Several years ago, my husband and I were in a terrible place in our marriage. At the time we agreed that the best thing for us all was for me to take me kids and leave for a while but we weren’t prepared for the affect marriage struggles have on our children.
By God’s grace, our marriage, which had been hanging on by a thread, was restored, and we now have a strong relationship grounded in Christ.
Sadly, many marriages today will never be repaired like mine was.
“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:9
After being in my situation, I realize that there are times when divorce cannot be helped. However, there are also couples who are quick to break up, simply because they don’t feel like they are “in love anymore,” or because “things are difficult.”
Having been separated for nearly four years, I look back on that time in my life and wonder if people would be so quick to end their marriages if they knew the toll that it would take on their children.
Change Isn’t Always A Good Thing
When my husband and I decided to separate, it didn’t just mean leaving the house we shared, it meant taking my kids to a different country. We had been living in El Salvador, but when I left, my three kids and I headed back to the United States, leaving my husband behind.
Adjusting to living in a new place was hard for my kids, but living without their “Papi” was unbearable. During our years apart, my husband and I remained on good terms, and he did video chats with our kids several times a week. Unfortunately, a few hours a week over the phone isn’t the same thing as being together all the time.
When Your Marriage Struggles, Your Children are Affected
As a mom of three young boys, every day was a reminder of just how important it is for boys to grow up with a dad. Obviously, Father’s Day and other holidays were hard, but those days didn’t even compare to the day to day things that my sons delt with.
My oldest, who was five at the time, felt responsible for his brothers. He began to struggle with anxiety, and often felt overwhelmed, thinking he had to be the father-figure in the family.
As a mom, it was heartbreaking to watch this little boy worry about these grown-up things. I spent many days reassuring him that hewas a kid, and he did not need to be stressing over these things!
My second son was four at the time of our separation. He has always been my little though guy. When we were apart from my husband, he began acting up even more than he already did. His attitude was explosive, and there were many times that he would become angry and take it out on his brothers.
Every time I would ask him why he was so upset, without fail, he would burst into tears, and explain how unfair it was that he didn’t get to live with his dad anymore. Watching my boy fall apart was by far one of the most difficult things that came with our separation.
When we left El Salvador, my youngest son was not even a year old. He had no real memory of his father at all. He would look at him on the phone and talk to him, but it never really clicked that this stranger was his dad.
Years later, when we were working on getting back together, we were planning a trip to visit my husband. I’ll never forget my then three-year-old telling his grandma, “I’m going to see my Papi, did you know I have a Papi? I didn’t think I had one!”
My heart broke a little bit at that. Obviously we had talked about his father often, and he saw him on the phone, but because he was so little when we left, he didn’t understand that guy on the phone was really his dad!
A Support System is Key
Being a single parent is extremely draining. I am convinced that we wouldn’t have made it through those days without help. The most beneficial things for us at that time were having a loving family, getting counseling, and our daily devotion time.
A Supportive Family
When we moved back to the United Stated my sister moved in with us. She made the transition for my kids easier and having her around was such a comfort to me too. I cannot imagine having to do it without her support.
My mom babysat my kids and taxied them around daily, which made it possible for me to work and provide for my kids. My other siblings and my dad also had a hand in helping out with my kids and doing things around our house.
I will be forever grateful to my family for helping us through that time.
As soon as we came back to the States I began seeing a Christian therapist. Talking about all that my family went through helped me heal.
My kids began seeing a therapist too. They looked forward to their meetings with her, where they could share their feelings. The difference in their behavior after they began therapy was like night and day.
Looking back getting support for all of us was such an essential part of dealing with the changes that were happening in our lives.
Spending time reading God’s word helped us to bond and grow in our faith together. I also spent much of my free time reading God’s word on my own.
One verse that I had highlighted during those times was Jeremiah 29:11. Knowing that God had a plan, even in the middle of all that was going on in my marriage was a huge comfort to me.
I read the words of Ephesians 3:20 almost daily and would be reminded that God could do even more than anything I asked or imagined. In the end, He did do far more than I had hoped He would do in my marriage!
Another verse that got me through that time was Psalm 147:3. The words of that Psalm say that God “Heals the brokenhearted.” Such a beautiful promise at a time when my heart was shattered.
Clinging to the comforting words of these verses and many more were such a blessing to me.
Healing The Hurts
I’ve been asked several times if my reason for wanting to restore my marriage was because we had kids together. No. I wanted to fix my marriage because as a Christian, I had planned on my marriage to lasting forever. I still loved my husband, and I never stopped praying and trusting that God would repair what seemed so broken.
That being said, my kids did play a big part in my prayers for my marriage. Every time I watched one of my children cry out for their dad or suffer because of our separation I prayed a little harder. Of course, I didn’t want my kids to grow up without their dad or continue struggling without him, but that was only a part of why I tried to work things out.
I am so thankful that God has brought my family back together, and I’m happy to say that my kids and my marriage are thriving. I know there are times that separation or divorce are the only options in a marriage. However, if you have a choice to fight for your marriage or give up, I hope you’ll fight to save what God has joined together. After all your marriage and your children, are both with fighting for!
Read other Posts in this guest series, Real Women, Tragic Stories, Inspiring Hope. Malia’s Story
Guest Blogger Bio.
I’m M. J. a wife and mother of four young children. I write about Christain Marriage on my blog Restore Amor and write devotionals for women on my site Strength and Dignity. I’m a New Yorker at heart, but I have lived in my husband’s native country, El Salvador, for over ten years. When I’m not writing, you can find me in the kitchen cooking and baking for my family.
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