Wedding Bells & Divorce Tolls
My wife Marti and I have been married for just over thirteen years, the second time around for both of us. On a sunny day at the campus chapel of Gettysburg College, our wedding took place. Our five children, her three and my two, were our wedding party. Everything was in place, and with the exception of a dog attempting to crash the ceremony, the service proceeded without a hitch. Wedding bells rang, and we celebrated the beginning of what we determined would be our last wedding.
Many of my gay and lesbian friends have been in relationships for decades—thirty years, twenty-five years, eighteen years, and so forth. I have deep admiration for these friends, whose relationships have survived not only the normal ups and downs of any relationship, but also the societal pressures of a same sex relationship that is attempting to find acceptance at many levels.
With the advent of same sex marriage, a new market has emerged, catering to the desires and dreams of gay couples ringing their own wedding bells. While there may be some unique twists to creating memorable weddings for them, it seems to me that there really are more commonalities than differences between weddings of same sex and opposite sex couples.
What few people have addressed thus far is the opposite end of the love scale, i.e., divorce. Any time there are weddings, there will inevitably be divorces. Because same sex marriage is such a recent development, at least in Delaware, divorce is going to have a wider meaning in this article. The rise and fall of long-term relationships and marriages are no different among gays and lesbians than among their straight counterparts. The hurt and anger are as intense in one demographic as the other. The resources to deal with them, however, differ greatly.
There is a divorce recovery program called DivorceCare. It is comprised of a thirteen-week curriculum which addresses many of the issues most people wrestle with during a divorce. It is a program that is faith-based, but not tied to any particular church or synagogue. Marti and I have been leading people through this healing program for over eight years, at our previous church in Pennsylvania. Now we are bringing it to Rehoboth Beach.
People go to this program for help and healing. They come to the sessions in very vulnerable states, in the throes of highly emotional upheaval. At DivorceCare, they find common ground with others going through similar situations. This program is designed for those in need of this special healing, whether divorced, divorcing, or undergoing the end of a long-term relationship. It leads the participants through a structured series of sessions where they address the major stressors at that time in their lives.
The maze of emotions experienced in this situation leads many to question their sanity. Just when you think you have taken a step forward in your struggle, you take two steps back. You eventually come to terms with your depression, then you find yourself wrestling with loneliness or anger. Some people have mistakenly found solace in a new relationship right away, only to discover that it serves as a temporary salve to the hurt that lies below the surface.
It has been said that when you are going through a divorce or the breakup of a long-term relationship, the only difference between that and dealing with death is that in the case of the former, there is no body! Some of the same emotions are in evidence—anger, depression, loneliness—all running together, tossing you around like a washing machine on spin cycle.
Then there are the children who are often caught in the middle. They are facing their own brand of hurt. Through no fault of their own, their parents are now living apart. In what had formerly been a loving household, even with some tension in the air, the evidence of acrimony is difficult to ignore. The ways in which we adults help our children process this division go far toward enabling their healing. Of course, the most vital aspect of healing for children is healthy and healed parents.
As the thirteen sessions progress, hope is born and takes root. There is frank discussion of forgiveness as a stepping stone to healing. This topic always generates interesting conversation, as participants are challenged to say those all-too-difficult words, “I forgive you.” Once they realize that they are doing this to free themselves, rather than their former partners, it comes a little easier. The breakup of long-term relationships, whether the legal step of divorce is involved or not, is a transition in many lives that requires great care and attention.
Theresa came through the breakup of two long-term relationships. She had unresolved issues from the first one, let alone the heated issues from the second. As she shared her story, bits and pieces at a time, she came to the realization that she was worth making herself stronger and whole. And so she did. DivorceCare was the venue for her healing, as it has been for many others. Living in Lewes, she is happy in a new committed relationship.
Are you facing the breakup of a long-term relationship? Are you in the midst of a divorce, or been divorced in the past couple years? Then perhaps there is a place for you at DivorceCare. If you would like to get more information about this program, contact Marti Garrett. Find Help. Discover Hope. Experience Healing.