Step 1: Honesty
Having somehow failed in an endeavour that was supposed to last our whole lifetime there can be tremendous guilt and even shame, but we have to admit we were powerless over the end result.
Step 2: Faith
Having been either blindsided or pushed to a point beyond which we thought the relationship could be reconciled, we must come to a place to know that God is the one we should rely on now – to get through this, and to forge a new identity with. We need someone bigger in control – God.
Step 3: Surrender
Having tried a lot of our lives one particular way, the opportunity now is to turn our will and our lives over to the God who knows us and who wants only the best for us. Difficult days ahead call for a powerful Ally.
Step 4: Soul Searching
We are helped never so much, when taking stock of our lives, than by a searching inventory of what we could have done better. We can only improve for the next relationship if we do our character work – at least understanding and taking responsibility for what we personally could have done better.
Step 5: Integrity
Reconciling what went wrong, with a person we trust, before God, and even with our former partners if at all possible, is a basis for strength and integrity going forward. Our integrity makes us focus only on what we could have done better. What they should have done (or done better) is irrelevant for our purposes.
Step 6: Acceptance
Acknowledging shortcomings is both humbling and taxing, but it is essential if we are to make inroads into who we wish to become from where we are coming from.
Step 7: Humility
We are to commit to God to address our shortcomings. The rubber hits the road here, and the test is not a sprint; it’s a marathon of virtuous integrity. Shortcomings will show up in the next relationship if we are not brutally diligent now and in an ongoing sense.
Step 8: Willingness
Perhaps it’s not only our former spouse we need to make amends with. Even if the majority of fault is not ours, amends can still be made for our share of the marriage failure. Amends ought to be made to anyone who was affected or impacted.
Step 9: Forgiveness
The actual step of repentance is made here. Here is where we make sure we do all we can to remove barriers to forgiveness – of our former spouse and any important others forgiving us. Additionally, we have some forgiving to do to. Let’s not delay what is crucial work for all futures involved.
Step 10: Maintenance
Maintenance is hard. It’s far easier being brave and doing the reparatory work when it’s a one-off, but character change is an ongoing effort of staying humble, approachable, and most importantly honest.
Step 11: Staying In Conscious Contact With God
The key to maintenance really is developing our powers of discernment that we can discern the will of God and then have the courage to carry it out, with consistency.
Step 12: Service
We must, finally, be prepared to be an advocate for good marriage where both partners have mutual trust and respect – where both are earned – and where love abounds. We must believe such an outcome is personally realisable.
Recovery from divorce requires many things, including honesty, courage, integrity, and humility. Wherever we stand so far as fault is concerned is largely irrelevant in recovery so far as blame’s concerned. Once we have grieved then it’s time to prepare for a future relationship, and this is done by sorting out our character glitches.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.