Resolved: A Head-and-Heart-Healthy New Year

It’s time to write out resolutions for the New Year.

Eating healthier and getting more exercise will no doubt be somewhere on your list. But is your body really the most important area that needs improvement? Or is there something more challenging that you may be avoiding . . . like strengthening the relationships in your life–or recovering from the end of a relationshiop.

If you’re divorced, what resolution will you make to finally seek help?

Face it—whether you left the marriage or got dumped, the end of a marriage is the equivalent of a nuclear bomb in our personal and family lives, yet we attempt to move on as if nothing happened.

From my experience working with divorce recovery groups across the country, I see fewer than a third of divorced people ever get the help they and their family need. It just seems too hard, or we think maybe the pain will go away if we ignore it. But unhealed emotions still produce pain. And to numb the pain, we rush into new relationships or retreat into the daily and time-consuming distractions of parenting or work, without taking the time or spending the money to see a therapist or get involved with a divorce recovery group.

As a result, most of us never fully understand the underlying issues that contributed to our divorce in the first place and we set ourselves up for making the same kinds of mistakes in the future. Did you know that divorce rates are much higher the next time around?

Failing to address the lingering anger or grief from divorce – regardless of when it took place – also makes us more likely to be depressed and, consequently, to overeat, to drink to excess or to engage in other unhealthy behaviors – some of which may coincidentally be on your list of behaviors to better control in 2012!

The good news is there are numerous resources to get you started on the road to recovery. Website resources include,, and Henri J.M. Nouwen has written several books that can help with depression, including Turn My Mourning into Dancing, The Inner Voice – A Journey through Anguish to Freedom, and The Wounded Healer.

Kids are affected by divorce, too, in ways you may not even know. Need ideas to improve your parenting, or to deal with being a single parent? Take a look at Dr. Ray Guarendi’s book, You’re a Better Parent Than You Think, as well as any book by James Dobson, including Love Must Be Tough, Raising Up Boys, Raising Up Girls, and The Strong-Willed Child. Suze Orman has also written several books that can help you get finances back in order.

The bigger challenge, of course, is confronting the deeper, underlying issues that most people are afraid to face. For that, you may need to first admit you could use some help, come out of your comfort zone, and join a divorce recovery group. It’s a good place to start.

Growing numbers of churches offer divorce recovery workshops and support groups for people of all ages who have been through divorce and are willing to share their experiences, as well as their strategies for healing and recovery. By attending a divorce recovery workshop or support group, you may also discover some of the topics you need to focus on if you decide you could benefit from the help of a therapist.

Maybe this year you can let yourself skip the diet when it comes to your list of New Year’s Resolutions and focus on something much more valuable—the head and heart issues that still need healing. For many of us, that means confronting the unresolved pain of divorce—or the panic about finding someone new—and taking the necessary steps toward a more meaningful recovery. By next year, you may have created a healthier and brighter future for yourself and your family.

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