I have 21 things you need to think about before divorcing. My parents divorced when I was about seven years old. My mother picked my two sisters and me up from school early one day and I remember because I was sad I would miss the end of the year class party. We piled in the station wagon filled with clothes, toys and whatever and she told us we were going to see our grandmother for a few weeks. Well, after three months, I said to my mom “when are we going to see daddy?” I don’t remember when she told us she was divorcing our father. This was before we had cell phones, emails, and social media. Years ago before cell phones, you had to pay per minute to make “long distance” calls, so there wasn’t a chance for me to call my dad and talk with him. Wow, how things have changed. It’s probably more expensive today with the cost of cell phones, but we won’t go there right now.
Here’s the deal, we all grow up and are faced with many critical life-changing decisions. Maybe we get married, maybe we have some kids. We have big dreams for our marriage, for our children, and grandchildren. Well, I don’t know about you, but life provides some learning curves when those dreams become shattered. People call me Pollyanna because I have a very optimistic view on life and the “D” word, called divorce. Let me make something clear right now, I am not advocating divorce, not at all. But over the last 50 years or so I have learned a lot about families divorcing. Divorce can be good, bad, and ugly when kids are involved. BUT, divorce can be best dealt with when adults and the kids grow up and realize that we can get through this if we work together and not against each other. This may take years, but it will be worth it if people will consider the kids. Yes, the kids. They need to try and take egos, power struggles, and negative thoughts out of the equation. Let’s get started.
- Divorce may be the best solution if the parents are fighting all the time in front of the kids and no amount of counseling have helped. Are you willing to stay together if no one will stop fighting? I call it, poor example. Will the kids fight in their marriages? Possibly, because this is all they know.
- Bad habits such as excessive drinking are not good in any family. It sets a poor example that may carry on to the next generation. Are you willing to stay in the marriage if alcohol is damaging the vibes in the home? I am not talking about that occasion drink with dinner, not at all. I lived with an alcoholic aunt, enough said.
- What if dad or mom comes home late every night after work, I mean very late. I get it if his or her job takes them away from the family like the military families we see. I understand there may be overtime. I am talking about excessive time away from the family. Parents need to set an example to show kids what a real family is all about. Let’s say the mother is home with the kids day after day and she is doing all the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning and helping the kids with homework. And she works part-time. Is it fair to have the kids think this is a normal way to raise a family? I think not. I have seen families repeat this very same scenario generation after generation. It’s not right.
- Some religions, and probably most, would prefer families did not consider divorce. I get it. I wish life was a huge bowl of cherries. I am not saying give up and get divorced, but please don’t stay married if you are unhappy and there is no love between you and your spouse. Kids can feel the bad aura in the house, trust me, they do. Whether it is good or bad. They are smart little cookies, those cute kids.
- Get counseling, or at least consider it, for the sake of the family. Professional counseling can help if you choose a counselor that’s a good fit. Sometimes counseling works if both parties are willing to learn and listen and work through the stuff.
- Cheating is not acceptable. I think it’s wonderful if you can forgive and move on. Unfortunately, past experience is hard to forget. I am not judging anyone, I’m just saying cheating hurts the entire family. I believe in wedding vows and keeping them. If someone cheats, please look at both sides and stay out of the couple’s life who is trying to work things out.
- I have always heard if you decide to get divorced, never, and I repeat, never talk bad about the parent that you are not blood-related to. In other words, if it’s your daughter, then please don’t ever say anything negative about her ex-husband or his family. It will hurt the kids and confuse them even more. Just bite your tongue and be cordial.
- Remember, divorcing can be expensive. It’s not the first expense, it’s the years of fighting over this person not paying this or not picking up the kids when they are sitting outside on the front porch waiting for the parent who has visitation rights that day or weekend and never shows up.
- The good thing about divorce is sometimes the first set of parents were never a good match and a new angel comes into your family as in a new parent. Is it easy, nope? Is it hard, yes? BUT, you take “blended family” classes and learn how to deal with new step-parents or new siblings. I had a step-father and he was so good to my mother. He took on three young girls too, and it was a good match, for me anyway. I have never liked the word step-dad, he was my dad. He was not my birth father, but he raised me.
- Typically all retirement assets are split after divorcing. If you decide to get divorced think about all your assets and your beneficiaries of your insurance policies as well. Just be fair, you will make this transition so much easier.
- Maybe you no longer have anything in common. You try to enjoy what your partner enjoys doing, but you are miserable the whole time. As we age, our hobbies or ideas change.
- You feel belittled when making meals that are never quite good enough. Your partner is always talking down to you. You’ve had it for years and you have decided enough is enough.
- You know you are not loved and are told so every day.
- You may be blamed for all the bad things in your marriage even though none of them was just one partner’s fault.
- Physical health issues of a spouse or a child can put a strain on any marriage. This one is tough for anyone to handle. My birth father was in an Iron Lung because he had Polio. My grandmother watched my older sister, but I was a baby and was passed back and forth between relatives and friends while my father tried to recover. He got better but then my older sister got Polio.
- Mental and physical abuse of a spouse or child is no way acceptable, but it happens. Please don’t let the abuse continue, stand up and stop it, even if it means going to the police.
- Sexual abuse, this is certainly nothing anyone wants to talk about, but it happens more than we can even comprehend. I have seen a few very religious families torn apart by sexual abuse of their own children. I personally cannot forgive this sin.
- Mental issues, this one is a difficult one as well. I have seen many families suffer from their siblings not staying on their medication for bi-polar and other maladies. It takes patience to get through to doctors to get our loved ones on the right medications only for them to decide they no longer need to take them. They could also be on the wrong type of medication. This is a vicious circle.
- Abandonment is a tough one. We have seen family members just vanish or take their lives for whatever reason they could no longer handle the life they were living. The spouse that is left has to try and explain to the kids why this happened.
- Sometimes a family member is living a double life with two families in different cities. I’m not talking about Polygamy here.
- I live in Utah and have seen women who had no idea their spouse was doing illegal activities right under their noses. The spouses were eventually caught and divorce ended the marriage due to the incarceration of said spouse.
I know I’ve just scratched the surface when it comes to issues relating to divorce. There may be a number of reasons parents decide to end the marriage. Some things I personally wouldn’t tolerate would be spousal or child abuse. If it happens, we’re done! My husband belongs to the National Exchange Club, a civic club that does a lot for their local communities. Their national program is the Prevention Of Child Abuse. If you or someone you know is subjected to this vile situation please check out the Exchange Club and what they can provide.
I hope this helps someone today or next year who may be contemplating divorce. It can be a good, bad or ugly decision. May God bless you and yours when making the right decision for your family.
P.S. Be sure and split the food storage.