My wife and I recently watched Grumpy Old Men because she had never seen it. The movie is funny but one thing disturbed me in it and it's not Burgess Meredith's many one-liners. The movie makes you cheer for a divorce. You find yourself rooting for Melanie and Mike who have a child to split up so Melanie and Jacob can get together. Now, Grumpy Old Men isn't anywhere near the only movie that does this nor is this the main point of the movie, but as a child of divorce and a Christian I find myself feeling a bit icky that I cheer for a divorce even in a movie.
In Hollywood divorce is pictured as some sort of a finish line. I'm not here to condemn Hollywood for this. However, I'm sad that many people in real life view divorce as the end of something that it just isn't.
If you have children and divorce your divorce isn't the end at all.
My parents divorced when I was in middle school. My parents did, in a bad situation, the best they could following the divorce. They did shared care, they treated each other with respect, they married people that are fantastic step-parents... they did their best following the divorce.
But divorce isn't the end and it wasn't the end for my parents' relationship. If you have children your relationship with your spouse continues until the day you, them or your children die.
If you have children and are considering a divorce let me show you just a few of the ways that divorce isn't the end of the pain and struggle. I'm not trying to guilt you. I don't know the pains and struggles of your marriage. I simply want to share some of the reality of post-divorced life.
You only get up to 18 Christmases and Thanksgivings with your kids at home. Now you get half of what's left. You will spend some of those without your children and they will spend all of theirs without one of their parents on holidays. Then when your children get married the half becomes a fourth when they rotate with their spouse and try to cram you into it; or it is a half with a speedily done celebration.
You thought it was difficult planning around your work and Junior's little league season before? This becomes doubly hard when your spouse is trying to do the same thing. Having your children another state or country away is never easy.
You and your ex will both be there at the wedding. You and him/her will go back to talking about the fun subject of money as you try to get on the same page for what you're paying for. If talking money was fun and exciting married wait until you talk it divorced.
Will you throw two celebrations or will you let your graduate have the pleasure of having just one shindig with both of their parents there? Once again, be ready to figure out how to communicate ideas and preferences and budget on this one.
Every year the tension of the two above comes together on this one. Who gets to see your son/daughter first thing in the morning on their birthday? Who gets to kiss them goodnight as an 8 year old for the first time? Divorce will make you miss precious, unrecreatable moments.
All the factors that steal time away from you being with your child will steal your time from your future grandchildren.
Sleepovers on Your Days
Remember that your kids are still kids. They won't care as much as you do that it's been five days since you've seen them when they ask to stay the night at Jimmy's on your night. My parents did a great job with shared care and I love them but there were many nights spent at friends' houses instead of theirs.
Parenting Together Apart
Divorce may end a marriage but it doesn't end the co-parent relationship. What movies are okay to watch? How late can they stay out? How much junk food will they eat? What words are off limits to say? You will need near constant communication with your ex to parent well together apart. You will need to restrain each other from parenting becoming a competition of whose house is the most fun.
Divorce is a Generational Sin
Divorce is 50% more likely for people whose parents were divorced. Divorce is 91% more likely for people whose parents got divorced and then remarried (source). If you get divorced there is a good chance that you'll pass on this generational sin and the mess that accompanies it.
If you have children and are considering divorce I implore you to think rightly. I beg you to not believe the clichés of "at least we'll be done" and "the kids seem to be better off when we're not together." No, divorce is not a finished line. If you have kids it's simply a new kind of relationship you and your spouse will have. No, the kids aren't better off. Even if they get great step-parents out of the mess your children will likely be left trying to tiptoe around your mess for the rest of your life.
For those of you divorced already please know that God still loves you. But for those of you that have not committed the sin of divorce yet I encourage you to keep fighting for your marriage. You and your spouse reconciling is best for you, for your kids and most importantly for the glory of God. Divorce is not the finished line, it is a messy detour. Don't abandon the race you're running now because it's gotten hard. Rather endure and when you feel you've reached your end, keep enduring.
Count the cost and fight with all you have and all that God will give you to make your marriage work today.