Sunday, January 16, 2011

Thoughts on Divorce from a Happily Married Man

At the age of 51, I am surprised at how common Divorce is in our American culture.

And my attitude has changed.

Growing up in the 60's and 70's divorce was something to be ashamed of. I honestly thought that when I left home in 1978, my parents would split up because of the conflicts I witnessed as a teenager. Some of their friends started splitting up in the mid-1970's and I thought they were headed down that same path.

They stayed together and later in life I had a heart to heart talk with my Mom after my Dad had passed away, and she told me how they learned to lean on each other more and more later in life.

When I was divorced after 13 years and 3 kids, I felt like an outcast. With a strong Christian background, and as a member of a church in a small town in Indiana, divorce was not encouraged.

Since that time in September 1995, both my first wife and I have remarried. Our current spouses were also previously married. And these days we all get along, better than some would expect. My ex-wife and her husband live about an hour west of us, my wife's ex-husband lives about 10 minutes away.

Maybe when there is a divorce with no children, you can sign the papers and never see each other. But in our cases, we had children and we started with joint custody arrangements, followed by child support and visitation schedules, college funding, wedding planning and coming later this year my first grandson will be born.

There is holiday planning, who's having what when, etc... and I am thankful to all involved that we are able to work things out. It's not easy, but it's our lives.

When you marry, you should plan on it being a forever commitment. If you are not willing to make that commitment, you should not marry. It's that simple.

Yet divorce is always an option of last resort. It should be considered as carefully as you considered getting married.

As I look at my parents who stayed together, and my wife's parents who stayed together until our fathers passed away, I used to be envious of that kind of fortitude. But as I look around, I've seen divorce in at least 5 family members relationships and I know it can be okay on the other side.

As part of the church service where we attend, we ask someone sitting near us, "How Can I Pray For You?" Yesterday the woman behind me asked for prayers for her son who is going through a divorce. Then last night Kathy and I watched a movie about a woman who I thought should have left her husband due to his alcoholic and abusive behavior, but she didn't.

I've learned not to assume, not to judge, to pray for the people and to offer support. God forgives everything that we ask forgiveness for. No sin is greater than any other is His eyes. And we are all imperfect (sinning) human beings.

There is life after divorce, as both my wife Kathy and I have discovered. In March we will celebrate 10 years as "Second-Timers". I have seen other friends and family members create wonderful marriages as "Second-Timers".

In May my oldest daughter marries, and a couple months later our youngest, my step-daughter marries. Nearly all of our 5 kids will have spouses by mid-August. One of them is already a "Second-Timer".

And we will continue to pray for them daily no matter what the circumstances.

By the way, Monday afternoon at this time, I'll post a list of 50 things to keep the romance alive that I found recently.

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