This friend of mine, we’ll call him “Sam,” recently shared a bit about his life at a group gathering. With his wife next to him, the two shared how one incident (they did not elaborate) nearly caused them to divorce. The point of their discussion wasn’t to dredge up the past, but to encourage other couples to work it out for the sake of their children. They were passionate in their plea to others who might be contemplating divorce to seek counseling.
I can attest to the other side of this because I’m one of America’s divorce statistics. Sadly, I now am forced to have regular appointments with my daughter instead of a normal life where I should be able to come home and have another evening to watch her grow up, help her with her homework or simply watch television together. I use the word “sadly” because it’s not the way families should be. It’s certainly not the way God intended it. I can’t take her to the daddy-daughter dance in town that happens only once a year because it’s not my weekend with her. Every year I say “maybe next year,” and then next year comes and it falls on the weekend that she’s with her mother.
Sam and his wife are your every-day young couple with children. The family picture is the quintessential portrait of the happy family. You can see joy in their eyes, especially in those of the children.
I told Sam after church recently that I think divorce robs that joy from people, especially the children. Not only do they have their joy stolen from them, but I’d argue that they lose their very childhood in the process, even if they continue in some or most of the activities they once participated in. I’ve seen it in my own daughter. The smile that once radiated and glowed is gone. She can still smile, but everything that was behind that smile seems absent.
Most of us know couples, or you may be in that relationship yourself, that are on the verge of divorce. You’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work. You don’t even want to go home from work because you know whatever you say or do can’t be good enough and will escalate into an argument. You’d rather stay at work if you could and avoid the pain you know is on the other side of the door when you walk in. You may even become physically ill before going home because of the pain you know is just around the corner.
Help is out there. For those who’ve signed the divorce papers it’s there in the form of friendships, counseling and your local church. Don’t discount your church because that’s the single-most valuable relationship you have in finding recovery. For those who might only be contemplating divorce, I say the same thing… find help in your local church and with professionals if necessary. I personally know folks who’ve sought counseling and help to heal their own marriages and their lives are blessed now because they did. Certainly their children are blessed because of it and will not have to discover the pain of being split between two people who once loved each other beyond words, but who now cannot stand to be in the same room together.
The first hurdle you need to jump may not even the hardest one. Knowing you need help is pretty easy; admitting it then finding it can be more difficult. The biggest hurdle may come in trying to overcome the embarrassment of admitting to another human being that you can’t hold it together. Don’t let that be a stumbling block. Another friend of mine likens it to going to the hospital: you know you need medical help and the treatment is likely going to be painful, but your condition, if left untreated, will become much worse, and may even be fatal.
As hard as it is, you’ll need to swallow your pride and allow another human being to enter your lives and work to heal the two of you, and maybe even your whole family. Whatever the obstacle, get the help you need. Do it for yourself and your spouse; do it for your children and your grandchildren. But by all means, do it!