Why I care about divorce stories, not statistics

by Kristin on January 31, 2011

in Love, family & community

Q (in panda hat) with her sister and stepsister

Do you see those kids? They’re real people with stories, not statistics.

I’m a little emotional about this. In my piece at the Huffington Post last week (Is Conflict Resolution the Wrong Goal?), a commenter who seems wholly intent on making people feel bad about divorce (which is something that inherently makes you feel crappy all on its own), felt the need to suggest that divorce is the result of a lack of commitment, and children are worse off because of divorce. She/he goes on to link to “numerous scientific studies” that show how divorce harms children, and how stepparents make things worse for the kids, not better. (If you feel inclined to expose yourself to the assault, you’ll have to do lots of scrolling—she/he left numerous comments in response to me and others.)

I responded once, but will not respond again. I usually have a pretty good sense for when dialogue—especially on-line dialogue with someone I don’t know—needs to be shut down, even if there’s a part of me that feels like fighting the fight for the win. But I did begin writing my next, hypothetical response in my head, so I thought I’d get it out here:

Statistics don’t move me, because my family is not a statistic

There are plenty of statistics out there. Anyone with enough time on their hands can find the ones that will support whatever their personal argument is—they can even form their own studies or find “experts” who are willing to produce perfect data for them. I am not interested in “scientific” studies and data. I am interested in real stories.

I am interested in my story—the story of my children, my divorce, my remarriage. I am interested in your stories, too. They don’t have to sound like mine or come to the same conclusion as mine. You just have to be open to sharing them. Those individual stories about real people and real divorces—those matter, so much more than any 1,000 people surveyed.

In my story, divorce eventually emerged as the lesser of two evils. What I mean by that is divorce is never an ideal solution, but sometimes, after lots of counseling and other solutions are pursued, it can be the best solution. There was a time when I didn’t know whether that would turn out to be true, but it has. My children and stepdaughter are more happy and whole and sure of who they are now than they ever were when their parents were in unhealthy marriages. My ex-husband and I have both remarried, and we are also more happy and whole and sure of who we are.

Each of the kids has four parents who are wise, loving and completely devoted to the kids’ best interests. I can see the best traits and qualities of each parent coming out in each child. And all of the parents have figured out ways to work closely together as parenting teams.

My own story might sound too rosy to be true, but people who know me and my family know that it is true. Most of them also know that there’s been plenty of darkness on the way to this happier place. It hasn’t been easy, it’s not perfect, but it’s still a redeemed life.

Happy Birthday to a child of divorce

My firstborn, Q, turns 13 today. It’s hard to imagine where those years have gone, and it seems nearly impossible to trace what has transpired between the day I gave birth to her and this day. Almost everything about my life has changed, from the state I live in to the man I share my life with.

I will never forget the day we told Q that Mama and Papa were going to live in separate houses. She was five, and it was the most heart-wrenching experience of my life. I’m sure this is the image people like my Huffington Post commenter want to shine the spotlight on. But that’s not the whole story.

As I look at Q today, moving gracefully through seventh grade (the year that I was most miserable as a kid), I am in awe. She is kind, fun-loving, thoughtful and helpful. She figure skates, runs cross country and plays her violin with a determination and enthusiasm I envy, and she reads books faster than the library can supply them. Q is confident and modest, and knows how to laugh at herself and comfort others. Sure, she has her “moments,” without a doubt, but she knows without a doubt that she is loved, and she sees healthy examples of love all around her.

Tonight we will go out to dinner to celebrate Q. It’s a family tradition—Jason and I, the girls, my ex-husband, and his wife. We will sit around a table and eat Chinese food, family style, and I will marvel at how much Q has grown and how far we’ve all come.

That’s not my scientific study. That’s my story.

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  • Sarah

    Beautiful, Kristin! (The writing, the story, and your girls)
    I’m remembering holding Q when she was only a few months old. Enjoy your celebration with your lovely daughter.
    -Sarah

  • http://pmerrill.com/ Paul Merrill

    Yes, a beautiful story. And a beautiful picture of how God can redeem hard situations.

    People on the outside of situations love to condemn those facing that challenge. I fall into that trap all too easily.

  • Kirstin

    I’m always surprised about quantity of judgmental second-guessing that surrounds these issues.

