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This is a moderated blog is a project of the Ruth Institute. Have a story to share? We're listening.
Posted on: Monday, November 09, 2020
An Australian shares some heart-wrenching stories about the effects
of divorce on children's mental health from cases he has seen first-hand:
Our son has a nine-year-old friend, who also has an 11-year-old brother. Their parents are no longer together. On weekends, the nine-year-old goes to his
father's, who has a new love interest. She has two children from a previous marriage. My son's friend cries at school and particularly on Fridays when
he knows he must go to his father's house. The 11-year-old brother does not go because he yells and flat-out refuses. Our son's friend is often upset,
shy, and becomes very reactive to many things.
Posted on: Wednesday, June 27, 2018
My father was incredibly emotionally and physically abusive. Although there was never any sexual abusive per se, he certainly denigrated me as a male. He was a hard man, and I was always a sensitive boy. I'm still a sensitive, empathetic man. I have never been a flaming gay guy, but as much as I hate it, I have struggled with Same Sex Attraction my whole life.
I have been divorced twice now. I would very much liked to have had some EFFECTIVE counseling in late adolescence or early adulthood. However, I grew up in a small town, and there was always such shame about "gay people" that I would never have dared discuss it with anyone.
Now that I've been divorced twice and have young children, I consider it my responsibility to get whole so that I can be a good example to my children. Although I may never be very open about the details with my children when they are adults, I will encourage them to read, learn and do whatever it takes to be emotionally healthy. I have been having Subconscious Reparative Therapy, which is helping. I think I am almost there. However, even if a healthy relationship presented itself, I don't think it would be fair to my children to have another relationship, at least until after they're grown.
I accept that I will probably be alone for the rest of my life. I accept this with a stoic lack of self-pity and with dignity. Having said that, I want
better for my children. My whole purpose in life is to coach my children in a direction they need to go so they will grow up to be healthy, well-balanced
adults. If that means my children will need some counselings and therapy, so be it. I will do whatever it takes for them to be more successful than
I have been in my personal life. Sexual sin is wrong. Certain things that happened to me weren't my fault, but it's my responsibility to get better
for my sake and for my children's sake.
Posted on: Wednesday, March 28, 2018
It was one of my all-time favorite photos. I was laying on the floor playing with two of my children. My then 2-year-old daughter laid on my back, and my son was next to us. Everyone was looking up at the camera, smiling. But today, when I looked at this photo on the bulletin board in the kitchen, my face had a large “X” carved across it, likely by one of my children.
When my wife of more than 20 years decided to divorce me, I was the last to know. She cleaned out our bank accounts to hire a lawyer. She informed our three children. She published the divorce suit in the newspaper. Then she strode into my office one afternoon and looked at me with raging hatred. “I want a divorce,” she declared.
For the next hour,
I was subjected to a verbal blistering. Her complaints against me as a husband and father came fast and furious. In all, she spit out more than 40 “indictments” of my person. The only thing worse than being alone, she said, was being in a room with me. I was a weak person. She was sick of propping me up. She wished she’d never married me. I was an embarrassment. She belittled me without mercy. When she finished, my entire existence had been condemned.
Life as I knew it died that day. As a lifelong sufferer of depression, I was not remotely equipped to deal with it. After my wife had taken our two daughters and moved out, I stood in the bathroom, looking in the mirror. I hated myself. I must be to blame for this. I wanted God’s comfort, but the house seemed totally empty. I was so alone. He wasn’t there. I picked up an X-acto blade and started carving into my chest. I wanted to punish myself for my biggest failure. Blood was running down everywhere. I never felt so abandoned. For a moment, I thought of Jesus on the Cross. I felt ashamed of what I’d done. Then the tears came. They still flow.
God was there on that horrible day, even if he was hidden. Otherwise, I would not be here to write this. I still had more to suffer; sadness I’d never even imagined. My wife’s attacks continued, via email, on the phone, and in person. I was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward for a week. The nurses were shocked when my wife called, telling them she was waiting when I got out with divorce papers in hand. Furthermore, she planned to try to strip me of all custody rights.
