Divorce often means not only confronting the issues between you and your spouse but also the issue of divorce and your faith. If you particular faith community doesn’t support divorce, it doesn’t mean giving up your faith altogether.
My current guest, Suzy had always found comfort in her faith observing their strict no physical intimacy before marriage philosophy. The marriage turned out to be virtually void of physical and emotional intimacy. In confronting that, and that her faith was opposed to divorce, Suzy had to decide what her faith meant to her. Here’s Suzy:
I would say it was like a fundamentalist, very conservative Christian sect. “We’re the only ones” kind of thing.
I joined when I was 18 and I was living in Europe, so I came into contact with it in Paris and when I moved to London to model, it was there. It was a really great group in the beginning. It was really fun and lively and less focused on “We’re right, everybody’s wrong” and more focused on relationships. So, it really started out super positive and so helpful for me coming from a background where my mom’s like wacko. It was a great thing and very positive but as I was in it longer, it became more and more dense and more and more negative and just stopped working for me, because I thought, “This is not me at all.”
I think it was just a time period where I really needed that and getting out of my marriage made me investigate that, like “Wait a minute? What do I really believe?” In retrospect, I actually didn’t believe much of any of it, but I needed it. I needed it. I think religion sometimes can be need-based. Not always. I don’t adhere to any of it now but it was a great stepping stone to spirituality.
I love Buddhism. I wouldn’t call myself a Buddhist. I love Zen. I think Islam has got some really great parts of it—Judaism. All religions are just super interesting to me, but for me now I think the big process Jesus said, “Don’t get divorced. Divorce is bad.” I can’t remember the verse now and I had to stop and go, “Wait a minute. What do I believe though? Would Jesus want me to stay in this marriage and get really sick and perhaps die? Really?” Investigating that made me go, “I don’t think Jesus wants this for me and I don’t think my mother would want this. I don’t think anybody would want this for me. Why am I doing this? Because of some rule?”
For a while, I shoved the whole thing away, but now I haven’t. It’s come back to the middle and I feel I’m going to do what works best for me and my own relationship with God, my own walk with God, which has changed enormously.
It’s no longer about rules and going to church and all this stuff. It’s now about the spirit and the soul and really trusting myself. It’s about much deeper things now. It’s definitely been a huge process.
I don’t see organized religion being for me, but I’m not against it. I know people do that and that’s OK. But for me, I don’t want that anymore. I’ve had so much of it, it makes me feel sick. I even went to a New Age church with my girlfriend and I sat there and I thought, “I can’t do it. I just can’t do it,” and they’re not even talking about sin. That’s not even in their vocabulary and I can’t do it.
Faith and God are still important to me. I feel like that’s a great thing that divorce does. It makes you really face truth, whatever that truth is for you. I had to face my own demons. I had a ton of fear, a ton of insecurity, very low self-esteem, very hard on myself, which made it very difficult for me to believe in myself and believe that I can do this and that I can be a single parent.
I know women who won’t get out of a marriage, because they just don’t think that they can do it on their own. Part of me facing God and facing myself was, “Can I do this?” I remember daily going, “Can I do this,” and I had to trust that God believed that I could do it and that God was on my side. I had to believe that to do it, because if I thought God was against me, why even try? Those are big hurdles.
The Divorce Coach Says
Just as ending your marriage is an emotional journey, keeping your faith through divorce is also an emotional journey. Quite possibly that journey will bring you closer to your own beliefs rather than those you’ve accepted over the years because you’ve never had to challenge them.
You may find your faith community accepting of divorce. You may find it more comfortable to find another community or you may feel that the other benefits you gain from your present community outweigh their position on divorce. It’s like politics … very few people embrace a faith’s platform 100 percent.
I guess the place to start is knowing what you believe your God would want for you.