Are Adult Children of Divorce Doomed to Failing Relationships?

No. However, many issues work against our success that need to be addressed if we are to avoid the negative ACD statistics column. But what are the problem areas?  And how do we handle them?

Dreamstine

First, some issues—and from an unusual source.
Australian entertainment writer, Nigel Gladstone, asked a very unpopular question in the midst of the fluff and gush of the royal wedding. What are the odds Harry and Meghan will divorce?He listed the following negative factors:

  • She’s from America –which has high divorce rates
  • Both are celebrities—who, as a group, have notoriously high divorce rates
  • Both have divorced parents—which increases the odds of divorce 200% compared to those from intact families2
  • People who spend more than $20,000 on their wedding triple their chances of divorce—who would have thunk that?1,3 

Factors I’d add:

  • Interracial marriages can add significant social pressure to the marriage relationship
  • They’ve created a step family—due to her two sons—which often adds divisive internal pressure on the marriage relationship for, at least, the first five to seven years.4

Pixaby

Internal and external pressures
All relationships have internal and external pressures that work against them. Internal pressures include differences of opinion, family or origin differences, emotional baggage, different life goals, spiritual differences, and other things that can create sparks and hurt feelings. ACD add a of lack of trust, anger, the fear of doom, father hunger, and other flawed paradigms to the mix.

External pressures include extended family, children, in-laws, ex’s, social mores, cultural challenges for missionaries, and privacy challenges for celebrities. Unfortunately, few are trained to deal with external and internal pressures on relationships effectively. Consequently, the relationship of the two individuals—the Bible says two sinful individuals—can break under the pressure.

Lowering the odds of divorce
The new royal couple, and every couple around the world that include an adult child of divorce, need to:

  1. Learn about and identify external and internal pressures (particularly ACD related issues) that can negatively affect their relationship. Gary Neuman’s book, The Long Way Home: The Powerful 4-Step Plan for Adult Children of Divorce is an excellent start.
  2. Stepfamilies (or stepfamilies-to-be) should read The Smart StepfaFamilyLife Blended logo (Smart Stepfamily)mily by Ron Deal and review the materials online at Family Life  blended.
  3. Couples considering marriage should pursue premarital counseling, but ACD and blended families especially need premarital counseling that includes marriage and parenting skills, blended marriage issues, and ACD issues.
  4. People who attend church regularly divorce less.3,5 One reason is God is the biggest champion for marriage and provided a textbook for a successful marriage. The Bible includes many guidelines for healthy marriages like, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her(Ephesians 5:25) and “Let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33). Followed in a humble and loving way, marriage can be the safe, nurturing, and loving bond ACD crave.

So “No” our relationships aren’t doomed. Because with God’s help, and our humble submission to His will for our lives, every obstacle can be managed, minimized, or overcome and the cycle of divorce can be broken—even for royalty.

 

1https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/celebrity/what-are-the-odds-harry-and-meghan-will-divorce-20180519-p4zg94.html
2Wolfinger, N. H. (2005). Understanding the divorce cycle: The children of divorce in their own marriages. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
3 Francis‐Tan, A., & Mialon, H. M. (2015). “A Diamond Is Forever” And Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship Between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration. Economic Inquiry, 53(4), 1919-1930.
4 Deal, R. L. (2014). The smart stepfamily: Seven steps to a healthy family. Baker Books.
5 Feldhahn, S. (2014). The Good News about Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths about Marriage and Divorce. Multnomah.

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Woman and Bible – Prayer a Powerful Weapon by abcdz2000

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Primal Loss Through the Eyes of ACD

If you could ask adult children of divorce questions about the impact of their parents’ divorce, what would you ask? More important, how would they answer? Leila Miller found out by asking seventy ACD the same eight questions.  Her book Primal Loss: Now Adult Children of Divorce Speak not only gives their answers, but except for the introduction, the entire book is their answers—no commentary, no “expert opinions,” no “it’s not a big deal” bravado.

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As a result, for me, reading Primal Loss was like drinking orange juice concentrate without the three cups of additional water. I’m used to reading ACD stories that are liberally separated by statistics, comments, etc, so you get a break from the intensity of the parental divorce experience. Miller gives us 100% ACD dialog and it’s a tough read at times. However,  two important things occur as you read: you realize your challenges aren’t unique, and you learn you aren’t crazy because of your challenges (for the most part!).

Miller’s eight questions were:

  1. What effect has your parents’ divorce had on you (the longest chapter)?
  2. What is the difference between how you felt about the divorce as a child and how you feel about it as an adult?
  3. Has your parents’ divorce affected your own marriage or your view of marriage?
  4. What do you want to say to people who say that “children are resilient” and “kids are happy when their parents are happy” and “kids of divorce will be just fine and will go on to live successful lives”?
  5. What would you say directly to your parents about the divorce and how it affected your life than and now? Would you advise them to do things differently, and, if so, what?
  6. What do you want adults in our society to know about how divorce affects the children?
  7. What role has your faith played in your healing?
  8. What would you want to say to any children facing their parents’ divorce today? What would you want to say to those parents considering divorce (leaving out cases of danger)?