    The best any of us can do for our kids is, as you say, surround them with “healthy examples of love.” Healthy examples aren’t always happy or easy examples. Sometimes they involve acknowledging mistakes, backing down from a bad decisions, recognizing the limits of one’s ability to forge a happy example out of a unhappy situation, and putting genuine emotional health ahead of the appearance of stability. Sure, people get divorced for bad reasons that hurt their kids, but they also stay married for equally bad reasons that can be just as harmful.

    My depressive, narcissistic father struggled to control his drinking. My mother stuck it out until I was in college. Were the virtual gold stars she earned for her perseverance worth it? I tend to think not, and I’ve had to unlearn a lot of the lessons she and my father inadvertently taught me in order to thrive in my own marriage and model a healthy relationship for our children.

  • http://pmerrill.com/ Paul Merrill

    Agreed.

    Love your “virtual gold stars” reference – that TOTALLY applies to my sister who stuck it out in a really hard marriage for almost 25 years. Her tenacity was amazing.

    The day her divorce papers were final was one of the happiest days of the last 5 years for her.

    The problems their daughter has faced are about 5% due to divorce and 95% due to other stuff.

  • http://www.mywheelsareturning.com Gary

    I like to use divorce as an example of recognizing human patterns and their functions in my college geography class. Meaning, if we peel away the cultural, social, and personal issues what we see is a functional pattern that works. It serves a purpose: social mobility. We contrast this with the overwhelming negative filter that divorce is portrayed through in the media, particularly when presented with statistics like 50% of weddings end in divorce in 5 years. It’s always presented as “what’s wrong?” It’s an easy exercise, I just ask, “what’s right with divorce?”

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  • http://thatguykc.wordpress.com ThatGuyKC

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I didn’t get the chance to read your HuffPo piece, but considering that I am an adult child of divorce (my parents split when I was 26) and now a stepdad (my “son” lives with us) I don’t think I want to expose myself to that persons spiteful comments.

    I never thought I’d have parents who were divorced or be a stepdad myself, but I can see how my story is more than a statistic. My son is an incredible kid (who also has a love for reading) and I can’t imagine not having him in my life.

    Thank you again for sharing your story.

  • Robin

    Thank you so much for sharing your story (not your stats ;p) – I’d like to share a tiny piece of mine…

    In 2005 I made the most difficult, life-shattering decision of my life. I asked my abusive, sex-addicted husband to leave – I was a stay at home mother with a 3 year old and 18 month old who had never even been left with a babysitter. We’d been through a year of counseling, most of which I attended alone as he’d refused to go, blaming me for our issues – and not only had nothing changed, his behaviors had escalated and I was losing my mind.

    I was terrified, broke, and alone for the first time in my life – and had to find work immediately or lose my home. Beyond the practical issues, I was completely broken inside and unsure of whether or not I was doing the best thing for my children – and I was terrified that they would become just one of the “statistics”…

    Six years later I am proud to say that this was the best decision of my life. My ex-husband was devastated by the loss of his family, but that loss led him to seek help and he is now a healthy person with a loving relationship with his boys. In 2007 (when the boys were just 5 and 3) I remarried the closest friend that I have ever known. He loves my boys as his own, and we have two more children now! Our boys consider him their “real daddy” – and their other dad is their other “real daddy” :) Amazing how much room for love children have in their hearts when they are treated lovingly!! My boys are confident, social, bright, and very comical little creatures – we currently homeschool, but every teacher that they have had has commented that they show no none of the “classic” signs of divorced children. They are amazing kids and they absolutely LOVE their baby brother and sister….

    I would never have imagined that I would one day be a divorced woman, but here I sit – and I am grateful that this option allowed me out of a marriage that was absolutely destroying me and my children. Children who today are a whole lot more than a statistic!

  • http://www.alise-write.com Alise

    Thank you.

    This is true of so many “issues.” It’s easy to have an opinion about issues, but when it’s a real person’s story, those opinions don’t seem to count for much.

    I’m thankful for people who are more interested in my story than my issue.

  • http://www.ordinarymer.com Meredith

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I’ve been feeling frustrated by people like that commenter for a while now, so thank you for saying, so eloquently, what has been on my mind. As an adult who grew up with divorced parents, sometimes I feel like I’m constantly working to prove other people’s pre-conceived notions or judgments wrong – sometimes I feel like I have to show them that I don’t act in a certain way (like I’m “supposed” to) just because some study said I was destined to be messed up. Statistics only tell you about the specific people involved in that specific study – they can’t tell you the whole story.

