Welcome to my journey into vulnerability. This is part 2 of my Summer Series where I seek to be more vulnerable with myself and you (my readers). It’s difficult to be vulnerable (especially as a man). It took me a while to be vulnerable. Society tells us to be strong, don’t cry, don’t show your emotions. However, that’s simply not reality since we are sometimes weak and at other times strong, we cry (not just women…yes, men cry too!), and we are emotional beings (both men and women). In part 1 of my journey to be vulnerable, I examined my relationship with my father. In part 2, I look at how my parents’ divorce effected me.
Here are some of my reflections on my parents’ divorce…
Who is effected the most by divorce?
Is it the husband? Is it the wife? Is it the mom? Is it the dad? Is it the extended family? Is it the aunts? The uncles? The cousins? The in-laws?
Yes, everyone involved in a divorce.
However, the people that are the most effected by a divorce are always the children. Moms and dads come together in a beautiful expression of love called sex. As a result of this incredible and miraculous union, a child is created. 100% from mom. 100% from dad. Both genes are required. Both the sperm and the egg. There is so much more than my inquisitive little brain can fathom that is involved in the child-making process. I am extremely in awe and wonder of how children are created – it really is one of the greatest miracles in the universe: the creation of life!
So, if we are created by our parents, what happens when our mom and dad don’t get along? What happens when our parents fight? What happens when our parents have conflict? What happens when our parents yell and shout around us? What happens when our parents swear at each other in front of us? What happens when our parents separate? Worst of all, what happens when our parents divorce? There is a deep inner wound that is created….almost a ripping together of that which created us. A destruction of a union between a mother and a father. Sometimes, people may argue that divorce is good, however, for children…we don’t really get how divorce can be “good.”
Here’s the rest of my story (following what I wrote about “My Relationship with My Dad”):
Growing up, I often wondered why my parents were always fighting? Didn’t they love each other? Didn’t they love me? Aren’t mommy and daddy supposed to be happy and focused on raising me instead of destroying each other? Something didn’t seem right. It didn’t seem like a very happy marriage. Were they only really together because it was an arranged marriage? Were they only staying together because of me? Were they together to just “save face”? Why did they get married in the first place? The most difficult question every child of divorce asks is “Is it my fault?”
I never really got the answers to those questions. I assume they love me (even though it’s not normal in Indian culture to verbally tell your kids “I love you.”). Yes, I am Indian. However, I choose to verbally tell my daughter and son that I love them so much. They need to hear that I love them. It’s important for their identity formation. If they truly understand that God loves them, mommy loves them, daddy loves them, and they need to love themselves, they will not need to seek it out from others. Ryan & Rianne…“Daddy loves you so much!”
My degree in University was in Psychology. I deeply wanted to understand the psychology of my childhood and the effects my parents’ separation has had on me. It led to a psychological and emotional brokenness….and even to a rupture in my own identity. I still haven’t totally figured it out. And, I probably won’t ever fully figure it out. However, even this Blog Series is an attempt to go deeper, to examine the roots (instead of the symptoms). After finishing university, teaching English in Japan, and studying in Australia, I found out my parents had finally separated. Yes, the time had come. The news that I hoped, wished, and prayed would never ever happen was about to take place: my parents were getting a divorce.
It was the most horrible news ever. The parents I loved so much (and still love deeply) had made a decision to divorce (they officially separated, sold the house, and bought two apartments, but never legally divorced – not quite sure why they waited since they have been emotionally divorced even before I was born). I knew I had no say in the matter since it was their marriage (not mine). This significant choice would effect me (and the rest of our family in India) and even my wife, our kids, and also generations to come. A man and a woman who had come together in marriage had divorced (it might just seem like the dissolution of one couple but it has massive societal and generational effects).
My biggest fear after this divorce was getting married. How could I avoid the mistake of my parents? How could I have a strong marriage when I didn’t really know what exactly a “strong marriage” was? My mom and dad didn’t really show me an example of a successful marriage. A lot of children simply repeat the mistakes of their parents. A lot of sons just copy their dads. A lot of daughters just copy their moms. However, in my case, I didn’t want it to be “like father, like son.” I wanted to be different. I wanted my marriage to be different. I wanted to be a different husband, a different dad, a different man, I wanted to choose a different future for my children. A better future.
I decided to learn from and ask others for help. I found an amazing mentor in Paul Ratsoy – he is happily married to his wife Caroline for 20+ years. Paul showed me what a good marriage was. Paul showed me how to love his wife. Paul showed me how to be a man. Paul showed me how to be a dad. Since then, there have been dozens of husbands, dozens of fathers, dozens of men that I seek help from. I need help to be a strong husband, to be a strong father, to be strong leader. It’s only in asking for help that I can find strength.
I got married three years ago to my beautiful bride Anne. My mom and dad were there (as you can see from the picture below). During this wedding, I made a declaration before God, before my family, before my wife, and to myself to stay married “until death do us part.” I made a choice on that day…and every day. I choose to love my wife, I choose to stay married, I choose to forgive, I choose to say “sorry”, I choose to seek help. Marriage is not easy…in fact, it’s very difficult, very challenging, and very enriching. One of the best decisions in my life was choosing to get married.
My wife Anne is the most amazing woman ever. Anne has come from a strong family. Anne has come from a mom and dad that chose to stay married (even though they had a up and down marriage too). Anne has taught me so much about family. Anne and I have chosen to stay married (no matter how difficult it gets, no matter what it costs us, no matter how much we fight). I promise to you, Anne, that I will make this marriage the strongest it can be, I promise to make you the happiest that you can be, I promise to be the best father I can be, I promise to be the best man I can be.
With a 50%+ divorce rather, the people that are the most effected are our children.
Let’s build strong marriages….strong moms…strong dads…strong families.
Our world needs it, our society needs it,….our kids need it.
What are your thoughts about divorce? Please leave us a comment below.