We are talking about divorce. It is a reality. Like heart disease or cancer, everyone of us has been affected by it one way or another. But no one talks.
Personally, I am the child of 5 divorces and 7 marriages between my parents. And sadly, I know I do not hold the world record. Some of you who are reading can top that number by a mile, can’t you.
How many of us have been the recipient or the deliverer of these words: Your mother and I are getting a divorce. Or your father and I are getting a divorce.
We don’t love each other anymore.
We never loved each other.
I married your mother because she was pregnant.
I married your father because you needed a father.
We are tired of fighting all the time.
The word divorce defined makes it all seem so simple. There is no-fault between two people who have decided to dissolve a marriage by judicial means.
The people who write the dictionary definition make it sound so simple. You are only breaking a contract. But can you Can you rip the marriage license in half, burn it or throw it away and be free and liberated from each other for ever?
The answer is as simple and undefined as the dictionary definition. No.
The words, dissociate, divide, disconnect, split, disjoin also describe divorce. I believe these describe divorce more accurately.
Whether a marriage is dissolved for a lack of love and fulfillment (2/3 are reported to dissolve due to a lack of love and fulfillment) or abuse (1/3 are reported to dissolve due to abuse or infidelity) families are left feeling divided, disconnected, split and disjointed. Not only in their physical placement – where they live or who they spend Christmas with this year, but in their personal identity.
Therein, this is not a conversation about whether divorce is right or wrong in your circumstances. This blog is about the legacy that we are leaving behind by the choices we make or do not make in regards to our relationships.
Theologian Karl Barth, philosopher Martin Heidegger, and social theorists like Anthony Gibbens all believe that who we are begins and ends in relationship with others. This relationship is exemplified in the example of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all in community together. Our human relationships begin when two people come together to create a child. Our first community is family.
What happens when that family unit is broken?
In the book, “The Children of Divorce: The loss of family as the loss of being” author Andrew Root wrote: “Divorce may feel like a desperately needed liberation…but it was a silent nightmare to a child…leaving major marks on children” (p. xvi).
Why would Root list divorce as a silent nightmare for children?
A child’s identity is striped from them when the security of family is taken. Their confidence is shaken and they doubt their ability to contribute to society as they navigate the new territory of adult emotion and logistic that come with divorce and separation. In many cases children or adult children become care-givers of other siblings or the parents themselves out of necessity of the situation. Because children (and adults) are told divorce can be an easy process, they become experts at emotional stuffing, denial of pain, and perfectionism.
Children and grown adults of divorce ask the questions: Who am I as a child of divorce? Did they divorce because of me? If it wasn’t my fault, who’s fault was it? Who’s side do I take? How come I have to be a friend to my parents when I just wanted to be a child? Should I ever have children of my own? Do all relationships fail? If I can’t trust my parents who can I trust?
In all the mess of emotional surprises of divorce, life can seem hopeless for the parents and for the children. But I believe in a different end to this story for you and for me. Regardless, of the family we are currently in, we can find wholeness and health through a relationship with Christ. As individuals, if we seek awareness and healing first, then we can have healthy relationships with others and change the legacy that divorce is trying to leave this world.
1 Peter 2:9 it says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness in to his wonderful light”. This is who you are. Nothing else defines you.
If you are a child or parent of divorce, what questions has divorced left you with?
What topics of conversation would be valuable to discuss for your healing? (For example: forgiveness, re-marriage, parenting from a child of divorce perspective, being a step parent…)