Listen, O my people, to my instruction;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us…
In the 1970’s my parents joined many others of their generation and divorced after almost 30 years of marriage. I was a teenager living in a community with many well educated “liberal” adults (liberal in the worst sense of the word) and everyone told me that the divorce was “for the best.” After all (the adults told me) it is much better for the children that their parents divorce rather than remain in an unhappy marriage.
The book which blew the theory of “unhappy married parents = unhappy children” out of the water is The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study by Judith S. Wallerstein, Julia M. Lewis and Sandra Blakeslee.
Researchers found that it didn’t matter if the divorce was “friendly” or angry, children suffered the same trauma by the break up of their parents marriage.
We will not conceal them from their children,
But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD,
And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.
For He established a testimony in Jacob
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers
That they should teach them to their children…
After following children for 25 years, researchers concluded that divorce is an event from which children never truly recover. It affects future relationships negatively and has a profound affect on their future marriages.
Here’s another thing the Wallerstein study discovered; it doesn’t matter if you are 3 years old or 30 years old; if your parents divorce you are sadly and permanently changed forever.
Contrasted (in the study) were children who experienced horrible marriage and family dynamics with parents who remained married.
Those children grew up knowing that they didn’t want the same type of dysfunctional marriage their parents had but they approached their own marriages knowing they could stay married.
In other words, despite a terrible childhood with deeply unhappy parents they grew up more confident in their ability to build successful future relationships.
Laura at The Thinking Housewife blog highlights some disturbing trends in the “let’s have a good divorce” lie. I encourage you to read her post on The Comforting Illusion of Child-focused Divorce and The Myth of The Child-Focused Divorce.
Why do we need to think about these things? Because marriage grows and changes throughout a lifetime and we all face temptations, boredom, our own sinful tendencies and stupidity. Ultimately, sticking with our marriage vows affects and influences not only our own children but the generations to come.
That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born,
That they may arise and tell them to their children,
That they should put their confidence in God
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments,
And not be like their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not prepare its heart
And whose spirit was not faithful to God.
Psalm 78 1-8
For a beautiful post on sticking through hard times visit Miss Gracie(updated 4/28/12).