Life After the Big D

By June Headley-Greenlaw

Statistics say that 40-50% of first marriages will end in divorce.  Unfortunately, I was part of that statistic.  I was married to the man I now jokingly refer to as my starter husband for nearly 20 years.  When that marriage expired, it was a very scary time in my life and the lives of my children.  I had been married since I was 20 years old and didn’t know what my identity would be outside of that marriage.  There was no abuse or anything else that you’d think would cause a divorce, we simply stopped loving each other the way married people should.

Our friends used to ask us how we had stayed married so long.  My then-husband used to reply that it was because we just never wanted a divorce at the same time.  It wasn’t because we never had hard times.  We did!  We were both going thru college while working and later raising children.  We struggled frequently.  We were both blessed with loving families and lots of friends.  We made it through – until we didn’t.  There just came the point in time when we no longer felt supported or loved by each other, and something told me it was time to start over.  I believed it was whispers from God.

I won’t tell you it was easy because that would be a big fat lie!  I moved into my best friend’s house for a few months and slept on what we now affectionately call “the divorce couch”.  She lived on the same street so the kids could walk back and forth.  I looked for a new home close to the one we owned so the kids, then 6 and 9, could be close to both of us.  I found one that was a foreclosure and needed a lot of work.  New carpet, new appliances, etc.  the house had 11 different colors on the walls from orange to black.  I vividly remember many friends and family members with rollers and brushes in their hands and my nearly 80-year-old Uncle taking up the carpet and hauling it outside.  But on Thanksgiving, all of those people had commitments.  Alone in this new empty house, I turned up the music and rolled and cried and rolled and cried.  The whole time praying that God would give me the strength to get through it and help me find a way to explain to my children that this was necessary.  I was determined to have a home IN ORDER by Christmas for the sake of my kids!

baby girl

Mom, baby girl child we share, Dad

I should tell you there were times when I thought my heart would just stop beating because it was so broken.  There were a lot of tears, sometimes anger, fear, and TONS of times when I questioned this decision.  Thankfully, my ex and I were both committed to not making this any worse than it had to be so we put on brave faces and marched thru the logistics of starting over.  We split the debt.  He kept the house with the equity, and I kept my retirement.  I took things from the house that he could easily live without and bought whatever else I needed.  On credit cards!  Ugh!  We even shared an attorney to keep costs down.  As divorces go, I think we might have had the cheapest one on the planet.  I strongly suggest that anyone going thru this think carefully before fighting.  The only people that win in these situations are the attorneys.  It’s much easier to buy new furniture than to hire a lawyer to fight over it.  You owe it to your kids not to sweat the small stuff.

boy child

Dad, boychild we share, Mom

We made about the same amount of money, and we shared custody, so neither of us paid child support.  We never argued over switching weeks or days with the kids for vacations, family events or other fun activities that might have fallen on the other person’s time.  We both wanted what was best for our children.  I’m very proud of the way we handled those years.

The divorce was final 17 months after we filed.  I would have bet when we split up that I

family

Bonus Mom, Dad, Baby Girl Child we share, Mom, Bonus Dad

would never remarry, but in a very short time, I met my do-over husband, and my affectionately called “wusband” met his do-over wife.  We were both remarried within five months of the divorce being final.  Those marriages are still going strong after ten years plus.  Fortunately, our kids were blessed with great “Bonus” parents and lots of new “Bonus” siblings.  I don’t use the word “step” because I think it insinuates some sort of distance between people.  A friend once told me that it’s always a bonus when you have another person to love you so we had a lot of bonuses in our new blended families!

While the statistics on second marriages are abysmal, we are all committed to beating those odds.  We have both thrived in our do-over marriages, and we still support our now college kids as a team.  All four of us!  I’m living proof that life after the Big D doesn’t have to be a horror show.  I credit my strong faith in God and a lot of commitment from all involved for carrying us thru such a challenging time.

