Friday, September 25, 2015

Could Divorce Be the Answer?

Scott and I have what some might consider to be a unique relationship. In fact, there could even be a few folks at work still shaking their heads about it. Scott tends to be a bit loud, obnoxious, demanding, grumpy, self-centered -- and those are his better qualities.  I, on the other hand, am a picture of self-control and moderation. Ok, not really, but I am much quieter; much more laid back, and cheery. What really makes us work, is that I was him. I know exactly where he's coming from; and believe it or not, deep inside that hard candy shell of his lies a gooey sweet center just screaming to get out. However, this is also what makes our relationship volatile from time to time: egos butting heads; demands pulling against one another; strengths bulldozing over weaknesses. We get on each others' nerves. But we both know the other is our best friend and the one to whom we made a promise for a lifetime; and we both take the promise more seriously than we do feelings, or nerves, or bad moods, or chicken for the third night in a row, or whatever.

Having such a great relationship, and having had some truly awful ones, makes me sensitive to those dealing with the latter of the two. Right now I know of at least five couples who have begun divorce proceedings, are considering divorce, or fight like it might be in their not-too-distant future. I've heard all kinds of rationalizations -- some of which I believe I might have used before -- as to why divorce is not merely the best option, but the only option. And if they asked me -- which they haven't -- I would tell them divorce just might be inevitable, but the problem is so much bigger than whether to divorce or not, and there's something you need to do first.

Years ago, my ex-husband (now friend) and I willfully, selfishly annihilated our relationship and made a mockery of our marriage. It had gotten emotionally abusive and physically violent. I was so twisted in my thinking, in my expectations that I couldn't even recognize myself. Suicidal thoughts. The "lows" to which I stooped. Hateful things I said... Within a few months, with great counseling and God's grace, things began to turn around -- for me -- and I'd made a decision: to give my husband the divorce he'd been begging for all those years. Talk about freedom! No more stress. No more fighting. I didn't have to hate him anymore. But as we put our names to dozens of sheets of paper, and shelled out even more -- ridiculous amounts -- of "paper," it dawned on me this was never a question of whether or not to divorce, but an issue of my behavior. What choices am I making, regardless of my spouse's?

Divorce is not a great choice, nor should it ever be a first choice; but sometimes, it is the only one. Personal behavior, however, is always a choice; and there are multiple options. Couples who are struggling need to check themselves -- not each other -- repeatedly. How am I responsible for this situation? How will I react to this situation? Will I react? Am I doing all I can to: raise my children properly? communicate kindness to my spouse? remain above the fray? have a good day? set a good example? keep my promise? maintain a peaceful home? a safe home? Whatever. Time and time again I have said, "If I had been then the person I am now, I think we still would have divorced, but I'm certain it would not have caused the damage it did to our children, each other, and anyone else who was collateral damage by the time we were done." It wasn't divorce that left a trail of destruction through the lives of our children, it was the two of us.

Choose wisely.
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