    I’m glad that you’re giving voice to your story – and giving others the chance to tell theirs as well.

  • http://silly-bear.com Sarah@ From Tolstoy to Tinkerbell

    Post such as this one are why I adore your blog. Any life event or crisis can be robbed of its story and devolve into merely stats–impersonal and dehumanizing. While I have never been divorced myself, my husband has and has two lovely children from his prior marriage.

    I’m their stepmom, and I envy your family dynamic where the best interests of the children are paramount, where lines of productive communication are open, and where the children are growing up healthy both physically and mentally. That is not my story. As a stepmom whose stepkids live with my husband and me, I’m the one raising the kids–doing the homework, doctor visits, Cub Scouts/Girl Scouts, running a household. While I love my stepkids as my own, the stress from the guilt trips their places on the kids, the lies she tells them, the constant barrage of her bitterness, wears even the strongest person down. And it is true that divorce is messy, broken, and painful, but healing must begin. The only problem is when those involved aren’t allowed to heal and move on. My stepkids have to relive the divorce and its pain over and over again because their mother wants to her their father. But the only people hurt are the children.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  • suzigurl

    God is indeed amazing. He don’t make no junk, and he can redeem any situation if we let him. (Not that life is not hard hard work, but I always keep in mind what I think is an Elie Wiesel quote, God made people because he loves stories.)

    xo,
    cupcake girl

  • http://www.creativeguidetolife.com Susan

    Powerful. My friend is a child of divorce, and though painful, she can’t imagine life without her stepfather and stepsisters who she only refers to as her ‘sisters’.

    Now that my friend is also newly divorced, I remind her of how much she gained – sisters, nieces, nephews, new relatives, new friends – when her parents split up. I remind her that her kids will have new people to love, and new insight to the fulfillment only relationships can bring.

    I know someone else who is divorced, and they both are now dating other people. But they still get together as a whole family, occasionally having holiday meals together, and it’s like an extension of their relationship instead of an end.

  • Carmen

    What a lovely post. Getting riled up can be good for the writing and the soul.

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com Kristin T.

    Sarah, it’s so good to hear from you! Sometimes my life feels so disjointed because so much has changed. It’s good to still be connected to a friend who was there at the beginning (ie my first wedding).

    Paul, thank you. It is easy, from the outside, to think we’ve somehow gathered enough information and evidence to spout off, but I think even the “experts” need to know the story before they can say anything truly meaningful. (Yes, I am guilty of this, too, but thankfully learning.)

    Kirstin, I love this: “Healthy examples [of love] aren’t always happy or easy examples.” So true. And this: “…putting genuine emotional health before the appearance of stability.” Your own story demonstrates how unique and complex each family scenario truly is.

    Gary, that’s super interesting. I’m going to have to just sit with that idea for a while. The idea of stripping away the “cultural, social and personal issues” is so foreign to most people, isn’t it? I love how the simple question is deftly turned: not what’s wrong with divorce, but what’s possibly right?

    ThatGuyKC, thank you for sharing your story. It’s amazing to me how many people have been greatly impacted by divorce, even if they’ve never been divorced themselves. I think you’ve touched on a simple, important truth: Most people who find themselves affected by a divorce never imagined they would be. We always picture something better–more standard–which becomes a big part of the struggle, I think.

    Robin, what an amazing redemption story! That feeling of internal brokenness and the uncertainty that you’re doing the right thing is so palpable. But it sounds to be like you followed your gut, trying to block out the many inner voices of doubt and outer voices of criticism you must have heard, and your life today is proof that you did the right thing. Thank you for adding to the stories, not the statistics.

    Alise, you’re right–we all have the right to our opinions, but in the end, when it comes to other people’s lives (especially people who are dealing with experiences we have not lived with first hand), those opinions don’t have much weight. Keep telling your stories!

  • http://hollyhousestudio.blogspot.com Jennifer

    I want to echo what Alise says. So easy to have an opinion from the outside. So easy to judge the life others live. Much harder to open our hearts and minds, much harder to push ourselves aside and to find love.

    You did that. Much more gracefully than I’d have done, as evidenced by my own, in your words “huffy” reply to your commenter. I appreciate that about you. And I think you are a marvelous mother with marvelous children living a marvelous life. Perfect? No. Redeemed? Heck yeah.

    You go girl.

