about Regretting Divorce

The feelings of regret that follow divorce can be particularly tough to cope with, leaving individuals with a sense of shame and guilt. The following answers from Life Coach Gloria Swardenski touch on this subject and give tips for finding closure and moving forward: 

What can I do if I divorced my husband and now I regret it?

Angie's Question: I was the one who asked for the divorce and the day he signed the papers, I regretted it. I couldn't swallow my pride and ask him to come back. Now he is going out and I am hurting so bad. He says he still loves me and the other women mean nothing. How do I get over this feeling?

Gloria's Reply: Living a life full of regrets isn't much of a life, so I really want to encourage you to move past this! Let's explore how.

First, understand for then and now, we all make decisions based on the information and feelings we have at that moment. It's easy to look back and say, "If only I knew then what I know now . . ." But the truth is, we don't know everything, and we do the best that we can. Think back to the reasons you filed in the first place. What was going through your mind and what were you feeling THEN that spurred on your decision.

Second, make a decision on what you want to do now. Do you want him back? Then go for it! If not, let him go and move on with your life, too. Take your eyes off of him dating, and start dating yourself. Take some time to rediscover who you are now, and be that beautiful attractive woman for whomever you choose to have in your life going forward. No regrets.

It's been three years and I still regret divorcing my husband.

Virginia's Question: I was married for twenty years and we had two children together. My daughter is 16 and son 23. He drank a lot during our marriage, went into an AA program, and during the program had an affair. I told him I wanted a divorce. Now I regret my divorce because it's been 3 years and I still can't get over it. He's found someone new and they are now living together. He's told me that he is happier than he has ever has been (which hurts even more). I am in Divorce Care, go to Church and believe in God. I have days where I am OK, but I think of the time I spent with him and it hurts. I consider myself an intelligent person, so why can't I get over this?

Gloria's Answer: Come on, Virginia! You are so much more than this! Where is your faith? Where is your belief that God will take care of you? Where is your memory about a man who was an alcoholic and had an affair with another woman after you stayed faithful to him for so many years?

My heart just breaks for beautiful, strong, intelligent women who continue to suffer because they say they still love him. HE is not worth it! YOU deserve to be happy and ultimately, you and you alone are keeping that happiness at bay. Your ex-husband has moved on, so let him go and wish him well. Then get real with yourself about who you are and the role you want to play in your own life.

You've got a 16-year-old daughter who is watching you. Do you want her to grow up thinking that it's okay to put up with everything that you've tolerated for all these years? Wouldn't you like for her to pick a man who loves her and stays faithful to her, and have enough respect for herself to leave if he chooses otherwise? Would you like for her to suffer as you have been over someone who is not worth it? Stop all of this now. Stand up for yourself and your daughter by being the role model she needs by showing her how strong and resourceful you are. You are not a martyr or a victim here, so stop acting like one.

Will I ever love my new husband like I loved my ex?

Cyndi's Question: After I divorced my first husband, I met and married a truly wonderful man who loves me very much. He tries so hard to make me happy, but I feel like I'll never be as comfortable, connected or love him as much as I loved my ex. We don't seem to have that "best friend" quality that my ex and I had. Truthfully, I still miss my ex in a lot of ways, especially the friendship, although we did have some major problems in our marriage.

I WANT so badly to truly connect with my new husband. He deserves more than this, but my feelings get in the way of that. I can't seem to get rid of these feelings for my ex no matter what I do. My husband doesn't know I feel this way because I truly do not want to hurt him. I treat him as if none of these feelings exist and I suffer it silently. How do I get over my ex and devote my whole heart and all my love to my wonderful, deserving husband? Can I ever truly love him? I pray often for this to happen.

Gloria's Answer: Cyndi, what a wonderful question. This is a situation that so many women face after divorce. For some, that next relationship is all that the first wasn't. But for others that had really wonderful and great times in their first marriages, it just isn't the same. And the truth is - it isn't the same and it never will be!

You are two different people in a completely new and different relationship. And the beauty of it is that you can begin now to design and create this new relationship to look like whatever you want it to. So many times, we believe that relationships and feelings just happen somehow spontaneously, and while sometimes they do, many times it takes work to get it where you truly want it to be.

First, you've got to begin sharing your honest feelings with your husband. How can you possibly expect to feel connected with him when you are holding back such a major part of yourself? In essence, you're lying to him behind your false smile, and then frustrating yourself that you don't feel the same way. It's time to open up, be vulnerable, and share.

Now, that is not to say that you begin comparing him to your ex or even bringing your ex up in the conversation. I would challenge you to share what you truly want NOW with your husband - connection, fun, laughter, joy, dreams, excitement, spontaneity, passion, and whatever else you want. Then ask him what he wants. Maybe there is something missing for him, too, but he doesn't know how to tell you. Then brainstorm on ways that you can begin to create all of those things between the two of you.

I'm never one for settling for mediocrity, and I hold true for that in marriage, too. Instead of praying that these feelings would magically appear, get off your knees, and begin to put some action behind them. Create situations and activities that will give you some new experiences together that will undoubtedly create new feelings, new connections, and an unbreakable bond that will continue to grow, expand, and last a lifetime.

About Gloria Swardenski
  1. Divorce
  2. Divorce Emotions
  3. Regretting Divorce