When I returned home, my wife had taken down all the crucifixes, religious art, and sacramentals like holy water and piled them on my desk. That’s when I saw the hand of evil behind this attack. I was savaged for my Catholic faith. She told me I was a religious nut for having holy water. “Who does that?” she sneered. Somebody tore my wife down and put up a demon.
My attempts to establish a new life and still be a good father have taken many years. The divorce court allowed me just four days a month with my children. I was garnished for more than 40 percent of wages. When I was unemployed, the court took the majority of my state aid and gave it to my wife, who earned $100,000 a year. I ended up homeless, living out of my car.
If you tallied the cost of this divorce, the monetary figure was high, but the emotional toll was devastating. My son was out on his own and seems to have escaped unscathed. My daughters had serious medical issues, two suicide attempts, a sexual assault, and a lot of anger. I could not be there for them because my wife and a court said so. I turned to prayer to make reparations and ask God to heal the children, to call their hearts back to the faith. I pray to St. Michael for protection. I know Jesus can bring good from this. By offering up my sufferings, I can help. Lord Jesus, help me suffer well.
Posted on: Wednesday, July 12, 2017
We were the happy couple, married in our parish almost 30 years ago. After the marriage, my spouse apologized for pressuring before marriage to unchastity.
That had been my first mistake--believing the lie that in a serious relationship (we were nearly engaged after all) having sex occasionally was ok.
It wasn't. It bothered my conscience deeply and I felt used.
Once married we used Natural Family Planning. In the first year, we conceived. With bills to pay, crying every day, I left my child to go to work. Eventually my husband did quite well financially, so I quit to raise our children. My youngest was born in a traumatic delivery, which led me to fear having more children. I then made mistake number two--taking the pill. I knew it was wrong, but I justified it in "my case." God would understand, but I'm ashamed that I didn't confess it. I didn't understand the WHY of what the church taught. My mother had worked full time, and the message growing up was to put career and financial security as the top priority. Having a large family was seen as irresponsible.
After a decade of marriage, one day I walked in and caught my husband masturbating. Was he watching porn on his computer? He said that every man does it. It hurt deeply. He met someone, a porn model. He told me that he didn't want to be married to me anymore. He claimed that he had never loved me and we were not compatible.
We saw a priest who failed us. He told my husband that since he wasn't happy he could leave. I felt so abandoned. I considered leaving the church. My husband continued to be distant, cold towards me. I considered suicide.
Alone one night, I heard a quiet voice telling me that I was not alone--God was there. During this time our oldest, who was in high school, became involved in a same sex relationship. I cried all the time. No one could tell me how to deal with this. The ministry in my archdiocese turned out to be gay-affirming. I left the first meeting in tears. Their message, to affirm, I couldn't do. At my new parish the priest told me about Courage.
I couldn't in good conscience start dating, as I was still a married woman, regardless of what my husband chose to do. He had broken his promise; I didn't want to give my children that example. I focused on my two teenagers. They needed a responsible parent. I was forced to go back to work. I remember crying on Christmas Eve as the utility man came to shut off our utilities again. That same Christmas my estranged husband bought our daughters designer handbags. I felt ashamed that I had failed my children. One day I came home and caught my youngest daughter, 18, with her boyfriend. I yelled at him and asked him point blank if he was prepared to support a child.
Soon it will be 10 years since that day when my husband shattered our family. Along the path of tears I gained a deeper faith. I learned to trust God in ways I never had. I discovered how very much He had always been there with me, protected, and guided me. I am a different person than I was on that first day when I thought my heart would explode from pain. I left my old parish because the memories hurt too much and because the failure of the pastor left me feeling abandoned. I found a new parish where they actually preach the true Catholic faith. I became involved in parish life and began formation as a secular Carmelite. I began to educate myself through the Courage apostolate. I began an EnCourage chapter in my area, providing hope and truth for parents.
Three years ago my husband filed for divorce. I miss the man he used to be. I now see a man without inner peace, and my heart hurts for him. He is
cohabiting with a woman 10 years younger than I. My oldest is cohabiting in a same sex relationship. I understand now about redemptive suffering. God
really is close to the broken-hearted, abandoned spouse. He always provided for me. And I really feel that I have been blessed with the better part.
I am His, and that is where I want to stay.
Submitted by M. M.