  • http://themoderngal.com The Modern Gal

    Life is not one-size-fits-all. That’s why opinions about things like divorce, marriage, life and death (IMHO) should not be one-size-fits-all.

    The holier-than-thou judgment seriously bothers me. This is something I struggle with in my own religion’s reaction to abortion — I don’t agree with it necessarily, but I also disagree with the approach many ‘pro life’ sympathizers take to try to eliminate it — shaming people.

    We should all be more committed to listening to each others’ stories and reasons and trying harder to care for each other for whom divorce is the best answer. Instead of shame, let’s focus on caring.

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

    Well said Kristin. I’m glad my parents divorced. While I wish things could have been resolved between the two of them a lot better in the midst of that divorce, I know it would have been terrible to live in a house where the two of them fought all of the time. I had a very stable home with my mom and grandparents and got a fairly normal relationship with my dad by visiting him.

    They could have done certain things to make life easier for me, but all in all, I know that they just weren’t meant to be together. now they’re both remarried and happy. I can’t imagine any other way things could have turned out. Screw statistics. You’re right, we are people with stories.

  • http://newbreedofadvertisers.blogspot.com/ Sam Van Eman

    And a good story, too. It’s unfortunate that comment conversations on big sites can go downhill so fast and so often. I didn’t – and won’t – read the Huffington Post responses, but I appreciate the grace in yours here.

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com Kristin T.

    Meredith, thank YOU, for being so willing to share parts of your story here on a regular basis. Your perspective as an adult child of a “good” divorce is wonderful to hear. I don’t blame you one bit for feeling frustrated by this: “…sometimes I feel like I have to show them that I don’t act in a certain way (like I’m ‘supposed’ to) just because some study said I was destined to be messed up.” You are wonderful—not *in spite of* your childhood, but *because of* all of the ways you learned and grew through it.

    Sarah, it’s true—robbing an incident or statistic of its story is dehumanizing. I’m so glad you shared your perspective with me/us. First of all, I thought I “knew” you, in a social media/blogging sort of way, but this goes to show there’s always more to learn about people. We can’t assume we know where they’re coming from or what they’ve been through. And secondly, I’m sure your story is one many can relate to, in all its pain and frustration. I’m wishing you strength and peace as you continue to do the best you can do in your situation.

    suzigurl, yes—I didn’t get into that in this post, but I do believe my story has taken this redeeming turn because of God. He can help us turn things around in ways we can’t on our own.

    Susan, it sounds like you are a good friend through difficult times. Some people want to brush away the unpleasant and cheer everyone up. Others seem intent on doom and gloom, or blame and shame. But you said this: “I remind her that her kids will have new people to love, and new insight to the fulfillment only relationships can bring.” Beautiful and true.

    Carmen, thank you. And you’re right about getting riled up! For me, the key is to get riled up, like to a boil, then to bring things down to a simmer for a day or so before I *do* anything. I could have just dug in deeper with the commenter, but instead we’re all having this wonderful discussion and sharing time here. That’s much better.

  • Robin

    I should add to my story that I am also a Christian, and unfortunately the most hurtful responses that I got to my decision to leave my abuser came from those inside of my church (who had no idea what I had been through, mind you, because I chose not to broadcast any details of my ex’s “issues” to anyone who was not extremely close to me and my situation). It is awful to realize that the most damaging testimony to the Christian faith is sometimes the actions other Christians – but I guess that’s the whole point, right? We’re all imperfect sinners who are going to screw up and judge each other and need Christ not only to forgive us, but to help us become more Christ-like over time and less awful to each other…

    Anyways, back to my story – I just wanted to add that as a Christian, divorce was not even an option in my mind for so many years of so much awfulness…. I honestly believed that I had made a mistake (I married someone that I barely knew at 20 years old) and I thought that I just had to live with it and deal with whatever insane behavior came from the man that I saw myself “stuck” with, even though I did not love him, even though he treated me in ways that people should never be treated. It wasn’t until I found myself lying in bed at night fantasizing about killing him in order to escape the marriage that I realized how sick my life had become and that I really needed to get out before I lost my mind…

    Meanwhile I had a 3 year old son who was throwing himself in between myself and his dad (during his dad’s explosions) begging his father to “leave mommy alone!!), then running off to his bedroom and peeing in the corner. He’d also developed nervous twitches such as chewing his lip and spitting – it was horrible as a mom to look at my little boy clearly being destroyed emotionally by what he was seeing! And you know what – the day his dad moved out (and the yelling stopped), ALL of his nervous habit ceased immediately! It was shocking for me – I thought the absence of daddy would bring on a whole host of anxiety, but instead found the opposite. For the first time in his life, my son was at peace! Still, 5 years later, if you ask him if he remembers when his dad lived here all says is that he remembers “daddy slept on the couch and yelled a LOT”. As I mentioned in my previous post, losing his kids led that man to get treatment (and led him to Christ!) for is issues, and he is not an amazing father with a great relationship with both of our boys.

