You hate your ex. He hurt you, used and abused you. Maybe he left you when you needed him the most, stole from you and has continued to tell lies about you. He may have repeatedly cheated on you, while you innocently believed every reason he gave for why he would be home late again and made excuses to the kids for why they hadn’t seen daddy all week. Did you find out that the entire marriage was a lie? That you were living a fairytale the entire time? Maybe you discovered that none of it was real, and it all meant nothing to him.
I understand how you can hate your ex
I remember struggling with similar feelings when my husband of 8 years suddenly walked away from our marriage. The only hints that something bad was brewing began about 3 months earlier. Prior to that, I would have said that we had a good marriage. It wasn’t perfect, but for me, it was good. I loved and supported my husband wholeheartedly and I thought that he loved me too.
The months after he left went by in a flurry of legal bickering and hostility that left me exhausted and confused. I didn’t recognize the person that I was dealing with and couldn’t believe that I was about to become a single mom with 2 young kids. That season was undoubtedly the hardest one I have ever walked through.
Hating someone you used to love is very confusing
Hating someone you used to love is exhausting and confusing. You may not fully understand or be able to articulate what you feel because there are so many overwhelming emotions going through your mind at the same time. However, it’s important to dig a little deeper to discern the root cause of your feelings so that you can begin to deal with all that negativity and get healthy again.
You hate your ex because you loved your ex and he betrayed you. If you hadn’t loved him, his actions would have meant nothing to you. But you hate your ex because you cared deeply about him and you thought he felt the same way. After all, didn’t he promise “for better for worse? for richer for poorer? till death do us part?”.
You hate your ex because you invested your life into him. You wonder how he could throw all that away. You loved and supported his dreams, encouraged him and stood by him through thick and thin. Maybe even when you found out that he had been unfaithful, you were still willing to work on your marriage. He may have mocked you and played your emotions like a skilled musician when you pleaded with him not to leave you.
You hate your ex because he gave up when you wanted to fight for your home. He walked away from your kids and decided that his personal “comfort” was more important than being a present husband and father. You hate your ex because you now have to deal with the daily tedium of kids, work, preparing meals, laundry, kids activities and the other parenting tasks all by yourself. You carry this heavy load, while he gets to play “good cop” during his visitation times with the kids. You watch him try to win the kids over with gifts and it makes your stomach churn and your blood boil. Of course, he can! After all, while you’ve been juggling life with the kids, he’s been back to his “good old days”, living a bachelor’s lifestyle.
Rethinking your case of “I hate my ex”
I totally understand why you hate your ex! As I walked through my traumatic divorce, I felt the same way…many times. I often spoke to God about my feelings and spent many days spread out on the floor of my closet, with snort running down my chin as my mascara-laden tears fell like rain all around me.
But can I persuade you to change your mind? Can we talk about why you might want to see things differently? What if I told you that your ex-spouse did you a favor? Yes, I know you don’t feel “blessed and highly favored” right now, but maybe I can convince you that indeed…you are. Maybe we can analyze things together and agree that your divorce is a blessing in disguise. Let me help you reframe this situation that you think is so very tragic….maybe you will change your mind!
How to stop hating your ex
I want to share with you, some tips on how to stop hating your ex-husband because it’s doing you much harm. You will remain stuck in bitterness and unable to move forward, as long as you hold on to the hatred.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, who desires to walk in obedience to God, you need to let it go.
Ephesians 4:31 states ” Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander….”
1) Forgive your ex
It is impossible to stop hating your ex without forgiveness. Did you know that medical research links unforgiveness to many mental and physical health problems? Living with unforgiveness is a heavy burden to carry. I’ve heard it said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Ouch.
Ask God to help you.
I remember when I began praying about this. Let me tell you, I DID NOT want to forgive my ex-husband! I resented him deeply. But I knew that I would never be free until I laid my deep hurt at the feet of Jesus and let God be the judge. I really wanted to obey God and I didn’t see any point in wasting any more of my emotions and energy on someone who didn’t care about me.
IT WAS HARD! So very hard. Guess what? It’s also a process. I have forgiven him many times. I probably have more forgiving to do in the future.
But if you never DECIDE to forgive, you will NEVER forgive!
The decision to forgive precedes the feelings of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not a feeling, it’s a conscious choice that you have to make. It also has nothing to do with whether your ex is sorry or not.
Forgiveness is an “inside job”.
It’s something that you do for yourself. You don’t have to be friends with your ex-husband… you can maintain a cordial, business-like relationship if that works for your situation.
However, you must forgive. You have to forgive if you want to walk in the blessings of obedience to God. If you claim to love God, you will do what He says, regardless of how you feel.
An exercise that may help you is to write a letter to your ex. You don’t have to send it, but write a heartfelt letter, telling him the ways that he hurt you and letting him know that you forgive him. The act of putting it all on paper may help you begin the process of releasing yourself from the prison of unforgiveness.
Here are resources to help you deal with unforgiveness.
2) Forgive yourself
This can even be more difficult than forgiving your ex. Many women blame themselves for the demise of their marriage and carry tremendous guilt.
