How Did You Try to Save Your Parents’ Marriage?

Think about that for a moment. Research shows many adults with divorced parents secretly blame themselves for their parents’ divorce. However, we often skip the step of looking at how we tried to prevent the ship from sinking.

Were you the parent pleaser? You worked to keep the peace at all costs so they’d stay together. Unfortunately, trying to keep your brothers and sisters peaceful was like herding kittens.
Was being the problem kid your solution? Surely if they saw how badly you needed them, they’d stay together.
Maybe perfection was your answer. Be the perfect kid—good grades, clean room, no problems, and they wouldn’t split.

Dr. Judith Siegel writes, “Children are acutely sensitive to the unresolved conflicts between their parents and learn that by acting in a certain way they can prevent a conflict from surfacing and threatening the family as a whole.”1 Consequently, many of us tried to do something, but their divorce happened anyway. So why talk about this now?

Why do we need to know what we did?
Three primary reasons:
First, it’s likely that how you tried to save your parents’ marriage is how you’re trying to “save” your marriage or relationships today. Being the peacemaker, people pleasing, moping, getting into trouble, or trying to earn their love by being perfect is still how you approach situations. The problem is, it didn’t work then, and it’s probably not working now. In fact, it’s likely making things worse. (I.e. the “harder” you try, the more frustrated your mate gets.)

Second, we are putting our happiness in the hands of other people. We were crushed when our efforts to save our parents’ marriage failed. We respond in a similar way today. When our efforts to mend, heal or fix a relationship problem fail, we’re crushed. And we also fear the result we saw back then will repeat now—the demise of a cherished relationship.

Third, we believe a series of lies like:

  1. We have control over how others respond.
  2. When we fail it’s because we are inadequate or inferior.
  3. Failure is final.
  4. Our worth is dependent on how others react to us.

Clinging to the Truth
This last reason—believing lies—causes the most problems, but God’s truth can overcome the lies.

1. We learn from Adam and Eve that God created man with the freedom to choose. Thus, regardless of how perfect we feel we behave, people can still choose to respond negatively.

2. Failing is part of the human condition. The wisest man ever, King Solomon, wrote, “the righteous falls seven times and rises again.2 However, though we fail, God says we are not failures, we are precious3.
3. We always have worth because we’re created by God. God also confirmed our worth by sending Jesus here to die for us (Romans 5:8).

Whether from divorced families or not, we tend to respond the way we learned to respond as kids. This can be problematic for adults with divorced parents, but, thankfully, God’s truth can trounce the lies that mislead us.

 

1Siegel, Judith P. What Children Learn from Their Parents’ Marriage: It May Be Your Marriage, but It’s Your Child’s Blueprint for Intimacy. Harper Collins, 2010.
2 Proverbs 24:16, ESV.
3 Psalm 139:17

Images
Divorce by Tony Guyton
Bible with Cross Shadow by David Campbell

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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

The Gift of Hope (Pulling Back From Divorce)

Christmas has passed, but gift giving needs to continue. Start with the gift of hope. This month many adult children of divorce are contemplating what they swore they’d never do to their children—filing for divorce.

This is not a sudden whim. Months or years of feeling unloved, disrespected, or fearful they aren’t good enough to keep their spouse, or tired of arguments that raise fearful memories from childhood, have combined with the stresses of life to squeeze out any hope.

Satan whispers “things will never change” and they think, “Now I see why Mom divorced Dad.” “Now Dad’s leaving makes sense.” However, few want to ruin Christmas, so January comes, and the call is made.

These precious individuals need the gift of hope and you can help.

  1. Be a godly ear for them to talk to. You’d be surprised how many people file for divorce without talking to anybody.
  2. Watch their kids on a weekend night so the struggling couple can have time together.
  3. Buy them tickets to a marriage retreat. The Love and Respect conference and Weekend to Remember getaway weekends are excellent. For marriages in serious trouble, Retrouvaille and Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored Marriage Intensive Experience  are proven tools that can help.
  4. Review and have them review our Considering Divorce page. Even those with divorced parents rarely understand the gravity and lifelong consequences of this drastic action.
  5. PUSH! Now is not the time for timidity. Too often I hear, “Well, I don’t want to rock the boat by interfering.” THE BOAT IS SINKING! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by offering tools and hope to the hopeless.Praying woman hands by Long Thiên
  6. The Bible says, “pray without ceasing1 and that, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”Pray for your friend, family member, or coworker’s marriage. Pray for protection from Satan’s attacks of doubt, fear, hate, and selfishness. Pray works!

It’s the biggest month for divorce calls and the lawyers know it. Let’s work together to thwart more divorces by giving the gift of hope this new year.

 
11 Thessalonians, 5:17, ESV
2 James 5:16b, NLT

Images:
Praying woman hands by Long Thiên

Four Types of Adult Children of Divorce

When people ask me what I do it goes like this: “I help adults with divorced parents overcome some of the lingering issues from the divorce, like anger and unforgiveness, so they can have healthy relationships and avoid divorce themselves.” After a polite “That sounds interesting” the conversation comes to a fork in the road.

Step out of yourself by Victoria Nevland croppedPeople from intact-families say the ministry is important and desperately needed. Many share stories of disastrous divorce situations they’ve seen. (It’s amazing how many people have these stories.)

