Episode 34: Divorce... How Will I Know?

Choosing to divorce is a complicated and painful decision. In this episode, I talk about the questions you can ask yourself, the choice of staying, and both the heartache and benefits if divorce is the right answer for you and your family. Ultimately it’s a decision made between you and God. 

Episode Transcription:

(This transcript was created using software. Please be advised that it won't be 100% accurate, and it may contain formatting errors.)

It's been a great couple of weeks spending time with my new grandbaby. I love all the support that you guys gave me on social media, and commenting and wishing me well. And it's, it's really been so cool to have a baby back in our lives again. And they're just something so sweet about the spiritual nature that they have. They just got here and they they just have something about them. So I'm super grateful. And I appreciate the patience that you had with me and getting back to the episodes. So here we are today.

And we're going to be talking about divorce, or the possibility of divorce or how to make the decision whether you are staying or going now I am not going to tell you what you are supposed to do. There is no possible way I know that answer. I'm going to share with you my journey in trying to save my marriage, what it looked like when I was introduced to the possibility of divorce, and then how long it took me after to get to that place where I realized that was the choice I needed to make. We're also going to be covering what it feels like after the fact.

And now being in a new relationship in a new marriage, the heartache, the hardship, as well as the blessings that come from blending a new family and having that relationship. It's not all just blissful awesomeness, there's a lot of heartache on both sides. So whether you are choosing to stay, whether you need to choose to leave is really personal between you and God. And I know you're going to be able to make the right decision as you continue healing and working on the things you need to do to change and grow. So let's just get into it. I went into marriage, not thinking divorce was even an option.

So I got married in 1994. And as time went on, which you already know, I continued to find different pieces of pornography and realizing that this was something that my husband at that time struggled with. And I didn't really know what it was or that it was an addiction. And obviously that all came out later. But during those first few years, it was kind of as if I had taken on the role of Okay, it's my job to save this to save him and to figure out how to make it so that our family stays together. Divorce ,honestly, it just it wasn't even a possibility to me at that point.

The first time I was even introduced to the thought of divorce was from a church leader, which really is awesome, because that doesn't always happen. But I had gone into talk with my church leader, probably in about 1999. I had two little kids, I was expecting my third one. And I had gone in to discuss some things that I had found with my husband and pornography. And at that time as I disclosed what I had found what was going on, and how I wasn't being told any truthful things but that I kept finding things. He at that moment said, you know, you don't have to stay with him.

The things that he is doing are not okay. It is not right. And it's against scripture. And it's against everything that we believe. I kind of had my eyes wide open. Like I was looking at him like what are you serious? Now? Oh my goodness, what I would give to give that gift of a church leader saying that to so many of my friends now. Now here in in 2020, to be able to have somebody say you don't have to stay. This is abusive. You're not supposed to be in something like this. They're not supposed to be doing that the fact that they're choosing that doesn't make it okay, just because so many other people are doing it, right. This happens a lot.

And I know it's because of human frailty, and it's our own insecurities. And we don't, as people know, know sometimes how to react or what to do. Our church leaders generally are not counselors, but at this particular time, this person which I believe he was an accountant, so I don't know what his background was on counseling, maybe it had it himself or something, but he was definitely ahead of his time. At that point, which I am grateful for now looking back because it was a positive experience, even though I didn't choose to listen or take in his advice.

But what was cool is that he told me that I could go, he validated that what was happening was not okay. How great is that? Right? Because I knew it wasn't okay. And I was just wanting him to tell me how I could change or what I could do to change the situation. And I loved being that vulnerable person, I was super young, I probably was only about 26 or 27, I would guess. And so to have him tell me that I was okay. And this was not my problem, or my fault was huge that I could have had that at that point. So as he is telling me that this can happen, my eyes go big.

And I'm thinking there's no possible way. That's not how we do things. That's not how I was raised. I mean, I was raised that divorce, you know, we don't do that. Why would we do that when we have a perfectly good person. And so that's the role I took on. So I left that knowing Okay, I heard him say that, but I'm going to be different. And I'm going to fight for this. And I'm going to, to save this situation, I took on the Savior role. And that's what I did. As you've heard me say before, it's also written in my book, cutting ties, that I would do things like I ordered some self help, books, some tapes that I would listen to, you know, talk about what what to do to enhance your relationship and marriage. And, and this isn't about sexual intimacy.