 

Why We Need to Stop Calling for Anna Duggar to Walk Away

By: Crissie Kirby

By now there’s no point in recounting all the Duggar family has been faced with over the last few months; I have my own personal feelings and opinions about Josh Duggar and divorcethe situation, but, honestly, they have no bearing on what I feel led to say to in this post.

I cannot truly comment on the Duggar molestation scandal, other than to say that, apparently, and regardless of the public’s feelings and opinions on the matter, Anna Duggar knew about that matter before she and Josh ever married. She was not, if I understand correctly, blindsided with the information as the general population was. The more recent scandal, though, involving some type of unfaithfulness on Josh’s part is what has me heartbroken for Anna and her children.

When the whole Ashley Madison / Duggar connection came out, all I could think about was Anna and her children. Then the comments and articles came, as I knew they would, calling for her to leave Josh. Rumor has it that this has even been publicly stated by some of Anna’s own family members. Regardless of who says it, the comments that Anna should leave Josh need to stop; as a whole, our society needs to not call for Anna Duggar to walk away from her marriage. “But Crissie, you’ve walked that walk . . . why shouldn’t she leave Josh? After all that he has done . . .” Because, folks, it’s just not that easy.

Walking away from a marriage is never as simple and easy as it seems. The words roll out of our brains and out of our mouths and it seems like it’s an easy fix to a big problem. But, it’s not. No, I don’t know Anna personally and probably never will, but I know that the last thing she needs to hear is that she needs to leave her marriage. Our society has come to accept divorce as a commonplace occurrence, not much different than buying a new car or a new house. “This one just doesn’t suit me anymore, so let’s get a new one” appears to be the mentality that many have. But we need to stop encouraging that manner of thinking.

First, Anna is probably still in shock over learning about this indiscretion; she hasn’t had time to process the information. When I first learned that news in my own marriage, it took me weeks to process it and years, yes YEARS, to get over what I had been through enough to even desire leaving my marriage. Stop telling her to walk away when she probably still feels like she is in the worst dream she has ever had and cannot seem to wake up enough to fully function.

Secondly, we need to stop telling her to, essentially, cut off part of her body. When you are married and you truly take the words from your wedding to heart; you accept that “two have become one.” Her marriage to Josh is part of both her public and private identity. Imagine being in an accident, losing a limb, and then waking up to realize it’s gone. Pretty traumatic, right? I tend to think so. Stop telling her to cut off her arm.

Third, think about their children. I don’t advocate staying in a marriage just for your children; however, you have to take them into consideration before making any major life changes. How are they going to be affected mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually? Stop telling her to walk away before she has been able to give each of these facets the level of thought and consideration they truly deserve; this goes for her own personal well-being as well.

Fourth, remember that the Duggars are people of great faith and in those tenets we know that God does not advocate divorce. As a fellow Christian, I believe that even though God allows divorce on the grounds of adultery, He never says that one must divorce if that happens. Yes, adultery is a sin. There’s no getting around it. But do we always need to totally give up on sinful people?

Staying in a marriage where someone has been unfaithful is hard. Infidelity does great mental and emotional damage to the spouse who was cheated on. They are already reeling from learning that, in some sense, they have been replaced in the heart and mind of their beloved; the last thing that he or she needs to hear is that they need to immediately and completely cut their losses and move on. It was comforting to me to read this morning that Anna is seeking her own form of counsel while Josh enters some type of rehabilitation facility. She needs impartiality and comfort and guidance on what might be the best avenue for her and her children. It’s hard to hear from family and friends (who you know love and care for you deeply in truth) that you need to just walk away from a marriage that maybe you just aren’t ready to give up on yet. I know. I heard it from family and friends. It left me feeling isolated and like every decision I was making was being scrutinized by those who obviously knew better what my children and I needed. In the end, yes, I wound up divorced. However, I can confidently say that divorce was not my first option; it was the final option. For me, I needed it to be that way. I needed to know that I had done everything I could do to prevent a divorce. Four years later, I can still hold my head high and know that I made the right decision for me and my boys. Not everyone supported the decision I made to stay for 2 years; most people didn’t understand why I stayed; some probably still think I was crazy. I survived without hearing a lot of positive reinforcement for my decision, but it doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, be that way for spouses dealing with the knowledge that they have been cheated upon. Encouragement and support are what Anna Duggar needs now; don’t call for her to walk away from her marriage. Call for her to be lifted up mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally in such a way that she can make the best decisions, going forward, for both herself and her children.

