by Amy Kate
Divorce. What a nasty word. Other than the lawyers who specialize in it, I am not sure anyone likes this word. As a Christian, it wasn't a word I even allowed in my vocabulary for a very long time. I remember very clearly the day I sat with my then fiancé and we agreed we would never say that word. We kept that vow, at least out loud to each other for years. Yet here I am, nine years later, divorced.
The last four years of my marriage were rough, to say the least. With sexual addiction, drug addiction and trauma dancing its destructive dance through my home and heart, to say it was a rough few years is an understatement. It was a long road that led me here. It was a destructive road that led me here. It was a road that has forever changed who I am. That road gave me PTSD. By the time I left the courthouse, if I am being really honest with myself, I knew it should have happened sooner.
I wasn't expecting the responses I got when I started telling people the divorce was final. I should have though, given the responses I got from people during the process. My circle is close and tight and predominantly Christian. I am blessed to work in a Christian environment and most of my friends are Christian. To say I was shocked when people congratulated me when I told them the divorce was final is an understatement. I expected that reaction from the few people in my life who are not Christians. The people who told me to get out the day I found out about the affair and then really told me to leave when the affair turned out to be just the tip of an iceberg known as sexual addiction. I didn't expect that reaction from my brothers and sisters in Christ.
If you know a Christian getting a divorce, please don't celebrate their divorce. No matter how bad things get before the divorce is inevitable, a divorce isn't a celebration, it's a death.
Divorce: Never Meant to Be
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:7-9
A divorced couple's flesh is torn in two. Each person loses a piece of themselves. Two people, each torn in two. Divorce isn't supposed to happen. Anyone who has been through one will tell you it feels like a death, because it is one. It is the death of dreams. It is the death of your past. It is the death of the future you had all figured out. That is true, even when there is horrid abuse or adultery that justifies a divorce. What happens between the wedding and the divorce doesn't justify celebrating the death.
The decision to divorce is never easy, even when the spouse is facing a sexual addiction and an unrepentant addict who isn't in recovery. There are typically a ton of attempts at restoration before the spouse of a sex addict reaches this point. Tons of trauma. Tears that could fill an ocean. Thousands spent on therapists, books, treatment programs, lawyers (if it involved illegal activities) and doctors for related depression, anxiety, PTSD or STDs. More damage than you can imagine unless you have walked this nightmare. None of that negates the fact that a divorce is a time of mourning, not celebrating.
Losses, Gains... and more Losses
With the ending of this chapter does come many benefits and maybe that is what those who congratulated me focused on. No more new D-days, finding out about yet another person he had sex with or yet another hidden relapse. No more calling the pastor for protection and prayer when his anger gets out of control. No more fear he has been arrested if he is not home at the expected time. No more begging him to talk like a husband should, instead of like a roommate. No more fear of an STD. No more walking on eggshells, afraid to set off a fight. That is all gone but so are all the dreams.
This was so glaringly obvious when I went to the Social Security Administration building, divorce decree in hand and noticed the woman in front of me had her marriage license in her hand. Two women, both changing their names: one because she’s just gotten married and one because she’d just gotten divorced. Sometimes, the irony of life just smacks you right in the face. That sweet, innocent young woman was full of dreams and was never expecting to be me, standing there with divorce papers. She wasn't thinking about what could be lost.
He won't be on the front porch swing on a cool fall evening. The bed now seems so giant without his presence. He won't be there for the surgeries or health scares or when the dog dies. He won't be there for any more holidays. No more buying pumpkin everything in the fall to share with him (his favorite treat). At the end of that bad day at work, when that co-worker is mean or when the promotion happens, he won't get to hear about it. Walking in the house after work and not seeing his coffee mug. Standing alone in worship at church. That feeling that there is one person in the world who gets you, to your core gets you, is now gone and suddenly the world feels really big.
Let's not celebrate the divorce decree because the marriage decree mattered. No matter how bad things got, at one point that marriage certificate meant the world to the ones whose names were on it. It mattered enough to build a future on and that future is now shattered.
As much as I have gained in my divorce—the peace, strength, and the reclaiming of the me that his addiction tried to steal—I lost more. I lost my dreams and the man who was supposed to be my partner. I am making new dreams now but those lost ones, those shouldn't be congratulated. There is nothing to celebrate about a divorce.
Amy Kate is an advocate for partners of those with sexual addictions, a survivor of two marriages (that ended due to sexual addiction) and has six awesome kiddos that call her Mama. Through her training with The Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists (APSATS) and the American Association for Sex Addiction Therapy (AASAT) Amy has become a fierce warrior determined to point women to the freedom and healing found at the feet of Jesus. She is a customer service representative at Covenant Eyes and more of her wisdom and insight can be found at psalm40warrior.com.