Avoiding the "D"

(photo courtesy: graphicstock.com)

“‘The man who hates and divorces his wife,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘does violence to the one he should protect,’ says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.”­-Malachi 2:16
As a youth pastor, I enjoy telling my story with kids and allowing them to understand my faith journey. I also like when a part of my story resonates with them. One piece of my life experience that has been relevant as of late is the part where my dad and first step-mom divorced.
My birth mom passed away when I was 2 year-old. So, for a few years, my dad and my grandparents pretty much raised me. Then, he met a new woman when I was 5. She was awesome! She treated me as her own and she loved me unconditionally. She was exactly what I imagined a mom to be like.
She encouraged me with school. She and my dad seemed to work pretty well together raising me. She gave me a great sense of completion as a child.
Then, I remember being 7 years-old and coming home from some sort of outing. I walked into the house and my dad informed me that my mom had left. I distinctly recall saying “You’re kidding.” Then, going into their bedroom and seeing her side of the closet empty.
I was crushed!
Now, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered some new information as to why she left, but at that time and throughout my childhood I dealt with the fact that I had lost my mom…again!
The divorce was hard because I had to be separated from her. My dad and I moved to southern California and she remained 7 hours away in northern California. We lost contact when I was 9, and until about 2 years ago, I had no idea where she was.
My dad got remarried when I was 16 to an amazing woman from Florida. She came into my life right when I needed it. I needed a mom to help guide me through my high school time. I love her as my mom and she loves me as her son. Unfortunately, that marriage ended a few years ago, but she and I are still very close and I still call her mom.
Divorce is hard as a kid, but it takes its toll on an adult as well.

I have seen kids struggle with parents going through divorces and I have met kids already living in split families.
For many adults, they rarely think of the lasting affect divorce will have on their kids. Maybe they consider it, but I have heard a few adults say “Yeah, it’s going to be hard on them, but they’ll grow out of it. They’re pretty tough kids.”
Coming from a “pretty tough kid”, we don’t.
We might learn to adjust or cope, but we never get over the stress and pain. We always think about it. It carries into our future relationships. We live in fear of “what if I mess this up like I did my parent’s marriage?” Yeah, even if we know it isn’t our fault, we still blame ourselves.
When Natasha and I got married, one of the things we discussed right away was the concept of divorce. We made a decision to say divorce is not an option. We need to work hard at caring about each other and loving each other.
I heard a story of a young man who was adopted from a foreign country. As a child he saw his family gunned down, so he was placed into an orphanage. He was adopted at a young age. In his teens his adopted parents went through a divorce and he said that experience was the hardest he had ever been through. Whoa!
If divorce can be avoided, avoid it.
How can you avoid it?
1) Swallow your pride. Admit that you hold some responsibility for issues in the marriage and be willing to get counseling with your spouse.
2) Address issues that are lingering before they get so embedded that the hurt and pain are too much to handle.
3) Reflect on why you got married in the first place. Remember the purpose behind the vows and those special things that caused you to say “I do.”
This definitely isn’t an end all list, but they definitely can help begin the process of avoiding the “D” word.
Divorce affects a lot more aspects of life than we think; especially future relationships and, if there are kids, their future relationships too!
Marriage is work, but the best work you will ever do, if you are willing.
DISCLAIMER: I know there are circumstances that call for a woman or man to get out of the relationship (abuse, adultery, etc.) Abuse is never the victim’s fault! If you are being abused, please seek help. Adultery is never acceptable, but it is up to the one who has been cheated on to decide how they want to proceed with the relationship. We cannot judge, only pray and support.

QUESTION: How have you seen the effects of divorce, either with you or someone you know?
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