In-Laws or Out-Laws?

By: Crissie Miller Kirby

I’m fortunate, today, to have a fabulous relationship with my mother-in-law and my father-in-law.

Wait, Crissie, aren’t you divorced?

The simple answer is “Yes.”  The more complex answer would be that when my marriage ended, only that relationship ended; my relationship with my children’s grandparents and other extended family members did not end.

I did not always have this great and wonderful relationship with my in-laws, however.  Going back 13 years, I’m sure that all of us could enumerate the many different things that irritated us about each other.  The long and the short of the situation, the problems were rooted in misunderstanding, miscommunication, and lack of communication regarding many different situations.  There is little reason to go back and place blame or to recount every single mistake and misstep made; all we can do is look at what we did to correct the situation, move forward, and live in peace and friendship.

The basis of this new relationship is honesty, open communication, and boundaries.

First, we are all honest that this relationship is not always easy.  There are differences in parenting that are created by our own pasts and typical generational differences.  Personality differences must be recognized and you have to accept that; accepting a personality trait does not mean that you take it on yourself, it simply means that you understand it and respect it.  There are also differences created simply by the dynamics of this relationship; my role as the parent and their role as the grandparent.  Parenting is and always has been different than “grandparenting;” much like the Las Vegas tag line, we all know that what happens at Mimi and Poppie’s stays at Mimi and Poppie’s.  Understanding this and just simply letting go of some of that parental structure and those finite rules and allowing some of those fun moments to occur can actually lead to less stress, relaxation, and great memories for your children.

Keeping the lines of communication open also goes a long way in making that in-law relationship much better.  And it goes further than just actually answering the phone when they call; I don’t just mean physical lines of communication.  Remembering that you are all human and are in this together, for better or worse, and are experiencing many of the same situations and emotions and then leaning on each other can help shore up shaky waters.  Often just opening yourself up once is enough to create a strong bond.  This is part of how my relationship has been strengthened with my mother in law; once I opened up in regards to certain issues and situations, I learned that some parts of my life were not so different than things she, herself, had experienced in her own past.  She is no longer a “Monster-in-Law” she is my mother-in-law and she is my friend; a person I can call on when I’m feeling down or need someone to read over a graduate school paper.  And I think that she feels somewhat the same way about me.

Lastly, create boundaries.  Everyone hears the word boundaries and immediately goes on the defensive, but we forget the old adage that “good fences make good neighbors;” this is also the case with relatives.  After my oldest son was born, I often felt like what I wanted no longer mattered, if my parents or my in-laws wanted to see the baby, they just stopped by or came up, regardless of our plans or desires.  Really what it amounted to was some poor planning, structure and lack of boundaries on all of our parts.  None of us recognized what the other group needed and wanted, and, in truth, deserved.  Now, if I go visit my in-laws, they recognize that I might want some time alone, to myself, or some time to just do something with the boys, alone, and even often, that I might want to spend some one on one time with my boys, individually. We work together to make all of those situations take place when desired.  But, I’m also keenly aware that they desire time with the boys as well.  They want to take them places and “show them off” and spoil them some.

We also try to make plans for holidays and special events well in advance so that all of our needs and desires are met the best they possibly can.  A few years back, I invited both my parents and my in-laws to my home on Christmas morning; however, I indicated to everyone that the door would not be opened until a specific time.  This was both for me and them.  It provided recognition that they wanted and deserved to see their grandchildren on Christmas morning, but yet protected my time with my sons on Christmas morning.  No one’s feelings were hurt or made to feel uncomfortable, and a good time was had by all because we took the necessary steps beforehand.