How would YOU answer these questions? Does it even matter now with their divorce so long ago? YES! Because your answers (and the emotions surrounding them) are inside you and probably leaking out in various ways (anger, fears, troubled relationships). Also because, as the individuals in the book found, thinking through it helps.

Important recommendations
For those of you who are ACD, before you start reading Primal Loss, I encourage you to let your loved ones know what you’re reading. This is to prepare them for the up and down and all around moods you’ll experience.

I also recommend reading it with a friend or two. The Bible says, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.1 As you read through the chapters, get together weekly and debrief. This will help keep you focused on the healing process God desires you to complete.

Lastly, please leave a comment about how the book affected you. I’m very interested in your thoughts!

 

1Ecclesiastes 4:12, NLT.

Images:
Thinking RFID by Jacob Botter
Girl talk by Nathan Rupert

Billy Graham and Overcoming the Impact of Parental Divorce

With Billy Graham’s passing at 99 years old, we have lost the Moses of our era. It’s difficult to name someone who has had a broader and more positive worldwide impact than Billy Graham. However, he would be the first to say it is not about him, nor has it ever been.

For nearly 60 years Billy Graham taught true healing starts with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Adult Children of Divorce Ministries is committed to helping those who struggle with the residue of parental divorce, and we agree. The video below shares how anyone can be freed from the fears, anger, unforgiveness, father hunger, and other issues common to adults with divorced parents.

Please grab a cup of coffee and watch this. These few minutes could change your life in a wonderful and eternal way.

Who to Call Instead of the Lawyer

Tis the season…for divorce filings. Right after the holidays, people (roughly two-thirds women) will call a lawyer to “explore” how to free themselves from the misery of their marriage.

The first thing the “helpful and understanding” lawyer will do is give advice that is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what needs to happen: “don’t talk to your spouse about this.” Unfortunately,  divide-and-conquer pays their bills, not reconciliation.

Please understand I’m not minimizing:

  • your hurt
  • all you’ve done “to make this work”
  • how unloving or disrespectful your spouse is
  • how unappreciative and unsupportive they are
  • how many prayers have gone unanswered
  • or….fill in the blank.

However, terminating any chance for constructive communication is NOT the answer. “But all we do is argue! We can’t talk without name calling, blame, and hurt.” That may be true, but get real help.

1)   An organization called Focus on the Family‘s sole purpose is to strengthen families. For forty years they’ve had people you can talk to for free. Their number is 800-232-6459. They have a wealth of resources that can help marriages that are even tougher than yours, but more important, they provide a listening ear.

2)   Find a couple that has been married for at least 30 years, treat them to coffee, and spill your guts. An outside and long-term perspective is crucial at this time. Very often you’ll find these couples have weathered storms similar or worse than yours.

3)   Commit or recommit yourself to God. If you’ve never accepted Jesus as your Savior, listen to His words, ““Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”Jesus can help you.

If Jesus is your Savior, act on the words of Psalm 61 verse 2, “when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”2 That rock is Jesus Christ. With God all things are possible. That can include changing your heart and/or the heart of your spouse.

Lastly, if your parents are divorced, please look over the resources on our resource page. Learn how the collapse of your parents’ marriage is greatly affecting how you see yourself, your spouse, and your own marriage. Before you call the lawyer, commit that you will never do to your kids what your parents did to you!

This is the most important blog of the year to share, because the person who needs this information hasn’t told you. In fact they haven’t told anyone. So let’s work together to stop the next wave of divorces…and adult children of divorce.

1Matthew 11:28-30, The Message Bible
2King James Version

Images
Divorce by Tony Guyton

 

Father Hunger, Premarital Sex, and Divorce Pt. 1

To set the stage for this important topic please answer the following questions:

Question #1: Based on the number of sexual partners before marriage, which woman is least likely to divorce.

  • 0 sex partners before marriageselena-places-rhte-ring-on-gregs-finger-by-greg-robleto
  • 1 sex partner
  • 2 sex partners
  • 3-8 sex partners
  • 9+ sex partners

If you picked zero, you’re correct.1 The divorce rate for female virgins is about 6%1 Having one partner was close because the woman tends to marry him—even though premarital sex with even one partner significantly increases the odds of divorce.1 Also a female virgin or one who marries her one partner is likely to attend church regularly—which greatly reduces her chance of divorce.

Question #2: Based on the number of sexual partners before marriage, which woman is most likely to experience divorce.*

  • 0 sex partners before marriagedivorce-by-gerard-van-der-leun
  • 1 sex partner
  • 2 sex partners
  • 3-8 sex partners
  • 9+ sex partners

9+ is incorrect. 3-8 is wrong too. The answer is two. Why?

