Saturday, May 22, 2010

so why can't we stay together? part 2

so recap from part 1...

i hate divorce, it sucks

when parents act like children instead of making their children & their welfare of the highest priority is pathetic & sad

in part 1 i relayed my disbelief with the CDC's 2009 report of 50% of the 2.162 million marriages ended in divorce... wah?!

so why can't we stay together? aka: divorce part 2

i said i'd give my two cents worth on this, so here goes... however let me preface my interpretation & insight is infinitely influenced by my parents divorce and my faith in Christ, and i am aware that each marriage is as unique as the snowflakes :)

my mom and dad knew each even as young as junior high, and then eloped their senior year of high school, then moved across the country when my dad joined the Marine Corp. a couple years later they move back to Fly Over Country and i am born shortly after. like most young couples they struggle along financially, my dad worked construction and my mom worked as well while i stayed with my aunt during the day. by the time i was almost 6 my middle brother as born, we shared a room together, i remember that he cried a lot but i was so excited to have my own real baby doll. jobs & money got better and we moved to a better part of town, nicer house and i had my own room and we had a big backyard and i got to walk to school, which i thought was cool in my head but scary to actually do at the age of 7. my mom worked a lot i think and so did my dad and my brother went to preschool. my parents didn't talk much. my dad yelled at me a lot. then something went wrong, we had to sell our house, we were going to move to another state and my mom was pregnant with my youngest brother which i was convinced would be a sister.

we move a bit more south, i am back sharing a room with not only my middle brother but also my baby brother, darn. i meet a girl who quickly becomes my best friend, she's still my best & closest friend to this very day, we live near my mom's parents which is cool and my mom gets to be at home with us which is even more cool. dad works a lot. there is a lot of fighting. a couple years later we make a big move north to where my entire family on both sides is from (go Huskers!) so my dad can become a police officer and i spend the summer helping my mom remodel an old house just across the tracks from my cousins. things change quickly as we are only there three months before our family of 5 moves back south to our hometown (where we began, just in case you're lost).

i start middle school, i am missing my bestie, i get my own room and while i never felt overly popular until my freshman year, i made tons of friends in our new school and got to stay until i graduated, which was a year early because i'm just that cool :) i go to college, meet my future husband, get through my freshman year, that summer my parents get divorced, i'm 18

as i write this, i think it sounds normal and what a lot of families experience like job changes and moving and both parents working, new babies and new schools. so what does any of this have to do with marriage and divorce and why we can't stay together...

have you ever thought "my spouse isn't making me very happy right now?!" i will be honest my Man, as awesome as he is, can irritate me and make me unhappy. some of his choices can upset or sadden me and i have said or thought "you shouldn't say that... it makes me unhappy" and if i'm being totally honest i've even whollered there for a few days pondering "why isn't he trying to make me happy... i mean it's not the end of the world for him to do so-and-so just for my sake." and while my Man and i are completely in love and our desire is to serve the other's needs & wants, not everything my Man does is going to make my heart flutter and my eyes bat adoringly as i swoon over him....

and you know what: that's okay. yep... i know, i know, our world will tell us that if it feels good then do it. and if we can't have our way, then find someone who will give us our way. the world says if we can't have it right now then stomp your feet and someone will cave to your whim. it should all be about "us" and what will satisfy us, i mean we're entitled to a mostly perfect life, right?

WRONG!!! i despise this enviroment of entitlement, and the notion that supreme happiness should be my goal. and it especially bothers me to see this attitude within a marriage because this selfishness will be the bomb that causes it to come crashing down.

what if marriage is meant to make us holy, not happy..... what if it is used by God to keep transforming us to His image instead of to give us whatever we think will make us "happy"

do you know what word could fill in all the gaps in my short childhood recap of my parent's marriage? ...W.I.I.F.M.

you know: What's In It For Me?

when my mom and my dad got married i think they were both trying to escape parents & families that were suffocating them and trying to show they were adults (my opinion and not meant to denegrate) and because they didn't have an example of a loving, respectful and serving marriage and their relationship with God was a mess, i believe they thought that marriage and the other person would serve to make them "happy."

i think we are all prone to this trap in marriage, in life :) don't you?

my dad has always had wonderful intentions but very little follow through... i think that he desired & intended in the beginning to be a good husband that could provide well for his wife but it was harder than he thought and it turned out to not be a lot "in it for him" when he wanted it to be about making him happy.

my mom has big dreams and impressive goals for herself and i'm sure that she has since before she even became a wife or mom... and then she married a man who wasn't on the same page as her, i don't think they shared the same goals (except to get far away from their parents) and unfortunately she married an oppressive & angry man... and this quickly became a marriage that wasn't happy (or safe).

when Christ isn't the center of our life and if He isn't the heart of a marriage then i'm telling you it won't work. we need God to save us from ourselves! i need God to save me from me!! can you relate?

there was a time in my own marriage when i was so full on for Jesus and serving Christ while my Man was only interested in giving God some time on Sunday morning, but he certainly had not surrendered his whole heart to God. and while he loved God, he wasn't ready to let go of his own agenda... and it created problems

he would be upset that i didn't recognize some song on the radio that he liked because i typically listened to Christian stations & would criticize over that... he felt slighted over the amount of time i would be at church serving and so he would withdraw some from me

he was saying, in a sense "why aren't you acting like i want you to act, spending your time how i'd prefer, etc" or as i like to say, he was saying "what's in this for me?!"

but, as i prayed, as we spent time talking and working through those days he felt like second on my list, the more i continued to obey God in serving Him but working to submit & serve my Man, well God changed my Man....

and while i had an awesome marriage before, it got a million times more awesome!!! when Christ became the center of our marriage and our hearts, we gave up on pleasing ourselves and more focused on loving God & each other, it was beautiful...

so why can't couples stay together?

it has to be about more than "feeling" happy.... and more about God

what say you?....