    I also have seen God’s hand throughout this whole process of divorce, healing, and rebuilding of life – and I truly believe that while God does not want us to go through the pain of divorce, He can and does take the most awful parts of our lives and uses them to make beautiful futures!!

  • Robin

    *now (an amazing father)

  • http://www.robleyblake.com RobleyBlake

    Divorce can be extremely traumatic to families, especially children. I write about my divorce and how it affected my kids in my children’s picture book, Living With Mom, Spending Time With Dad which takes us through a myriad of emotions that two children, Stephen and Alex experience through this tumultuous period. The children, especially Alex gives an extremely candid and honest account of the day to day trauma, the hostility and at times the many poignant memories that he has. Living with Mom, Spending Time with Dad also addresses the concerns and anguish of being torn between two parents. Throughout the story there is that underlying hope that everything will turn out alright and everyone will be back in their original comfort zone.

  • http://www.robleyblake.com RobleyBlake

    Robin:

    Don’t worry about the “commenter” or the “statistics.” As a child of divorce parents, my siblings and I were extremely happy when our parents divorced and we are in no way “worse off” because of it. When I got married I never thought about getting a divorce. Though my divorce was a very stressful and painful time in my life, I am extremely happier now because of it. It’s been several years since, and even though I am still single, I wouldn’t change the outcome of how much my divorce has done for me.

  • Tanya

    Kristin, I am consistently moved and inspired by your wisdom, honesty, and graceful ability to grapple with thorny issues in such eloquent ways. In addition to all those gifts that you reveal through your writing, you clearly are also an inspiring mother who is modeling to three lovely girls what it means to become confident, thoughtful, well-adjusted women. And that’s a gift that will keep on giving.

    I hope (and feel pretty sure) that Q enjoyed her special day, as she officially became a teenager–and that you savored it, too!

  • http://www.krissythomas.com Krissy

    Kristin,
    I’ve gotta say that the things I feared most as I walked through my divorce ended up being the things where God has most clearly shown up on my journey.
    I, along with my ex-husband chose divorce as the lesser of two evils and I can honestly say that it is by far one of the best decisions we have made together.
    I come from a background that is void of divorce both as a preacher’s kid and being from India. The topic is not only foreign, but shameful.
    The day we told our children was the hardest day ever, and I didn’t know if we would make it past that moment of horrible sadness, but as I look back, even that day was redeemed through the love of friends and family.
    I think the key for us has been in affirming the love we have for our children and also our commitment to care for them and put them at the top of our list of priorities. I think they have been able to see that sometimes people speak out of ignorance and since they don’t know the paths we’ve walked they really have no place to speak into our lives.
    Thank you for sharing your story and yourself and showing me such a great example of walking out your faith with grace.

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com Kristin T.

    Jennifer, you nailed it–we’d so much rather take the easy route, which involves uninformed opinions and suspicion. Love and pushing toward understanding are much harder, and therefore much more fulfilling. Thank you for seeing me and my life for what it is, and supporting me in so many ways. (btw, I hope you caught that my use of “huffy” was a bad pun in reference to the Huffington Post! You aren’t huffy, you’re impassioned and eloquent.)

    The Modern Gal, I like what you said about not having one-size-fits-all opinions. And I can really relate to your feelings about shaming tactics, especially in religious groups. I think it must come out of sheer frustration and helplessness–people feel so much responsibility for the actions of others, but so little control. They resort to tactics that don’t have anything to do with the God they believe in, like fear and shame. It’s really harmful and sad.

    ed, thank you for sharing some of your story. What’s interesting is that what you said about your parents–that they could have done certain things to make life easier–could probably be said of most parents, even the ones who stay married. We all have a lot of baggage to sort through, and if we do it with any persistence and honesty, it’s bound to deepen and strengthen us.

