How Has Divorce Blessed YOUR Life?

Guest post from cheryl. That is my question to everyone out there that has experienced divorce, have had parents divorce, siblings divorce, or children divorce. (oh, throw in any other relationship, too if you want). Why am I curious? Because I have yet to find someone that has LOVED their experience with divorce. My in-laws divorced about 2 1/2 years before I came into the picture. DH was serving a mission at the time, and as any child "of divorce" can attest, it was very, very hard for him --and his younger siblings. But he has endured it well. As well as you can in the wake of your eternal family being broken apart. Now, I wouldn't say that things are ALL bad. His mother is re-married and very, very happy. We have a wonderful relationship with her, all-be-it a hard one at times since she is no longer a member of the Church. But there is love and there is hope and there is respect on all sides. This is a good, good thing. His father, working on wife #4 is VERY active in the Church. Yet our relationship is extremely strained. Not just because of past wrongs, or that he lives near us, or that he is manipulative/hypocritical/selfish (I'm sure everyone knows someone like this), but also because we're not sure if Wife #4 will be around in 5 years. It's hard to get close to her --will she be like the rest? Now amongst all this, our children are blessed. They have 3 sets of grandparents that love them very much. They weren't around for the first 6 years of the "adjustment" period. But, as little #1 asks us questions like, "Who is daddy's mom?" we know that all the ugliness will one day be explained. Hopefully not for a long, long, long time. Anyways, that is a glimpse into the life we deal with -- some of the "blessings" of divorce. Now I'm not saying they shouldn't have divorced. They have their reasons and they may be good ones to them --and some of you may have great reasons as to why divorce is in your life. ABUSE for one! But I know that amongst the tiniest good that has come from this particular divorce, mountains and mountains of pain have been raised very high. So, how has divorce blessed your life? --cheryl---


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My parents divorced when I was 15. I am the oldest of 7 and have 5 brothers. One thing I loved was that my brothers (and little sister) went to my dad's house every other weekend and I had respite from them for a whole weekend. I never would have had a break had my parents stayed together.

Was the every other weekend of respite worth all the pain and heartache? Probably not. Has intergrating steps into my life been easy? No, in fact it has caused some incredibly painful and traumatic experiences. But it is what it is and I've finally realized that my parents did the best they could.

3/26/2006 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa M. said...

My divorce was one of the most life changing and humbling experiences I have ever gone through.

There are blessings that have stemed from that experience.

I only wish my marriage had been as blessed as our divorce.

I am a better person. I have a clearer understanding of Eternal promises and sacred ordances. I no longer take for granted things I did at one time. Our daughter was born in the covenant. Even though we are divorced, she still has those blessings and promises. My first husband has a great wife. They are wonderful for each other, and are both better people for the blessing of finding each other. I have experienced true, eternal forgiving and forgivness.

One blessing that I am ever grateful for is a lesson of learning. You know we were pretty happy. He and I, and then one day there was a little tiny seed of discontent..and one by one, that seed spread... and with the earthly experiences those seeds were cultivated and pretty soon there was a rage of pain and sin.

I am very much blessed now, I think... with the ability to recognize tiny seeds and weed them out of my garden instantly. For that lesson I will be eternally grateful.

3/26/2006 12:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Nichole said...

Lisa - I'm so touched by your comment! I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk about their divorce this way. You must be an amazing person to have such a positive outlook on something so painful. You're inspiring to those of us dealing with tiny seeds and life problems in general. Thanks so much.

3/26/2006 01:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Proud Daughter of Eve said...

I'm still hoping that my parents can somehow pull through but I suppose one benefit I could say I've gotten out of the mess and pain is a determination to talk things out and work things through. Like Lisa, I have learned how to weed, prune and nuture my marriage and I'll be tarred and feathered before I let it fail.

3/26/2006 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

I was 17 when my parents divorced. Im 33 now, and it still effects me, as crazy as that sounds. I was a horrible age for my parents to let it all fall apart, and I won't even tell you how bad it all was. My younger brothers were spared a lot of the details I had to deal with, mercifully. To say I went off the deep-end emotionally is an understatement.

