5 Ways to Let Go of a Past Relationship - Crosswalk Couples Devotional - December 10

5 Ways to Let Go of a Past Relationship
By Lynette Kittle

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” - Philippians 3:13 

Like me, do you enjoy hearing of first loves finding each other again after years of being apart? It sounds so romantic and like a dream come true for the couples.

Yet, the story behind the reunion makes all the difference, dependent on whether it’s really a happy ending or has involved unfaithful hearts with those involved.

Sometimes the story involves two people who remained single and never married, only to reunite years later. Or, after a husband or wife has lost a spouse, they come together with an old flame or first love who is also alone. Both of these storylines have the potential to lead to a happily ever after.

But if a married husband or wife has been going through regret at not marrying a past love, or leaving a love behind, it’s a whole different story. It becomes a story of betrayal to whomever they’re married. 

Reminiscing is especially tempting to a husband or wife if he or she is going through a rough patch in their marriage. It can be a time where they start believing they married the wrong person and should have married someone from their past. 

So how can an unhappy spouse resist the temptation to look back and instead focus on renewing their marriage? 

1. Remember why you didn’t marry the other person. Our memories can be pretty selective when remembering a past love. However, there must have been some reason why it didn’t work out. Try to revisit and remind yourself why you went your separate ways.

Also, don’t believe the saying that you won’t ever get over your first love, because it’s just not true. Believe and have confidence that God led you away from your past loves to your spouse. As Proverbs 16:9 explains, “In their hearts humans plans their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”  

2. Recognize that you’re being tempted. Realize your thoughts may not be your own. The enemy of your soul may be feeding you thoughts of regret, tempting you to walk away from your spouse.

God’s Word tells us that God’s plan for marriage is that it should be permanent. Mark 10 recounts Jesus’ own words about marriage and divorce: “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

This does not mean that there aren’t legitimate reasons for divorce. But is your marriage going through a divorce-worthy issue? Scripture warns, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

If you find yourself being tempted in this way, look to God to help you resist, remembering: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). 

3. Realize why you married your spouse. Think of the reasons why you married your spouse, how you met, what you loved about them. Find reasons to be content with your spouse as Philippians 4:11 encourages us to be content in whatever our circumstances. 

4. Recommit to your spouse. Choose to recommit to loving your spouse, even if you’re not feeling love toward them yet. Start first and don’t wait for your spouse to be the first one to reach out. Like God demonstrates to us, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  

5. Reconnect with your husband or wife. Find ways to reconnect with your spouse. Whether it’s as simple as sharing a cup of coffee in the morning or taking a walk together in the evening, start with little things to renew your interest, attention, and commitment to your marriage. As Scripture urges, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). 

When tempted to look back and long for past loves, make a choice based on the truth of God’s Word to trust Him to help you focus on your spouse, and to renew and restore your commitment to your marriage.


Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, iBelieve.com, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, Startmarriageright.com, growthtrac.com, and more. She has an M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as the associate producer for Soul Check TV.

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Originally published December 10, 2019.