Maybe it’s because today would have been our 12 year anniversary.
Maybe it’s because I have had friends and strangers here lately ask me if I will (or want to) marry again.
Maybe it’s because people who are struggling in their marriage believe I am somehow the guru on divorce since I am divorced, and they want me to make a decision for them that only they can make.
I’m really not sure.
BUT, right here, right now, I felt compelled to write on the wisdom I’ve gleaned in the five years since my divorce about marriage and divorce. I’ll just touch on my top 5.
NUMBER 1 – Divorce sucks!
Anyone who tells you it doesn’t is a liar. Don’t get me wrong. Getting out of an unhealthy relationship may be the best thing for all parties involved, but the actual going through the motions of divorce sucks! From the separating lives, to the separating hearts, to the changing of your name and going down to the Social Security office to do it (have you seen those lines??!!), to the re-learning of who you once were before your marriage and the becoming of who you now are…it’s all tough and tiring. Add children in the mix and the trauma they’re experiencing, and it’s all just a big ripping up of the life you had into small pieces, gathered up, smoothed out and taped back together into a new picture with many of the same, yet unrecognizable elements.
NUMBER 2 – Marriage is beautiful!
For all those reading who keep asking me how I feel about marriage and if I think I’ll marry again, move in closer…you ready?…I love marriage! Yep, I said it. I love the concept, covenant, and closeness of marriage. I’m a firm believer that a marriage between two adults committed to the sanctity of God’s covenantal foundation, and who are willing to truly put in the work necessary for becoming one in all ways, is a beautiful thing. However, if both are not committed, that beautiful thing then becomes a treacherous burden which becomes heavier and heavier to the lone person trying to salvage the relationship where his or her only recourse is to either remove the load or be crushed by it.
Will I do it again? Not sure. God is working on my trust issues. Not my trust in another person, my trust in myself. I don’t fully trust just yet that I will see the second time around what I missed the first time around. Ironically, I’d never had a bad relationship until my marriage. I’d always had great boyfriends! Always! So, I just wasn’t expecting what I experienced.
And, I’m ok with being a work in progress. I’m in a new season that even I haven’t fully grasped. I won’t naively date for sex (my 20’s) or date to determine who my husband and father of my children will be (my 30’s), the next go round will simply be to love and be loved. Period. There’s no rush.
NUMBER 3 – No one has a perfect marriage!
Perfection is the playground of fools. Once you remember that, you will no longer seek to hang out there. Marriage is a covenant between imperfect people exemplifying God’s love in all that they say and do. Marriage is a wonderful ministry which blesses not only the congregation (husband, wife, children) but also the community in which it thrives (those outside looking in). I remember during our pre-marital counseling, the minister had my ex-husband and I spend a lot of time evaluating our expectations. I now realize the only expectation anyone should bring to a marriage is the expectation of imperfection coupled with a heart of forgiveness and a mindset of solidarity.
NUMBER 4 – If your marriage is struggling, no one has the answers you need.
Pretty disheartening, I know. And, I guess if you followed that advice you also wouldn’t need to keep reading. Ha! So, let me clarify. What I discovered in talking to friends, counselors, and family members when I was depressed and distraught and trying to fight for a marriage with someone who was not willing to go to battle with me either through counseling, communication, or just plain consideration for what was going on, was that no one had the answers for my situation. Everyone had answers, mind you! But, those answers were coming from their own experiences or their own perceptions–neither of which provided an accurate analysis of what was happening in MY life. You see, I was living with a person whose private persona was in direct contrast to his public persona.
All “advice” to me was from well-meaning people who neither knew about, saw, nor experienced what I did inside my home, and who had only been privy to the public persona much like I had been before marriage.
So, don’t ask people for advice. Prayer to an all-knowing God provides wisdom. And he will answer you in the most unexpected ways. My darkest hour, in a car, in front of a restaurant, late at night with me crying profusely and calling out to the Lord, provided the brightest light of clarity from a total stranger, who gently tapped on my window and told me the Lord led her to my car to pray for and with the woman in it.
As I had my glasses off, to this day, I have no idea who that woman was, but I know whose voice was speaking through her to me because she answered the questions I had been calling out to the Lord before her gentle tapping.
NUMBER 5 – There’s peace in decision-making.
As I stated above, no one can make a decision for you but you. But, once you make it, trust the Lord in all things. I lost everything in my marriage. E-VERY-THING! I lost my home, my savings, my car, my identity, my career, my friends, and my sanity. Mind you, I did not lose them in my divorce. I lost them in my marriage. But, once I decided I wanted my children to grow up knowing the me I had always been and not the me I had become in a miserable marriage, there was an inexplicable peace in the final decision to divorce.
But there’s more. I changed my mind. I wasn’t fully sure I personally had done all I could to fight for my marriage. The night before my court date, I was in fervent prayer and Bible study. The Lord spoke to me as clearly as if I had called him on the phone, and told me to follow however my husband leads.
I went to my husband and told him I had been in prayer and was willing to fight for my marriage with him and would cancel the early morning court date if he wanted me to. He told me the Lord didn’t say anything to him. I asked him if he’d been in prayer about it as I had. He said he hadn’t, but that I should just keep the court date. At that moment, I knew I had done all I could.
My decision was divorce. Your decision may be different or the same as mine. However, once you prayerfully decide what is best for you and your children (if you have children) trust in that decision. More importantly, trust in the God who holds all things in his hand, and he will allow the flowers to bloom in your life again in due season.
For they will bloom. They may not be a familiar bouquet, but they will be just as lovely. 🙂