Monday, April 20, 2009

"Amica-bull Divorce"

How often have you heard the expression, “amicable divorce?” Talk about an oxy-moron. Amicable refers to a friendly choice which lacks any antagonism. I want to scream when I hear such comments. When there are children involved in a divorce, it is never amicable for the child. In fact, I have created a new descriptive for this reality: “amica-bull divorce.”

Too many times to number, I have listened to people minimize the abandonment they suffered through divorce. Divorce is epidemic, and the denial about the heart wound of abandonment is stunning. Whenever I hear a person say that he or she had an “amicable divorce,” I’m shocked; believe me, the children of the divorce never felt it was amicable. We are too casual about the incredible pain that comes when spouses/parents separate. It is a terrible wound to be abandoned by someone who should have protected, led, and loved you. To minimize that wound usually leads to the offended spouse’s or child’s burying the hurt.

If you bury the hurt, you’ll bury the hate, because believe it or not, where hurt comes, inevitably hate and anger come also. Have you ever considered the parallel between so many angry children and their parents “amica-bull divorce”?

In a book review in the Wall Street Journal, (The Marriage-Go-Round by Andrew J. Cherlin) I read this caption, “Amid divorce, remarriage and co-habitation, children do not do well.” I have witnessed the reality of this caption for two decades as I have counseled thousands of teens whose parents have been divorced. Too many times I have been heartbroken that the child’s parent was more committed to his or her own personal happiness than working for the good of the family as a whole. Cherlin points out in his book, “Americans celebrate individualism more than people in other Western societies and so believe that they are entitled to make choices that maximize their personal happiness.” Such entitlement has moved divorce into epidemic proportions in the U.S.

As divorce increases, the victimized children increase which only validates again the accuracy of my newly penned phrase, “amica-bull divorce: a divorce which is friendly for the adults but antagonistic for the soul of the abandoned child. I will remain busy counseling and comforting hundreds of teens who need to forgive their parents for choices that too often are so me-centric that they are totally oblivious to the impact on their children. (Disclaimer: I know that sometimes divorce is a necessity for the protection of the children—that is not the divorce that the “amica-bull divorce” is referring to.)

Part of every divorce settlement should be a copy of Free Yourself to Love, for everyone involved in this painful choice. The process of forgiving is a life long journey and it doesn’t end when the divorce is final—it has just begun.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

An Easter Basket That Could Save Your Marriage

Spring is busting out all over! Well, maybe not all over, but at least in the grocery story candy aisle. Have you already bought some goodies for your family’s Easter baskets? My family loves the peanut butter and chocolate eggs and, of course, the tiny jelly beans. And what about your spouse? Do you ever make a basket for your husband or wife as well as the kids?

If you are even considering an Easter basket for your spouse, I want to tell you about some goodies you can put in there that will not derail a diet and will only bless and enhance your marriage. Are you interested?

To make an Easter basket that will bless you marriage, here are the necessary goodies. First, purchase a bag of the multi-colored plastic eggs—you will need a dozen. Begin to brainstorm while driving to work or waiting in the line for carpool at your kid’s school. You’ll want to think of six affirming remarks that would cheer the heart of your spouse. If you can’t think of six, don’t hesitate to ask God for help—since marriage is His creation and God is the ultimate inspiration for marriages that last.

As the words of affirmation begin to come to your mind, jot them on slips of paper, and when you have six, you will be ready to open the plastic eggs and place the notes inside. These words of affirmation will “resurrect” a love that may be lying dormant at this moment.

But that is not all your spouse needs—you both need what is going to be written and placed in the last six eggs. I am going to help you with those.

You are going to write six different “proverbs of forgiveness.” (Remember, a proverb is a wise maxim.) Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. One of the first issues that Jesus addressed after rising from the dead is embodied in the notes inside these six eggs. What is the issue? Forgiving Freely. Forgiving freely is a critical element in loving your spouse; in fact, it is not an option if we want to stay out of divorce court!

Here are the “Forgiveness Proverbs” to place in each of six different plastic eggs.

  1. May we remember: To forgive is a heroic choice, and it is not for the weak but the strong.
  2. May we remember: Daily to forgive one another for what we do best—be human—which is often messy.
  3. May we remember: Being offended is inevitable, but staying offended is a choice.
  4. May we remember: If I go to bed angry with my spouse, I will wake up a little less in love with him/her.
  5. May we remember: Being a good forgiver and a good lover are inextricably linked.
  6. May we remember: Couples who struggle to forgive each other are the norm, but God freely forgave us in Jesus so that we could freely forgive each other.

So, if you fill up your spouse’s Easter basket with this kind of goodies, the sweet treats of affirmation, and these six “Forgiveness Proverbs,” and feast on them in your heart and mind, your marriage will be blessed long after Easter has passed.

Read more about forgiveness in Jackie's newest book: Free Yourself to Love: The Liberating Power of Forgiveness,

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