What good has come of it? Well, I am soooo totally commited to my own marriage- the "D" word is never, ever used, no matter how hard things may be at any given moment. It's just off-the-table. I know what divorce does to a family, and to children, no matter how it's presented.

My kids do have three-grandpa's. That's good. My step-father is a good man, once I got over my mom leaving my dad for him. That took about 10 years. But he loves my kids, and treats my mother extremely well. My dad has not remarried- but my relationship with him is better than it ever has been. That is a blessing.

I understand ther are times when divorce is called for- abuse is never acceptable. But I do think far too many people use it as a conveneient out when things get a little rocky. Selfishness and self-centeredness were the reasons my childhood family fell apart, and while we are ok now, I'll never be sure the scars were worth it.

3/26/2006 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger Thoroughly Mormon Millie said...

Wow, what a question... I'd probably have to echo Tracy's thoughts. My parents' divorce shattered our family, but because of what my siblings and I went through, the D word will never be an option at our house either.

My dad was verbally abusive and my mom was usually his target. If nothing else, the divorce taught me that no woman should stay with a man who makes her feel worthless. My mom is strong and stuck it out for 20 years before she ultimately left. She went on to marry #2 (also a mistake) and then #3. This one's a keeper.

He's a wonderful man and an awesome grandfather to the grandchildren, but sadly, I find myself feeling numb toward him. I'm happy for them, but because of her history, I just won't ever feel as close to him as my mom would like me to.

3/26/2006 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

My father never supported us, he was drunk most of the time, and he broke several of my mother's bones, lots of blood involved. I watched him beat her teeth out.

And still, when she left him, I was devastated.

I made a mistake in marrying my second husband (my first husband had died) and divorced him 10 months later. Marrying him was one of the biggest mistakes I've ever made, divorce was the right thing to do and I thank God I had the courage to go through with it. I went through hell for at least a year and I still have bad feelings toward him, although he's dead. (He died after our divorce).

I don't think divorce can ever be a blessing, it's one of the most terrible things a person goes through, it was worse than my husband's death, but it can be the right thing to do.

3/26/2006 10:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Male point of view - My life was turned upside down about 20 years ago when my wife and I seperated. All of my eternal dreams were shattered by her FREE AGENCY. What a word. Basically she decided the Church was not true and there was no reason to maintain marriage vows. My SP told me that he felt inspired to tell me the Lord wanted me to divorce her. That I had endured enough and the Lord would provide me a wife who would love me and keep the commandments. All of this has come true. I have a wonderful wife who loves me and I love her and we have enjoyed life together.

The part about divorce that is so hard is the way the leaders and members of the Church still treat us after all these years. We have moved several times and every time we get a new Bishop, he wants to know the details of why we divorced our previous spouses. When I moved out of the house my first Bishop told me to go find another Church because they were a family Ward and I could not have Home Teachers. The second Bishop told me I could not have a church calling because I was geting a divorce. Then I could not have a church calling because I had gotten a divorce. I went for years without a church calling simply because my ex-wife used her FREE AGENCY. I did not hold a church calling until after I had married my second wife.

The worst part is - what if she had not been so bad and I had stayed with her all these years and spent my life in misery for the sake of being an eternal family.

I will talke about that at another time.

3/27/2006 12:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At age 11 my parents got divorced, and it really really hurt at first. As weeks and months turned in to years I saw my Moms happiness grow, and my dads situation get worse and worse. You see my dad was cheating on my Mom, and live all but a Christ like life. I adored my father, and thought it was the best, until I learned the truth. I wanted to emulate him, and if my Mom had not divorced him I might have. With out my dad horrible influence around me anymore my Mother was able to help me, and shaped me into a good, loving person. That divorce was a major blessing.

3/27/2006 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger annegb said...

Anonymous, my experience does not reflect yours at all. My husband has been divorced twice and a lot of people don't even know it. Nobody has asked about it, surely not our bishop.

