Divorce is hard. It’s hard for everyone. The husband. The wife. Both sides of the family. Shared friends. But most of all…..the kids. That was the number one reason why I worked for years to try to salvage my marriage. I knew that our girls would suffer more than anyone and it would affect them well into their adult life.
It was not for lack of trying that my marriage of 13 years had failed. After numerous cycles of separation, counseling, forgiveness and reconciliation, the alcohol addiction pulled the father of our children into the depths where I could no longer reside along with him. Ultimately, he chose his path and it no longer included a family.
Ten months later, after much hope and prayer, we realized that we could not fix the marriage. I hired an attorney and began the process of a divorce. By this time, the sadness had dissipated, I was through the anger phase, and I just wanted it over with and done. After hours and days of paperwork, emails, phone calls, attorney meetings and a court date, it was over. And the next phase of my life would begin.
As I spent much time in prayer and meditation, God kept pressing upon me to forgive. Forgive? After all that he had done to our children and me, it seemed impossible! I received a clear message to call him and tell him that I forgave him. And so I did. I never felt such peace as I did at that moment. There is something so liberating and empowering to forgive someone who neither asked for nor deserves forgiveness.
From that moment on, I made a conscious decision to choose grace and mercy when I had to communicate with my ex. I speak respectfully to him. Was it hard? You bet. Did I want to curse and yell at him? You bet I did. But honestly, where would that have gotten me? It never got me anywhere with him before, so it was sure to be futile after we divorced.
I remarried two years later to a wonderful man. Blending my three girls into a new home with my new husband, which was no easy task. With the grace of God, we are all still living to tell about it. Seriously, though, it was during this time that seemed to bring about the greatest challenges when it came to the girls’ father.
The two oldest girls remained very loyal to him, and I had to make the conscious choice daily always to speak positively of their father in their presence. Talking down about him only angered the girls and proved me to be the bad guy. So I remained very neutral in any discussion about their father and made considerable effort ensuring they regularly spent time with him.
After nine years of being out of that marriage, I have sure learned a lot about how to navigate the rough waters of divorce, single parenting, and remarriage. The greatest golden nuggets of wisdom I have learned through my experience are:
- Seek peace at any cost.
- Always offer grace and mercy.
- Forgive and relieve your heart from the weight it carries.
- Respect one another.
Our children are watching our every move. Listening to every word. They seek to emulate what we do and in turn will show the same in their circle of influence. How we live our lives as parents will impact our children for their rest of their lives. When we teach our children how to respect one another, even those we may even despise, it creates the greatest ripple effect of love in the world. And the world certainly needs more of that!