What I Learned From My Parents Divorce

This year my parents celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, but not to each other.  I am part of the largest generation to experience divorce; single parenting, co-parenting, step parenting and the like.  My senior year in high school, four years after my parents divorced, they re-married.  Divorce was devastating for our family, but we have each healed in our own way.

For the record, I am pro marriage. I love my husband and I cannot imagine a day without him.  We work hard to keep our marriage strong, somedays more than others…. and my parents, they did too.  Sadly, circumstances oftentimes over shadow hard work and compromise. And sometimes even counseling cannot bring forgiveness, restoration or save a marriage.

Divorce is a tragic ending to marriage. It saddens me every time I hear a friend tell me that their marriage is ending.  Friends that I stood beside as they promised faithfulness.  Friends that married their best friends.  Friends that had been married for decades. Friends, just like us and just like my parents.  I don’t believe anyone enters marriage thinking that someday it will end. The reality of our sinfulness means that marriages end!

But, I believe that the family created within the beauty of marriage never ends.  Sure, the family may be a little bruised or fractured, but the family is never broken beyond repair. While counseling may not bring forgiveness or restoration, God can!  My family is living proof of this fact.  The dysfunction that resided within the walls of our family home was tragic.  If God can mend our hearts, I know He can mend yours too.

My parents were young when they married each other, at least according to today’s standards.  They were still in college and struggled financially while my dad finished college.  I am one of three children that my parents raised as they built the beginning of their lives together.  We were sixteen, twelve and five when they separated.

Instead of saving their marriage my mother and father decided to save our family.  I don’t know if they would agree with me, but despite what they thought at the time, they did everything right during their divorce. Did they disagree, yes. Did they fight, yes.  Did they say and do hurtful things, a BIG YES!  Were there struggles, of course.

So, how did they do it right?

Above everything else, saving our family and raising healthy children was their priority.  Oftentimes they set pride aside for what was best for the family. I am a better parent, a better spouse, and an overall better person because of what my parents taught me from divorce.  They navigated difficult choices and conversations with humility and mended our family in the only way they knew how, by healing themselves along the way.  As survivors of many hurts in life, they each taught us about overcoming faults and challenges. They modeled for our family how to use brokenness to rise above ourselves and offer forgiveness to those around us.

Their divorce taught me how to live. It taught me about sacrifice. It taught me about compromise. It taught me about self-care.  It taught me about perseverance.  Most of all, it taught me about forgiveness.

I know a few of you are mourning the loss of your marriage.  I know a few of you have healed and are ready to find love again. I know some of you are wondering if ending your marriage is the right thing for your family.  There is not much anyone can say for those muddling through questions of the heart, but I can offer you reassurance in whatever you decide, it will be okay.  Your kids will be okay. You will be okay.  I know this because I am a child of divorce.  I know this because my parents healed and found love again. I know this because we all learned how to move forward with patience, forgiveness, family, grace, and most of all we learned about new beginnings.  And you will too!