I think there are a lot of men and women out there who have divorce regret. Some might not admit it to themselves or to anyone else, others tell everyone they know that they regret getting divorced.
I feel for people who have divorce regret. They wish they could turn back time. The divorce regret might be warranted, in other words, they really feel like they messed up and should not have gotten divorced. Others have divorce regret because life isn’t as easy as they thought it would be and the easier solution seems to feel like “I should have just stayed married.” Deep down, even with regret, these people know they did the right thing.
Here’s what divorce regret looks like:
People who have divorce regret say or think things like, “I wish I would have tried harder” “I wish I would have appreciated him/her more” “I didn’t know how great I had it” “I was so stupid” “I thought he/she was the problem, but really it was me” and this guy, whose comment on Divorced Girl Smiling honestly made me want to cry:
“I’ve Broken My Own Heart” he writes:
I’m one of those sorry SOBs that cheated on his wife of 20+yrs and two kids, with her “best friend”, married the best friend the day after my divorce was final and….have regretted it every single second of my life ever since. Yep, you get what you deserve in this life. My divorce regret is immense.
I’d give anything to go back in time, knowing what I know now, and love my 1st wife like she’s never been loved, honored, appreciated, respected, or admired in her life. But, I can’t. I’ve screwed up beyond words. I had the best life anyone could have asked for. A beautiful loving, caring, and dedicated wife, two beautiful, sweet kids, an in-law family that loved me dearly. But, I was….bored with it all.
People kept telling me how blessed I was, but I couldn’t see it. I was blind by selfishness. So, I threw it all away for someone that I thought was my “soul mate”. Oh, how I was wrong. So wrong. 5 years later, I still can’t ignore the overwhelming guilt and shame of what I did. Only for a couple of minutes a day does the memory of my 1st wife, kids, and family leave my mind. I can’t watch a movie or listen to music without thinking of her. She was my soul mate and truly my true love. But I threw her away.
Oh, but if life was like the movies where sometimes we get second chances….I can’t put into words how I’ve broken my own heart, but I know it pales in comparison to how I broke my soul mate’s heart. I’m so sorry sweetness. If you ever read this, I’m so sorry.
What would I like to say to this guy? First, reading this broke my heart and I don’t even know him. Oh, how I want to hug this guy and tell him that after five years, he really needs to start forgiving himself and accepting what is, not trapped in the frustration of not being able to change the past.
Here are some things that might be going on with him, causing his divorce regret:
1. He was unhappy and “bored” in his first marriage, so he cheated and thought he found happiness with someone else, only to realize shortly after that he wasn’t happy with her either. So, why is he unhappy? Does he have childhood issues that haven’t been resolved that is causing the unhappiness? Is he unhappy with himself, his professional life, life in general? Is something missing? Because I feel like now, twice, he feels like the grass is greener. Why? Unless the second wife is a complete nightmare, there is something deeper going on, because why else is he again wanting what he doesn’t have? If he figures this out, maybe he can and will want to save this marriage.
2. There is also a component of self-hatred here. Why is he still punishing himself after 5 years? He talks about guilt and shame. He needs to find a way to forgive himself. Maybe that means therapy, maybe it means telling his first wife and kids how genuinely sorry he is for what he did, maybe he needs marriage counseling with his now wife.
He needs to take some action so that his now life starts working for him. Otherwise, he will remain in this state of divorce regret, self-loathing, hopelessness and unhappiness.
He should reflect on his mistakes in a productive way—not a way in which he beats himself up. God forgives, so why can’t he forgive himself?
Here is some advice is for anyone with divorce regret
I feel like regret—any regret is a huge waste of time. It is a non-productive emotion. No one can turn back time and reverse a decision, an action, something you said. So what is the point of being mad at yourself for making a bad choice? You can’t take it back. All you can do is try to accept the past, and work on yourself so that your decisions are better in the future.
Trust me, I’ve made some really really bad decisions in my life, and I have so many regrets that I cannot even count them. But, I have made numerous wonderful choices that resulted in the most beautiful and precious things in my life. It starts with my children. How can you regret a marriage that gave you such gifts? You can’t. You can only reflect on why you made the decisions you did, why they were wrong, learn from the choices you made, and try to make better ones in the future.
Being self-aware is very important in future peace and happiness.
It’s really funny because as I get older, I just want to be younger again, but really I don’t. I only want to be younger so I can look better and have more time. The reason I don’t wish I was younger is because I wasn’t as wise as I am today. And maybe I will say that 5 years from now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now. Most likely, that will be the case. Only I will be even older. So, is it a lose-lose? Actually, it’s a win-win.
