This section of my upcoming book “Why didn’t you tell me that? What no one told me about marriage” is titled Voldemort. The title will make sense once you read the section. I did no editing. I just barfed all my thoughts onto the page. Tell me what you think.
Please set aside your disdain for Harry Potter if you have any, and follow my analogy. Voldemort is the villain in Harry Potter. He is so despised and feared that his name is rarely spoken. He is constantly referenced but his name seems to carry extra weight, making him too real for listeners, so it not to be vocalized. My wife and I treat the word divorce the same way. Can you imagine a word that you never want your children to utter? Is there a word that is so disgusting because of its meaning that it cannot be spoken in a positive way? That’s how we treat the word divorce.
Perhaps you’ve stepped into a culture and found that they use words that are normally off limits to you. Divorce is a word and a topic that is treated far too casually. Words have power and when we limit the use of certain words we put them in their proper light. Divorce is toxic. As recently as 2011 our world experienced major toxic situations where nuclear power plants leaked toxic contents that will forever change those regions. Divorce is toxic. Divorce hurts everyone it touches and just like nuclear waste its toxicity doesn’t diminish over time. The word divorce is toxic so we don’t use it in our home. You shouldn’t either. Treat the word like a curse word because it’s harmful and should not be taken lightly.
You may wonder what you should do when your kids ask you what divorce is. Tell them exactly what it is and tell them that it’s something that effects families forever, even after the divorce is finalized. If you really want a word for word explanation then I suggest telling your child, “Divorce is when a married couple chooses to not be married anymore. A vast majority of the time it’s a very bad thing for the mom and dad and especially the kids. Some people believe it is a way to solve their marriage problems but that’s not what it does.”
My wife is a child of divorce. Before the age of ten her home was torn in two. Her world was torn in two. The foundation of her security, her parents, were torn in two. The effects of that divorce are felt over 25 years later. The foundation of my wife’s life was her parents and their split left cracks and spaces in what was supposed to be a solid foundation. Children are not meant to be raised by one parent. It happens all the time but it’s simply not the best way to raise a child. Before you disagree call a single parent and ask them if they’d prefer to raise their children alone or with a loving, supportive spouse. There is a best way to raise your kids and even single parents would agree with that.
No one would advocate for raising a child in a dangerous environment but even kids raised in a hostile environment are usually better off than being raised by 1/2 of a parenting team. I was raised in a hostile home where shouting was common. That same home was also a place where I learned from my mom and dad. I recall many hours sitting in a closet while my parents screamed at one another, their shouts too loud to drown out by my own tears. I was not afraid, I was sad.
Mom and dad, in case you’re reading this, thank you for staying married. You fought a lot and you’re still too hard on each other but I’m eternally grateful that you never quit on your marriage. Doing so would have been quitting on us too. You’re a team, a lousy team at times but still a team. I’m on a team now and sometimes we’re a lousy team too. We’ll never quit though because when we signed up for our team (got married) they told us there would be good times and bad times. It should come as no surprise to any married couple that marriage is hard work. It’s in the contract! They tell you before you even say “I do” that there will be sickness and hard times. Do you remember saying something like this, “…to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”
Marriage is work. The greatest myth of marriage is that once you find the person you’re supposed to marry that things should then be easy. Marriage is never easy because building great things always requires work. People quit when they have to work at keeping their marriage healthy which is just stupid. You don’t burn your yard up because you have to cut the grass. You don’t light your car on fire because you have to put in a new transmission. You don’t rip your teeth out because you have to floss. You don’t quit your job because you have to keep your desk clean. Weak marriages mistake work for making a mistake. Great things take work to make and then maintain. Never mistake work for making a mistake. Your marriage was not a mistake because it’s hard, your marriage is hard because it’s important. Doesn’t it make sense that the most intimate human relationship we ever have might take some work to maintain and grow? Stop spending your emotional energy thinking about quitting and put your energy into not quitting. Fight for your marriage. It’s work because it’s important. Get to work.