I actually bring the fact that we've both been married multiple times up a lot because I want others to feel more comfortable in case they're divorced.

That might make sense grammatically. Oh well.

3/27/2006 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger annegb said...

Anonymous, my experience does not reflect yours at all. My husband has been divorced twice and a lot of people don't even know it. Nobody has asked about it, surely not our bishop.

I actually bring the fact that we've both been married multiple times up a lot because I want others to feel more comfortable in case they're divorced.

That might make sense grammatically. Oh well.

3/27/2006 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger annegb said...

I meant male anonymous.

3/27/2006 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Thoroughly Mormon Millie said...

Divorce is a word, like cancer, that people used to whisper - it was that horrific. Many of the leaders still have that mindset.

I've dealt with divorce-ist leaders too... and lived to tell the tale. You chalk it up to naivete and forgive them. Or, you do like my parents did and leave the Church over it. I personally prefer my way. It's made me a lot happier.

3/27/2006 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie J said...

My parents signed their divorce papers 2 weeks ago. They were married for 30 years. My mom left my dad. It was devastating at first and I couldn't understand how she could not be happy with him. He is such a stalwart, amazing, strong, kind man who loves my mom with all his heart.

It is a horrible thing to go through and I don't wish it on anyone, but I think my dad will be happier. My mom is super controlling and verbally abusive and it was not a healthy marriage dispite what my dad did to try to make it work, time after time.

My dad's testimony in the Savior is what gets him through this. Calmly he says that the Spirit has told him this is the right thing to do. That is one good thing that has come out of it--my faith and my love for my dad has grown.

3/27/2006 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Jinjer said...

My parents divorced when I was 5. It's amazing how much it affected me, even at that young age. I have had issues trusting men my whole life. Luckily, I found a great man who stuck by me through all of my "tests". We have been married 7 years now.

One blessing that has come from my parents divorce is that I really took a lot of time in getting to know my husband (we dated 3 years). I think some people jump into marriage too lightly and then when it is hard, they just decide to leave. I don’t think they realize that a lot of times, it would be easier to stay in the marriage and work on it rather than deal with all the often unforeseen repercussions of the divorce. Don’t get me wrong, there are surely times when divorce is warranted like abuse, adultery, and other circumstances. I am just saying that marriage is often jumped into too quickly without seeing your future partner in all different circumstances and lights and also that once a marriage partner is chosen and problems arise, divorce is jumped into too quickly as an “easy way” out of the problems.

3/27/2006 02:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was married for 10 years to a women who finally let me in on her life of infidelity. That revelation hurt a lot, as did the notion that I had defended her on numerous occasions. I felt debtrayed, though I think I always kind of knew about what she was doing.

I have to say, I'm not glad to have gone through what I went through. But it has been a blessing. I too learned a lot about myself and in the end married a woman 1000% superior to my former spouse. In the end, after all the dark things I had to pass through, I was blessed a thousandfold.

I still sometimes wish, though, that my ex-wife has been held accountable before church authorities for that she did. I guess I'll never know.

3/27/2006 03:36:00 PM  
Anonymous jamisue said...

OK, this is really personal and I can't believe I'm posting this but . . . I was 19 when my parents divorced and I had been begging my mom to do it for years! My parents were not good together! Although I had been begging and preparing for years, when it happened, it still felt like the carpet had been yanked out from under me. Literally. Your whole foundation is gone and you find yourself having to completely rebuild and redefine who you are.

When thoughtfully and prayerfully mulling the whole rebuilding thing I started with the premise that my foundation would have to be someone/something constant and infallible. As my parents had shown, people were neither constant nor infallible. But I also knew that no matter what happened in my life, I would always be a part of it, because after all, it was my life. Then I remembered Matthew 7:24-25 and knew I had my answer. The Gospel was both constant and infallible. So from then on, I knew that if I built my life on the Gospel, and lived the principles (something over which I had complete control), my rock of a foundation would never waiver even if the rain and wind came.