Posted on: Thursday, June 22, 2017
At the age of 52, I recently found myself sitting in my mother's psychologist's office. She went to him most of her adult life, though she died six years ago. I knew her psychologist well since, at the age of 14, I was the one who had sought him out in hopes of acquiring help for my family. My dad attended family therapy once, at which time he stood in frustration, faced his broken family, and proclaimed, "I am an alcoholic and have no intention of changing anything."
After my third divorce, I returned home to the Catholic Church. Then, following a year of devotion to praying my mom's rosary, I felt compelled to approach my parish priest about starting the annulment process. The time had come to confront my painful past, and the healing process was subsequently set in motion. It has not been easy, but necessary.
After Mom passed away, I discovered her own annulment documents. They revealed that my father was a sex addict and described in detail the abuse she had suffered in her marriage. It was overwhelming to realize the puzzle of my past consisted of a myriad of pieces. I think it would have been a relief the day dad chose to walk out of our family had it not been Christmas Eve. He was donning a new shirt and void of regret as he walked right past his wife's brokenness and his children's joyful anticipation of the arrival of Santa Claus.
After two years of therapy, I found myself still staring at a mound of puzzle pieces--very few connected. In my desperation, I thought mom's psychologist could help trigger some memories. Within the first ten minutes of our visit, I regretted this decision as he hastily concluded I had "hang ups" about sex since I was in a chaste relationship. He suggested that if we liked each other, we should live together. I remember staring at his degree hanging appropriately lopsided on the wall when it felt as if a bolt of lightning shot through my body, which appeared to have traveled upwards from hell, as I realized this man had influenced my mom. She sought help to better her life, and this is what she got. I was now guilt-ridden, knowing I had brought them together.
This sparked an unwelcome memory of my mom asking me to purchase her a condom. I vividly recollected struggling to process the metamorphosis I was witnessing--she was planning a one night stand. At the time I was married with two small children. Possessing only the life skills acquired on my own, I desperately tried to persuade her to reconsider. What was most upsetting was that she seemed so happy, even giddy, at the prospect. I wondered what had happened to my mom, the one who attended mass and confession and was quite devoted to praying the rosary. Now I knew.
I listened to the psychologist as he recalled this very encounter as my mom had described it to him. "It was liberating," he proclaimed, for her to express herself in this manner after being abused by my dad for so long. She now had control over her sexual being and was free to express her sexuality with confidence and without fear. He assured me it was quite pleasurable for her. I felt sick and was rendered speechless for a moment as I absorbed the shock waves of this most recent traumatic event. I responded to him by leaning inward and looking directly into his eyes with a resounding, "Seemingly!"
It was time to leave. As I walked out the door, I muttered "hippie" and felt somewhat vindicated.
Submitted by D.W.
Posted on: Thursday, May 04, 2017
Three long years ago, my husband and I separated. The intention was to work on our marriage; I never thought it would turn into divorce.
I know the agony of a broken home. My parents divorced when I was not quite two years old. My mother remarried, but their marriage ended ten years later, just a month before my own wedding. I thought, If this is how marriages turn out, do I ever want to be married? But I also knew that my husband and I were both Christians. No matter what difficulties we would face, we would face them together, I told myself. We married almost 20 years ago.
So, what happened?
In a word: offense. My husband and I did hurtful things out of our own pain and immaturity instead of solving the real problems in our relationship. We can be hurt by others and yet not take up offense. Offense happens when we compare ourselves to one another, instead of in humility comparing ourselves with Christ. We need look no further than the Cross of Christ to see the cost of our own sin, to feel the weight of the price that was paid for our mistakes to be forever removed. Our obligation, having received such a gift, is to give it away, to share it, by forgiving others. No matter how badly I have sinned or been sinned against, it is nothing compared to all my sins put together that Christ had to forgive for me. Should we do anything except fall with our faces to the ground, crying out great thanksgiving to God for His mercy? Having received such a gift, do we owe anything less than complete forgiveness to our brothers and sisters?
