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hat 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.

Real Life Problem Solvers
Matt & Kendra
Married in 1999

Please check any that apply:
Young Single (18-25)2 Married CODs
Established Single (26+)Married w/ Children
Engaged Divorced & Remarried
Young Married 

We 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 What we remember is that even though we resolved the issue, Kendra became very withdrawn.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.

Kendra's Experience:
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.

Matt's Experience:
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."

Our 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.

Please include your contact information. All names will be changed unless requested otherwise.

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