Is It Normal to Feel Guilty After My Divorce?

Is It Normal to Feel Guilty After My Divorce? Sometimes, marriage is not forever. Many couples end up splitting, even after they have children. Depending on the health of the relationship, the divorce may be relatively simple and amicable, or it could be messy and rife with conflict. In any situation, a divorce is generally agreed upon when one or both partners decide it is what is best for themselves and the family. So, if it is ultimately a beneficial move, why do some people feel so guilty about it?

If you have a family, a divorce may mean splitting time with the children between two households. It likely means a shift in the family dynamics, and it may cause you to feel that you did something wrong, or that you failed at marriage. These feelings and thoughts are normal for those who have gone through a divorce or for those currently getting a divorce. It means that you care, and that is never a bad thing. What is important is learning how to move on, so that you can live your life to its fullest, and not be chained to a challenging but necessary event in your life.

What are we feeling guilty for?

In a recent article from (a website for supporting women and mothers in all aspects of their life), Katie Bingham-Smith details her own struggles with guilt during and after her divorce. First, she speaks on how long it took her to finally decide on getting a divorce.

It is often a good idea to take your time with such decisions, especially when you have children. Divorce not only deals with finances and property, but also custody, child support, and parenting plans. Ideally, you want your children to experience as little trauma from the divorce as possible. It’s understandable that it took Bingham-Smith six years before her divorce was finalized.

Katie felt guilt for the effect the divorce might have on her children, and she felt guilt for the ways she thought she’d failed her marriage; that if only she’d tried harder, there would be no need to divorce. But ultimately, she and her partner agreed that splitting was what was best for everyone in the family.

After the divorce, Katie still felt guilt that she couldn’t quite understand, but she felt it whenever she was reminded that life for her and her children had changed. Guilt gnawed at her even as her ex moved on and became happily married, even though her children held no ill feelings about the divorce, and even when she, herself, had happily remarried. Katie began to wonder if she would ever stop feeling this guilt, just as her friends and ex reassured her that it would be the case.

It was only after she had a long, hard look at herself that she realized the root of her guilt.

How to forgive ourselves

Katie discovered that she had been taking on the sole responsibility of the divorce. Nobody was causing her guilt but herself, because she was taking the blame of her divorce 100%. Katie realized that this was a false notion, as no one had ever told her it was her fault. Her children weren’t angry at her, and her ex had moved on happily. Instead, it was she, herself, that had taken on this unnecessary, useless feeling of guilt, writing: “I was the only one that could take it away and it was time to let it go. It wasn’t serving anyone; all it was doing was hurting me.”

Since this realization dawned on her, she has become more conscious of her feelings when they turn to guilt. Katie catches herself feeling guilty, and reminds herself that the divorce was not all on her, and that it was ultimately the right choice for her and her family. It’s a process, but Katie is beginning to forgive herself.

Katie shows us that while divorce is often difficult (whether that includes the process or just the emotions which spring from it), it is necessary for the well-being of the family. It is normal to feel uncomfortable emotions such as guilt during the end of a marriage, and it will likely take time and effort to heal and move on; but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.

If you live in North Carolina and are considering divorce, contacting a divorce lawyer can help to make the process smoother, faster, and less expensive. At Hartsoe & Associates P.C., we handle our clients with care and dignity, ensuring that everything is seen to in a thorough and equitable manner. To schedule a consultation please call us in Winston-Salem or Greensboro, or you can use our contact form.

This blog contains general information and does not constitute legal advice, and the ideas contained within may not apply to your specific case. For legal advice about your case, please contact an attorney directly.