Photo Credit: People.com
I have to be honest and say that I've been watching "Jon and Kate Plus 8" with my daughter as an opportunity to discuss relationships. I am first to say that I am not a perfect spouse or person. I've been divorced twice. But I can also say that due to my "failures", I have an insight into what went wrong in their marriage. It was a train-wreck, marriage style, waiting to happen. Also, I find it easier to talk to my daughter about how to approach relationships/friendships but from a more distant example rather than her own parent's failed marriage.
First off, you might ask- why are YOU interested in this family and marriage for that matter. Why are you watching it with your daughter? My response is that I was interested in it because it was a reality show that was rated G rather than my first exposure to "reality tv" with "The Real World." I would not be able to watch "The Real World" with my 7 year old daughter, nor do I really desire to watch raunchy stuff that makes me cringe. I do believe in "too much information" being released to the public that will never personally know the "cast." Also, I was interested in the show and family because Jon is half Korean and I am also Korean. I wanted to watch a show with my half Korean daughter that had other kids similar to her. And thus, "Jon and Kate Plus 8" was the best candidate for our viewing.
We have watched all the episodes up until Jon and Kate revealed that they are officially separating (back in 2007). To be honest, in reality tv style, my personal reaction was of betrayal. I thought they "sold" us their product of a 10 person family for life. It even entered my mind that their marriage and children were a publicity stunt for Kate. How could that make this horrible decision to destroy such a fragile (by numbers) family?! I felt disappointed and let down. I guess in a way I put them on a pedestal and expected them to show me (who failed 2 marriages) how to do family right.
I offer my lay counseling (hypothetically) based on my marriage experiences, family and individual counseling, parenting seminars, family seminars, communication seminars and my 1 credit away from an Associates Degree in psychology. My career goal is to be a family counselor and so, I want to exercise my counseling muscle in a virtual exercise of sorts. I've also done "My Virtual Child" and "My Virtual Life" exercises hosted by Pearson (Educational Products and Publisher).
So the thing that stands out the most to me is that the Gosselin family was centered on a Christian ideology, at least in theory. According to the Bible, the marriage represents three strands of a cord of relationship with God; one strand is the wife, another is the husband, and the third is God. If a marriage is based and centered on God, technically it should not fail. In that revealing episode, they both proudly proclaimed that they'd do anything for their kids and their kids are their priority. So in my humble opinion, that was the greatest strike against their marriage; they should have made their marriage first and not surprisingly the relationship withered.
To expand on the idea of a marriage should not be centered on children, in their case, eight: children are generally made into gods and making 8 gods happy is an impossible task. It is logically more sound to seek to make the one God proud and teach the children how to do the same. Children also make their parents gods (one too many IMHO!) and then demonize them for not succumbing to their every will and manipulation. Children are not consistent enough to balance any such relationship.
I think that the communication was a huge downfall in their marriage as well. Kate was dominant and Jon was the passive aggressive stone-waller. Even Jon admitted in that episode that he should have "stood up" sooner. Pastor Jimmy Evans preaches that same idea in his Ministry "Marriage Today." He says that the dominated have a duty to stand up firmly and in love. Don't enable the other person to be dominant. I used to be the same way as Kate in the eyes of my husband. It was a harsh thing to swallow knowing in my mind I was not trying to discourage him from adding to the conversations. I wouldn't have cared if he screamed at me, I just wanted to hear from him. From his stand point, he was putting a silent ultimatum on me: either you talk to me perfectly or I'm not talking. Well, demanding someone be perfect is just preposterous as much as many of us would love to strive for it. And so goes the cycle of demonizing goes on and on and on.... Both sides were in a horrible pattern of willing each other to do things the other was un-willing or very possibly unable or not taught to do.
I admit that I used to think very harshly about Kate. I'd think "Does she even HEAR herself?" My old Kate-like self has been cage by a tamer version of myself (even with my husband's nod of agreement). I find that she has put herself in a position of being a "god" thinking that "I have to get this done or it will never be done or taken on by someone else." But come on- let's just admit that it's a "mom thing" to do and not just a "Kate thing." And multiply that by 8 kids, or 9 if you include the husband. That's a whole lot to try to be god over, right?!
I finally came to the conclusion that what we saw was not intrinsic to Kate Gosselin but more to the situation in general. I don't think that any average American could do it much different from her. Either you could be so laid back and your family life be a disaster, OR you could be like Kate and have structure under a drill sergeant. I wish they (Jon and Kate) could have made the right attribution of their troubles to the situation and not to each other.
In this instance, the Enemy won. He put the wool over their eyes, and ours if we're honest, and allowed us to demonize people who are just fallen and broken like any other person. They were attempting to do family on the scale of 10 right. Let's keep it real, the only "demon" is the DEVIL himself. Let's call him out when he steps into our "meat suits" like Dean say in "Supernatural." The Devil WANTS our marriages to break up and our families to be destroyed. Let's be clear: this is ONLY a case of spiritual battles. Let's learn to step back and see when our troubles are attributed more to our situations rather than intrinsic to people we love.
To Jon and Kate Gosselin: I am so sorry for your heartbreak. I was rooting for you. I thought you had an incredible family. If I were a licensed counselor, I would offer it for free to keep you ten together. It's not just for the fact that you were in the spotlight, but because you would be a testament for God's vision for family. I pray that you find a way to forge a new balanced relationship toward each other and perhaps one day you can get re-married. Redemption and grace are so powerful. If my husband could offer that to me, an awful sinner, I'm sure you could have as much of it yourselves.
I wish blessing over all of our marriages and families. I pray that God magnifies the good (even if it's just a grain of sand) and diminishes the blemishes. We are worth it. Shut out the work of Satan. Live in love of the Eternal kind. I pray this in His Marriage Saving Name, Amen.
P.S. Any other suggestions for "Sofa Talk, Virtual Peptalk" with celebrity or historical couples? Please enter them in the comments box below. Thank you in advance!