In the end, not only did the divorce make my parents much better people to be with, it strengthened my testimony exponentially and really was a blessing.

3/27/2006 05:08:00 PM  
Anonymous funnyfunnyhaha` said...

I wonder if perhaps your question is a little off. You say, "I have yet to find someone [who] has LOVED their experience with divorce." I've read the other 17 comments and thought about my own experience and those of my close friends and this is what I think.

Most people who divorce now (something like 90%) are in their 20s and have no children. Me and my first husband fit into this category. We married when we were 22. He was (is) brilliant and charming. We were in love. We couldn't imagine a future apart. We were going to have brilliant careers and a beautiful home and lovely children. We got along well with each other's families.

I'm sure that all could have worked out, but it didn't. We talked about moving to San Francisco after graduation. I would go so far as to say we'd agreed to move to San Francisco. He went through the motions of applying for graduate school at Berkeley. After the deadline, he told me he'd never sent the application because the school where we went as undergraduates had offered him the fellowship and a prestigious teaching award and he wasn't ready to pass that up. I think we both should have looked at what was obviously a communication problem then. But we didn't. I got a job that paid well but that wasn't my field or interest while my husband studied classics and received awards and intellectual encouragement. We stopped talking about a lot of things because we were busy and our lives involved different things--his, rigorous academics and mine, risk management.

When I tried to talk about my growing discontent with anyone--my parents, his parents, church leaders--I got an answer that was entirely inadequate. Support him. Make an effort to be there emotionally. Make sure you eat dinner together. Always put him first. Remember that he'll be supporting you in the future, and this is just a test. I don't want to take umbrage at such advice, but I think it's outdated. Marriage does not consist of a leader and follower, at least not by my definition. In order for our marriage to work, we'd have had to support each other, we'd both need to make the effort to be there emotionally for one another. By making it entirely my responsibility to fix our flailing marriage (it wasn't failing yet) the support system of our families really broke down. My life was stalled. I didn't get married in order to cut off opportunities and compromise (at 22) all my goals and dreams. By 24, I was felt like a ghost in my life.

I resent people who choose which of their parents are at fault for divorce, or who blame their spouses or themselves for divorce. In most cases, physical abuse and adultery do not result in divorce. People divorce because of personality conflicts and financial problems. These reasons are far less glamorous than "he left my mother for his secretary" or "he smashed in my mother's teeth but it still took her 17 years to leave him." Most people are not long-suffering, even in eternal marriages. And 70% of the time, couples successfully overcome infidelity with counseling.

My ex-husband began a relationship with another graduate student in his program. We were young, owned no property and had no children. I moved to New York. We began to get along better during our separation. Then I discovered that his girlfriend was living with him. I'd lived in New York for less than two years and couldn't file for divorce here. He didn't want to divorce me. He said he was still in love with me, that he was so confused, that it felt like what was happening was an interuption of regular programming but we'd get over it and the show would go on. I wanted that to be true more than I can even express. My ex-husband is so smart and so funny, so really likeable.

By the time we divorced, I had begun to pursue other relationships. His relationship with his girlfriend ended and he was ready to move to New York and I realized that that was the last thing I wanted. We were both fairly uncompromising. We wanted different things but didn't want to have to tell our families.

The process by which divorce occurs is bitter and a little dissatisfying. We separated a bank account we had in common and credit cards. We settled our taxes and changed our 401Ks. I got some nice dishes. He got a nice couch. My parents stopped talking to his family, I think to show support to me. I'm still close with his parents, but I haven't spoken with him in 5 years. Nobody helps you separate things like family or loyalties or interests or friends or feelings or the disappointment you feel from that person who was so much a part of you and now isn't.

I think that's why people hate divorce, even when the outcome is so much more desirable than the marriage. Divorce leaves so much unresolved, and it's our job to work out those unresolved things without judging or becoming bitter or defensive or emotionally crippled.

Nobody loves divorce. It's an imperfect solution to a difficult situation. But I was so relieved to be divorced in the end. I could date people without the weirdness of an indefinite separation. I could suddenly imagine a marriage that would work. And I eventually met my husband and got married and had a really lovely child. That's a blessing.