Nicholas Wolfinger, author of Understanding the Divorce Cycle, and coauthor of Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Love, and Marriage Among African Americans and Latinos, writes, “my best guess rests on the notion of over-emphasized comparisons.1 Basically the woman mentally compares her current husband to her previous lover which opens the door to doubts and temptations.

So where does Father Hunger fit in?

Parental divorce, Father Hunger behaviors which often include multiple sexual partners are commonly linked in research. Writing about the loss of fathers, Dr. Edward Kruk states, “girls manifest an object hunger for males, and in experiencing the emotional loss of their fathers egocentrically as a rejection of them, become susceptible to exploitation by adult men.2 Dr. Beverly Rodgers writes, “Many of these girls lose their virginity at a younger age and have higher rates of promiscuity.”3

What can I do  about father hunger?

If your parents are divorced,

  1. Learn about Father Hunger. Adult Children of Divorced Parents by Beverly and Tom Rodgers, Daughters of Divorce by Terry Gaspard, and Longing for Daddy by Monique Robinson are strong books on this topic.Woman and Bible - Prayer a Powerful Weapon abcdz2000 FCC [A, $, @]
  2. Learn what the Bible says about God as our father. For example:
  • Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.4
  • A father to the fatherless,a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.5
  • How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can’t even count them.6
  1. Regardless of what your past may look like, commit to honoring God with your life today.

 
What can proactively help to head off father hunger?

We’ll look at 19 things that can be done next time.

 

*figures are for divorces prior to the year 2000. After the year 2000 2 partners ranked slightly below 9+.
1 http://family-studies.org/counterintuitive-trends-in-the-link-between-premarital-sex-and-marital-stability/
2 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/co-parenting-after-divorce/201205/father-absence-father-deficit-father-hunger
3 Beverly and Tom Rodgers, Adult Children of Divorced Parents; Making Your Marriage Work.(San Jose, CA: Resource Publications, Inc, 2002) 11.
4Psalm 27:10, NLT
5Psalm 68:5, NIV
6Psalm 139:17, NLT, 1996

Images
Selena places the ring on Greg’s finger by Greg Robleto
Divorce by Gerard Van der Leun
Woman and Bible – Prayer a Powerful Weapon by abcdz2000

Good News for Adults with Divorced Parents

Though adults with divorced parents are up to 200% more likely to divorce than their peers from intact families,1 two books offer us good news.  One is The Good News About Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn. The other is Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship.

Ddaughters-of-divorce-bk-gaspardaughters of Divorce was written by researcher Terry Gaspard and her daughter, Tracy Clifford—both ACDs. It’s a bold, unpolitically correct look at the impact of divorce on daughters. Gaspard’s purpose was to “create a guide that helps daughters of any age overcome the unique legacy of divorce, so they can establish healthy, happy, and long-lasting relationships.”2

With ample research, stories from those she interviewed, and personal reflections from Gaspard and her daughter, Daughters of Divorce is a practical and hopeful book for any woman with divorced parents.

Their seven steps to a successful relationship begin with the sobering and daunting task of restoring our faith in love.3 After reading this goal I asked, “Do we even realize we’ve lost our faith in love?” Gaspard answers this with numerous examples of clients and others who have done just that. Some realizing they have killed Cupid. Others chasing, but never catching him.

A major strength of Gaspard’s work is how she peels back the layers of lies women with divorced parents believe and systematically leads them on a path toward overcoming those lies. While heartily recommending this powerful book, be advised that her views of self-esteem are not rooted in the fact that God created us, therefore our worth is intrinsic—regardless of how we may feel.

The other good news comes from The Good News About Marriage.4 good-news-about-marriage-bk-feldhahnFeldhahn soundly debunks the 50%-of-marriages-end-in-divorce myth, and offers new insights into marriage that have gone unreported by most media.

For example, did you know that nearly 80% of married couples report being happy in their marriages? Have you heard that attending church regularly can lower your chance of divorce by 25-50%?6 Probably not. The Good News About Marriage is full of marriage encouraging and marriage strengthening information like this.

It’s great news for adult children of divorce (who tend to be fearful of divorce) that things are much better on the marriage front than we’ve been led to believe. For those who desire solid relationships, but doubt it’s possible, Gaspard and Feldhahn declare, FULFILLING RELATIONSHIPS AND MARRIAGES ARE POSSIBLE…FOR EVERYONE!!

 

What do ACOD’s Think About Life, Marriage, and God?

Elizabeth Marquardt

Here is a powerful video by researcher and ACOD, Elizabeth Marquardt. She wrote “Between Two Worlds” and whether you are “religious” or not, Marquardt offers a vivid view of the lives of adult children of divorce. Click the link below to watch the video.

I’d also be interested in your thoughts. Does she capture the ACOD experience? Could you relate to the ACOD in the video?

Between Two Worlds: The Spiritual Lives of Children of Divorce