Friday, May 14, 2010

divorce, kids & wicked stepmoms...

*WARNING!! this post is rather biased... just so you know, but i would love you insight, thoughts, experience, so please leave your comment (i mean everyone is always free to comment, but especially this time) in a polite & grown-up manner :) and well it's my blog and i can write about whatever i'm feeling, so enjoy!!!

it utterly infuriates me when a couple divorces, they have children and then one or both ex's make parenting decisions geared at punishing the other parent! their hatred for their ex is greater than their love for their kids... yep! i said it! a parent's choices are supposed to be centered around what is in the best interest of their children, and when their decisions are skewed by dislike for others, including but not limited to ex-spouses & their new spouse, then hatred has gained more power than love...

i hate divorce

did you know that the CDC reported in 2009 that there were 2,162,000 marriages.... that's about 7.1 per 1000 of the population.... there were 3.5 divorces per 1000

hello?!?!! that's at minimum 50% divorce rate.... what's missing here?! i have a thought but in a moment...

and i am not condemning anyone who is separated, divorced or remarried, but if you have experienced divorce you would most likely testify to the fact that is sucks...and that is the most appropriate word to describe it

i am not divorced, and so thankful for and blessed with My Amazing Man, however i am from what most refer to as a "broken home." quite frankly, i don't like that term... whomever coined that phrase obviously didn't live in my home when it was supposed to "un-broken" because if there was ever a Biblically justified case for divorce it was my parents.

so as a woman who has lived my parents divorce, remarriage and all the un-fun that comes afterwards, i have expertise in this field... it is undesirable expertise but has & will continue to be used for good and comfort and insight

so back to my original statement: parents who hate their ex-spouse MORE than they love their children

you might totally disagree, and you are welcome to that but here's an example:

a loving mom and loving dad, but they no longer love each other. ok... so they divorce and because dad is rather insecure with himself & not being able to make another relationship prosper he doesn't put up an argument with ex-wife when she wants full custody and dad gets every other weekend, one day each week and alternating holidays. mom soon remarries. dad begins dating as well.

new girlfriend isn't introduced to kids for quite some time, until dad & girlfriend are totally sure that this is relationship is long-term. when girlfriend is introduced in the kids lives it is slow-moving over time but kids respond well. mom isn't happy.

let me break-in here and say that i understand, as a mom, i wouldn't want another woman to come in and try to "play" mom to my babes. there would be jealousy and insecurities, worry and control issues. but should these emotions dictate visitation & parenting decisions? did you know that:

40% of mothers reported that they had interfered with the fathers visitation to punish their ex-spouse. ["Frequency of Visitation" by Sanford Braver, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry]

50% of mothers see no value in the fathers continued contact with his children. ["Surviving the Breakup" by Joan Berlin Kelly]

i have visited handfuls of forums & chat rooms this week dominated by moms (not many dad) debating issues of custody and visitation, some for legitimate reasons to withhold (drug use, abuse, etc) but many others for superficial reasons of anger & revenge. all you have to do is google divorce & remarriage stats or parent custody issues to see the pain of divorce and it's affects on kiddos. from my personal experience, that of my friends and what i've seen in some of these forums, too often custodial parents are punishing their ex because it makes them feel powerful and it comes at the expense of what is best for the back to my example

mom isn't happy with a new woman around her kids. dad marrys girlfriend. girlfriend is nice and kind, doesn't try to 'mother' kids but does have general household rules & does activities and general family stuff with kids. mom keeping imposing more rules and makes it harder for dad to get kids based upon her dislike of dad's growing involvement & inquiries for kids. no matter how dad trys to be involved, mom just creates new interpretations of custody rules. mom hates stepmom....

i am aware that this example goes both ways, it could just as easily be a jealous father imposing crazy restrictions upon a mama that remarried a wonderful guy. it isn't right either way. the hatred & jealousy overrules what is best for the kids. it is so insanely wrong to cut out a loving & involved parent... sorry but there are only ex-spouses in a divorce, no ex-parents!

and while this scenario plays out multiple ways it is typically starring the "wicked stepmother" who is cast by my the mom. i will admit to the fact that i don't feel sorry for some stepmoms (and yes i will be honest & admit i didn't and don't feel sorry for my father's wife), but many stepmoms out there simply want to fit in & be apart of the family, and well they are the recipent of resentment from an ex-wife who will never accept her right to love the children.

this whole "wicked stepmom" character makes it difficult to integrate the nicest stepmom into a family.... and when played up by an insecure, controlling and irrational mom who has decided her new family is all the kids need and who needs dad & his wife?! well i'll say it once more: that parent has chosen her selfish desires over what is best for her children.... and it disgusts me, it makes me physically ill. *and let me say again that i would just as disgusted (personally more so) when a father choses his desires & comfort over the needs of his kids... i mean come on! be a real man!

to see a dad slowly and methodically cut out of his kid's lives breaks my heart. i truly believe that we are seeing the affects today of a generation of women who thought dads were meaningless and kids were raised without a strong male in the home. with violent crimes increasing, gang activity, child abuse sickingly high, more kids born out of wedlock, kids with eating disorders, teenage drug abuse... i could go on.

noted sociologist, Dr.David Popenoe wrote this: "fathers are far more than just 'second adults' in the home. involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other adult is likely to bring."

i hate divorce

i hate it when parents use their kids as a source of revenge... grow-up!

my thoughts on the out-of-control divorce stats... well that is a post coming up this weekend

yes, i'm biased... but i've lived it.... your thoughts?