The enemy of our souls had fed us a lie, that our situation was hopeless. With Christ, there is no such thing as hopelessness! We got to the point where we told ourselves, I can’t take any more of this. But in hind sight, the pain we experienced then is nothing compared to what we’ve been through since. Oh, how I wish I could go back, put my hands firmly on my own shoulders, look myself in the eyes and say, “STOP. Now. If you go any further, you will experience pain and sorrow that no English words can accurately describe.” I would have dropped all offenses immediately. I would have apologized faster. I would have repented sooner. I would have guarded my mouth with utmost diligence. And I would have realized with great sobriety just how easily divorce can happen in our culture.
Davis and children
at the rotunda of the Texas State Capitol Building
We would do well to heed the Proverb: Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin; anyone who trusts in high walls invites disaster (17:19, NLT).
Days became weeks, weeks became months, and then that message I’ll never forget: “I want a divorce.” Despite my desire for reconciliation, our family is
still facing permanent division. A wise man once told me: divorce is like tearing a tree in two. Trees don’t rip neatly; they tear. If you’ve ever
heard a large branch break off a tree, the tearing is loud and violent. To me, ‘divorce’ means “division by force.” Three times now in my life: once
as a toddler, once as a grown adult, and now as a wife and mother, divorce has been forced upon me, and there is nothing outside of prayer I can do
about it. All three have happened in the state of Texas, and all three under the “no-fault divorce” system put into place before I was even conceived.
Forty years of agony. If you’ve been through it, I need not explain how it feels.
Back in January, just a few short months ago, I sat in my attorney’s office working on draft #3 of our divorce decree. I asked my attorney, “At what point can I stand up and say to the judge that I don’t agree with this, that I don’t think our marriage is irreconcilable? Or insupportable?” Her reply, “Well, you can say it at final trial, if the case goes to final trial, but it won’t matter. The judge will still grant the divorce, even if she doesn’t want to. It’s the law.” It all seems so very wrong. Why can a judge who has never met my husband, myself, or our children, agree that our marriage relationship cannot be reconciled and our family healed? Why is this ok, if one of the two parties in this court case disagrees with the “charge” of insupportability, especially the defendant?
About a week after that meeting, however, a friend and mentor of mine shared with me, “Have you heard about this new bill in the Texas House? They are asking for the repeal of no-fault divorce.” I couldn’t believe my ears! You mean, someone is standing up against this decades-old failed social experiment? I looked it up online. I wrote to my Representative. (Did I mention we are a homeschooling family?) And thanks to a homeschooling program called Capitol Days put on by Texas Home School Coalition, I found myself in the state capitol with my four children less than a month later, on my birthday. Though we were tired by the end of the afternoon, we made one more stop and went by the office of the Representative brave enough to author this bill, just to share our story, just to say thank you.
They asked me if I would testify for the bill.
I could not have asked for a better birthday gift! After feeling helpless against divorce for so long, I was given an opportunity to do something about it.
On March 8, I went back to Austin to testify for House Bill 93, authored by Representative Matt Krause. I was overwhelmed, as out of the millions of people who have suffered this tragedy in my state alone, I was among eight in the office that day, ready to stand for marriage with this Bill. The Committee gave me about 3 minutes to tell them what I had waited about 40 years to say: Making divorce easy makes for disaster. The local news asked for an interview. You can view it here.
While I was there, I met another person who had shown up to testify, a constitutional law attorney. He was willing to say that no-fault divorce cases are without due process, and it is therefore unconstitutional to have such a law. He said he would challenge the Legislature’s law right up to the Supreme Court of Texas if he could find someone willing. I knew I had to ask if my case qualified; I was willing.
The attorney and I spoke. We were on a very short court schedule, so getting everything we needed done in such a short time would be difficult. I needed two things: 1) an extension to one court deadline to get all the paperwork for the challenge submitted, and 2) funding for the case to move forward. I only had a few weeks. We asked for a hearing before the judge to see if the deadline could be extended. That hearing was held April 20. The judge granted us the extension, but only for 8 additional days, until April 28th. It was not enough time. After all the effort, my case could not move forward. Even if the House Bill passes, it will not affect our marriage as our case was already filed.
I find myself back where I started: facing unilateral no-fault divorce, with nothing but prayer to help me. I cried. A lot.
But all is not lost! House Bill 93 is alive and moving through the Texas House. You may follow it here. Please contact the House representatives, and let them know you support this bill!