This was about personal intimacy, and gaining a closer relationship and how you can see your spouse. And I wanted him to see me too, and, and so he had his workbook and I had mine and, and I was so excited about these things. I listened to these tapes every day, we spent some time and he had his workbook, and I had mine. And we we did a few pages. And then we compared and talked about things. But nothing ever came of that because it was not a two sided Street.

If I was the only one striving to save a marriage or striving to come closer, then it's not going to work. Now at that time. I didn't know it was addiction, I didn't realize that he wasn't going to be able to go all in because he had this secret that was plaguing him. Now I also can notice and be aware that he didn't know how to change it at that point either. And I'm sure he didn't like and I'm sure that he was he was shaming himself about the things that he was doing. And I feel bad for that younger person of him that didn't know what to do.

But as time went on, he was shown tools, and he could have chosen to change those things. But at that point, he didn't. So we go along, and we keep going. And it wasn't until that 17 years into marriage where I found out it was a real addiction. And I started going to 12 step meetings, I was introduced to a group called the togetherness project. I've mentioned them before, they no longer exist, it's kind of have off there's offshoots now of that group, but they were doing conferences for women that have been betrayed, betrayal trauma, because of pornography addiction, or sex addiction.

And I found out about this group at one of my 12 step meetings, and they were going to be holding a conference and I'm like, Okay, I'm gonna I'm gonna go to it. It was there that I was sitting in a class listening to Maurice Harker. And somebody said to him, how do you know when it's time to leave? Now I'm paraphrasing because I don't remember his exact words. I also wrote this in cutting ties this experience. But he said something like, you think of your life as a tree.

And every time your spouse does something that goes against marriage and family, one of the leaves fall off, and one day you wake up, and that last leaf has fallen. And you just know, you know, okay, you know what, I am done, That I I've done all I can. It's time. He said it in such a calm way. My my thoughts were in shock. My eyes were like kind of squinted, like my forehead was furrowed. I was like, Huh, oh my gosh, but it hit me. And in that moment, I thought, Okay, well, that's cool. That's a cool analogy, but that's not going to be me. Because mine's gonna work.

My spouse is going to 12 step. So this is going to be okay. But it stuck with me. And over the years, as I watched all this happen, so that was 17 years in. We were married for 21. Before I chose divorce, that metaphor, that analogy, just kept staying in my mind. And every time something crazy would happen, it's like I visualized that leaf, that tree and thought, Oh my gosh, these leaves are really falling off. This is kind of crazy. What I didn't know is I would need that for later on. Even though at that time, I didn't think it was for me.

It was God's way of preparing me getting my mind ready, getting my soul and body ready to have to make a hard decision as those next four years kept going on and we were delving deeper into 12 step work. Recovery work healing counseling, my eyes were being open to what this addiction even was, I was shown a whole other life that I didn't even know existed in this world, this dark internet world, I had no idea. And it wasn't until the last year of our marriage when he went to rehab, where I found his other life. And it was so severe, which I know I don't talk about the specifics of that I don't find it necessary.

But when I found those things, again, it was like, Okay, this is actually not okay for me to live in, or to have a spouse that lives in our home, like this, like this is not okay. And I knew that if things didn't change, divorce would be for sure. At that point, when he was in rehab, and I found all this out. He had threatened halfway through that he was done that he was so good, and that he was the one teaching these people what to do. And they loved him so much, which I'm sure they did. He's charismatic, and he's a business guy.

And he was trying to help them with their business and how, how to flourish it some of these people that work there, but But besides that, of course, he still suffer from addiction. And so at halfway through when he was saying he wanted to come home, it hit me really hard. Like, absolutely not, there is no possible way my whole entire soul and body said no, you will not live with him if he cuts this program short, that does not feel safe, that doesn't feel good. It doesn't feel right.

So I made a quick trip to the rehab center, his counselor said, Yep, go ahead and come he's thinking he's gonna leave. So I came showed up, surprised him there. And basically gave him that a little bit of that ultimatum. Now an ultimatum doesn't have to be bad. an ultimatum can be boundaries, I told him, if you choose to leave, you will not come home, the locks will be changed, your stuff will be somewhere else. But this is not okay for me. And it's not going to happen.

Now he could have chosen to leave and start his new life at that point, his counselor advised him, I suggest that with the stuff that she knows about you the stuff that has come out in disclosure, the stuff that she has found out, I'm telling you, that you have someone here that is willing to work with you that wants you to recover, that is not just kicking you to the curb, I am suggesting that you stay and finish out the program to see how far you can come and see if this marriage can work. He did choose to stay, which was great. It gave me time and reprieve and I was such a mess you if you're ever deciding or trying to contemplate whether you're supposed to leave or separate or divorce, you know, it is not an easy decision.

