Tag Archive | divorce

I am Us. She is Us. We are Us.

We have a guest blogger today Readers. Be kind. I asked my friend Richard Reid to allow me to use a post he wrote on Facebook as my “Valentine’s” blog. I’ve known Richard way back to our high school days. His career calling has taken him into the pulpits/pastoral role of Cumberland Presbyterian churches, today near Memphis, Tennessee. This is the first guest blog I’ve invited on fvbf written by a man. (It is a blog from a woman’s point of view living a Christian life.) Richard is my “go to friend/minister” when I have questions about the Scripture and/or it’s application to my life. He speaks, and I try to listen. (Well, most of the time. I learned in the 10th grade his advice on dissecting earthworms or paying attention in Biology might not be successful.) I listen now because he can back up what he’s saying with God’s word. He never did claim to be great at biology. And FYI his wife’s name is Donna too.

…Donna and I were talking about the nature of marriage and divorce. We have been married going on 28 of the 30 years we have been a couple. We’ve successfully raised three kids. Our marriage has weathered some low points and enjoyed some awesome high points. Our family has had plenty of laughter and good times. And our share of sorrows too.

The conversation’s emphasis went to divorce. We’d just learned that another long time couple we know have chosen to go their separate ways. People divorce for many reasons. Some of those reasons we can understand and cannot imagine people remaining in such marriages: infidelity, emotional or physical abuse, or substance abuse. Sudden catastrophic changes in family dynamics – the death of one of their parents or the death of one of their children, can lead to divorce. Sometimes it is because of financial instability.

Yet, while these causes can lead to divorce and do; couples can and do choose to work through issues of finance and infidelity; issues we think would be immediate deal breakers in a marriage. It remains tragic; but there are women and men, who refuse to get out of abusive relationships. Their reasons range from “fear” to acceptance of “that’s just how things are”. But also to “I still love him/her” accompanied with, “I hope I can keep trying and change him/her”.

And we interrupt this conversation with a public service announcement:
YOU WILL NOT CHANGE AN ABUSER AND GOD NEVER INTENDED FOR YOU TO BE IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP. God didn’t put His blessings on a poorly conceived relationship in which the person or persons would be an abuser; or be abused. It is a form of infidelity. Abuse means that the marriage vows are broken and the relationship is adulterous emotionally. An abusive spouse is not being ONE FLESH. No one, except one who is having serious mental health issues, abuses their own bodies in anger. GET OUT OF IT….. GET OUT OF THERE AND IF YOU HAVE KIDS – TAKE THEM WITH YOU!

Now we return to the conversation I’m having with my wife:

Donna pointed to empty nest once again as one of the causes it seems for so many of these couples to divorce. The kids, more or less are grown. The role of being a child rearing parent is past. We’re left with two middle-aged people who have been being parents for sometimes more than 25 years. Parents/people who because of life and work sit there and ask themselves:

  • Who am I?
  • Who is this person that I am living with?
  • Is this what I was expecting?
  • Is this what I signed up for?
  • Do I love this person?
  • Does this person love me?
  • Do we even LIKE each other?

At this point those couples who have stayed together to raise their children find there’s nothing else to stay together for. They don’t even like one another anymore.


image
During my 30 years in ministry and in counseling with couples and individuals I’ve heard people say, “I don’t know who I am. I need to find me and find out who I am.” They don’t think they have a personal identity anymore; and our society and culture in the United States seems to prize individuality above anything.

They have invested themselves into raising and/or providing for their family. Before they helped raise those kids they invested themselves into the person they married, which often led to reproduction and the kids that they have raised. Now, all these years later when very often the passion has died down and there are no more kids to put our energies into couples ask, “Who am I?” Or perhaps more importantly, “Who are WE?”

I think that is where Donna and I strike the chord of a lasting relationship we seem to KNOW who we are. When we signed up for this life gig, we signed up for each other. We took seriously the vow that the two become one flesh. This is not a euphemism for only having sex or having offspring. We really did become one.

“WE” became OUR identity. “WE” became “US”.

We signed up to spend life together. To raise a family. To love each other. And we do.


image
In the course of this conversation we laughingly admit, we don’t always LIKE each other, but we do LOVE each other without question. Sure, the excited and energetically passionate young couple of 28 years ago has long gone. Life and age and health and kids have seen to that; but what remains with the more or less sort of empty nest is “US”.

