by the Rev. Peter Stimpson

QUESTION: My husband divorced me three months ago, saying that I was boring and had held him back from career advancements. I’m 42 and overweight. I haven’t worked in years. Who’d want a middle-age, fat, unemployed woman with two kids?

ANSWER: I find the self-doubt expressed by this woman to be common. Reeling under the unfair criticism flowing from her husband, she had fallen into the trap of putting all the blame for the divorce on herself. She was torturing herself with bargaining, probably claiming that if she had lost a few more pounds or attended a few more business parties, then she could have saved her marriage.

The truth is, however, that just as it took two to make a marriage, it also takes two to break it. Her husband, hoping to enlist allies in this war to prove his innocence, projected blame to her and relished in the fact that she accepted it.

So, she and others like her should stop blaming themselves, and instead start evaluating their half of what went wrong.

• If she was overly dependent, then she should take stock of her considerable inner strengths.

• If she was shy and avoided social gatherings, she should force herself to slowly widen her circle of friends and acquaintances, not primarily to counterbalance her husband’s negativity with positive comments, but rather to discover how much she has to offer.

• She should look for a job and not be discouraged if it takes time.

• When friendships form and compliments on job performance occur, her real, but hidden, self will finally come into focus.

Then, if she chooses, she will be ready to remarry, not feeling “lucky” to have found anybody, but taking her time to find someone who will love her as much as she loves them.

TCS, 22 Stockton Street, Princeton. 609-924-0060. www.trinitycounseling.org. Facebook.com/TrinityCounselingService

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