However, individuals from broken homes often raise their defense shields and say very little. Or they’ll comment about how things are going well. Only a small percentage ask questions or touch on their struggles. I think this is due in large part to adults with divorced parents falling into four groups:

  • Delivered – those who really are doing well. Their parents’ break-up has been dealt with in a real, healthy, and ongoing way. They are standing on biblical truth and treating the lies they used to believe as pesky gnats rather than stumbling blocks.  This seems to be the smallest group of the four.
  • Deluded – those who believe they are doing well. A common expression from these folks is, “It was a long time ago and I’m over it.” This belief is fed by TV, movies, and popular internet sites. Unfortunately, they are blind (like I was) Talk to the hand by Matt Foster croppedto the various ways parental divorce can impact our thinking and negatively affect our relationships and marriages. I believe this is the largest group because, if most adult children of divorce really were ok, the divorce rate of those with divorced parents wouldn’t be as high. Also the fear of marriage wouldn’t drive so many to live together.
  • Denied – these know they’re not doing well. They have even connected their troubles to Mom and Dad’s split. But they lack information to overcome (for example) the trust and anger issues they struggle with.
  • Determined – these adult children of divorce are aware of their issues and are actively working to overcome them.

CCK - 'Gunks by G BNow take a moment and honestly assess which group you are in. Would your spouse, friends, or family agree with your answer? I pray you are moving toward the Determined or Delivered group. If the cycle of divorce is to be broken these two groups must grow. The good news is God seeks to help people who want to be delivered.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”1 I’m thankful God continues to work on me. (My wife is too!) However, God wants to work with you too. Will you let Him?

 

1Philippians 1:6, NLT

Photos:
Step out of yourself by Victoria Nevland
Talk to the hand by Matt Foster
CCK – ‘Gunks by G B

The ABC’s of Dealing with Our Parents’ Divorce

When I learned my parents’ divorce was still affecting me, it proved enlightening and overwhelming. Fortunately, manyflattened by questions overwhelmed cropped tools are now available to overcome issues created in us by parental divorce. But in conversations with adults from broken homes, I’ve learned a basic A-B-C approach helps tackle divorce-related issues in our lives.

ABC blocksA. Acknowledge that the impact of their divorce continues. This two minute video discusses the subtle change parental divorce can create in the trajectory of  the kids.

B. Identify how our parents’ divorce still affects us. Kelly Spenser’s Happy Healthy YOU article addresses common challenges adults with split parents face.  As a life coach, Spenser’s perspective is insightful. Her observations reveal we always have a Plan B, sky-high expectations, cautious disbelief, and have a fascination with normal. Spenser’s article yields an intriguing  glimpse at idiosyncrasies that often affect us.

C. Take steps to overcome these issues. Identifying and replacing the lies we believe is a crucial first step. The Bible offers truth that can deliver us from the fear of inadequacy, feelings of unworthiness, anger, and other issues. Holding fast to God’s truth is the only answer when the hurricane-force-winds of deceit try to blow us off course. Though our fears (fed by lies) say otherwise, the Bible says, “With God all things are possible,1God has not given us a spirit of fear,2Cast all your cares on him for he cares for you,3If we confess our sins, he (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,4  and “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.childrenofdivorce.net The truth that God offers love, forgiveness, acceptance, and the power to change can break the chains lies have forged.

Along with your Bible,  Gary Neuman’s book, The Long Way Home: The Powerful 4-Step Plan for Adult Children of Divorce helps identify issues we struggle with individually. It also equips readers with tools to change behaviors that are destructive to themselves and their relationships.

It’s time to free ourselves from habits and routines that produce hurt rather than healing.This A-B-C process can help.

 

http://www.tillsonburgnews.com/2016/01/30/happy-healthy-you
1Matthew 19:26
22 Timothy 1:7
31 Peter 5:7
41 John 1:9
5Romans 5:8
The Long Way Home, Gary Neuman, (Wiley, 2013)

Gifts of Hope this Christmas – War Room

At this “moooost wonderful tiiiiime of the yeeeeear” that can be so stressful on relationships, here is another gift of encouragement for you.War-Room2

The movie “War Room” is now available on DVD. The power of prayer is the theme. You will laugh, cry, and most important, you will have renewed hope in the power of God to heal and restore relationships. Definitely a movie men and women will enjoy, and a fantastic way to start the New Year!

Gifts of Hope this Christmas – Building a Strong Marriage

As we fill our Christmas trees with gifts that are here today and gone tomorrow, why not give something that can last for generations?

The Love and Respect Ministry has a marriage conference on five DVD’s that has helped the marriages of countless couples. These fantastic teaching19th Sept 5 years of mariage by scribbletaylors are a natural complement to this ministry because they focus on what happens when love and respect are missing in a marriage. The lack of love and respect between a couple often triggers the fear of inadequacy, fear of abandonment, trust issues, and anger in adult children of divorce. Left unresolved, these problems often lead to divorce.

The Conversation - Redux by Bill GraceyGuy’s, are you tired of being disrespected? Ladies, are you tired of feeling unloved? Emerson Eggerichs has found an answer that was at our fingertips for centuries in the Bible: “let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.1”

But what does love really look like to a woman? What does respect really look like to a Man? Eggerichs answers these questions, and gives participants tools that can strengthen a good marriage and rebuild a shattered one.

Click here for more info on how you can change your marriage.
Click here to buy the DVD set from their ministry.

This Christmas, give a gift that can change couple’s lives and break the cycle of divorce in the New Year!

1Ephesians 5:33 [ESV]
Photos
19th Sept 5 years of marriage by scribbletaylor
The Conversation – Redux by Bill Gracey