My husband’s parents are not married. In fact, their divorce began at the start of our dating relationship and came to a head during our engagement.
Initially, we were inclined to wait and get married after the divorce was settled. We eventually eloped because that was what felt right for us as we faced a number of competing demands (and was suggested by my husband’s grandparents — eloping worked for them, they’ve been married for over 50 years!).
While I hope to respect their privacy, this story must be told. At my husband’s urging, I eventually spoke up about the hurt I’d experienced.
I remember praying afterward and asking God what I was supposed to do next and hearing so clearly, in my spirit, that I needed to share my experience. Not to shade or embarrass anyone involved, but to help someone else make it though this EXACT situation. With my husband’s blessing, I’m sharing the insights I’ve gained as a result of our experience.
In today’s society, divorce is an all too common occurrence and our new reality is that one generation is attempting to begin new families while those from the previous generation are coming apart. That dichotomy is beyond difficult. It’s downright painful and stressful beyond belief.
I lived with deep hurt and underlying tension for 3 years because I didn’t know what to do, what to say, or how to even approach the multifaceted situation I was now in: (1) I’d never been a “child” of divorce, (2) never before been married, and (3) this was my soon-to-be in laws’ divorce — I had no relationship with either party and was now in the midst of the tensions of their split. If that’s not a “wicked problem,” I don’t know what is.
If your parents are divorced (or divorcing) and you are engaged, about to be married, a recent newlywed, or a few years into a new marriage please know these things:
Their issues are NOT your issues.
Protect your relationships. Don’t let their digs or negative commentary affect your interactions within your marriage or with your parent. Each person deserves the opportunity to maintain and/or develop a relationship with his or her son/daughter and new son/daughter -in-law.
At times, you may feel like you are being forced to choose a side or as if there is no escape from the tensions of their divorce. Learn to separate your feelings about the situation from your feelings about them. Protect your peace, guard your heart, and pray OFTEN.
Have realistic expectations.
Appreciate what they can contribute, but understand that they may not be in a place or space where they feel that they can “be a part” of your marriage.
Their marriage is dissolving after 20/25/30 years (or more!). They are in a situation they very likely never thought they’d be in. They may not know how to participate. Even more so, they may feel as if their divorce invalidates their contributions.
Give them space to figure out their new reality with the understanding that this new reality may not look so pretty. If it gets ugly, return to point #1. 😇
Your marriage is YOUR marriage.
Ultimately, there are 3 required parties in your marriage: God, your spouse, and you. The covenant between the three of you is what will sustain your union when it feels like the whole world is coming against you. Isn’t it good to know that as long as God is FOR YOU it doesn’t matter who is against you? (Somebody shout GLORY! — I know I did! 🙌🙌🙌)
Please be encouraged. I’m praying for you and your marriage right along with my own.
We’re entering uncharted territory, but we have a say in how we will steer our ships into the future. Your marriage will be (or already is) an exciting journey. Your dynamic will continue to evolve as you take on new roles (mother/father, caregiver, career mogul, etc.) and MANY of the related elements will be completely out of your control.
Thank God for the days of smooth sailing and batten down the hatches when the ship gets tossed, knowing that there will be days when you’ll have to step out of the boat, like Peter, and into the choppy waters.
You may feel that the situation is overwhelming and “start to sink”, but never forget that Jesus is RIGHT THERE. Bidding you to come. He’s not going to fail you. THIS too shall pass and when it does, you’ll see how EVEN THIS was used for your good.
Scriptures to meditate on:
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (ESV)
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Romans 8:31-39 (ESV)
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 (ESV)
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.