Are you walking through no-fault divorce and would like to use your case to challenge the law? Or maybe you are able to contribute financially toward such an effort? It’s an investment that could affect millions of lives for the better, especially the lives of children! If so, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, please pray for our family. After standing for our marriage for so long, I am nearing my 20-year anniversary; I’ve spent the last three anniversaries without my husband. All four of my children have dealt with various issues because of this divorce. Our case is scheduled for mediation on May 18th, just two weeks away. And yes, I am still believing for a miracle. With God, all things are possible!
Standing with you for marriage,
Posted on: Monday, January 16, 2017
It all probably started in high school when I became bulimic. I thought I was the only one in the world with this terrible compulsion. Now I know that 4 of the 6 daughters of my family engaged in bulimia during their teens. I also now know that my father was engaged in porn and put enormous pressure on us to look slim and perfect.
Later at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1971, I had a nervous breakdown at the end of my sophomore year and sought psychiatric care. The psychiatrist told me "the problem is that you are still a virgin." Until then, I had resisted the sexual revolution because of my morals and belief in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Suddenly I rationalized that since I was suicidal for so long, I was obligated to try anything to try to save my life.
Three months later I had slept with 4 different guys. I was headed to a life of promiscuity. I convinced a guy from my old high school that we should live together and then that we should sleep together. In 1973, this man became my husband, two months before our first son was born, and fathered 5 children with me. We divorced after 29 years.
He was unfaithful most of the marriage, perhaps because I had been promiscuous before marriage. I was faithful to him though. I was too busy and too blind to see. I still blame myself for seducing him in the first place.
I came to see that I had been wrong, because I was using men to lift me out of a suicidal depression. Sure sex can distract you from the pain, but not cure the underlying dysfunction. It has taken me 45 years of growing self awareness to appreciate that I survived and have been active in the prolife group ever since Roe vs. Wade, January 22, 1973.
In 1973, before my ex and I got married, I went for a pregnancy test at the Blue Bus free health clinic in Madison, WI. They gave me the positive results with a list of 5 doctors that would do my abortion. They knew I was single and poor. I quickly ran out of the bus and hid from the pro abortion atmosphere in Madison my entire 9 months. I felt like a spy for the prolife movement.
Every year though, I was able to become more vocal and active until I stopped hiding. I have been to two March for Life events both in D.C. with 3 kids and in Chicago with a grandchild. Now I am happy and God has just blessed me with Grandchildren #12 and 13. My family is prolife and good Catholics. My 3 sons have wonderful Catholic wives and are leaders in their churches. I am grateful that I didn't abort. I am grateful that I forgave myself and my ex and can love my whole family now.
Submitted by J. B.
Posted on: Thursday, March 24, 2016
by Meredith H. (South Jordan)
It started when I was 5. I remember hearing them fight scream while I cried trying to go to sleep. One night as I was asleep I heard some yelling outside my door. Then I heard my mom singing though my dad was still trying to argue with her. As weeks passed the police came to my house so often it scared me. When I turned 6 I went to my aunts house with my sister and three brothers. Only to cry even more finding out they were at court. When we returned home I had found out that my mom had been sent to jail. She got out but shes not doing well. 2 years later we moved. It was the worst I was depressed. But I just smiled hoping everything will be alright. But it never was. I missed my mom so much it hurt to know I didn't have anyone to do my hair. I bubbles my feelings so much that I suddenly burst. I CUT. Voices in my head told it would help but it didn't. My dad started yelling more it was bad. I cried for my mom for help for anyone to save me! I went to a counselor for help she helped me so much she understood me her parents too got in a divorce. It helped but sometimes at night when everyone is asleep i cried and wished for a mommy. I even drew my own mommy. To this day I hate that we moved. I am still depressed and still have feelings i want to spill. My family could have worked. Its been 7 years and I still cry is there anyone out there who just wishes they could have one phone call to heaven.
