Question: How do you stop obsessing about what your ex-husband is doing with his life? How do you detach from someone that you were literally linked to as “one flesh” for years and years?
The same way you spit out the elephant you’ve been eating for years…one bite at a time.
Let’s back up. Let’s say you read that question and thought to yourself, I’m not obsessed with my ex-husband. Okay, well, let me ask you this. Do you do any of these things?
Reread your ex-husband’s texts and emails. And then reread them some more.
Tell everyone within earshot of the most recent thing your ex-husband did.
Text or email or call your ex-husband, under the guise of a house or kid question but really because any interaction is better than no interaction?
Look him up on Facebook.
Look up his new girlfriend on Facebook.
If you are doing any of these things still, you might be obsessing. And that’s natural, because let’s get something straight. Becoming un-one is super hard, super sad, and will take a super long time, there’s just no getting around it.
God made you one. I’ve heard it said, think what happens when something is super-glued and then gets ripped apart…neither piece comes out unscathed, right? The same goes for a marriage that ends in divorce. When something happens that wasn’t supposed to happen – like a divorce – it sort of goes against the natural laws of physics or what-have-you, and that usually means you can count on extra amounts of healing being needed.
So first of all, please show yourself some grace. All the way up to divorce day, you were married. And you had a husband. And we are conditioned to think about our husbands, to care about them, to wonder what they’re doing, to be concerned about their choices. You don’t just turn that off overnight.
But you can, slowly, deprogram yourself, for lack of a better word. I think there are two key steps to this.
The first is to take your thoughts captive for Christ. When you find yourself wanting to text your ex-husband (about something non-essential or non-child-related) or you are wondering if he’s dating yet or you’re concerned about his drinking habits, you must stop yourself in your tracks. You can do this a couple ways. You can literally say “STOP” out loud. You can remind yourself right then and there that “he is no longer my responsibility because he is no longer my husband,” or whatever kind of mantra you want to slip in there. You can even pray for him and envision handing him over to God to take care of from now on. But then you need to be ready with a new thought. It can be a Scripture that you’re working on memorizing or even something silly that you’re looking forward to doing soon.
Secondly, another great way you can stop obsessing about your ex-husband’s life is to start living your best, fullest life possible. But Elisabeth, you want to say, I’m sad and grieving and I lay in my pajamas all day every day. Yeah, I get that. I did that. (I sometimes still do that.) But there are so many things that you can fill your mind with other than your ex-husband. DVDs, books, praying for your kids and your friends, making yourself a healthy meal, looking into an online class, dusting off that old hobby of yours and starting it up again, going for walks, taking an exercise class, going out for tea with a friend, serving someone in your community who needs your help or company. In other words, as you fill up your life and your heart and your mind with good and beautiful things, you will have less time to wonder and worry and obsess over your ex. Trust me, the days when I’m even just running errands or meeting with a friend or leading a small group or writing like crazy are the days when I forget (okay, almost forget) that I even have an ex-husband, let alone what he’s up to.
And thirdly, do the intentional, introspective work to move on. I recommend working with a counselor or a coach, joining a support group, or taking an e-course that can give you the tools you need to feel better, clearer, steadier and stronger.
Girls, it’s time to move on. It won’t be easy or overnight, most hard and important things aren’t. But it all starts in your head and it all starts with you. You can do this. With God, you can do this.
For nothing will be impossible with God. -Luke 1:37