It is nerve racking. And it just wrecks your entire soul. It's this constant feeling and thoughts going in your mind and heart that you're trying to navigate and figure something out that it's gonna affect so many people, it is not an easy decision. So the fact that he stayed was so good, and it gave me some time to really come up with a plan, which I've shared before that when I picked him up from rehab, we decided that he had a year to choose recovery in order to make our home a safe place. And that I would choose to stay in the marriage and and of course that didn't happen. So as it went on, and that year came to a close.

And he wasn't choosing into a recovery in a way that felt good to me. Then I knew divorce was the was the answer. And it was not easy. I cried so many tears, asking God, are you serious? Is this really what it is supposed to be? How can it be like this? Like, I have done so much work? And I was trying to save this person? How come he doesn't want to be saved? And how come you're not changing him? How come you're not saving him?

It's a really hard thing as you you wrestle with God on how your life is going to change and, and coming to an acceptance that this is going to be the plan, and it is a sad and heart wrenching plan. But it's going to be the right plan, because agency is involved. And everybody has a choice. And at that moment, regardless of what things my husband at a time had been given, he still was making his own choices of a way that felt the best for him to live. And he didn't feel good living the same way I wanted. What felt safe for me.

He didn't like that. And so he was making a choice. It was a boundary for himself. No, this is the way I want to live. I could have chosen to say, okay, you live that way. And I just bear it and and just go through life. But that didn't feel right to me. I couldn't do that for me. So at that point, I chose that we needed to go our separate ways. In those moments in the end, when I woke up and that last leaf had fallen and I knew this was the right answer. There was peace. Doesn't mean there was wasn't any fear, but there was peace.

I knew it was the right decision. I didn't know how it was going to look how it was gonna work, what was going to happen, what the outcome of all of it was going to be, but I still knew it was the right thing. I could have made a decision on fear and said no, no, no, no, no, and fought God on that fought the leaf falling, put the leaf back up on the tree and taped it there. I could have prolonged it again and again and again, which I had been doing for years already. Or I could come to acceptance for me at that time, I could feel it.

I had done enough work, I had done enough healing, I could see clear what this addiction was and how I wanted to be treated, I could understand what the manipulation was, where the gaslighting and the deceit was, and I was choosing me at this point, I was no longer going to sacrifice my entire soul and life when somebody else wasn't choosing into the same thing.

So as that day came where I knew, and I've mentioned this before, it's also written in my book where my husband said, you can pray all you want, and you can get the kids to pray. But it comes down to me making the decision and I don't want to, I could have begged and pleaded I could have fallen on the ground, which I had done several times of pleading with him do to stay and to fix this and to choose me. But I knew that last leaf had fallen, I knew and I was ready to move forward. Now that's not always easy. And that's not the outcome I wanted.

And even today, it's been five years. And I still don't like that outcome. Now doesn't mean that the blessings that I have gotten since then, aren't way better and so much goodness and exactly where I'm supposed to be they are. But the pain of having to go through divorce and have all of that happened is just heart wrenching. So it's not an easy decision at the same time. Let's talk about if that's what you're faced with why it's okay to move forward. Why it feels good to choose the path that's for you. And let God lead it.

Are you ever around somebody that you feel like you need to be smaller? That if you're your exact you, then they're going to look at you like what are you doing? Or what are you talking about? I don't understand what you're saying. Because you have learned something different than they have, or they have not chosen into seeing things clear or healing or, or whatever the circumstances, but you decide that it would feel better if you are smaller, and you play smaller, and you act smaller than you actually are. Do you do that so that you feel accepted.

When we do that in our marriage, and we play small, and we accommodate somebody else, and we're compromising in a way that makes them feel better so that they're not uncomfortable. We are choosing to let go of our own growth and progression. God doesn't want us to play small. He wants us to be the way we're supposed to be. He doesn't want us to make someone else comfortable. He wants us uncomfortable. Because in the uncomfortable is where we change and grow. That's where we look at things.

That's where we go to him. That's where we say, Hey, what's happening right here, I don't understand this. Am I falling short? Should I be doing something different? what is actually going on? That's where we grow. That's where we build a relationship with him and Jesus Christ. If we are to change that behavior and see ourselves for the worth that God gave us, and play our part in exactly where we're at, with everything we've learned.

