New Life After Divorce

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I can’t believe that this summer marked nine years since the end of my marriage. When I was back in the middle of itgoing to court, explaining new schedules to my childrenI never thought it would end. I honestly thought I would live in this misery forever.

It was a long process, but today I look around and I realize that I am content. I have built a new life for myself and for my children. I have wonderful friends, I have a job that I enjoy (most of the time!), I have realigned my priorities and I get to share my stories with Catholics who are in my similar situation.

Also, I am in a position to meet new peopleperhaps one day soon I will meet the man God is calling me to marry. I see now that this is all in God’s time and not in my own.

One of the most important aspects of this new life I have built is my friends. Some of these friends I knew before my divorce but many of my closest friends today I met after that time in my life. This, more than anything, is a sign that my life has moved onit’s in a different place than where I was shortly after the divorce. I’ve gone to new places and met new peoplepeople who value the things that I value.

Struggling through those first years, it took some discipline not to hang out with my old friends who wanted to rehash the details of the divorce and talk about how much of jerk my former spouse was. I knew in my heart that this was just because they cared for me and wanted to share in my hurt. I found very quickly however, that indulging in this type of activity made me feel hollow and I knew already that I wanted to move past these difficulties and not become bitter.

I tried to think about where I would find people who cared about the things that I cared about. To fill up some of my suddenly expanding free time, I took courses at a local Catholic college (Holy Apostles College and Seminary and they have online courses for those of you who aren’t in Connecticut!)

I scoured bulletins from area parishes to find activities for singles and opportunities like lectures or devotions where I could be with people I knew had common interests. I began working on an apostolate to bring Christ to others who wouldn’t normally meet him at Mass.

Building relationships in this manner was slow-going, but I purposely chose to surround myself with people who focused on their faith so that we would already have a common starting point. I didn’t realize until looking back now, what an important decision this would be.

Recently, my daughters and I went out to Chicago for Ordinations for three Deacons that we know who are from the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. This trip is becoming an annual event (you can read about my experiences from last year). That first trip was so amazing that I just had to go back!

One of the great joys of this year’s trip was actually encouraging two of my closest friends to join us in Chicago. I was excited about this trip because of my own experiences and I wanted to share that joy with others. I had not realized however, until they both arrived and we were sitting together in the magnificent parish of St. John Cantius, what a great blessing it was to share this joy with friends who actually cared about the things that I cared about.

In my life before my divorce, I was more concerned with the things of this world. My life was in a different place and my choices and my friends reflected that. The suffering that I experienced during the divorce made me consider what was really important to me and what kind of foundation I wanted to construct for my children. Today, I get great joy in being able to share these valuable experiences with real friends who understand what is most important to me.

There is new life after divorce. Being patient, taking the time to heal, making new friends and realigning your priorities all takes time, but in the end, it is so worth it to build a new life rooted in God and his Church. To take part in activities that have eternal significance and to share these great memories with those who are closest to you can be a life-changing opportunity.

How have your relationships with friends changed since going through your divorce? What kind of opportunities have you taken to meet people with goals and values similar to your own? How have these folks helped you to move past the difficulties of your divorce?



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16 Comments

  1. Paul-446138 January 13, 2015 Reply

    Liz,

    You made a statement that makes me think that you believe you can’t receive communion because you are divorced. This is not the case. If you were to remarry without an annulment, then you are forbidden from receiving the Eucharist.

  2. Paul-446138 January 13, 2015 Reply

    Evelyn,

    The annulment process is good to go through. I can be a means of self reflection and requires honesty and humility. Perhaps neither you or your former or both were able to assume the essential obligations of marriage (at the time of the marriage). Let the tribunal decide. Gods mercy is great.

  3. Evelyn-1131912 October 21, 2014 Reply

    I am newly divorced after 28 years of marriage. The decision to leave was harder than the divorce itself. I feel renewed. However, I can’t see how I can annul a marriage of such long duration even if I know in my heart I went into it for the wrong reasons….

  4. Liz-1138709 October 14, 2014 Reply

    I just divorced in may, after finding out on Christmas’ eve that my now ex-husband had another person. I thought I was going to die, I prayed so much for weeks and months for my family and nothing happened. I am still in the process of assimilating what God wants from me now. I don’t want to be single, it is hard! but what biggest concern and pain to my soul is that I will have to sacrifice my eucharist….It is not fair cause I always fought to keep my family together, even though marriage was hard I always believed what I promised to God when I got married.

