Support Group for Adults with Divorced Parents in Southeast Michigan

I am excited to announce that I will be co-leading a support group for adults with divorced parents starting in May.  Please contact Sycamore Counseling Services for more information.

Here is a video with a brief description of who this group is for.

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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

There are No Gray Shades Here: Sexual Wounds and the ACOD

unworthy woman 1Where can you go if you struggle with sexual guilt, addiction, confusion, hurt, or shame? Research shows that adult children of divorce (ACOD) begin sexual activity at a younger age than those from intact families1 and have more sexual partners2 which can create sexual unfulfillment in relationships. Father hunger is also a significant source of love-seeking sexuality which often creates sexual brokenness. These problems combined with the “sexual freedom” of today’s society, can lead to substantially less sexual satisfaction and sexual wounds that continue into adulthood.

Unfortunately, finding helpful, current, scientific, and biblical information on issues of sexuality, without judgement or instilling shame, has been difficult. Fortunately, Dr. Julie Slattery’s ministry, Authentic Intimacy, fills this void.

Slattery states,authentic-intimacy-logo
Practically every woman, young and old, single and married, carries pain, shame, and confusion related to sexuality. 
Authentic Intimacy believes that God intentionally created us as sexual beings, that every sexual choice is a spiritual choice, that sexuality as a powerful metaphor, and that Satan intentionally works to destroy the holy expression of sexuality.” 3

While sexual brokeday-20-imperfect-praise-9-25-10-by-jessica-wimernness affects men and women, Authentic Intimacy predominantly helps women by answering the unspoken and often tough questions related to sexuality and sexual brokenness.

We want women to understand and love their sexual identity in Christ. As a ministry, we disciple women by helping them understand and apply God’s Truth to all questions, pain, and joys of sexuality.”3

If you or someone you know feel guilt, shame, or struggle with obtaining the sexual freedom God offers, click here to connect to Authentic Intimacy and a wealth of loving, truthful, and helpful information.

 

1Ottaway, A. (2010). The impact of parental divorce on the intimate relationships of adult offspring: a review of the literature. Graduate Journal of Counseling Psychology2(1), 5
2Wallerstein, J. The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, (NY, NY: Hyperion, 2000), 188
3http://www.authenticintimacy.com

Images
alone by beautifulflower
Day 20 – Imperfect Praise (9.25.10) by Jessica Wimer

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

Why Cohabitation Hurts Guys Long-term

From time to time there is a flurry of articles on cohabitation vs. marrying. The latest batch mostly claim there is little or no difference between the two. Furthermore, their logic suggests that people eventually marry anyway, so it’s no big deal. But is this the whole picture?living together tiled both

A recent article titled, “Is Marriage the Only answer to Happiness1 was unusual in that it showed both sides of the coin. The upside was “Cohabiting provides people with companionship, intimacy, and everyday assistance just like marriage.”1

Butthe report found that cohabiting relationships tend to be less stable than marriage and that couples would break up within two years.”1

More interesting was what came next. “It (the research) also indicated that the benefits of intimate residential relationships persisted indefinitely for men, but for women the benefits of living together, whether married or not, declined after the first year.” Plenty of research would not include married women in this statement, but I’ve addressed this in other blogs.

The question is, when a man lives with a woman without marrying her, does he do as well as his married peers? Though the experts might differ,  the Bible is clear he doesn’t. However, the reason may surprise you.Couple moving boxes with annoyed woman

Proverbs 27 17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” One way men are “sharpened” is by advice from their wife. Granted, no husband enjoys hearing “truth” from his spouse. (Well, maybe one—there’s always one.) But women were created to help men be better—dare I say—to be more Christ-like.

Now, before I lose all you guys look at Genesis 2. Man is roaming around the Adam and Eve by Lawrence OP 25Garden of Eden. Life is good: sleeping when he wants, burping whenever he wants, not cleaning up after himself, and naming the animals without being told he was doing it wrong. But God looks down and for the first time says, “It is not good.”2 Then God states, “I will make a helper suitable for him.”2 Eve shows up, and the rest is history.

God knew Adam would never be all God desired without guidance from his loving wife, Eve. And this is a big reason why cohabitation hurts men. When iron sharpens iron there are sparks. A woman who doesn’t have the security of a wedding ring is never going to push the envelope and tell the guy what he doesn’t want to hear. Not when there is the risk of him leaving because of “all the nagging.” And her fear increases when kids are added.