Posted on: Wednesday, March 23, 2016
When I was 13, my mom began an affair with an old boyfriend, who she ran into at a reunion. She eventually divorced my dad, and married him. My father was devastated. My mom justified her actions by telling everyone their marriage had been miserable and my dad treated her poorly. This was a huge source of gossip in the mid 80's in our small town, and I felt like everyone was talking about my family behind my back. Both my parents were too busy trashing each other to notice what their divorce had done to me. My mom felt she was entitled to be happy with her new husband, and people get divorced all the time, and so it was all really no big deal and I would get over it. Karma did get her though--her amazing old boyfriend turned out to have a big drinking problem, and her new marriage spiraled downhill fast. She eventually divorced him too. Like so many people, she discovered the grass really wasn't greener with someone else. If only more people understood this.
I was, and remain, 100% committed to never putting my children through anything like what I went through. I married a wonderful man and we recently celebrated our 15th anniversary. It shocks me when I realize that we are approaching the length of time my parents were married when my mom's affair began. We have two children who are our entire world, and when I look at them I can't fathom for one minute putting them through anything like that. To this day, I still feel pain over the fact that my mom didn't feel the same way. It's been over 25 years and that pain is still there.
Posted on: Friday, February 19, 2016
My mother left when I was six. My sister and I went to a beautiful old house we called “the home” - a group home for girls whose families were under stress.
We were fed and dressed well, had lots of play time but, even with my sister there, I was scared. I saw Matron rub a twelve year old girl’s nose into
her urine-soaked sheets, and I had seen her pull down underpants in public, in order to spank other girls. That was when I began to live on the margins
and keep watch. Like the kid in the movie 'The Blind Side’, I became "99% self-protective”.
At age eight I went back to live with Daddy. I hardly can recall my mother but Dad remains my hero. He and I shared long evenings reading or listening
to the radio and talking about plays, music and politics. With him, I participated in anti-apartheid marches. My love of history came from trips
we took to ancient places like the Roman ruins at St. Albans and, every year, we went by ferry to his Irish homeland. I loved sitting on deck at
night, singing old Irish songs.
By my early teens I began getting in trouble and ended up in boarding school. The school was in a 19th Century mansion, its grounds filled with exotic
plants, lakes, a swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts. A tolerant staff kept watch over us. We danced to juke-box music every weekend. Boys
and girls found all kinds of secret places to meet - in fireplaces, by laundry baskets, in the woods and at the trout stream. And we knew not to
go “all the way”.
By 1965, the naive little boarding school girl, heavily influenced by an atheist/socialist Dad, went to nursing school and became a bleeding heart.
Assisting with abortions was part of the surgical rotation. I never thought to question the morality of it and none of my peers did either. There
was no public discussion about it, no talk about women’s rights. It was a scandal for a young woman to be pregnant outside of marriage. They were
my peers, and I wanted to shield them.
When Evangelical friends put a Bible in my hands, my life changed radically. By the time I read the Gospels the third time, I was sensing a protective
and tolerant Presence, yet I struggled with accepting Christianity. Then came terrible nightmares about dead babies. I felt prompted to read my
Bible and start writing. I realized I was dreaming about the abortions I’d participated in and which, for fifteen years, I never had a second thought
about. In nursing school, I had believed as I was taught, that the baby was a “blob of tissue”.
The words of Deuteronomy 30:19 jumped out - “I put before you Life and Death, choose…” I saw two armies, one standing behind Jesus and one behind
Satan, and my inner ears heard, “there is no gray area”. It was a mandate. My choice had to be an eternal one. After 29 years I went back to the
Church, and I was (flinchingly) in the pro-life camp.
However, I continued, as a Public Health nurse, thinking that birth control was a lesser evil than abortion and that the Church’s teachings were wrong,
until I learned about the beautiful spirituality of natural family planning. I began to remember women who had strokes as a result of birth control
- and malignant hypertension and pancreatitis. Could my sister’s death, from pancreatic cancer have been avoided if she had not taken birth control
for thirty years?
Following a hunch, I discovered many horrid complications of artificial contraception besides abortifacient properties - cardiovascular disease, cancers of breast, liver and cervix, egg-producing male fish, personality changes, sterility, miscarriages and STDs.
I know now, as my 69th birthday approaches, that the Church had wisdom about the terrible consequences the sexual revolution would bring - long before science began to identify them.
Submitted by L. P. February 2016.