I got married in September in my backyard with 100 of my closest friends and family members. It was a rainy day, even though there was no rain in the forecast. Because I’m a slight (lol) type A personality, I had a plan B and a C. We had two giant tents set up. Everything was under cover, except for us!
Our family members started rolling in about an hour before the ceremony began. I had 30 minutes of the Piano Guys on a playlist that my DJ had cued up and ready to go. I was wandering around with my hair done, wearing my soon-to-be husband’s flannel and a pair of shorts–not exactly my wedding attire of choice!
I have never had so many people tell me to get ready in my entire life.
I looked at the radar one last time. It said the same thing it had been saying all day–the rain should clear up in 15 minutes. It was 45 minutes until the ceremony, and my best friend’s husband had just returned from picking up a pop-up tent to place over the arch in case it didn’t quit raining.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
I made an executive decision.
“We’re pushing the ceremony back 15 minutes.”
No one questioned me at that point. I asked the DJ to push the prelude playlist back 15 minutes and walked into the house to finally throw some makeup on and get dressed.
As soon as I walked inside, it quit raining.
It didn’t rain the rest of the night.
I guess I should have gone inside sooner!
Divorce in Our Families:
My uncle and I are the only divorcees on my side of the family. The rest of my family–my dad’s and my mom’s both–are these giant, forever-married couples and families.
My husband’s parents are divorced; they have been for ages. They’re both remarried, and I knew they all would be there. Despite the constant reassurance from my husband and his mom, I was still apprehensive about them. I didn’t want them to have to spend the evening together or feel awkward or have any residual negative feelings that night.
The joke was on me.
When it came time for pictures, I was a little nervous again. How was everyone going to get along? What could I do to make sure everyone was happy?
As soon as my husband’s side of the family gathered for their pictures, my husband’s step-mom announced she wanted a picture with his mom and dad. So, there they were–mom and step-mom with dad in the middle, smiling, laughing, and having the best time.
I was in awe.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all co-exist with our exes that way?
For those of you that have the kind of relationship with your ex and their significant other, congratulations.
For the rest of us, ugh!
That leads me to the question of the hour: How do you survive divorce, still love Jesus, and manage life with your ex?
How do you love Jesus and Manage your Ex in Divorce?
Let me just say this before I go on: everyone’s situation is different. The majority of my friends are divorced, and most of them remarried. All their situations are vastly different, and all of their exes are as well.
It would be unrealistic to think I could give you a formula that will work for every situation, but let me do my best to offer some practical and Jesus-centered advice that has helped me.
I hate to even start with this one because some of you might quit reading right here, but, honestly, this is the best way I have found to deal with my ex: Treat them like you want to be treated.
I know. I know.
If you’re sitting there thinking that I don’t know what they’ve done, how they’ve treated you, how they’ve hurt you, how they’ve hurt your kids, etc., you are correct. I don’t.
I can tell you this, though–you will never regret doing the right thing.
- When your kids come home and start complaining about their other parent, the new partner, or their step-siblings, and you want to lose your mind and let him have it, don’t.
- When it’s 30 minutes past drop-off time and your ex still hasn’t shown up with your kids, hasn’t texted, hasn’t called, and you’ve been stressing out because you think your kids are dead in a ditch somewhere, breathe. Think about your response. Consider your audience. Once your kids are safely back in your care, calm down. Step away. Think through how to address the issue in a way that will explain the issue without starting an all-out war.
Mental Health, Divorce, and Jesus
I have people very close to me who have exes with borderline personality disorder–actual borderline personality disorder–you know, like serial killers and sociopaths typically have.
Navigating life after divorce with these individuals seems literally impossible most of the time. If you have an ex who has this diagnosis, seek professional help. There are so many resources out there to help you navigate this nightmare. Most parents with borderline personality disorder tend to alienate their ex and brainwash their kids against the other parent. This is real. It is recognized by the court system. And when it happens, judges typically remove the children from that parents’s home.
If your ex has this mental illness or another undiagnosed or diagnosed mental illness, it is incredibly challenging to manage their behaviors toward you, your children, and others.
You can’t control them.
You can only control yourself.
If you are finding it difficult to treat them like you want to be treated and to survive their mistreatment of you, please, please seek help from a licensed professional trained to offer assistance in these situations.
Behaving poorly to your ex will never get you anywhere positive.
Unfortunately, Mark didn’t add an asterisk and say your ex was excluded from the command to “love your neighbor “(Mark 16).
This is one of the most challenging aspects of surviving divorce and still loving Jesus because it goes against everything our human nature tells us.
As the holidays creep up on us, this can be even more challenging, but my prayer is that God will give you the peace, self-control, and logic to treat your ex how you want to be treated.
Until next time,
Reflections (for your journal or your comment):
- When was there a time when you didn’t treat your ex how you want to be treated? What was the result?
- What is one strategy you can use to not lash out at your ex when they are not treating you like you want to be treated?
- What is one prayer you can repeat when you are in these challenging situations with your ex?
Scriptures for Reflection
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