We’ve recently celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. As I look back on our journey, I remembered this situation where I used to scold my husband for talking about Jesus on our dates. But now, I can’t stop talking about Jesus with him.
This article is written for married couples in different stages of their marriage; rocky or otherwise. It’s not for those who are in an abusive marriage, a spouse who’s a serial gambler or cheater, etc.
It’s also for those of you who are thinking of getting married.
Let me begin with the lamest duh-mest statement: Divorce is not pretty.
Of course, it’s not pretty, one would say. Breaking up is painful, and it’s a bloody mess. But after the divorce, it should be a happier future, right?
Well…for some of us who haven’t experience living the mess; months on, years on, I will attempt to share a glimpse of life after divorce.
First up, let me clarify, I ain’t divorced. My husband is. I married a divorcee with the sole custody of his beloved daughter.
Secondly, this is a reflection of my personal experience. If you are living a happily-ever-after unscarred life after divorce, I’m happy for you.
With that said, let’s dive into the most important message of this article:
The consequences of a broken family last a lifetime.
Let me repeat, l-i-f-e-t-i-m-e.
If you don’t read on, just remember the above statement.
Here’re the side-effects of divorce which I’m still dealing with after almost ten years, and on a regular basis.
In no particular order:
- Trying to reduce the pain of the divorce for my step-daughter with more love, but.
- Daughter is tired of going back & forth two houses.
- Daughter is coping with having no say in bio-mum & dad’s plans in moving her around.
- Daughter misses bio-mum and misses dad, but they are not together. Torn.
- Me trying hard not to feel rejected, but.
- Handling the backlash that surfaced from years of the daughter being shuffled back & forth her dad & bio-mum.
- Getting angry at bio-mum for regularly not keeping to her words of sending daughter back on days that she said she would, but.
- Feeling helpless when bio-mum insists on her plans and we can’t confront her because we don’t want daughter to be caught in-between.
- Learning to suppress disappointment when we made plans with daughter but bio-mum decided on a whim not to send her back.
(So you think it won’t be complicated to arrange for your kids to be shuffled over the weekends, or holidays to see the other parent?)
- Me feeling like an idiot when husband talks with daughter and the word ‘mummy’ came up and to the eaves-dropper, that word is obviously not referring to me.
- Daughter during her tender age of seven comes home from seeing her bio-mum and cries her heart out because she misses her. And there’s NOTHING I can do to take that pain away.
- People making statements to me like ‘oh, she’s not your daughter, is it?’
- People making statements to me like ‘why don’t you have one of your OWN? It’s different, you know.’
- People asking ‘does she like you’?
- People ‘advising’ me as a stepmum to leave the raising and disciplining of the child to the father.
- Mother-in-law said a few years back ‘when daughter grows up; she will go back to her mother’.
- I’m scarred. Still not able to rub those statement off my mind.
- Me feeling that because there is no bloody umbilical cord, we may not have that kind of bond as mother & child.
- Whenever I chose to believe otherwise, statement 12-16 came back to haunt me.
- Rinse & repeat.
My ultimate pet peeve is the naivety of parents thinking (hoping?) that their kids will be fine eventually.
Yes, they cope.
No, they are affected and will be for the rest of their lives.
And so will your life.
Note: Item #9 happened today. I was angry. Not at the situation per se, but angry at how the world makes divorce a norm; to end what can be reconciled. So it prompted me to write this article.
I’ve Snapchatted and asked the permission of my daughter if I can share this post because I don’t want to embarrass her. She said yes—it would help other families. And ended her message with I love you, and I miss you. My darling daughter, I will always love you.
18 Oct 2016—I’ve received good response and comments not only on Facebook but Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger as well. Thank you to everyone who took the effort to comment. It encouraged our family. If you think the article will be helpful to someone out there, feel free to share it. Never know who may need it and read it. God bless.
The media has played a big part in influencing people on what is deemed to be ‘the norm’. Giving up on a tough and bad marriage is one of them. From Hollywood movies to Hong Kong soap operas, the message is this: If it’s causing great unhappiness to both parties and there’s no workable solution in sight, then the only solution is to get a divorce.
One of my heart’s burdens is the health and well-being of marriages. It breaks my heart to see marriages falling apart and in the process, dragging everything down with them. Families are torn apart. Children are having to learn how to live a ‘new normal life’ when nothing is normal about broken families – despite what the media is saying to us.
Look, I am not trying to make a suffering relationship sound easy. I am a product of a divorced family, as my parents divorced even before I went to kindergarten. Later in my adult life, I find myself living with the consequences of being in a second marriage relationship; my husband’s second marriage, my first. I have seen firsthand how my step-daughter suffered during her earlier childhood; being torn apart from her shuffling between her biological mother and father, who has sole custody of her. I have had power struggle with his ex-wife for imparting different and conflicting values into my step-daughter. I have screamed through bitter arguments with my husband. At this point, I have to say that while society dictates I call her ‘step-daughter’, in my heart, she is no different to me than a biological child. So it is only for the purpose of this article that I am using the term ‘step-daughter’.
“Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.”- Ephesians 4:2-3
To cut a long story short, our earlier years together was close to being hell on earth as a new ‘blended’ family. It wasn’t until all of us came to know Christ, starting with my husband, then three years later, where I too decided to surrender my life to Him that He took our biggest mistake and made it right.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12
Both of you have to commit to the ‘No exit clause’ in your marriage from the beginning.
We had to learn through the most painful way how not to live life selfishly. We had to learn how to love unconditionally despite seeing how hopeless our relationship seemed to be. I am ever thankful for the lessons, horrible as they were. The hard lessons have taught us to close the exit door of our marriage. We decided that ‘there’s no exit clause’ in this marriage, and we are going to work it out, no matter what.
With our marriage being rooted in God and made stronger, we can give our daughter a stable growing up environment. She has seen the bad and ugly consequences of both husband and wife wanting their way and insisting that their expectations be met. As she is now maturing into a beautiful teen both from the inside and out; I thank God that she too is, growing her roots deeper in Christ. I can’t be any happier for her or love her enough!
By God’s power, I believe that the ‘generational curse’ of bad marriages and divorces from both sides of our family has been broken. It stops at our generation.
My last take on this – If you have yet to make the decision, please don’t give up on your marriage, please don’t get divorced. Get help, seek counselling, pray. Do whatever, but please don’t give up.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Eph. 6:10