August 13, 2009

Why It Matters

Sometimes I am amazed at the speed with which a Facebook friend can go from listing their relationship as Married to It's Complicated to In a Relationship. A new relationship, not the relationship with the person to whom they were married just a couple months earlier. The person they were married to for years. The person they had children with. In the blink of an eye, they're in a new relationship. Sometimes they haven't even filed for divorce yet.

Has that become the new normal? Is it that people believe lines like "first you were half now you're whole" and all that followed it?

In my last post, I offered unsolicited advice to divorcing parents. A couple of items might seem particularly harsh, but when kids are involved, it's not just about you.

  • Whether you have decided to divorce or not, you are married until your divorce is final. Don't even think about dating - not online, and not in real life. Moving on too soon can be difficult for your children, and it's not wise for you on an emotional level. What your spouse chooses to do is beside the point. You are only responsible for your own choices.
  • Should you go through with a divorce, work on same-sex friendships before you start thinking about dating. A woman who acts boy crazy when her marriage fails makes bad choices and sets a horrible example for both daughters and sons. The same goes for men who start dating too soon.
You're used to having someone by your side, and it's natural to feel like a part of you is missing when you find yourself living without that person. That's how it's supposed to feel. It's a grieving process, and you have to work through that grief for the sake of your emotional health. It also shows your children how to get through a painful experience.

Why is dating too soon a bad example for kids? Because it teaches them that people you have loved are disposable. Younger kids will extrapolate that to mean that they're disposable, too. And if you're more concerned about your new relationship than you are in your children's adjustment to your separation, you're only reinforcing that view.

It gets more complicated with older kids. They may feel disposable, too. In addition to that, if they see you use a new relationship to boost your self-esteem, they're likely to do the same. That can lead to choices that will follow them throughout their lives. Half a person isn't going to be made whole by finding someone new, and you don't want your children to think relationships will solve everything.

I know how your actions impact your kids because my parents were divorced. My mom made some choices that must have been difficult for her, but she did what was best for her family. She showed us that faith in God will get you through anything. She taught me that the only relationship that will make you whole is a relationship with Christ. I love that about my mom.


  1. dear margaret,
    your mom must be a remarkable person. it is so difficult to not replace the person who has gone. she chose your sister in law has made the same choice, and her children are very grateful to her!

  2. I know it's not easy, and I have to admire women who put their families ahead of their own needs. We have at least one classmate who has made that choice, and her daughters are both the better for it.