Will this type of structure work for every single family?  No.  However, the first step is to be honest with all parties.  Yes, it might mean sitting down and talking and this might, initially, be uncomfortable, but if the end result is more peace and harmony, with a slice of compromise thrown in, then it is worth it in the end.

In-laws or Out-laws?  Which would you rather have?  The choice truly is your own.

Hard Candy Christmas

By: Crissie Miller Kirby

Years ago Dolly Parton sang a song entitled “Hard Candy Christmas” and while some may argue over the meaning of the lyrics, I tend to think of them as comparing a break up to being, financially, poor.  Sometimes, those two go hand in hand.  However, while being unable to provide or receive expensive gifts, she sings about, essentially, being “fine and dandy” and talks about every day, normal things and seeing them as gifts to be treasured.  I find this song to hold great meaning for me this year.  This is my first (gasp) “divorced” Christmas and, obviously, my financial situation is different than it has been in previous years.  Coupled with a brand, spanking new heating and air unit, funds are a little tight.  I’ve tried to ensure that Santa is bringing wanted gifts to my children; however, there are no overly expensive items to be placed under the tree.  Thankfully, they didn’t ask for anything too expensive anyway.

There are lots of other people in our lives that we would like to shower with gifts at Christmastime, especially this year as they have meant so much to us.  They have supported us, encouraged us, and consoled us.  Buying very nice and expensive gifts is not really in the budget though.  Normally, I’m not an overly crafty person.  Although, sometimes, I like to fancy myself being this creative and craft genius; alas, I am not!  But, I decided that this year I would try my hand at creating some special and unique Christmas gifts for family and friends.  And you know what?  I’ve loved putting my time, energy, and heart into making these gifts instead of spending tons of money (that I don’t have anyway).  I’ve been excited to see the looks on the faces of my family, friends, and children’s teachers as they have opened these “hard candy Christmas” gifts.  I hope that these gifts will provide them with years of enjoyment and good memories.

Have you handcrafted any Christmas gifts this year in an effort to cut back?  If so, I’d love to hear about what you have made.

In closing, again, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and I pray you each have a blessed and prosperous New Year in 2012.  I leave you with a few photographs of some of the items I’ve made this year and, also, the lyrics to “Hard Candy Christmas:”

Hey, maybe I’ll dye my hair
Maybe I’ll move somewhere
Maybe I’ll get a car
Maybe I’ll drive so far
They’ll all lose track
Me, I’ll bounce right back

Maybe I’ll sleep real late
Maybe I’ll lose some weight
Maybe I’ll clear my junk
Maybe I’ll just get drunk on apple wine
Me, I’ll be just

Fine and Dandy
Lord it’s like a hard candy Christmas
I’m barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won’t let
Sorrow bring me way down

I’ll be fine and dandy
Lord it’s like a hard candy Christmas
I’m barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won’t let
Sorrow get me way down

Hey, maybe I’ll learn to sew
Maybe I’ll just lie low
Maybe I’ll hit the bars
Maybe I’ll count the stars until dawn
Me, I will go on

Maybe I’ll settle down
Maybe I’ll just leave town
Maybe I’ll have some fun
Maybe I’ll meet someone
And make him mine
Me, I’ll be just

Fine and dandy
Lord it’s like a hard candy Christmas
I’m barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won’t let
Sorrow bring me way down

I’ll be fine and dandy
Lord it’s like a hard candy Christmas
I’m barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won’t let
Sorrow bring me way down

I’ll be fine and dandy
Lord it’s like a hard candy Christmas
I’m barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won’t let
Sorrow bring me way down

‘Cause I’ll be fine
(I’ll be fine)
Oh, I’ll be fine