7 Deadly Sins of Divorce

If you come from a Judeo-Christian background or watch the anime series on Netflix, you’ve heard the term “seven deadly sins”. The concept originated in the 3rd century by a religious monk, Evagrius Ponticus. It is featured in literary works including the Canterbury Tales and Dante’s Inferno. The seven deadly sins are: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth. Lately, I have been working with individuals who are either going through divorce, or dealing with post-divorce problems. Having experienced divorce several years ago, I understand it on personal and professional levels. Divorce is an emotionally painful process. It is something you want to avoid if possible. Here are some of the challenges divorced couples face.
  1. Death of a marriage.
  2. Facing the unknown.
  3. Negotiating transition.
  4. Impact on the children.
  5. Dealing with residual anger and hurt.
  6. Transition of home, in-law relationships, friends, etc…
  7. Financial matters.
If your marriage does end, don’t make your life harder by falling prey to the seven deadly sins of divorce. Giving in to these temptations will hinder your recovery and have a negative effect on you and your children (if you have them). [Tweet “If your marriage ends, don’t make your life harder by falling prey to the seven deadly sins of divorce.”]
The deadly sin of envy or gloating
I call these the “combo sin” because they tend to go hand-in-hand. Being envious of your former spouse’s life post-divorce does you harm. Gloating in their misfortune has little value. Yielding to these temptations will have a negative effect on your self-esteem. Envy makes you feel bad about yourself. Gloating is feeling good at the expense of your ex. I’m sure there are more healthy ways to feel good about yourself.
The deadly sin of bitterness
Entertain envy too long and it morphs into bitterness. Once this sin gets a grip on you, it puts your future on hold. Unchecked bitterness commandeers your head and heart. It robs you of the happiness you deserve. Furthermore, bitterness gives your former spouse passive control over your life. He/she may be moving forward but you are lagging behind holding on to something that is only hurting you.
The deadly sin of vengeance
If you’ve ever seen the movie, The War of the Roses, you have an idea of the destructive nature of vengeance. Attempting to get payback on an ex-spouse is dangerous on multiple levels. It may give you temporary pleasure to embarrass or shame him/her publicly, but it can also make you look bad too. Vengeance is a distraction from moving forward. It elicits more drama and makes you look weak. In more extreme cases, I know people who sought vengeance end up facing legal troubles or incarceration. If your ex-spouse treated you wrong, and you want justice, let karma take care of it. Or as the Bible states, “Vengeance is mine says the Lord.”
The deadly sin of indoctrinating children
Hopefully you understand the deadly effect unchecked sins have in your life. Now let’s take it to an even deeper level. Indoctrinating your kids into your view of the ex-spouse is a deadly sin. They did not divorce a parent. You divorced each other. Your children cannot handle the weight of your emotional burden. Please do not put this on them! Telling kids your version of the story or allowing them to be within hearing distance of you talking to someone else is harmful to them. It is psychologically and emotionally damaging. Furthermore, it pressures them to choose their loyalty. I know some may argue that the ex-spouse was abusive, addicted, or did other harmful things that destroyed the marriage and family. Kids may have a fairly accurate picture but they don’t need your emotional baggage added to the weight they already carry. Take them to a professional counselor so they have someone to talk to about their struggles.
The deadly sin of alienating children
Some parents use their kids as a weapon to express their vengeance. They take indoctrination to another level by blocking unwarranted access of their kids to the ex-spouse. In many cases, the ex-spouse has not done anything wrong. However they are being vilified unjustly and the kids are being manipulated to go along with the story. This is poisonous pattern of alienation is psychologically abusive to children. I witness the damaging effect this has on the alienated parent and their children. It is heart-wrenching to say the least. If you are alienating your children from their parent, heed this warning. You will likely pay a heavy price later when your kids become adults and decide for themselves. As they reconstruct the past, they may alienate you from their life. For more on this subject I recommend you read the book: Divorce Poison.
The deadly sin of abandoning children
You may have divorced your spouse but don’t include your children. No matter how difficult life is after divorce, your children need you to be a positive presence in their life. If you have issues get professional help. The worse thing you can do to your kids is to promise to be in their life but not show up. You have a decision to make. Be either in or completely out of their life. Ambiguity is not good for kids. Abandonment is more strongly felt when you promise but don’t deliver on it.
The deadly sin of unforgiveness
Individuals who divorce have two people to forgive. The have to forgive their ex-spouse and they have to forgive themselves. Living in a state of unforgiveness does not change your past. Penance will not make it better. You have to find a place of forgiveness so you can move forward in your life. The difficulty of forgiving a former spouse occurs when this person shows no remorse, accepts no personal responsibility, and blames you for the failed marriage. It’s hard to forgive a person like this. Forgiving him/her is not for their benefit. It’s for yours. You can do it privately. I’ve developed a tool for it called “Forgiving From A Distance: How to move past someone who has hurt you but won’t repair it.” If you would like a copy of it, go to my contact page and request it.

Now it’s your turn

If you are divorced or going through it now, are you guilty of one or more of the deadly sins? If so, what do you plan to do change?

Check out the podcast version of this blog by clicking the link above. I go deeper into this subject by addressing 7 reasons why the 7 sins of divorce are deadly. I also offer 7 benefits when you avoid them.