Another Diet... or Something Different?

11/18/2011 07:04 pm ET | Updated Jan 18, 2012

The holidays are fast approaching and soon it will be time to write out 2012 resolutions.

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 your marriage?

And, if you're divorced, what resolution will you make to finally seek help? Face it -- whether you left the marriage or got dumped, we all suffer 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 divorcees ever get the help they and their family need. It just seems too hard, or maybe it will all 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,,, as well as

Henri J.M. Nouwen has written several powerful 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.

The 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 Catholic and non-Catholic churches offer divorce recovery workshops and support groups that are comprised of 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 find you could benefit from the help of a therapist or spiritual director.

Maybe just 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 it could mean a healthier and brighter future for yourself and your family.

Rose Sweet has written several books on the topic of divorce, including Rebuilding After Divorce- Making Your House a Home Again and she is a frequent guest on national radio and television shows. Her DVD series, the Catholic's Divorce Survival Guide, is being used by divorce recovery groups across the country. Email her at