Consequently, the guy Sonnet 116 - Marriage of true minds by Robert Chealb 25doesn’t get sharpened the way God intended—never reaches his full God-potential. Hebrews 12:11 says, No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”I’ve been married for 32 years. God has used my wife to “sharpen” me countless times. Did I like it? No. Was it in my best interest? Yes.

So guys, be the man she knows you can be and “put a ring on it.” You’ll be taking the first steps toward receiving blessings from God you can’t imagine!

For more on this subject, click here for articles on myths people believe about living together.

 

1 Is marriage the only answer to happiness?, Han Nguyen, Jan 2, 2016,  http://www.smh.com.au/national/is-marriage-the-only-answer-to-happiness-20151230-glwsu2.html.
2Genesis 2:18
3NIV

Photos
-Couple with boxes – http-//www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/comment/regulars/briefing/article820396.ece
-Adam and Eve by Lawrence OP
-Rings – Sonnet 116 – Marriage of true minds by Robert Chealb

Battling the Fear of Commitment in Relationships

For those seeking a healthy permanent relationship, Elisabeth LaMottes’ book, Overcoming Your Parents’ Divorce takes an insightful and hopeful look at a overcoming your parents' divorce bk LaMotte 50dating/relationship environment that is made even more complicated by our parents’ divorce. It’s strength lies in its almost exclusive focus on the fear of commitment—an issue many other books only give a passing mention.

Though enlightening for the single individual, the book is a worthy read for married adult children of divorce because it explains many of the challenges you probably experienced on your way to matrimony.

Elisabeth Joy LaMotte, an adult child of divorce and therapist in Washington DC, shares many stories from clients who struggled with committing to a relationship—as a direct result of their parents’ split. At times heartbreaking, but scarily applicational, her book always points us to the potential of a positive outcome. The overtone of the book reminded me of Psalm 61:2, “When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

TEngagement Rings by Valshak Suresh 40he book’s approach is summed up by her statement, “In spite of the multiple difficulties that flowed from growing up with divorced parents, it is worth noting some of the positive things that subjects say about their parents’ divorce.”

One of the ways she illustrates this is with generous glimpses from her own life that was fraught with relationship and life challenges brought on by her parents’ breakup. However, despite the rocky road, she has achieved a happy marriage and family.

The chapters in her book gently probe our own histories and faulty attitudes as we watch LaMotte interact with clients that could easily be us. In “Do You Choose Candy Bars Instead of Apples,” LaMotte explores the trap of choosing the sweet but non-nutritious partner versus the individual who is good for us. “Do You Prefer Renting Over Buying” challenges our unconscious tendency to treat our relationships as fleeting because its safer than taking the risk of having a stable relationship end.

Though my dating history is anemic, and I married my only real girlfriend, many of the fears and lies LaMotte reveals in chapter after chapter plagued me during high school, hearts red and white 50college—and well into my marriage. But,  ever hopeful, she has an interesting way of trudging through the muck to find the gold nuggets.

Since many adults with divorced parents are stuck in the fear-of-commitment muck,  LaMotte’s book is a strong tool for those who want a solid relationship, but are secretly afraid of it at the same time.

Overcoming Your Parents’ Divorce is a secular book, but has minimal language and no graphic sexual discussions.

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Heart Image: Engagement Rings by Valshak Suresh

Are Kids Harmed if Their Parents Live Together Instead of Marrying?

Because living together is seen as safer than marriage for many adult children of divorce, I’ve written about cohabitation previously in an effort to dispel the myths that accompany cohabitation (see below.) Today a Huffington Post article by Terry Gaspard caught my attention. Her article “Will Living Together Without Marriage Damage Kids?” gives a stark look at the truth and includes some very scary information. A couple of examples include:heart with keys png

  • U of M research shows two thirds of cohabitating couples in the US will break up before their child’s tenth birthday.1
  • “Compared to marriage, cohabitation furnishes less commitment, stability, sexual fidelity, and safety for romantic partners and their children.”1
  • “Many women view living together as a step towards marriage while many men see it as a test drive.”1

Many of those who decide to live together do so to avoid divorce.Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.  And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”2 Gaspard’s article gives truth that must be considered if adult children of divorce hope to avoid repeating the cycle of divorce they dread. Click here to read the full article.

Check out my previous ACD articles on Cohabitation:

1 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terry-gaspard-msw-licsw/living-together-without-marriage_b_6520118.html
2John 8:31-32, New Living Translation