    Sam, as I was writing this post I was thinking about how “success” (such as writing for a national publication) tends to have a down side. In this case, I’m baring my soul to an audience I don’t know or trust, which leaves me feeling very exposed. It’s good to be able to take a step back and share in this space with the likes of you–thanks for stopping by.

    Robin, your story is pretty amazing–very different from mine, but I know it must offer lots of hope to people who are feeling stuck in hopeless situations. Keep sharing it! You never know who might need to be encouraged, since most of us are so good at hiding our deepest struggles.

  • http://tracytodd.wordpress.com Tracy Todd

    Thank you so much for sharing your story so openly and honestly.

    The world is full of people who want to reduce everything to a mathematical formula or a statistic. But the world also has many people who are REAL. I guess, that each of us has our own unique way of dealing with life and its challenges. We are all different with our own opinions. I’ve learned that there is no shame in stepping back or stepping down. There is also no shame in saying “I don’t know”.

    You may have stepped back from a commentor. But, you stood up for what you believe in and for what you experience in your everyday family life. And for that, I admire you.

    PS. I’m not good at math so statistics don’t work for me either. ;-)

  • http://takingtheyoke.blogspot.com Ray Hollenbach

    Amazing post, Kristin, and what a wonderful response from your community of readers. I’m a Boomer: I love statistics. But I’m also a child of divorce, at an age very close to that of your girls. There are some topics where story holds more truth than facts. Thanks for giving space to the truth.

  • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter}

    i love the image of your celebrating your child’s milestones with everyone–THAT is the picture of love and health and commitment that matters. that is how we celebrate many birthdays and holidays with my sister, too (half-sister, technically, but she has always just been “mine.”)

    no one truly knows what goes on inside a marriage except the two with the rings, and how pompous for anyone else to presume to know what’s best! thank you for telling stories. i’m so glad that your family has pick up the pieces and built something lasting, strong, and good:)

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com Kristin T.

    RobleyBlake, your children’s book sounds wonderfully poignant and honest. I will definitely have to look it up! And I think you make an important point in your response to Robin: The pain of the experience doesn’t negate the possibility of a positive outcome. It’s just an inevitable part of the process.

    Tanya, thank you for your kind, thoughtful words. You can’t imagine how encouraging they are to me. Q did have a wonderful day. The snow and sleet was coming down, but all seven of us managed to go out to eat to celebrate. As she was opening presents back at home, I got an email notifying us that school had been canceled for the next day—one of the best surprises a kid can get.

    Krissy, this is such a powerful testimony: “…the things I feared most as I walked through my divorce ended up being the things where God has most clearly shown up on my journey.” It’s amazing how often it works that way, isn’t it? That’s the blessing that’s always waiting right there for us, as soon as we muster up enough courage to take a scary leap.

    Tracy, you’ve learned a very powerful truth: “…there is no shame in stepping back or stepping down. There is also no shame in saying ‘I don’t know.’” I think if we could all just embrace that truth a bit more, we’d be much less afraid of one another and life. Thanks for encouraging me, and being real in your own story.

    Ray, yes, the reader response has pushed me right over toward weepy. Statistics can be really fascinating, and can spur lots of good thought, but without further inquiry into real stories and real lives, I think statistics are always a bit hollow in terms of Truth.

    suzannah, I have an actual image from Monday night, of all of us sitting around the table at the restaurant—I wish I could post it but I avoid using identifiable family photos on my blog. At any rate, it is a really special experience, both the moment itself and what it represents. I’m so glad you have enjoyed similar experiences in your own life. Little by little, we do away with that societal idea of what’s “normal.” :)

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  • http://hollyhousestudio.blogspot.com Jennifer

    I knew it was a pun, but to be frank, I don’t mind being huffy, when it’s called for. *smiles*

  • Evelyn

    Robin, I think we’re living the same life in alternate universes. It is sad that while many Christian denominations are opposed to divorce, they have no idea what to do with people who have no other alternative. I have yet to actually meet a real person who divorced and turned his/her kids’ lives upside down just because spouses got tired of each other, but I was treated as if my decision was just that cavalier and thoughtless. There was no concern for the abuse that was going on, because the husband is head of the home and the wife is to submit. Period.

    Kristin, I appreciate your acknowledgment that none of us is one of “those people” limited to a statistical cohort. We’re individuals, with hearts and heads and stories worth telling.

