I never thought I would be a divorced person. I grew up in a religious home (Baptist) and to be divorced was seemingly the greatest sin you could ever commit. Being divorced was definitely a no-no, and obviously if you were, then you must be such a horrible sinner. This is what I learned growing up. When I talked with my mom about divorce, it was interesting that she said in her generation, it was never talked about. She remembers one schoolmate’s parent’s being divorced, but you never talked about it, or mentioned it. It was top secret, hush hush. The stigma of divorce was real. I saw how people treated divorced couples in our church. They were shunned, they weren’t good enough to be a part of the inner circle. This is my own opinion, formed when I was quite young. I know what my parents said about divorce, and I know I personally thought my family was so much better than those who had divorced parents. Isn’t that terribly sad? It’s horrible that we learn so much bias. Children learn bias and hate from adults. My parents never hated anyone, but they certainly had opinions about divorce, (and a few other topics!).
My first contact with divorce was when I was in my teens and my Uncle divorced my Aunt, and married her best friend. We were all stunned to hear the news. What an absolute JERK I thought at the time. All I could see was the pain that my cousins went through, and my poor Aunt. I have to say in my heart I hated him. I hated him for what he had done, and I hated what he did to our family.
Then, what do you know, over twenty years later I ended up divorcing my own husband. And suddenly the tables were turned upside-down. All the self-righteous thoughts I had about people who got divorced were slapping me in the face. I realized that I had been so, so wrong. I realized that I needed to ask God for forgiveness for my terrible attitude towards divorced people, including my ex-Uncle. Wow. It was humiliating to think of how obnoxious my thoughts were. I have stopped judging others, well, actually a long time ago now, and I like to think I can empathize instead. After all, I am over 50, and have quite a few more years of married life experience to reflect on. When I was a kid, I knew nothing. Just bias.
Divorce is painful. It uproots your life like nothing else can. All your friends scatter. They don’t know who to stay friends with. What I’ve noticed is that when you split, it seems important to the one who left the other, that we need to make sure that people understand why we left, and so we paint the other person in a bad light. We want to justify why we just ended our marriage. We want to make sure that our family supports us, and not the ex. In the beginning, it really bothered me that some of my family stayed friends with my ex. Why would they do that? Why didn’t they just support me? I was angry for a long time. I like to think that I’ve finally grown up now.
DIVORCE MAKES US ACT DIFFERENTLY
It’s guilt and shame that makes us behave the way we do. I haven’t been angry for years, as I said above. It was only really the first 2 years of my divorce, when I felt like everyone was talking about me. It’s all about pride, really. I couldn’t stand the thought that my marriage had failed, everyone was looking at me. It was embarrassing. I had failed, at the very thing I had vowed to myself as a kid – that I would NEVER EVER get divorced. I remember saying it smugly to a group of friends one time, when we had been told in a Sunday School Class that 4 out of 10 marriages fail. I leaned over and said, (with a smug tone) and said, “well, it won’t be me!” HA! Never say never. I didn’t get married with the intention of getting divorced. It happened along the way, and now here I was.
It was a really rough time in my life. My mom was furious. She actually told me that I was making her look bad. I was stunned. My divorce really was nothing to do with her. Thankfully, she eventually came to me and apologized for those words, and she was horrified that she said them. She was still a victim of the same mentality that we grew up with at church – that all divorced people were evil sinners, and we probably wouldn’t be going to heaven. Yikes! I don’t know about you, but I know that God loves me, and no matter what, if we love him and serve him, and ask forgiveness for our mistakes, he accepts us, loves us, and forgives us, and that includes divorced people.
BE KIND TO YOUR EX
The best thing you can do if you are divorced, is to be kind to your ex. It doesn’t matter what they or you have done, it’s in your best interest to parent and love your child. That’s it. It shouldn’t become about your relationship that’s over, it’s about your child’s best interests. The best thing you can do is show respect to one another.
The absolute worst thing you can do is talk about your ex in a negative way. Your child(ren) do not need to know what happened. It doesn’t matter who’s fault it is. All they need is to be loved. They want security. They need it. They don’t need to be used as a tug-of-war between two factioning parents. Whatever you do – don’t bash your ex. If you need to do it at all, keep it to one person. That’s it.
KEEP YOUR DIVORCE SECRETS OFF SOCIAL MEDIA
Don’t air your grievances publically or on Facebook. No-one else needs to know about what they did, or didn’t do. That is not showing respect. And most of all, don’t talk about your ex with your child. It’s hurtful, damaging, and they will grow up resentful, and have a whole myriad of things they need to overcome.
Your child shouldn’t have to choose which parent he likes better. He should be able to love both of you – no matter who divorced whom. It’s already bad enough that their world is turned upside-down, they don’t need you to make it worse.
You can’t go wrong by showing respect to your ex. You were married so that means there was love at one point. Be respectful and honor that you have a child together. It’s not your child’s fault the marriage failed, don’t make them suffer with your petty need for revenge because the marriage ended. When your child grows up, they will remember what you did, said, and how you made them feel. Feelings go deep, and painful roots can be embedded. Don’t do that to your child. Let them see that you can be fair, show love, and kindness.
DIVORCE IS PAINFUL
Divorce is painful, but over time, it dissipates. Don’t hang on to hurt, resentment, anger, and revenge over a failed marriage. It’s over. Time will not change it. There is no reason to waste any more time or effort on staying angry. It doesn’t matter how your ex behaves. How YOU behave going forward is what is important. Choose to take the high road, even if your ex takes the low road. Forgive them. Know that anyone who chooses to be hurtful is obviously hurting themselves.
The reason why I finally filed for divorce was because I wanted my son to see a proper relationship between two people who loved each other. Those who stay together for the kids sake actually do more harm than good. Divorce happens, and we need to accept it, instead of shunning those who go through a failed marriage. Let’s be kind, let’s show support, and let’s love one another instead of judging! Get rid of your bias towards divorce today!
WORK ON YOUR MARRIAGE
I am not advocating towards divorce, I really want people to stay married. But in reality, divorce happens, and we need to support those who go through it. Can I hear an Amen?!