  5. Christian-906961 September 15, 2014 Reply

    While I certainly believe that it is good to get yourself out of an abusive or otherwise very bad situation, I don’t think, especially on this site, that anyone should condone finding another person unless that marriage was annulled. That’s a pretty set-in-stone Catholic idea.

  6. Josephine-1128329 September 14, 2014 Reply

    I believe God wants us all to live in peace and happiness. If we do not have this in our marriages, we are not following God’S AMAZING plan for our lives and need to make the necessary changes to be happy.

  7. Jeannine-1016127 September 14, 2014 Reply

    I don’t interpret this article as celebrating divorce but rather as an exploration of how we can often celebrate a sense or “re-birth” / “resurrection” after very dark times (in this case, that dark time being divorce).

    There is nothing to celebrate when faced with abuse, adultery, incest, fraud and much more. But , if we overcome the sorrows of our respective divorce(s) with a sense of hope and faith in how God can use all things for good………is that not a cause for celebration?

  8. Carmen-1116537 September 14, 2014 Reply

    Divorce is so difficult. I’m going through it myself. I married a man who I thought was my best friend. Sadly, he became abusive towards me and towards my children. No, it’s nothing to celebrate, but one CAN celebrate the redemption that comes after a necessary divorce. This article gave me hope. For those of you who judge you are implying that redemption, love, forgiveness, and hope are no cause for celebration. Shame on you.

    • Joan-351524 September 14, 2014 Reply

      Well said Carmen. Throughout my 5+ years of a predominately ugly marriage in which I was blind-sided, I gradually found myself needing to pull away for self-preservation. It was the marriage and the decision to end it that was so difficult, not the actual divorce process. That was truly liberating. I viewed the annulment process as PART of it. That leg was immensely healing. I am happy to say that was all 7 years ago. So much rich life has transpired since then and of course continues to evolve, as life in Christ does.

      I had so much support friend friends and family throughout. As soon as it was finished, I was pleasantly surprised by the comments I continued to receive of how much better I looked. Regardless of my own efforts, everyone around me could see how much stressed I carried. It’s amazing how fast it lifted.

      Yes, I absolutely celebrated; new life, liberty, grace, mercy, forgiveness, all gifts of the Holy Spirit, immense new found peace! Praise God in His mercy and grace. I have many new friends I probably would not have otherwise. Keep counting the blessings. They are there. Seven years feels like a lifetime ago.

  9. Joan-529855 September 13, 2014 Reply

    I think the article should have been titled, “New Life after Annulment”, and referenced in such a way throughout the article. Civil divorce means very little to a Catholic. Also, the photo is not appropriate for the seriousness of divorce; divorce is nothing to celebrate.

  10. Kathy-1118963 September 12, 2014 Reply

    I am curious… there is no mention of annulment in this article, but the author is talking about meeting a potential spouse. The descriptions of her experiences indicate a deeply involved Catholic… Surely she must know that a sacramental second marriage cannot happen as long as the first marriage is still sacramentally valid. Were those references culled for space?

  11. John-897794 September 11, 2014 Reply

    Not surprised that the author also wrote the Encouraging Our Teens Toward God article wherein she freaks out that her daughter was taking this religion jazz way too seriously.

  12. John-897794 September 11, 2014 Reply

    The whole tone of the article, and certainly the photo, is way too celebratory.

    • Michael-780154 September 12, 2014 Reply

      I think it is something to celebrate, that God would give us second chances when our own judgment failed us the first time around. I think it is something to celebrate when a divorced person has WORKED (and let me tell ya, it IS WORK!) through the healing process and is eager to apply what he or she has learned to future relationships. I think it is an amazing blessing worth celebrating to experience God’s grace, stronger in our Catholic faith and even more committed to supporting a wonderful Catholic marriage.

      Divorce is a terrible, terrible thing. Some of us were naive in our younger years and married someone who is an abuser…without believing what may very well have been out in front of us, or without seeing the dark side of our ex spouse early on. I find the photo refreshing and fitting of the fact that God does care for His children, and will help us divorced and annulled Catholics recover and even thrive in a subsequent marriage. I think we have great things to look forward to as long as we have completed the healing and introspection process and are full certain we’re prepared to seek marriage again.

      • Rose-894182 September 14, 2014 Reply

        Michael,
        You are so right about the process being “work” to get beyond the traumas of divorce and build a new life. God must take the lead with us as ready and willing passengers. God loves and cares for us all. We need to trust Him as He directs our lives. The healing process of divorce can help us to be more mindful of the necessity of having Him as an intricate part of lives. With God nothing is impossible, including the possiblility of happiness in a subsequent marriage.

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