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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Stepfamilies and the Holidays

Many adult children of divorce (and their spouses) are networked into a stepfamily. Stepfamilies can add layers of complications to relationships and holiday dynamics.

stepfamily-cartoon-by-dorthy-b-torres

Doing better than “surviving the holidays” begins with understanding what’s really going on. This requires separating fact from fiction. Terry Clark-Jones just posted a strong article titled “Dispel Stepfamily Myths.” She lists ten common stepfamily myths and corresponding truths.The Smart Stepfamily bk

Another organization that offers excellent information about stepfamily dynamics and how to incorporate them successfully is Ron Deals’ Smart Stepfamily ministry. His book and ministry offer solid, truthful, real, and biblical help for all those who are trying to make the stepfamily thing work.

Deep down, our desire is for a family that has “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.”1 Seem impossible? “With God all things are possible.”Committing your ways to God and reviewing these resources can be a strong step toward enjoying the holiday season this year!

 

1Galatians 5:22-23, NLT
2Matthew 19:26, NIV

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Stepfamily Cartoon by Dorthy B. Torres from stepfamilyrochester.org

Did You Call the Attorney Today?

In early January attorneys receive a surge in inquires and requests for appointments that will begin the divorce process. Unfortunately, lawyers will not tell these hurting and desperate souls the truth: things can get better with the right help.

Did you know that most people who file for divorce didn’t seek counseling, didn’t attend any marriage seminars or workshops to help improve their marriage, and probably didn’t tell some of their closest friends they were ending the marriage?

“Psychologist Aaron Beck says that the single belief most toxic to a relationship is the belief that the other person cannot change.”1 However, when lawyers are the only people we talk to, we never hear that our belief is usually mistaken. But it is.

 If your parent’s are divorced, you’ve learned that the only way “things can get better” is to bail—to start over. However, even in cases of adultery marriages have recovered and grown stronger than before the devastating and selfish act. This may seem hard to believe right now, but it’s true.

Do you know what other truths the attorney won’t tell you?

  • A surprising number of divorces are’t due to unfaithfulness. The spouse has simply given up on being happy in the relationship.2
  • 94% of couples in one survey reported that they were glad they didn’t divorce when they were tempted to do so.3
  • If you make HALF the effort and sacrifice you will make for your new spouse, you can save your marriage.family praying together
    • AND spare you and your kids the hassles you still have from your parents’ divorce.
    • AND share the joy of your grandchildren with one person instead of a delegation of ex-spouses and unrelated family members.
    • AND show your kids that marriages can make it through the tough times.
    • AND prove that putting God’s will over your own desires is best in the long run. (Accepting that physical abuse and adultery are not in God’s will)

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.4 This sounds simply, but isn’t always easy to do. However, here are three links that can help. Please take a few minutes to read them before you call or reconnect with your lawyer. You’ll be glad you did!

1) Love and Respect
2) Marriage Missions International
3) The Smart Stepfamily
 

Notes
1The Life You’ve Always Wanted” by John Ortberg, Zondervan, 2002, p. 20.
2Survey Reveals The Real Reason Couples Get Divorced.” Stephanie Castillo. http://www.yourtango.com/201197812/survey-reveals-real-reason-couples-get-divorced
3Should I Divorce?” by Alan Hawkins & Tamara Fackrell. www.utahmarriage.org.
4Ephesians 5:33 [ESV]

Is it Okay to Hate Our Stepparents?

Before you send “hate” mail for me asking this question, may I advise you that Constance Ahrons, theparents-arguing in front of kidsrapist and author of “The Good Divorce,” described divorce-related anger between our parents as, “an extreme rage, vindictiveness, and overpowering bitterness that is felt when a love relationship is ending.”1 I’d say that qualifies as hate among spouses.

Also Valerie Bertinelli2 and Gwyneth Paltrow3 were both quoted using the word “hate” about their exes. So is it ok for parents to hate, but not ok for us to hate the new parents?

Ron Deal, author of The Smart Stepparent, observes  that in the original marriage the kids Family Life Blended logowant their parents to succeed. However, when the new marriage occurs, the kids are ambivalent at best and antagonistic at worst—the brunt of the animosity being aimed at the stepparent. But what happens when the children grow up?

Keep Reading!

A Child-of-Divorce Stepmom Reflects on Doing it Right

In the Huffington Post article “What This Stepmom Learned From Growing Up With Divorced Parents,”Jamie Scrimgeour shares how she felt as a child of divorce dealing with her dad’s girlfriends. How that experience influences her as a stepmom of four kids is an encouraging read.

Jamie Scrimgeour and Her Family

Jamie Scrimgeour and her Family

The question and answer format produces some great nuggets of wisdom on meeting the challenge of creating a successful blended family. Having just written about Ron Deal’s new book “The Smart Stepfamily Marriage“, Jamie’s insights are a good illustration of some of Deal’s points. Click here to see the article.

 

1 What This Stepmom Learned From Growing Up With Divorced Parents,  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-this-stepmom-learned-from-growing-up-with-divorced-parents_562003b5e4b0c5a1ce62a509. Brittany Wong, Divorce Editor, The Huffington Post.  Posted: 10/16/2015 12:25 PM EDT | Edited: 10/19/2015 12:41 PM EDT

New Help for Remarried Spouses in Stepfamilies


The Smart Stepfamily Marriage bk
Millions of children were raised in stepfamilies. Today many of these kids have grown up and become parents or stepparents in their own stepfamilies. Remarriages can be very challenging, but help is available.

I rarely recommend books unless I’ve at least scanned it, but a recent entry warrants this exception. Ron Deal, author of The Smart Stepfamily, has released a new book titled, “The Smart Stepfamily Marriage.”This work, co-written by family therapist Dave Olsen, starts by calibrating the “CPS” or Couple Positioning System. “It provides a map for couples on the unique journey of remarriage.1 This is a critical first step because remarried couples bring so much past into the new union.

The Smart Stepfamily bkRon deal has a decades-long ministry focused on helping stepfamilies cope with the endless challenges that are unique to stepfamilies. His material is real, biblical, and each page has helpful nuggets; some of which may be hard to accept because of their where-we-live truthfulness. However it is this where-we-live truthfulness that is the strength of Deal’s books and his ministry. Smart stepfamilies can be found at www.smartstepfamilies.com

The Smart Stepfamily Marriage” and “The Smart Stepfamily” are invaluable tools for spouses and parents in stepfamilies or those planning to create one.

 

1The Smart Stepfamily Marriage, Bethany House Publishers, p. 17.