3/27/2006 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger Kage said...

My parents divorce was the first defining moment of my life. The second was when my biological father gave me up for adoption to my step father. Being adopted at age 12 was such an oddity. I had my bio-mom and a new dad. My bio-dad's blood was running through my veins, but his fathering me was wiped clean from all state records. I was issued a new birth certificate with my step-dad...I could now become a Canadian Citizen if I wanted.

I have always had questions about temple sealings. My mom and dad's was cancelled, and my mom remarried and was sealed in the temple and I adopted, but never sealed to my new dad. Where does this leave me?

It took me until my early twenties to forgive my bio-dad. But what a relief that day was. I am fully who I am today because of all three of my parents. I love myself, so no matter what difficult and painful path it took me to get to this place, I have to see my life as a blessed life.

And unlike Jinjer, I married at the age of 19 and 4 months, after knowing my 6-years-older-than-me fiance for only 10 months. I learned a lot about what kind of man I wanted..and once I met him, I married him. 8 years later we are really great.

3/27/2006 09:04:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

Kage, I think where it leaves you is sealed to your biological parents. My understanding is that these things will be worked out sometime in the eternities.

But ultimately, won't we be couples basically, I mean,you would be with your spouse?

My stepchildren, who I have helped raise, are still sealed to my husband and his former wife. They were permitted to come into the sealing room when my husband and I had my son sealed to us. We were able to do this without adoption because my son's father was deceased.

Because of my crazy family history, I was ready to jump on the divorce bandwagon every time something went wrong, it was an emotional blackmailing tool. My husband just has been so constant that we are still together.

And, for the moment, glad of it.

However, looking back, his former wife very much regrets divorcing him, solely because of the way it affected their children.

I wonder if there is a new generation who looks at divorce differently, though, not such a stigma, just a part of life.

3/28/2006 02:09:00 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

My question did have somewhat of a sarcastic tone to it --although it was a serious question as well.

I think it's plain to see in these comments that divorce is not fun. It's not easy. It's not even desirable. But I guess I was curious to see how other people dealt with it; what other good came from it and how blessings can be found in the wake of tragedy.

Thanks to everyone for your experiences. It's really helped me to understand how badly I don't want to end up a statistic. DH and I also vowed the "d" word would never enter our home...mostly because of his experiences with his parents.

Oh, and kage, you're not alone. Although DH's parents were divorced while he was on his mission, we were married less than a year after he got home. We dated for 5 months, were engaged for 3 --and we're working on year #8. I guess it's true that finding the "right" one is important--but more importantly, make your spouse the right one AFTER marriage.

(P.S. That wasn't meant as a conlcusion to the thread...if others have comments, post away!)

3/28/2006 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger FrogLegs said...

I was divorced at age 23, kiddo was 13 months old. It HAS blessed my life-- GREATLY.

Just read other comments-- and I agree with lisa...

My ex, his wife, me & my husband all get along-- even stay at each other's places. Our son has a HUGE family, and is well loved. I couldn't ask for more.

What I learned about it after, was a life changing hit in the gut--- I became me again... and learned so muh more about myself than I thought possible.

3/29/2006 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Leslie said...

My parents divorced when I was 17. The divorce wasn't the hard part - they handled it like adults and we all got through it ok. Sure, it's hard and it sucks - but what sucks worse were the years prior when they "stayed together for the kids". They suffered it out until I was out of high school - they didn't fight or scream, they just acted like roommates and had grown so far apart. They are now both happily remarried to the right people and I have some wonderful people in my life I never would have if the divorce hadn't happened. I am so saddened by the thought that we might still be having awkward and dysfunctional family get togethers instead of the warm and wonderful times we have now. The only part of the divorce I have yet to get over is how the people in our ward treated my parents and us. I am still trying to get over the horrible actions and comments we experienced.

3/31/2006 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am both a child of divorce and a divorced mother of 6. My active, high priest, bishopric member husband of 18 years left me 8 years ago (and is on his 4th wife now).