So we don't play small, we don't worry about if somebody around us is uncomfortable, we choose to live in the light, we choose to go forward, we can hope that somebody else will also grow to, but they won't if we allow the people around us to stay comfortable just so we don't cause a thing just so we feel like we aren't the one making them feel uncomfortable. What are we actually doing? We're doing them a disservice. It's not our job to change them. And it's not our job to coddle them either.

So as we live ourselves in the way that we are supposed to, and grow in the way that we're supposed to, they then, will get to make their own choice. They will get to see Oh, wow, this makes me feel weird. I'm uncomfortable. I don't like what they're doing. It makes me feel different or less than we don't have to make them feel less than we can we can still look at them with love and empathy and encouragement and let God lead them. We can even say hey, yeah, I know you're there. I understand that you have those fears.

I'm with you, but I'm still going to do my road and I know God's gonna take care of you, then they have a choice to grow themselves and then the relationship can flourish by playing the part that we need to as we have grown and learned new things. We are led to how our future is supposed to be. So even if we've had to choose divorce as we keep living our true authentic self being open and honest and truthful and growing and listening to God and doing the hard things, making the hard choices. He will keep putting in our path, our next steps.

So as it as we do that we are led to new relationships. Now, if I take my new relationship now we've been married now for over a year, he and I are our so the same in many ways. And also so very different. His background is different, the things he's struggling with the things he's working through, the things he's going to counseling for, are different than the things that that I was doing. Some of them are the same, because they're based on trauma. But others are things that he was raised with. And so their belief systems that he has in place that he's trying to change now that that don't feel right to him anymore, that he wants to think differently.

And he wants to have a healthier view on some of these experiences and these ways of living. So in those moments, I have a choice to make, I can either compromise myself and go smaller in the ways of the icy things. If I feel that the way I'm seeing something is healthy, and he knows that he's working on something that isn't healthy. I don't need to make him feel better by not making him uncomfortable. I still have to live the way God is asking me to live, do the things I'm supposed to do live with full purpose, share my light, go out to the world and be me.

I was reminded by God, that my husband now fell in love with me when we were dating, because I was me, because of my light, because of my strength because of my goodness, because of how I like to live my life. So now in marriage, if I start making myself smaller, and not acting on all of that light that I love so much, just to make him feel more comfortable in where he is and what he's dealing with. How is that actually going to help him it isn't. And so living my life in the way that I'm supposed to with God allows him to do the same.

And that keeps us not being codependent on each other's thoughts and feelings and emotions. It keeps us living in our own lane. Yet having empathy and love and cheering each other on for where we are growing and what we are doing. These are the benefits of new relationships. This is the benefitof going through divorce and letting go of someone who doesn't want to be on the same page. The awesome thing about divorce is that you get to let go of somebody not willing to try, you get to let go of someone that has hurt you in a way that doesn't feel like that can be recovered.

Now I'm not saying about forgiveness. Obviously the Atonement of Jesus Christ is there for all of us. For some it is there for nurturing and reassuring us and validating our pain and showing us we are not alone. For others it is so that we can totally forgive a spouse for their infidelity. And we can work together to grow. But it takes two people working on the same thing, the same path that want the same thing in order for that to work. It's okay, if one of those people do not want to live the same way.

For me, that's why I believe divorce is an option. You don't have to sacrifice your entire life to try and coddle or make comfortable somebody else the benefits of divorce can outweigh than staying in an unhealthy or an abusive relationship. The awesome thing about choosing into a new relationship when you have children is that children need to see what a healthy relationship looks like they need to see what true love commitment, care, compassion, trust in God looks like. I

f that's not what they saw, in part of the relationship that their parents had, then they don't totally know they might believe what they want to feel they might know inside what it would feel like or this is what I think it would be like but until they experience it and see it in person in front of their face the examples. They only have what they grew up with.

So if you have children, and you want them to see something good and productive and healthy, and where two people are working together, either your current relationship with their parent is showing that because you've together, come through the betrayal come through the infidelity come through the lies of manipulation, and you are working together and they get to see how that looks, which is amazing. Honestly, gosh, that's exactly what me and my now husband wish would have happened in our other relationships that would have been so cool to be able to keep your family together your original family unit.

But if that's not possible, choosing a relationship where they can see that will change their lives immensely. Not without heartache, not without pain, not without learning not without even that clarity of Whoa, my parents relationship wasn't healthy. That's a sad realization for kids. But it gives them the chance to see the truth and then make commitments to themselves have what they want. They can look for it better in dating, they find it in their in their marriage relationships. They know if they should stay in their marriage relationships.

