This is hard. This is vulnerable. This is complete exposure, but if it helps one person, it’s worth it.
After almost 30 years of marriage, my parents are divorcing. The divorce will be final later this month. A divorce can take those two people through incredible ups and downs. There are moments of sadness, times of relief, and seasons of depression. After all this time? We’re just going to throw it all away?
What happened with my parents is their own personal business, but I will talk about what happened inside me during this time.
For years, divorce had been a constant threat in my family. Ever since I was a little girl, my parents would fight weekly, big blowup fights, and divorce was promised each time. It never happened. So, by the time I reached my current age, 23, hearing of a divorce would not be too much of a shock for me.
In fact, a few years ago, when my mother would call me while I was away at college, complaining about my dad, I encouraged her to do whatever she needed to do. Even if that meant divorce.
But in the past few years, things seemed to get a lot better. The screaming diminished. The insults were silenced. Relations improved. Or, so I thought.
When my parents announced in April that they were going to divorce, it took me a bit by surprise. I had thought that we were going to be a family forever. I had assumed that their relationship wasn’t that bad.
Through this time, unfortunately my parents deemed it appropriate to seek my counsel. I counseled my mom. I counseled my dad. Remember I’ve had zero relationship experience and these are my own parents. But, I did my best to give them Biblical counsel.
After my counsel was rejected, the divorce was pursued full-force.
I felt defeated. I felt vulnerable. I felt broken.
My parents were no longer my parents. They were real human beings who needed freedom from each other. But, I couldn’t see this at the time. At that time, I screamed, whined, and cried all the time.
“Great.” I thought. “My parents had a shit marriage and now I’m going to have a shit marriage.”
“Where will I spend the holidays? Well, it’s not like we had any real traditions anyway.”
“Do I have to pick a side?”
For a few months, I was on the receiving end of my dad’s complaints about mom and mom’s complaints about dad. I was asked for advice. For my opinion. I was given deep and dark information about many things I had no desire to know. Secrets from 1995 were revealed to me. Specific abuses were described.
My heart was broken. My spirit was abused. There were no boundaries whatsoever.
So, if you’re an adult, or even a teenager, and your parents are getting divorced, hear you this:
- Create boundaries. This is hard for each person and it looks different for every relationship. Check out the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.
- DO NOT feel selfish for keeping distance for the sake of your mental health. You do not owe your parents anything. You don’t have to sacrifice your happiness for their sake.
- DO NOT give advice. It’s not your place, love. They need counseling. If they ask, say “I’d rather not talk about that.” or “It’s not my place.”
- Lean into your Abba in heaven for consolation.
- Remember that your parents’ marriage will not determine how your future marriage will be. Although their actions affect you, they do not rule you. You and God determine your life.
- Have faith. It gets better. It really does.
- Rest with your siblings. Bitch about your parents. Spend time with them. They are your biggest allies right now.
- Find your life apart from your parents. ❤