Friday, November 8, 2013

I've been married twice. Tony is my second husband, I am his first wife. While I feel honored that Tony saved this position for me I cringe when I think of him being my second. I never wanted to be a statistic nor have I ever wanted to have children in a blended family. However, I am human, sinful, and selfish. I made horrible, sinful, and selfish decisions that have led me to this point.

So, what's the point? Sometimes when I talk about marriage to others it seems as though I should be the LAST person to talk about the subject because I am a divorcee. In my defense though, I really started feeling a "pressure" and a leading to be more open about what I learned from my divorce. I wanted to take a few moments and share with you a few things that could help you, or someone you know, who is in a divorce or who has been through a divorce, is considering a divorce, or even is in a separation.

1. Don't sign anything until you have tried everything
God hates divorce. Coming from someone who has experienced this painful event I can first hand say I understand why God hates divorce. Divorce is like a funeral. Your marriage dies and in some ways you feel as though you have lost a loved one from death. I do think there are certain circumstances that can warrant immediate physical separation (physical abuse to you or your children, affair,) but I also think that our God is powerful and is still in the healing business. And by that I mean an emotional healer.

I had exhausted all attempts to repair my marriage the day I asked my ex-husband to leave. Without the grim details the relationship involved serious abusive situations that had began to affect my daughter. I couldn't live with that anymore, nor could she. With that said, asking him and seeing my ex-husband leave was like watching someone be buried. I cried for days and lost 7lbs in the first four days in our separation. I could barely eat, sleep, or function.

So, while divorce may happen (or has already happened! We are getting there, promise!) know that before you make anything official there ARE resources for you. Counseling, prayer, pastors, family. Explore and research what's around you and speak to your spouse about what you can both do to help your situation improve or even save your marriage.

2. Give yourself time to heal; even if you think you are ready to date, you probably aren't. 

I must admit that my biggest mistake after my divorce was not taking time for myself and my daughter to heal. It's not that I'm against dating while separated or that I don't believe that you can meet your second spouse shortly after, I just believe that dating should have and should be one of the last things on your mind.

I had mentioned that divorce was like a death. This became extremely real to me when my daughter began public school this year. It just so happened that my ex-husband's niece was in sixth grade at my daughters school. I hadn't seen this girl since she was eight! She was beautiful. I was in tears and when I said hello I thought for sure she wouldn't remember me. But SHE DID. And she ran over to me and said, "MEGAN! I miss you!" And I walked to my car after chatting for a moment and bawled my eyes out.

You see in a divorce you don't just lose your spouse. You lose an entire family. I grew to sincerely love my ex-husbands family. Particularly I felt a loss towards my father-in-law. I never had a good fatherly figure and really enjoyed the time and relationship I had developed with him and even my mother-in-law. These people really disliked me now. Even more so after a heated custody battle. The fact though is that I loved them and part of me still loves them and part of me still can barely talk about them without wanting to cry.

So, take time to grieve. Take time to heal. Get professional counseling. They CAN help. Join a divorce support group. I highly recommend Divorce Care! Even if it's been several years it's never too late to find help or counseling or even support group care after a divorce.

Also give your children time to grieve. They lost a family too. Divorce Care offers help for children after a divorce (ages 5+). If you have younger children consider play therapy. It helps! Make yourself and your children (if you have them) top priority after God.

3. Listen to your children. 
My daughter was two when I separated from her dad. While she couldn't really discuss her feelings her play and behavior told me it all. Divorce is hard even on toddlers. If you have children and your divorce is amicable I highly recommend going through a mediator and working out a custody plan that is best for the CHILD. Make it stable, consistent, and talk frequently with your ex-husband/wife about child/ren related issues.

If you have older children listen to them. Allow them to grieve the loss of their mom and dad being married. My current husband is from a divorced family and has shared his feelings on his parents divorcing when he was older. It still hurts. Don't force your pre-teen or teen to love a new man or woman just because you want to date or want to remarry. Allow things to cook slowly, allow the flavor to fuse, like wine does as it ages.

Get family counseling. I cannot stress this enough. Counseling does not mean you are weak. Counseling encourages growth and helps you when you are stuck or not sure what to do or where to go. Read your Bible frequently, pray, and encourage your children to continue on in a routine. ALWAYS be open to talking about their feelings and their pair no matter how hard it is to hear it. Divorce is a traumatic experience and will take time to heal from.

4. When you are ready to date go slow. 
This is where I will stop for now. When you are ready to date again, please, go slow. Don't rush into a relationship because you are lonely or you want help with your kids or it feels good. It will feel good and exciting but it can be a tangled mess if you rush it.

I encourage those who are interested in re-marriage after a divorce to read The Smart Stepfamily by Ron Deal. It will help you if you are in a more serious relationship and are considering marriage and wonder where you and your new partner fit in together with each others families.

I've learned a lot from being a divorcee. The last biggest thing is that I NEVER WANT to experience that again. It encourages me to push forward in my current marriage and to work through it no matter what may come about. God loves you. God loves family and He loves when families are set in Him. There is hope for you today no matter what your situation.



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