DivorceI didn’t really intend for there to be a 3rd installment to this discussion on divorce.

But then you all started commenting and emailing.

And since this conversation started with a longing for my friend to hear the stories and perspectives of others- I found myself compiling this post.

First, a couple of different folks pointed me to THIS TIMELY ARTICLE on the long lasting health effects of divorce.  If this research is right, then our emotions aren’t the only things that get permanently scarred when our marriages dissolve.

Second, I got emails from a couple of different friends who are seriously considering getting a divorce.  Each is hurting and wishes they didn’t feel compelled to take this step.  Sadly, both are ladies who feel as if they’ve been abandoned by their husbands.  While the guys are still physically in the picture, these women have been left carrying too much of the burden for their families for way too long while their husbands gave themselves to other things.  Both expressed a desire to see their husbands “man up” and save their marriages.

While I realize there are two sides to every story, as a member of the male half of the species it feels like I’m hearing this kind of stuff way too often.  Come on guys.  Wake up, step up and give your families what you promised and they deserve- your wholehearted love, support, time and selfless leadership.

Finally, several of you were kind enough to share your stories. and thoughts.  Since you’ve said it differently- and likely better- than I have, I wanted to include your comments here.

“When Peter and I went through our pre-marital counseling (8 yrs ago now!) our minister gave us this bit of advice: when engaged and then married, the word ‘divorce’ should be eradicated from your vocabulary. Marriage is a team effort, and teams support each other and work through things together.  It’s not always an easy road but the fulfillment, joy and fun are definitely worth it.

I am not saying we’re anywhere NEAR the ‘perfect’ married couple, however I do wish that advice could be taken to the rest of the world, and taken to heart by those about to be married, and who are already married.”  – Lea

“I think divorce can force you to look at yourself through other people’s eyes. A failing marriage is the result of two people –the fault doesn’t lie with just the one who acted the worst.  To me—-divorce is like looking at yourself naked in a three way mirror. You aren’t going to like what you see—but you can either change stuff to make yourself better or ignore it and make the same choices again and again.

The lessons I learned are priceless- and it didn’t kill me ( but there were days I wanted to just lay down and die) I know who I am now—-and although it isn’t always a pretty picture I can embrace it. I thank God everyday for the trials I went through in my first marriage—and I would repeat the entire painful experience again if it meant getting to the place I am now.”             – Dana

“Divorce to me brings up a physical ripping image. When this subject comes up I often relay the story about friends from CA from our bible study group. (As it turned out two of the five couples divorced that year, plus a dear family member. A tough year.)  Jeremy and I were living about an hour away from town at the time and we were visiting for various reasons and found out when we contacted them to get together that they would be moving out of their apartment that weekend. We offered to help.

It was one of the most difficult things I’ve done. I stood in the garage with my friend as she pointed to boxes and pieces of furniture, “that’s mine, that’s his, I’d like that, he can have that”. She cried, I cried. They hadn’t been married long, hadn’t acquired much stuff, and didn’t have any children. We helped her as best we could and were on our way the next day.

I don’t remember if it was in the car or if I waited until we were home, but I turned to Jeremy (tears in my eyes, voice cracking) and said, “Don’t EVER make me do that. I CAN’T do that.” Just splitting our stuff would have been unbearable, in was too intertwined. I couldn’t even fathom the division of emotional/spiritual/intimate feelings as well.  Unfortunately, we have had to look into the box labeled Divorce, thankfully we were also able to pull ourselves away, and lived to tell about it.”  – Jen

I know this conversation has not only made me appreciate my own marriage, but also made me more sensitive to those who are struggling in theirs.  Hope it has been helpful to you as well.