In closing, this sweet man who can’t let go of his divorce regret needs to take some action to make his life work. That might mean working on his marriage or it might mean a second divorce. He needs to find a way to be happy and instead of focusing on his mistakes every minute. He should try to focus on having gratitude for his children, possibly his wife, his family, and all the other meaningful people and things in his life.
Big hugs to this guy. Stop regretting the past, start accepting things as they are, and start living for today.
Like this post? Check out, “Getting Divorced? One Word That Will Keep You Out of the Garbage Chute.”
Great topic, Jackie. I agree with you that self forgiveness is something this man needs. Also, his relationship with his first wife will never truly be over because they have children together. Perhaps he can make a vow to treat her with respect and friendship and be the best co-parent possible. This would go a long way to making amends and creating a positive future for everyone. His comment also brought a tear to my eye.
He doesn’t deserve anything g but contempt he’s an ass who don’t deserve love after breaking someone’s heart frick him and anyone who thinksleaving their wife is ok he’s aonsyer
Every event, circumstance, and situation in life is nothing more than an opportunity to demonstrate to the world who you are. We all make mistakes. We all make big mistakes. We all make mistakes that cause ourselves and others tremendous hurt, pain and anguish. The question is, what are you going to do about it?
My friends from high school (we’re 58 now), I’ll call them Rich and Jan, got married in their mid-twenties. They had 3 beautiful daughters. Rich was an usher at his church, and the family could be seen every Sunday morning sitting together at mass. Although a very busy and successful salesman, Rich never missed a lacrosse game or band concert no matter how much he was traveling. Their house was the one all the kids in the neighborhood came to because they felt welcome there.
On a sales trip to China in 2010 he committed an indiscretion with a young Chinese girl who was giving him a massage. When he finally was able to admit it to Jan, she divorced him. He was devastated. Friends and family were shocked.
For 4 years his daughters were distant, barely speaking to him. His middle daughter took him to court over his handling of his (Rich’s) mother’s affairs after she passed claiming he was cheating her on her inheritance. I took a call from him one night when he was driving on a dark 2-lane road and considering crossing the center line.
After much reflection on his actions and the impact they had on his family and friends, he decided to take the high road. He made up his mind that this bad decision on his part was going to make him a better man. Full stop.He freely admitted what he did. He continued to reach out to his daughters as he always had. He sought to make amends with his ex-wife. He spoke to clergy, counseled other struggling friends, and worked diligently to improve himself. It was not easy.
Doctors will tell you that a broken bone heals stronger at the break than the original bone. Rich’s daughters have all found their way back to their dad. And their relationship with him is stronger than it ever was because he never gave up.
I can guarantee you that the chances of him ever doing anything like he did in China again are none to none. Women are attracted to him in droves because he is real, human, and not afraid to admit to his mistakes. Most of those he has dated have said, “I would have taken you back in a minute.”
Some of the greatest progress we have made as a society has been the result of somebody going through an unimaginable tragedy and deciding “enough is enough.” Alcoholics Anonymous and MADD come to mind.
If this man truly wants to move forward it’s time to stand up, draw a line in the sand, admit what he did to anybody who will listen, and DO WHATEVER IT TAKES to become, like Rich, the kind of man, husband, father, ex-husband, son, neighbor, co-worker, teammate and friend that people are attracted to. There is no better gift he can give to his kids.
Madly In Love
Very helpful and Great information,
we appreciate advise especially coming from a professional.
Thanks again and keep up the great work!
For me, divorce was something I never considered.
We had just gotten married and with it, comes big transitions. We had fights but I always sought to make it up to her. I would apologize, buy her favourite drinks and do what I needed to earn her forgiveness.
I found out she has filed for divorce after receiving an email after work. I was blindsided since I never thought this would happen. Just the morning, we had a nice breakfast, watched a show together and I kissed her goodbye as I went to work.
It was heartbreaking getting that email about her intention. it seems that she had given up on the marriage and is convinced this is the way forward after I got home to speak to her.
Her birthday is around the valentine’s period and I had made plans to celebrate and make it an enjoyable one.
I may have not been the perfect husband but I always tried to communicate, didn’t cheat on her, supported her in whatever way I can and always thought of her needs and wants.
maybe I am trying to convince myself this isn’t my fault. I know I have hurt her at times and could have done better.
even through the difficult period, I never contemplated divorce but now, I am faced with it.
I feel helpless and hopeless. I want to work on our marriage but she appears committed to following through.