Hi everyone! Today I’m happy to share with you a guest post from Nancy Parker. Nancy’s experience taught her some important lessons about herself and her relationships. I think many of you might relate to her story…
It’s been ten years since it all started. Not the divorce itself but the deterioration of a ten-year relationship. Sometimes you see it coming and other times not so much. It seems like when things start to get out of hand it’s almost impossible to reel them back in. Especially if neither one cares enough to try. That’s the way it happened in my marriage. Actually, I don’t really know if that is true (that we neither one cared) but that’s the way it felt. When you don’t know how to communicate with the other person it sometimes feels like you are living on another planet yet you are in the same room.
My ex husband was not a big participant in our marriage from day one. What I didn’t realize at the time was that he didn’t have anything to give. His emotionally maturity had been severely stunted by the use of drugs in his youth which lasted well into his twenties. We didn’t marry until our thirties and I had been married once before briefly and already had my daughter who had just turned six when we married.
We were both Christians, we had met at church, and had a love for the Lord in common. We went to pre-marital counseling and took the compatibility test. It came back saying that we had absolutely nothing in common but our love for the Lord. The pastor told us this was not good and told us it was something we should think about. We were in love and isn’t that always enough? I say in hindsight no.
We were neither one whole people. I didn’t realize at the time that two halves don’t make a whole. Since I had already been in a failed married once (which produced a beautiful daughter) I was also dealing with emotional instability and insecurities. Often people go into a marriage thinking this is the answer to their problems and it causes more harm than good for both parties. Neither one is able to meet the needs of the other party because of the void in their own lives. We were Christians but we were not mature in our relationship with the Lord because instead of seeking Him to heal us we were seeking a human relationship to meet our needs.
I can tell you from experience this does not work. I had the need to be loved, cherished, adored, and desired. He had the need to be mothered, taken care of, and guarded against lapsing into addiction. I needed a husband, a head, and he needed a mom, a friend. We were neither one equipped to deal or live up to the others expectations and in fact we were on other sides of a brick wall where we couldn’t even reach or understand the other person. From the very beginning we were distant and could not breach the cavern between us.
For the first ten years we both tried very hard to make it work. He adopted my daughter, we had a beautiful son together, and we tried to keep it all together for our children. I got increasingly lonely and more and more hurt every year that went by because he did not respond to me as a woman. I did everything I thought I should do, I worked out daily to keep my figure nice. I always dressed well, fixed my hair and tried to be appealing. Nothing worked. I had been trying my best to do what he wanted. He wanted to be waited on and taken care of and appreciated for his job. Even though we both worked I was expected to take care of all the duties at home which I did and would have been happy to do if I was getting even an ounce of love and affection in return.
Things did not start right from the beginning as I’ve stated and they went downhill from there. There were so many difficulties facing us. My family was very close-knit and was the kind that dropped in to see you. His was very distant and proper and didn’t really approve of my family. There were misunderstandings everywhere you looked.
I spent the majority of my time with the kids. I loved my babies. He did too only he could only play for a little while and then it got too much for him. He also wasn’t a disciplinarian so that became my job. This was another bone of contention for our relationship. I began to resent this duty. I thought it was unfair that he had the joy of playing without the responsibility that came with discipline. I didn’t like always having to be the bad guy. As you can see things were not going well.
By this time my daughter was a teenager and began to resent her dad for his seeming lack of love. She was unhappy because we were arguing. My son was over seven years younger and didn’t really understand what was happening but he was feeling the conflict. I didn’t want to hurt my children so I decided to keep my mouth shut and not try to interact with my husband if possible. Which was another poor decision but I did not know what else to do. We drew apart even more and were living pretty much separate lives.
At this point I was either with my children, at work, or having a night out with friends while the kids stayed with my mother. I sometimes would stay away just to see if he would call and want me to come home. In my heart I hoped he would. I wanted to know how he felt and what he was thinking. He never said anything; I never did know what he was thinking. I had mentioned to him on many occasions that I thought it would be a good idea for us to separate for awhile so we could work some of these things out without all the tension. He flatly refused. He said he wasn’t going anywhere. I told him it would make more sense for him to move out so the kids and I did not have to. He wouldn’t even talk about it.
The next thing I knew I was sitting at work and he called. He said to expect divorce papers to be served at any time. I was totally flabbergasted, I couldn’t believe my ears.
I had wanted a separation so that we could possibly work this all out and he was divorcing me. He said his sister told him he shouldn’t have to live like this and she paid for the lawyer. A knife went through my heart. I didn’t know whether to be happy or angry. I felt betrayed by this person I had been living with for over eleven years. And he never even talked to me at all about any of his thoughts or feelings.
I was so hurt that it sent me into a tail spin. My work was not going well because of my personal life. I was grateful that my mother was there for me and the kids because they sure needed the stability. It was a horrible dark time in my life. My heart had been getting harder and harder as the years went by. I still went to church and professed my love for the Lord but I was not walking in His love. I was so hurt that I was not responding to His love or anyone’s love outside of my kids and I was so frightened at how I felt and how I could be hurting them.
I was doing my best to maintain a civil relationship with my ex for the sake of my son. My son had a love/hate relationship going with his dad by this time, but I knew he needed his dad. I didn’t always succeed in being civil. I am a very passionate person and in contrast my ex is emotionally stunted and almost completely shut down. This makes for a volatile mixture, kind of like baking soda and vinegar. I am craving some type of expression, even anger on his part, and I’m getting zero emotion. I know there has to be others out there like me who would even be happy with a good argument instead of nothing.
