Sobering Words on Divorce from Gary Chapman

I found this post from Gary Chapman and have saved it to share with others who are thinking of ending their marriage. If you find yourself in that place today, I hope it will encourage you today to continue to work on your marriage. And if you have a friend in this place, please share this post with them.

Looking Honestly at Divorce - Gary Chapman Ours has been called the “Throwaway Society”. We buy our food in beautiful containers, which we then throw away. Our cars and a household appliances quickly become obsolete. We give our furniture to the secondhand shop not because it is no longer functional, but because it is no longer in style. We even “throw away” unwanted pregnancies. We sustain business relationships only so long as they are profitable to the bottom line. Thus, it is no shock that our society has come to accept the concept of a “throwaway marriage”. If you are no longer happy with your spouse, and your relationship has run upon hard times, the so-called “easy thing” is to abandon the relationship and start over.

I wish that I could recommend divorce as an option. When I listen to the deeply pained people in my office and at my seminars, my natural response is to cry, “Get out, get out, get out! Abandon the loser and get on with your life!” That would certainly be my approach if I had purchased bad stock. I would get out before the stock fell further. But a spouse is not a stock. A spouse is a person - a person with emotions, personality, desires, and frustrations; a person to whom you were deeply attracted at one point in your life; a person for whom you had warm feelings and genuine care. So deeply were the two of you attracted to each other that you made a public commitment of your life to each other “so long as you both shall live”. Now you have a history together. You may even have parented children together.

No one can walk away from a spouse as easily as he or she can sell bad stock. Indeed, talk to most adults who have chosen divorce as the answer, and you will find the divorce was preceded by months of intense inner struggle, and that the whole ordeal is still viewed as a deeply painful experience.

Evelyn was sitting in my office two years after her divorce from Bill. “Our marriage was bad,”, she said, “but our divorce is even worse. I still have all the responsibilities I had when we were married, and now I have less time and less money. When we were married, I worked part-time to help out with the bills. Now I have to work full time, which gives me less time with the girls. When I am at home, I seem to be more irritable. I find myself snapping at the girls when they don't respond immediately to my requests.”

Thousands of divorce mom's can identify with Evelyn. Divorce doesn't treat them fairly. The stresses of meeting the physical and emotional needs of their children seem overwhelming at times. Not all who undergo divorce experience such hardship, yet all find the adjustments painful, even when they remarry.

Wayne was all smiles when he said to me,”I finally met the love of my life. We are going to get married in June. I've never been happier. She has two children, and I adore them. When I was going through my divorce, I never dreamed that I would be happy again. I believe now that I'm about to get my life back on track.”

Wayne had been divorced three years at the time of our conversation. However, six months after his marriage to Beverly, he was back in my office, complaining about his inability to get along with Beverly and her children.

“It's like I'm an outsider,” he said. “She always puts the children before me. And when I seek to discipline the children, she takes their side and disagrees with me. I can't spend a dime without her approval. I've never been so miserable in my life. How did I let myself get into this mess?” Wayne is experiencing the common struggles of establishing a “blended family”.

And what about the divorce? In her book, Generation X, author and child of multiple divorces, Jen Abbas, writes candidly:

As I enter adulthood anticipating my hard-earned Independence, I was stunned to discover that my parents divorces seem to affect me more each year not less. Even though I was successful academically and professionally, I found myself becoming more insecure each year about my emotional abilities. As I begin to see my friends marry, I started to question my ability to successfully create and maintain intimate relationships, especially my own future marriage. I began to see how the marriages - and divorces - of my parents had influenced my relationships, especially when it came to trust. And when it came to love, I was paralyzed because what I wanted so desperately was that which I feared the most.

Through the years I have counseled enough divorced persons to know that while divorce remove some pressures, it creates a host of others. I am not naive enough to suggest that divorce can be eliminated from the human landscape. I am saying, however, that divorce should be the last possible alternative. It should be preceded by every effort at reconciling differences, dealing with issues, and solving problems. Far too many couples in our society have opted for divorce too soon and at too great a price. I believe that many divorced couples could have reconciled if they had sought and found proper help. Taken from Desperate Marriages: Moving Toward Hope and Healing in Your Relationships by Gary Chapman. Copyright 1998, 2008 by Northfield Publishing, Chicago, IL.

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