I am no more a fan of Time magazine than President Trump is a fan of CNN, ABC, NBC, or any other network peddling what he likes to call “fake news.” But a headline from a Time piece that came across in my news feed caught my eye: “Raising My Son With My Ex-Husband Is the Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done”.
Because I have experienced the transformative power of marriage and the blessing of children, those two topics are particularly close to my heart. Although this article is, as one of my colleagues put it, a “heartbreaking piece,” it is worth reading. The author poignantly describes the truth about marriage: that the birth of a child forever connects the lives of that child’s parents—no matter modern efforts to separate a couple legally through divorce and to facilitate the upbringing of the children through “co-parenting.” The author writes:
I didn’t realize that divorce doesn’t really exist when you have children. If it does, it looks something like this: “I now pronounce you ex-husband and ex-wife, you may keep seeing each other for the rest of your lives.” That’s where I am now, the separate but together forever until death do we part. That vow doesn’t go away even after all of the other vows have been broken.
Although my beliefs about marriage prevent me from agreeing with several things in the article, I do think that it helpfully presents truths that married people (who might at some point contemplate divorce) should understand in order to motivate their continued commitment to their union. I also think we benefit from understanding the challenges that the divorced in our community face so that we can empathize, minister, and provide support and comfort.
In case you’re not able to read the Time essay now—and in any event hoping to pique your interest further—I’ve summarized a few of its gems of truth:
- Marriage is a lifelong union because of its purpose as the institution designed to nurture children.
- Parental relationships that are not grounded in the married, natural family—mother, father, and their offspring—intentionally deprive a child of one of the parents that child needs. “Co-parenting means my child will grow up always missing one of his parents.”
- A child’s identity derives from both parents, and ever testifies to their union. Thus, divorce involving children is a legal break, but never quite an actual one: “What I didn’t understand back then is that the love I have for my son and the love I had for his father would always be tangled up together in knots.”
- Parenting is a full-time endeavor regardless of physical distance. There is nothing enviable about the “time off” that divorced parents spend separated from their children.
If you have experienced divorce and perhaps face some of the same challenges that the author describes, I cannot comprehend the depth of your pain, but I believe that our God will provide healing and grace for each day when we call on Him; and that is my prayer for you today.