There's so many different things that by your example, you could show them choosing divorce is living by example, if you are in an unhealthy relationship, it shows them that they are worth having a healthy relationship, it's important to show them that. Now the downside of divorce is obviously the ones that people know of splitting holidays and time, and not having your kids full time for many of us. That is awful, right? None of that really gets better. There are certain things that feel stressful having a marriage or a family event that everybody's going to be at both sides of the original family plus some of the new family.

I've gotten to the point where it doesn't bother me, it doesn't matter. It's okay. But it still doesn't feel great. It still is like, Oh, my gosh, why does it have to be this way? Why do we have to do this? How do we navigate this, I want my kids to feel good around both me and their dad. Right? I don't want to make them feel like they have to choose because they don't, they get to have both. There's a lot of love from both families. My now husband loves my kids, my kids step mom loves them. That's what I want. That's the best case scenario.

You want them to feel loved, and valued wherever they go. But to be at these events, and then have to split off or have your children go with them instead of go with you is is the worst. And so those things do happen, they do stay, I'm not going to tell you that those magically go away and all is fine. Just because you find a great relationship, and you're happier now, doesn't mean any of that stuff changes. It seems as though you're always going to have the good things that are alongside the things that feel stressful or painful, there is still always going to be that reminder that that original family unit didn't make it.

But if you go back and look at the original family unit, usually you can say there were more negative things. If you look at it, clearly, there were things that you could not live with any longer, or your spouse could not live with any longer. If you are feeling like, Oh my gosh, I cannot do this another day. Or you feel like you're hanging on by a thread every single day, gearing up every single day to try to make it work that is still so painful.

So yes, you are trading what's painful. But what the hope is, is that whatever relationship you choose, it's going to be one that you and your partner are solid together, that you are striving for the same thing that you are striving to be honest, accountable, full of integrity, showing love, care, compassion, empathy for each other, where you have a partner, where you have a true partner where you can partner with God, where God is your partner, to tell you truth and realization and help you grow and you're, your spouse is your partner in life where you can go arm and arm talk things through the night, hash things out together and figure things out.

Building a blended family isn't ideal, of course. But this life has so many trials and struggles in it. Divorce is one of them. And really, it should be for more people then are taking it. Because there's so many of us in relationships that are abusive in some way. God does not want his children to be abused. He doesn't want you abused. He doesn't want you verbally taken down emotionally drop to your knees. He doesn't want people mocking you yelling at you telling you how dumb you are telling me that telling you that you're not perfect or why aren't you happy?

He wants you loved and cared for. He wants you to be able to love and care for someone else. If that's not possible, you have a choice to make. He wants to give you that choice, that is a choice. Go to him and ask him, ask him where you're at. Ask him if there's still more things to learn. Ask him if the last leaf has fallen. Ask him if you get to make it in your relationship. Ask him to help you see what the truth is.

I'm hopeful for you that it is to stay and that your partner is going to work with you and you guys are going to thrive and you're going to be happier than you ever have before. I know several people that that's happened to if that isn't what he says, then know that you're cared for and loved and that there is goodness waiting for you. As you choose into the truth. As you look at what's real as you accept what's real, as you see reality and say, Wow, I don't know how to make this decision.

But I have to anyway, because this is painful, right now the way it is. It's going to be painful to divorce too. But this is not healthy for me or my family. If that's where you are, know that you're not alone, know that you can do this. Know that God will be with you. I'm here to help you. Please reach out set up a session with me or do my six week program. Please call your counselor something that helps you feel like you can navigate this and that you can learn new patterns and see things more clearly of what's happening.

So you're not relying solely on what your belief is that you can save this. That's a noble belief. But we have to make sure that that's actually true, and that you're going in the right direction. You deserve to be safe. You deserve to be loved. You deserve to be cared for your relationship can emulate what Christ teaches. Is that relationship, the one that you're in now?

Or is it coming in your future, you want to be ready, you want to be working towards that happiness, and that goodness, and it can happen. being a good person. Being a good wife, being a good mother sometimes means that you stay because it's going to work out and sometimes it means that you have to go. And that's the best thing you can do for yourself and your family and your children.

Sometimes that's the answer. I am sending you so much love and care right now as you navigate what's going on in your relationship and if your last leaf has fallen, if it has and you are now stunned with this new realization, please ask for help. You can do this choose into you and your healing and everything will work itself out. If you're healing you everything falls into place. It doesn't have to feel fearful or overwhelming. It will all be manageable if you choose to youand I'll see you next time.