  • Robin

    Evelyn, I think you’re right in that many people in the church “have no idea what to do” with ‘us’ divorced Christians who obviously didn’t want our lives to fall apart (or to be abused for that matter). I also found that, in my case, the most awful comments came from two very distinct groups of people… the first were women who had chosen to stay married to men who were addicted to pornography or had some other unusual perverse sexual issue that was making the woman feel degraded, the second were men who were not treating their own wives very nicely (incidentally, one at least one occasion the nasty comment came from the husband of a woman from group #1). While I’m sure this does not hold true for all people who say things they should not around the world ;p, in my case, it seemed that my leaving my husband frightened quite a few people – and I think their fear came out as anger at me. Almost a “how dare you leave that, don’t you see what I put up with?!” (which is pretty much what one woman thoughtfully called to say to me – she didn’t think it was strange at all that she’d had to set boundaries in her life that included her husband not seeing their toddler daughter bathe with her toy Barbie dolls naked in the bathtub because it might cause him issues that she did not expand upon…but I myself cannot fathom living with anyone who can’t handle seeing Barbie naked – I guess we each have our own breaking points…).

    I should add that I ended up remarrying a few years later (to my Pastor’s son) :) and we currently belong to a church that has not made any assumptions about us or prejudged us in any way :) Evelyn, I hope that God continues your story parallel to mine because my life has changed in amazing ways that I never could have imagined!

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  • http://www.messiahmom.wordpress.com kristinherdy

    My divorce was final last year. I’ve written about it a few times, but really, I don’t feel the need to write about it all that often, because, this divorce has, by far, worked out better for us than the marriage ever could have. We had two small children. They are thriving.

    He got the house. I live in it. I got the car. He pays for it. We’re both dating someone new. Last week, we had a birthday party for my oldest daughter and the guest list read like this: Me, my boyfriend, my two children, my ex-husband, his girlfriend, her sister, my mom and step dad, my dad and step mom, my dad’s dad and stepmom… you get the idea. We make it work in our family. We are a story, not a statistic.

    I’ve had a few terrible comments on my blog like that… just wait until my children are ruined by this divorce and subsequent remarriages. I say, sit on the pew with all of us on a Sunday morning and learn grace with us as we do more than preach it to our children, but show it every day.

    • bp

      i love your last paragraph. beautiful.

  • http://leadingchurch.com Paul VanderKlay

    Blog comments are like statistics (this one included). They are flat and tell us little of the mysterious, complex, three-dimensional time blessed/cursed lives behind them.

    God gives us agency and human society sometimes does. It is such a blessing and such a curse. To choose is an awesome thing that is always beyond us. We stand at the altar imagining our choice will bring us life. All such choices are this way and who can see all ends? To judge on another is almost always pointless whether that be who one marries or whether one divorces.

    I’m sure your story brings hope to many. That’s a good thing. Blessings on your journey. pvk

  • http://www.lifewellblended.com Diana

    I just stumbled upon your blog and this post. It’s very timely since I just posted something about my own marriage/divorce and remarriage on my own blog yesterday. http://lifewellblended.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/happy-un-anniversary-to-me/
    I know there is a lot of negative statistics about divorce and its effect on kids and remarriage and step-families. There are days when my family life feels like it could be the basis for those statistics. But then there are days when my step-daughters come home after a week with their mom and run into the house saying how happy they are to be back and chase their younger brother till they scoop him up and cover him with kisses. True story, not a statistic.

  • http://twitter.com/divorcedpauline Pauline Gaines

    I relate so much to this piece. I also blog for HuffPost Divorce and the venom and judgment from trolls-with-an-agenda can be staggering. As you say, statistics don’t tell individual stories. I think many “bad divorces” would also have remained bad marriages and kids also get damages in those, in different ways. I have several friends who are adult children of divorce who have told me it was hell growing up with parents who hated each other and they never had reconciliation fantasies.

  • http://twitter.com/divorcedpauline Pauline Gaines

    I relate so much to this piece. I also blog for HuffPost Divorce and the venom and judgment from trolls-with-an-agenda can be staggering. As you say, statistics don’t tell individual stories. I think many “bad divorces” would also have remained bad marriages and kids also get damages in those, in different ways. I have several friends who are adult children of divorce who have told me it was hell growing up with parents who hated each other and they never had reconciliation fantasies.