Graduation season is coming and all across this nation seniors, like yours, are looking ahead to new friends, sweatshirts with the school logo, and Ramen noodles. However, unbeknownst to them, and your child, you (and possibly your spouse too) are waiting for them to leave so you can divorce and move on to “the happiness you deserve.”
While you may be miserable and want out, please don’t think this is “the best” or good for your child. Why? Take this quick true/false quiz
T/F Because they are older, the divorce won’t affect them as much.
False. Divorce at this age makes “trust” and “loyalty” a myth and destroys the strong family foundation they need to launch into life from.
T/F Because they are older, things won’t change that much since they will be away anyway.
False. Think about the first two times your son or daughter will be home from college: Thanksgiving and Christmas. Things won’t change?
T/F Because they are older, they’ll understand that you don’t deserve to live an unfulfilled and unhappy life.
False. They will be confused, hurt, angry, and wear the burden of guilt that you stayed in a miserable relationship because of them.
T/F Because they are older, there won’t be any significant impact on your son or daughter’s future relationships.
False. Your divorce increases the odds of your kids divorcing up to 200% compared to you staying together and working it out.1
So what should you do?
First, confess to God the anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, and hatred you have for your spouse. Jesus said to love your enemy and pray for those who spitefully use you, but He was not referring to staying in a home where physical abuse is occurring or you and the kids are in danger. But, let’s face facts, most divorces don’t involve abuse. They have one or two spouses who are tired and have given up trying anymore.
Second, go to a marriage seminar or retreat. Did you know the majority of people that divorce don’t seek any help other than from their friends? Also did you know “Unhappily married adults who divorced or separated were no happier, on average, than unhappily married adults who stayed married.”2 And “Two out of three unhappily married adults who avoided divorce or separation ended up happily married five years later.”2
So get help. Marriage retreats I recommend include “Love and Respect” and “A Weekend to Remember” by FamilyLife, but there are many other solid Christian weekends that can rekindle the lost flame. And if your spouse won’t go, go by yourself. Take the initiative to give the best graduation gift your child will ever receive – happy parents that stayed married.
Do you know of friends whose parents divorced after they left for college? Please comment below.
1 Wolfinger, N. H. (2005). Understanding the Divorce Cycle: The Children of Divorce in Their Own Marriages. New York: Cambridge University Press.
2Browning, Don, et al. Does divorce make people happy?: Findings from a study of unhappy marriages. New York: Institute for American Values, 2002.
“There Will Be No Divorce” by Lis Ferla
“The Graduate ” by Rik Ruff