By that I mean I don’t have to go find out who I am. I know who I am; and I know that Donna is a part of “who I am” just as I am a part of “who she is”. That’s what we signed up for that the two would become one. We are ONE. We never needed a lot of getting out and doing the solo thing… hanging out with our girls or our buddies.

image
When we had down time or took some time away from being “parents” to have a date; or a couples vacation or trip; we got a babysitter if needed; and when they were big enough to handle themselves; they stayed home. (Actually they usually went and stayed with a friend for a couple of days and I don’t really want to know, you know, because they were teenagers. And teenagers are teenagers if you know what I mean. LOL).

That is not to say we do not give each other breathing room. We have never expected the other to be right under the other doing what we do. I do things without her. She does things without me. We share some hobbies like antique and vintage glass collecting, but she never cared too much to go fishing with me. I never cared much to sit and watch her cross stitch. That is okay.

We go to separate parts of the house for things. We don’t care about the same kind of television and not always the same kind of music. But we both always know the other is there when we do need each other or want to spend time together; and we do spend time together often.

We chose a long time ago to make US our identity. We have laughed and argued. We have grown apart at times and still came back together. We chose to make things work when not doing so would have been much easier. We have always loved US even if at times we did not like the individual parts of US.

I am US. She is US. We are US. And for US; that is okay. It is who we are. We refuse to give up on each other; or let the other one give up on US; because US is who WE are.

—Richard

image

Advertisements

Thou Shalt not Leave a Mess

image

God did a great job on the 10 Commandments.  And even though we as Christians today live our lives under grace and not under the law I have a suggestion for a relationship commandment.  Simply, “Thou shalt not leave a mess!” 

Man meets woman, woman meets man and they fall in love.  Then for various reasons, including love, the two get married.  A while later along comes the babies.  In the process of day-to-day living with your typical life pressures along comes the gap between the husband and wife.  There are a ton of reasons and excuses for D-I-V-O-R-C-E and we’ve heard them all!  Really, it doesn’t matter the reason; maybe she is a shrew, maybe he just doesn’t care if his family is likely to ask him who he is when he shows up one night for dinner.  Regardless of why divorce or breakup occurs, each partner needs to clean up their emotional messes before divorce is granted, especially if children are involved.

An adult child of divorce, a young man with their own marriage and a child on the way echoed something I’ve heard from a multitude of children, teens and adult children of divorced parents, “That’s their stuff and I am sick of carrying it.”  Another adult child said, “They were grown up enough to have sex and make me, now they need to be grown up enough to clean up the mess they left!”

What mess? Bitterness.  Hate.  Loathing.  Snipering.  I won’t if he/she does.  They have no right to_ _____________________.  He did, she did, it’s his fault, her fault, blame, point fingers and blame some more.

Worse still are the marriages where a third party is involved, second families started, and resentment over adultery, child support payments, custody issues, and parenting are soon huge bones over which people who once loved one another fight.  Enough already! Really enough!

Your kids have had enough.  Your ex-spouse has had enough.  Your new spouse and/or the new spouse of your ex-spouse has had enough. Thirty days or thirty years since you declared “I don’t anymore” and there’s still a tangled mess between you and your ex-spouse/partner? CLEAN IT UP!

Start with an apology, own your mistakes, CLEAN IT UP or at least knock down the pile some!  If you were a shrew, a nag, a perfectionist, an unfaithful partner ADMIT it and say, “I’m sorry”!  If you were a workaholic, a spender, an alcoholic, a” I promise…” and it never changed, ADMIT IT.

Every person in your life, including your current spouse/partner will benefit and probably even thank you for it.

I Corinthians 13 says love never gives up, leaving a mess is giving up, and if you loved enough to vow to love until death do you part, then see it through to the final end not just the divorce becoming final. And if you need to find out if you have a mess to clean up I suggest:

-If you’re asking, most likely so.
-Ask your children.
-Ask your current spouse/partner.
-Ask your ex.
-Can the two of you sit and discuss your children’s issues without snipe remarks or jagged reminders?
-Ask yourself.

On behalf of divorced kids everywhere and every age,
–Faye