You are the only one that really knows your story. If you contributed to the divorce, own your part. Ask God (and your ex if appropriate) for forgiveness, forgive yourself and begin to rebuild your life. I don’t say “It takes two” because I know it’s not a true statement. It doesn’t always take two. One person is fully capable of destroying a marriage relationship.
Is anyone perfect? No. But it doesn’t take having a perfect spouse to stay committed in a marriage. If you know that you didn’t contribute to your divorce, DO NOT take on blame or guilt that is not yours! He didn’t cheat on you or abuse you because of something you did. That’s all on him.
But you may blame yourself for choosing to marry your ex in the first place. You wonder about your ability to judge character and you are angry that you “have put your kids in this situation” where they don’t have two loving parents in the home. Let it go… God can restore and fill any gaps in the lives of your kids. Forgive yourself. Move on.
3)Change how you see your “new normal”
One thing that causes so much hurt after divorce is the sense of loss. There are so many losses in divorce, so many things to grieve. We tend to think that life as we know it is over, and that things will never be the same again.
Yes! That right. Life as you know it IS OVER. Yes, things WILL NEVER be the same again.
Divorce changes you. It changes the rhythms of your life, your relationships, traditions, goals…so many changes.
BUT…It could all change for the BETTER!
I’m not trying to be cute or funny.
Life CAN be better after Divorce!
Wouldn’t you rather live in truth and freedom than continue being deceived? You have been given a new slate! A chance for a new beginning, a fresh start!
Why aren’t you dancing a jig right now??
You’re not dancing because you don’t yet believe it. You don’t believe that your life can be better after divorce. You think that you will always be miserable and that happiness is now beyond your reach!
What a bunch of lies! Don’t believe this.
If you are a child of God, ALL THINGS work together for your good! Even Divorce!
It has no choice but to align with God’s promises over your life!
Romans 8:28, God says “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them”.
Not just the good things, or the fun things. ALL THINGS work together for your good if you belong to Jesus. You can choose to either take God at His word or continue to live in misery. Which will it be for you?
Would you like some additional help? Read these great resources to help you deal with the challenges of your single mom life
4) Don’t feed resentment of your ex
If you water it, it will grow. So stop watering the hurt and anger that you feel towards your ex. You water it when you are always talking about what he did, complaining about him to your girlfriends etc. If you no longer want to hate your ex, watch what you say about him. All that negative talk is feeding the resentment in your soul. Words have power!
It’s normal to need to vent on occasion, especially if the relationship is now toxic. You can find 1 or 2 mature trusted friends to share your heart with. True, mature friends will be able to counsel you and put things in perspective when you are upset. They can also serve as sounding boards to help you know what issues to take a stand on and those to just let go. If you want to live in peace through the divorce process and afterward as a single parent, you will have to apply godly wisdom and learn to pick your battles.
5) Guard your heart
You can set yourself up for further damage from your ex by not guarding your heart. If you have a narcissistic ex-husband, who continues to attempt to harass and control you, minimize his access to you. That way, you shield yourself from the assaults he hurls your way as you do the hard work of ridding yourself of bitterness and hatred towards him.
I’m a big advocate of setting appropriate boundaries after divorce. I find that many women endure the unnecessary stress that could be avoided by simply putting the right boundaries in place for the relationship with their ex.
Another way to guard your heart is by being circumspect in your friendships. You don’t need friends who stoke your fire instead of building you up. Build a strong tribe of godly people around your family to help you grow in godliness and support you as you seek to thrive as a single parent.
6) Focus on your future
It takes a lot of emotional energy to keep on walking in unforgiveness and hatred towards another. Refocus that energy into creating a better future for yourself and your children. You still have a wonderful life ahead of you! Why waste any more of it fuming over the past?
Jeremiah 29:11 states ” For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”.
If you see no future for yourself after divorce, you are looking through the wrong lens! Look through the eyes of faith! Lay hold on God’s heart for you. He’s not done with you.
Persistent hopelessness after divorce can fuel unforgiveness because it means that you feel as if you have no hope now that you are no longer married. If this is how you feel, the tendency to hate your ex is even stronger because you now blame him for what you see as a hopeless future. This would also indicate that you made an idol of your husband and your marriage. Nothing and no one should be that so important to you..that’s a position that only God is worthy of.
Since God will never leave you or forsake you, you should always have hope!
Take this time to search out God’s heart for you and grow deep roots into His love. Find a church where the truth of God’s word is upheld. Join a small group bible study. Make time in your schedule for daily time of prayer and study of God’s word. You can get to a place where you are so satisfied in Him that you recognize that you are still whole without your ex and you no longer feel hopeless.
Having great expectations for your future will help you forgive your ex and grow emotionally healthy as you walk in this new season of life. You will begin to realize that you are complete in Christ even without a spouse and that if God blesses you with another spouse, they would be “icing on the cake”!
Leave a comment below and share how you’ve walked on the road to freedom from bitterness and unforgiveness after divorce. What are your challenges in this area?