“Would my husband have stayed if I had made better meals for him?”
“Should I have paid more attention to my wife?”
“Could I have lost that last 20 pounds of baby weight? Would he have found me more attractive?”
“Could I have made her fall back in love with me if I had gotten the promotion?”
The end of any marriage is a huge loss and like with any loss, we grieve. In my opinion, one of the most difficult stages of grief is often called the “would of… should of… could of…” stage. Our brain tries to make sense of the loss by replaying scenarios and questions over and over again what we could have done differently to prevent the end of the marriage.
This voice that we hear is often referred to as our “Inner Critic.” It is made up of those negative messages that we replay in our head. The inner critic is often the strongest when we are grieving or going through change, because that is when we are at our weakest.
How to fight our inner critic:
- Work on recognizing those negative thoughts and messages when you have them and be aware of where they are coming from.
- Have responses ready for when the inner critic attacks such as:
- I was a good wife. I worked very hard at communicating with my husband
- I work very hard at my job and I worked hard at my marriage.
- I look beautiful the way I am.
- If you start a sentence with “would of… should of… could of… or what if” work on stopping yourself from finishing the thought. You are asking yourself to change what has already happened. You have no power to change anything in the past.
- If the thoughts are overpowering or there are things you would like to change, see a counselor so you are able to talk out these destructive thoughts. The counselor will help you replace them with more positive thoughts.
- The most important thing is to turn to God with your negative thoughts and your grief over the past. 2 Thessalonians 2:16, says: 16 Our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father loved us. By his grace God gave us comfort that will last forever. The hope he gave us is good. May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father 17 comfort your hearts. May they make you strong in every good thing you do and say.
Lutheran Family Service therapists are here to help. Contact us to learn more tips to silence your inner critic.
Manda Boothby, LMHC
Individual, Couples, and Family Therapist Serving Sioux City, Iowa