I can honestly say that I am personally better off without him in my life in just about any way you can imagine - financially, socially, spiritually... I can't say the same for my children, however. My two oldest were in high school when their dad walked out and they're doing okay. One's married in the temple, the other is a recently return missionary. My middle two were in Jr. High when he left and they're both completely inactive in the church (although they're both doing great academically and athletically in college). My two youngest still live with me, and they're doing okay, but I know it pains them to live away from their dad and to see him make the bonehead mistakes he does (see the comment above about wife #4...) Time will tell I suppose.

3/31/2006 06:18:00 PM  
Anonymous ari said...

my parents separated when i was 13, but they eventually 'reconciled.' I was in college at the time, and when they moved back into the same house, it was almost as weird as the separation.

when i was little, the kids were the center of our family. i have vivid memories of little things--riding bikes around our small town, collecting aluminum cans to take to the recycler to get a couple of dollars to buy gum or goldfish at Woolworths, playing Barbies with my sisters, memorizing scriptures for primary and telling each other our talks as practice.

My parents were a sort of protective presence, invulnerable, there at dinner, making sure we got on the bus in the morning, following up on homework, helping us plan our rotating "lessons" for FHE, reliable, trustworthy, like the cell wall that surrounded the nucleus formed by me and my siblings. We lived in a single world, represented by a single house. My parents shared a room and a bed. Parents was not plural.

My parents separated 'for work,' but the strain of separation was too great and launched our world into utter chaos. We never saw my dad because he lived 300 miles away. When he was home, he was tired and irritable. We weren't allowed to hang out with our friends or go to church dances or anything since we needed to be spending time with our dad. But we didn't do anything. My parents would argue. My mom lost weight. Their differences became more pronounced. We moved to Arizona with little warning without my dad and the temporary separation for work became indefinite and the result of muddied issues of lack of trust and possible infidelity by my dad and a million other little things.

My parents replaced us as the nucleii of their worlds, which were wholly separate. My older sister knew things before me, things I didn't know, was asked to keep secrets which she would share with me and then I'd have to keep them, too. How to explain, for instance, that my dad was only asking for two of his eight children in his custody petition, and I wasn't one of them? My little brother was so mad at my mom, but my dad was divorcing him, too, but I couldn't tell him that because I wasn't supposed to know because my mom had only told my older sister, who wasn't supposed to tell me. In this way we were isolated from one another and we lost the singular sense of belonging which characterized BEFORE.

We never recovered. I struggle with the awful sense that nothing is permanent. My parents were married in the temple, but I have no concept of what that means or whether it's important. When people speak of God as our heavenly father, I feel like I've been presented with a concept beyond my scope.

Divorce inverts family relationships. Children are marginalized. Parents have one home and one set of expectations and beliefs, but their children, even in the best scenario, are forced to travel between two homes and negotiate two sets of expectations and beliefs. Perhaps the blessing is in learning not to judge, learning to let go of anger, learning to be self-reliant, but I think there are other ways to learn those lessons.

4/05/2006 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

My heart goes out to all of you who have had your lives effected by divorce. I personally haven't been effect much by it but I have two sisters and a good friend who are divorced and I have see the positives and negatives of it in their lives. We must not judge just love and realize what a trial it must be for those who have gone through it.

4/12/2006 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous sarah said...

I am leaving my husband after 6 years of marragie, per his request. We have a 3 yr old girl. How do I explain to her what is going on and when she is going to see her dad? I am going to be officially out by May 14
please respond as quickly as possible. Any adviceis greatly appreciated, and will be taken into great consideration. Thanks

5/05/2006 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger TYung said...

RE: sarah said...
My divorce from my wife was decided by her. However, we both sat down with our children and explained what was going to happen. If your husband asked for the divorce, then he should be there with you, at least, when either you or he tells your daughter about the divorce. This way neither person ended up being the "bad guy" because we were both there.

8/08/2006 04:39:00 AM  
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