have you (and your spouse) learned about the effect of your parents' divorce
on your life? Here's your opportunity to share what you've learned with
others. Share a specific situation in 500-700 words that is related to
your parents' divorce. Tell your perspective (and your spouse's, if you
are married). Then explain how you resolved the issues and offer words
of wisdom for others in that situation. Please email
me your experiences.
Life Problem Solvers
Matt & Kendra
Married in 1999
check any that apply:
knew we had an "trust issue" within the first few hours of our marriage. Driving
away from the reception, we got in an argument about something really insignificant
(we don't even remember what it was about). What we remember is that even though
we resolved the issue, Kendra became very withdrawn. When Matt tried to draw Kendra
out by talking about the ceremony, she turned toward her window. We drove for
nearly an hour in silence. Matt was wondering what he had missed, and Kendra,
a COD, was emotionally caught between her trust in Matt and her memories of her
parents' conflicts, which ultimately led to divorce. Fortunately our mutual desire
to enjoy our wedding night causes us to talk about what we were thinking.
My parents fought a lot before they got divorced. When they
finally did separate, they said it was because they just couldn't get along. When
Matt & I got in a fight so early into our marriage, I was paralyzed with thoughts
that he would leave me because we couldn't get along either. We had had our share
of disagreements before we were married, but I still thought that after our counseling
and confirmation that we had worked everything out. I didn't realize that you
can have conflict with someone you love, or that conflict could actually bring
you closer together.
I grew up in a family
where I constantly saw my parents work out their areas of disagreement. Sometimes
emotions got involved, but most of the time, it was a continual state of negotiation
which resulted in a more unified front-Of course that didn't always work to my
advantage! When Kendra withdrew over something that really wasn't a big deal,
I didn't know what to do. I didn't know if she was being overly sensitive or if
I'd offended her in some way. My mom never reacted that way. I felt helpless to
resolve the tension.
How We Solved the Problem:
When we pulled
up to our hotel, Matt turned to Kendra and said, "Sweetheart, I'm sorry I hurt
you. Tell me how I can make it better." When I (Kendra) saw that my response had
caused concern in Matt, I was able to tell him what I was feeling. Once we understood
that our fights could trigger memories of abandonment, we realized that as soon
as we disagree about something, we need to stop and assure each other of our love
and commitment to our marriage. Matt will usually say something like, "Kendra,
just because I disagree with you on this, doesn't mean I love you in any less.
In fact, I love you for your willingness to stand up for your beliefs. Now, since
we're in this together, forever, what are our options?" After several years, (and
several disagreement!), Kendra is starting to change her response from fear-based
to unity-based. Instead of trying to figure out what's right and wrong, we see
our issues as "us" against "something that's trying to divide us."
Advice to Others:
As much as you try, you won't be able to negotiate everything
before marriage, so expect conflict. Talk about how to handle conflict in a way
that affirms your relationship. I don't think a COD can ever hear enough that
their spouse is committed to a lasting marriage. For the spouse whose parents
are divorce, realize that there is more going on that just the disagreement. Do
whatever you can to model forgiveness and a short memory when it comes to fights.
include your contact information. All names will be changed unless requested otherwise.