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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

D*I*V*O*R*C*E

My parents recently celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary. Calling to wish my dad a "Happy Anniversary," I said, "Thanks for staying married, Dad." It was a simple statement, but I meant it with a depth and sincerity he probably didn't realize.

Chuckling, he responded, "Well, you're welcome."

"Seriously," I said. "I know it wasn't always easy." Growing up as the middle of five children (who seemed to have a knack for finding trouble), I remember moments of realizing marriage and parenthood were roles that were probably not all that easy. I saw the stress and tension my parents faced at times, and I remember wondering if they ever thought about not staying together. In a world where divorce touches so many lives, I can't help but wonder how close it came to hitting my own home, and I can't help but feel extreme gratitude that my parents had a good marriage and it was never something I had to deal with.

It must be a natural thing for kids to think about because, right out of the blue last night, my son made a comment that blew me away. In an effort to have a private conversation about a surprise vacation, we shooed the kids out of the bedroom and asked them to give us a minute to talk. My eight-year-old son said, "Why do you need us to leave?"

"Because we need to talk about something that's just between us," I answered.

"Are you getting a divorce?" he asked.

I couldn't believe he would even think such a thing! "No!" I said. "Why in the world would you think that? Do we act like we might get a divorce?" I laughed as I asked the question, finding it funny that my son would even mention that word, especially since my husband and I were sitting on our bed, snuggled up against the headboard smiling and laughing, his arms around me.

"I don't know," he said. And although a slight grin appeared as he spoke, his answer disturbed me. How could he not know that his dad and I had never even thought of the word divorce, that we had a solid, good marriage, that we loved and adored each other, and that we were committed to each other for forever? My mind began racing back through the previous weeks and months, trying to pinpoint anything that might have led to my son's concerns, but nothing came to mind. Although life is full of ups and downs, one constant source of happiness and peace is our marriage (I'm fortunate enough to be married to a truly wonderful man), and I thought for sure my children felt and knew that. I began retracing our daily lives, reviewing all the things Dan and and I do for each other, or the ways in which we have shown our love for each other through service or kind words or hugs or kisses, and I was left to wonder if my children were paying attention, or if these times were enough. Feeling a little sick inside, I realized how important it is to me for my children to feel completely secure about our marriage and their family situation.

When I finally got over my panic, I came to the conclusion that perhaps divorce has become such a common occurrence, it's something most children think about (at least on some level) at one time or another. I know I did as a child, even though my parents were committed to each other and stayed together. Life is not easy, especially family life. Families today are under more stress and pressure than ever before; they are dealing with social, spiritual, physical and political issues never before faced, and as a result, some marriages and families are falling victim to it all, often resulting in broken marriages. I can't help but think it's a silent fear that crosses most children's minds as they begin to grow up and sense the stress their parents are under.

So, keeping this in mind, I've decided to 1-thank my parents more often for staying together, and 2-reassure my own children more often by the way I serve, talk to, and act around my husband. I know many good people and wonderful families who have struggled with this difficult issue, and my heart goes out to them.

So, tonight I think I'll hug my husband even tighter . . . and thank him again for putting up with such an imperfect mother and wife. And from now on, when I feel the urge to wrap my arms around him and tell him how much I love and appreciate him, I'll make sure the kids are watching.:)

6 comments:

Dixie said...

How insightful! Lori, you write so well! Dad and I read your blog together and we laughed and almost cried--our sweet grandchildren are so blessed by your dedication to one another. Good thoughts.

Taffy and Tony said...

I only remember my parents having a major argument once in all my growing up years. But I remember being scared to death that they might get a divorce. I think it's a common fear for kids. I think I'll thank them for staying together. Until you wrote it, I didn't really realize how grateful I am for that, and that I've never expressed that to them.

Brian Daniel said...
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Brian and Rebecca Nate said...

Divorce is an ugly part of life. I never remember my parents fighting when I was a kid. I always thought they got along great. After I got married, I asked my mom how they always got along. She told me they did fight, but not in front of us kids. She said that they never wanted their kids to think they didn't love each other or their family. I thought that was great advice and I think that if we can try to remember that for our kids it would help out a lot. I'm definitely not perfect, but if I find myself saying something I shouldn't be in front of my kids, I always apologize to them, and Brian, for saying it.

jaypee | enjayneer.com said...
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jaypee | enjayneer.com said...

Well, for me, getting a divorce really needs a lot of planning. Also you couples should take into consideration on what would their kids feel about it. Some planners and organizes that help in the recovery are also very helpful. When me and my wife divorced, I let my kids use this c-planner-manager planner from http://4help.to/children. And there was no doubt that they helped my kids.