The turning point that started my journey on emotional healing came with the finality of the divorce, when the actual papers came. I thought that now I would be fine and I started thinking about what to do next. But something unexpected happened that profoundly put an end to this page in my life. My ex came by the house, and I believe it was with the purest of intentions on his part. It was about six months after the divorce. He wanted to let me know that he was remarrying and didn’t want me to hear it from someone else. The final knife wound. And it was not that I wanted to be back in the relationship, it’s something I cannot even explain to myself. I kept my composure and asked him all about her. I knew he had to be with someone, that’s just the way he was. And when he left I cried, I cried so hard. I didn’t know why but I’m sure it had to do with sixteen years of your life and that it can all be just water under the bridge in a matter of months.
After this I got on my knees and talked to my Father in heaven. He knew how I felt and I talked it all over with Him. He helped me to get up and have hope. Somewhere in this process I had taken my eyes off of Him and lost all hope. Not hope about my relationship with my ex, but hope for the future. As I was praying I realized I had lost sight of the order of things. First and foremost my eyes should have been fixed on Jesus but they weren’t. Then I realized that I was trying to get all my worth, my value, and my security from another human being. It can’t be done. You cannot get what you are lacking from someone who is lacking as well. I realized that I had to become a whole person by God’s great grace and not depend on anyone else, except for God. The only one that is never going to disappoint you is Him. This was the turning point for me.
My daughter was in college by this time but my son was still just 15. He needed to see the evidence of the strength of God through me. I was not able but Christ can do it through me. There is a scripture that I love and would often quote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. My son needed me to be emotionally healthy and he needed to see that through Christ I was able to grow emotionally even at the age of 50. I decided to change careers and I worked on a more flexible schedule so that I could be home with my boy. My daughter moved back to town and went to college here because she knew we could use her help.
I had never completed my college degree because of circumstances in my life and my ex had gone to trade school to become an electrician. He was doing quite well as an electrical superintendent and I had worked my way up the ladder in my company as well but we had no academic degrees. So my son had decided that he wasn’t going to go to college because we didn’t. Well, I decided then and there that I was going to get my degree and told my son if I did it then he had to do it also. He didn’t believe me and agreed. I went back to school, on campus and online and finished my degree! He is now in college. My daughter is now getting her Master’s Degree. I’m so thankful that God gave me the strength to go back.
It has taken me some time to get to know who I am, just me, by myself. The Lord has even taught me that my children are not who I am. With my daughter’s new job and boyfriend and my son becoming independent, neither one needs me as much as they once did. I am learning to let go of my dependence on them as they are letting go of their dependence on me. The more I do, the more I find out about me and in doing this I notice that the relationships I do have with my children and others are even better.
I even have a pretty good relationship with my ex and his new wife. Because of the fact that our son was still in his teens we have had to get together on occasion for one thing or the other. We talk from time to time about our son and daughter. We still have very different feelings about certain things and how to handle situations that come up with our son but I know how to avoid the pitfalls in the conversations. We have even had a birthday party here for my son which both my ex and his wife have attended. It makes my son feel better about us and he realizes that it’s a good thing we are not together.
It has taken my daughter longer than me but she has finally forgiven her Dad. She still does not agree with many of his ways but she is more accepting of her Dad now. She told me that one night she was having a dream that she had a wonderful boyfriend but that it wasn’t going to work out because she had so much anger towards her Dad. She woke up from the dream and prayed about her unforgiveness because she realized that if she did not let go and forgive it would damage any relationship she may have in the future! I was so thankful that the Lord revealed this to her. I had been praying about it and He answered my prayer! I knew that this would keep her from becoming a whole person. I did not want her to end up in a broken relationship down the line as a result of her parents failed marriage.
As I stated earlier, you cannot be half a person and marry half a person and make a whole. No one can make your life complete. You must be secure in yourself. This was a long hard lesson to learn; sixteen years of trying to fit two broken people together. Neither one of us was able to grow in the situation because there was so much conflict all the time. Neither one of us could grow as long as we were together. It is disappointing to me that it couldn’t have been settled in a more compassionate and loving way between two people who understood they were not compatible. I wish we could have separated and gone to counseling to figure it all out instead of it turning hostile and ugly on everyone involved. Our relationship might have even been healed if we had separated and been able to deal with it rationally, who knows. There was nothing that either one of us could do in our emotional states together because our needs were so far apart. I feel like there was a lot of wasted time and missed opportunities in those sixteen years.
However going through all that pain did teach me a lot about relying solely on the Lord. I don’t know why it’s so hard to surrender your will sometimes and give up the hurt and anger when letting go and giving it to God is always the best answer. Things had to get pretty dark for me personally before I realized this. When the Lord Jesus finally got through to me He brought so much love and healing to me personally and my family. I have learned so much about myself that I hadn’t discovered in all those years. I hope that if anyone is going through the heartache of divorce that they will not slip into darkness like I did but that they will reach out to loved ones and friends. But the greatest friend of all is Jesus Christ who laid down His life for us and is waiting to help us in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. The most important thing to remember is to keep looking up and don’t let the circumstances take you down into self; self pity produces nothing but more heartache. Use heartache as an opportunity for growth and introspection and a chance for a better, happier, healthier you.
Nancy Parker was a professional nanny and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like health, Parenting, Child Care, Babysitting, nanny, www.enannysource.com/ etc. You can reach her @ firstname.lastname@example.org.Google+