Did you know that one out of every two marriages these days ends in divorce?! Crazy when you think about the statistics. I have been divorced for 4 years. I don’t dwell on the fact that I am divorced, or even often think about all of the trials I went through during the process and since then. I have moved past the situation and all that I endured through it, aside from the remaining issues that I still deal with because we have two children. But a recent conversation with a friend that is dealing with issues with her ex-husband caused me to think about the things that divorced parents, and children of divorced parents, deal with, and endure. For life.
I never dreamed that I would be divorced, it wasn’t the future I thought of as a child, especially coming from a family that is still intact. No little girl dreams of getting married, having kids, and one day getting divorced. It isn’t something that any of us strive for, but unfortunately, there are circumstances that sometimes make it impossible to maintain a healthy marriage. I am not one that takes divorce lightly, and didn’t come to the decision to do so on a whim. It was a very difficult time for me, and I thought long and hard about the long term affects it would have on my children. In fact, my children are the reason that I stayed in the marriage as long as I did.
After going through many years of a very unhealthy relationship and situation, staying because I thought it was the right thing to do for my children, that being together, regardless if it was a healthy marriage or not would be in their best interest, I ultimately came to one of the toughest decisions that a parent has to make.
I was very unhappy for many years, living in a marriage in which we were basically ships passing in the night. We had grown apart, had different ideas of what family was, different desires for our present and future, and different aspirations. When that happens, it can cause a major wedge between two partners who already had struggles to begin with, which of course leads to decisions and actions outside of the marriage that eventually destroy what was left. I knew this, and struggled with it for years. But I just kept telling myself that although I was lost, and no longer was the person I aspired to be, living my life as it fit in with my spouse’s, that it was still best for my children if their parents were together. I was unhappy and miserable. Which was not only unhealthy for me, but for my children as well. After digging deep inside myself, and putting my heart and soul into thinking about the situation, I finally decided that although I had tried, the marriage was beyond repair. And that it would be healthier for the children if we were apart, than to let them see, live, and learn, a very unhealthy relationship. So I pulled up my boot straps, and became stronger than I have ever been. I went through a lot of trials but I eventually began to find myself again, a happier, healthier me.
But it all comes with a price. Garrett and Lydia were 8 and 5 at the time of the divorce. And my ex-husband refused to face the fact that the divorce was imminent, and wouldn’t have conversations with them about what was happening. So the day before I moved out, I had to sit down and try to explain to them that I was moving out and would live in my own house, and why. I did my best to not say anything negative about their father, and in short, told them that sometimes people grow apart, even when they are married. And when that happens it is no longer the best situation for them to continue to live together and be married. That we both still loved them, and it wasn’t anything they had done. But they didn’t understand. At first it was new and different going between two houses. But I quickly began to see the toll it was taking on them. Not to mention that their parents couldn’t get along at all, or even have a civil conversation. It’s amazing how you can love someone at some point, and end up so much at odds with them. It saddened me and broke my heart to see what they were going through. Kids are resilient, and they will work through it and move past it. But now my kids had to grow up with divorced parents, which has an everlasting affect on their lives.
I saw, and still 4 years later still see, the sadness, the anxiety, the changes in their behaviors and personalities. To this day they have never asked questions about why we got divorced, it isn’t discussed at all. As they have gotten older I have tried talking to them a little more about it, but they still aren’t old enough to understand, and generally shut down if anything is brought up. I hope that one day when they are old enough to understand fully the situation, that they will realize that I made the very difficult decision in their best interest. Not at all out of my own selfish desires. It wasn’t about wanting a social life, or anything of that sort. It was fully about putting us all in a better, healthier environment. Knowing that it would be best for their future for them to see eventually what a healthy marriage and relationship is, to be able to teach them that. Part of me still feels guilty for letting my children down, for not being able to provide them the intact family that they deserve. But I know now that the family life they see in my home and with their step-father is healthy and happy, and that they can learn how a relationship and marriage should be. I didn’t walk out on them or the family, I made the decision to create a better family life for them. One in which their parents are not together, but are both happier and living the life they want to live. I want them to know that divorce isn’t the easy way out, that it should never be taken lightly, but that sometimes two people are better apart than together. I pray that they will both find true happiness and not have to endure the pain and heartache that I did. That they will observe and learn from Jeff and I that marriage should be happy, committed, and full of compromise. That being a parent means committing your life to your family, being there for your children through good times and bad (social engagements or not), spending quality time with them. That they will see just how much their step-father loves them as well, and has always treated them like their own, how much he has given to them. I pray that they will one day outgrow the anxiety that they maintain. I pray that they will grow up to be happy, healthy adults.