Dealing with guilt after divorce

Among all of the mixed emotions you will be feeling after divorce; guilt may be one of them. Whatever the reasons for your divorce, we understand that none of the decisions you made would have been made lightly, so you should not feel at fault.

We've put together some steps to take if you are feeling guilt after a divorce, to help you accept the decisions you have made and move on.

Accept your feelings

Remember that it is usual to experience feelings of guilt following a divorce. In fact, your feelings of guilt probably occur amongst many other feelings, some of them negative and some of them not. Understanding how these feelings relate to both your recently ended relationship and to your future is crucial to your happiness. Over time it would be good to accept and express these feelings, rather than reject them.

Forgive yourself

You may feel guilty if you've acted in selfish and hurtful ways in he past, but none of us are perfect. Feeling guilty about things that you have done is a normal reaction, but rather than attempting to justify yourself you should simply forgive yourself for them. Be kind to yourself and stop beating yourself up; you might have done something wrong, but simply accept this and look to move on.

Mend broken bridges

The people who tend to suffer most after a divorce are the children. They too are likely to be feeling a raft of conflicting emotions, and often guilt is one of them. It is not at all unusual for children to blame themselves for the breakup of their parents’ marriage. Talk to your children about your feelings and get them to talk to you about theirs. Assure them that you will be there for them in the future.

If the divorce was acrimonious then the chances are that you and your ex-spouse are no longer on good terms. However, it is surprising how many divorced couples are able to mend broken bridges and maintain an amicable relationship for the sake of their children. The same goes for your in-laws and possibly, family friends.  Once everyone can forgive each other, you can work on adapting you and your family to this change in situation and living arrangement. 

Move towards the light at the end of the tunnel

However bad you might feel about what has happened and however much you might blame yourself, however cliché, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and it is important to move towards it. Life goes on, and the positive aspect about divorce is that you can make a brand new start. By focusing on the future and your new life, your feelings of guilt will start to fade. Allow yourself a little time and be kind to yourself; there is a new world of opportunity out there, and it is just a matter of embracing it. In our recent survey, 89% of divorcees or people going through a divorce were concerned about the direction of their future. This article has some great ideas to help you move forward.

Post-divorce counselling can help

If you are still finding it difficult to cope with your feelings of guilt then it might be worth considering post-divorce counselling. This might be on an individual basis with you and a counsellor, though often post-divorce counselling can include your children too. It is not unusual for post-divorce counselling to focus mainly on their feelings and needs, and in doing so, will help you overcome your personal feelings of guilt as you know that you are doing the best you can for your children. QualitySolicitors are also piloting a free mentoring scheme for divorcees. For more information, click here.

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