Hating the Big “D” Word

. . .And I Don’t Mean Dallas

I hate DIVORCE. Most likely my visceral reaction to the “D” word is because I continue to view it through a broken-hearted five-year old’s eyes. The scene is still so vivid in my mind. My mom sat next to me on the couch with her arm draped lovingly over my shoulders. My dad stood and faced us as they began to explain to me that daddy would no longer be living with us. I was my daddy’s baby girl. He was the lap I ran to when I wanted to feel safe, loved and warm…the neck I flung my arms around when I needed to express my own emotions of love. That day, my world was shattered and my heart was broken, just like my family circle.

When it was time for me to get married, I had already witnessed three additional divorces in my immediate family. Some more painful for me to watch and more difficult to understand than others…but each time I felt a sense of loss. As my wedding day drew closer, my inner turmoil grew stronger. I had no doubts at all about how I felt about my fiance, but I did have fears about my familial track record on marriage…was I doomed to end up in divorce just like everyone around me? Of course, one look in my husband’s eyes always made me feel confident that we could weather any storm together.

Now, here I am 32 years into my marriage relationship and unfortunately,  I’ve watched the “D” monster rear its ugly head time and time again splintering the lives of close friends and family members. Last week, when I asked a friend of mine about a mutual girlfriend I hadn’t seen in a while..she said, “Oh, haven’t you heard? Julia and her husband filed for divorce. . .she is really going through hell right now.” Bummer…another family torn apart, a little piece of my heart breaks again. In my little cul-de-sac, two couples broke up over the last year..both with young children who are now being raised primarily by one parent. I watch two of the children as they play, I see the change in their spirit…their once lighthearted play is now hampered by an invisible weight hanging on their conflicted souls. . .mommy is now just a visitor. Another tear falls.

Why? Why is it so difficult for couples to make it work? I wonder how the break down all begins. Everyone starts the same…fall in love, get married, have children. . .etc. So why do those precious marriage vows lose their significance so quickly in many cases? It occurs to me that as parents, we would never consider divorcing our children when they are unreasonable or difficult to live with. On the contrary, we do everything we can to nurture and mend the relationship. So why is there such a double standard in the way we approach the one we promised our heart to…to love, honor and cherish? I am convinced that many times priorities switch as soon as children are brought into the equation. New moms put all their energy into their young child and often have very little left for their spouse at the end of the day. Most men’s love language is very monosyllabic. . .as in “sex”. They feel loved when they are sexually gratified. Their egos, as well as their emotional well-being can take a pretty big hit when they are constantly rebuffed in the bedroom.

We women are looking for gestures of love, little things that let us know they really care…bathing the baby, emptying the dishwasher, picking up a meal for dinner (without being asked)…can completely change our day and melt our heart, making us much more receptive at the end the day for a little love romp. So once again, it all comes back to good communication. People have to learn to tell each other what they need! I wonder why that is so difficult?

Obviously, there are marriages where outside influences such as alcoholism, drug use or abuse slowly destroy the relationship and leave little options for the non-offending spouse. Sadly, in those cases, sometimes divorce is the only option for physical well-being and peace of mind.

So, what can I do? How can I make a difference? I try to always be available to lend an ear and truly listen when others are in turmoil. I can offer advice from lessons I’ve learned when someone asks for it. And, I can continue to offer up my thoughts in writing on LuvYa.com. If even just one person gets a little help or encouragement from my words, every minute spent in front of the computer will have been worth it. And finally, I can love my husband unconditionally and lead by example.

Spring Awakening

 Beauty Beyond the Traditions. . .

During this wonderful time of the year, I find myself being thankful for a multitude of blessings. Every morning when I open the shutters it seems there is another colorful blossom to greet me. Although my nasal passages do not approve of the seasonal delights, my other senses are overjoyed. My husband and I have been taking great joy in the brightly colored cardinal who has been frolicking outside our office window. Soon after our cherry tree released its pink blossoms to float like pink snow to the ground, the white azaleas that line our front and backyard bloomed overnight. Spring in Charlotte, is definitely a sight to behold.

April not only ushers in a time of beautiful flowers and lush green grass, but a time of spiritual renewal and reflection. It is at this time of year that I become especially thankful for the diversity of my friendships and the blessing I receive from viewing this most holy week from two different perspectives. Leading up to Passover, my Jewish friends are busy preparing for company, bringing out special plates and cookware, cooking flourless cakes, making matzoh balls and many other Kosher delights, while setting the stage to reenact a tradition celebrated for thousands of years. In fact, the very same tradition that Jesus, as an observant Jew, repeated at the Last Supper in the upper room.

Fortunately, and much to my delight, my Jewish friends have invited me several times to enjoy this amazing feast and celebration. For me, a protestant Christian girl from Oklahoma, having the opportunity to enjoy Passover has made the Old Testament story of the exodus from Egypt leap off the pages (kind of like the difference between seeing a movie in black and white on an 18 inch TV versus viewing it in 3D in an IMAX theater.) Before this experience, my view was more aligned with Cecil B. DeMille’s hollywood version depicted in the motion picture epic “The Ten Commandments.”  Experiencing the “several thousand-year old” live version, has been much more impactful and spiritually moving.

When I was a little girl (brought up in a non-religious home) this particular weekend was all about that magical morning when I would awaken to find what the Easter bunny had left me. Of course the jelly beans and chocolate bunny propped upon the green crinkled grass delighted me, but it was the stuffed soft furry animal that accompanied the basket that brought me the most joy. As I grew up and began to seek for truth and develop a strong desire to know God, Easter took on a different meaning. I was only about eight years old the first time I saw the movie “The Robe”. In the movie, as Jesus was being nailed to the cross and the Roman guard was gripping his scarlet robe in his arms, my heart was aching causing my eyes to release rivers of guilt and sorrow. Traumatic and emotionally jarring as the scene was to my young psyche, the truth was, the message gripped my soul and I remember at that moment, I was forever changed.

Today, my spiritual journey has taken me to an unexpected place of peace and love not ever captured on the big screen or outlined in a few verses of Times New Roman text. Converging two different worlds of man’s story of who God is and all that concept entails, has reduced me to a single human emotion. . .love. . .and for that, once again, I am truly thankful.

Happy Spring Awakening to all of you!