In Your Language

Saturday, March 15, 2014

If your ex-spouse is your key into Heaven, how would you treat them?

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Our relationship to each other obviously changes. But especially when children are involved, we are called to take a stance of now being a Brother or Sister in Christ. We have a role to pray for and bless the ex-spouse. Remember, God tells us to love our enemies as much as our allies. Whatever your attitude toward the dissolving of the marriage and that ex-spouse, you are called to love. If love means holding your tongue- do it. If love means keeping up a relationship with the grandparents- do it. We're called to see everyone through God's eyes despite how they treat you or your loved ones.

I'd say that divorce doesn't diminish our obligations to each other, only the rewards we get for it. During marriage we put work into the relationship and get as much or more back (ideally speaking). In divorce, we are called to honor and love the "ex" unto the Lord and unto our children (if they are the product of the marriage). It is even a higher/steeper calling because after a divorce (usually) a lot of ugliness has passed between both persons.

Try to conceptualize it in the sense that if you hurt your ex, you are also hurting your child. By extension, for the believers in the Lord, we are also hurting HIS child and his child's child. Divorce calls for more of our resources of love, grace, forgiveness and temperance. Many parts of a divorced relationship requires good things done without regard to reciprocation. It's hard enough to love the ones who are love-ly, but now we are called to love the more un-lovely in comparison.

When we have a bad relationship with the ex, we are more likely to have a strained relationship with our custodial children even if we have them 99% of the time. Angry exes are more likely to get in the way of relationship with the other ex's side of the family out of that negative fuel. That hurts the child in the long run. Those relationships (whether or not they slander the ex) are blessings to the children. If anything should happen to us, God forbid- the family has to take our place.

In my position as an ex-spouse, I feel the yanking of God on my heart but also my ex-spouse on my parental conscience. I'm called to guard my heart from the negativity and unresolved disputes for the good of the family system. I'm called to turn the other cheek. I'm called to swallow misunderstood gestures and motivations. In many ways, it's harder to be divorced than to be married.

Add on being remarried, it's like being beholding to an extra person. I have the position of filtering outside negativity as I tend to parenting matters with regards to the ex. It is so much MORE complicated that just putting in the effort of learning how to make the first marriage work. In God's mercy, I don't have my parents active in my life to be beholding to with "Grandparenting rights" and in-law complications.

The best way I can describe divorced, co-parenting and remarried life is that the present marriage is my master piece and my divorced relationship is a ministry. Ministry is a relationship that is many times uni-directional but equally fulfilling. It's a sacrificial and community (web of family, his/hers/ours) driven pursuit. It's deciding to do the right thing BECAUSE it's the right thing. It's ignoring blows and faults. It's the manifestation of what God calls us to do when he says "love your enemies." But hopefully, we/you have not made enemies with ex-spouses.

Do your best to rebound to positive feelings. Of course, the immediate aftermath can be ugly. But with time and best intentions, things will smooth out. Sometimes divorced interactions can be more civil than the married ones. We can work out this new complicated family landscape to the Glory of God. IN DIVORCE, Christians can redeem themselves to show they are living under God's direction.

The best plan, is to plan for conflict and misunderstandings. Decide ahead of time that you will let those things go. Your children will thank you for it. But most of all, God Almighty will give you eternal rewards and peace with him in Heaven.

Let me end where I started: if your ex-spouse was your key into Heaven, how would you treat future interactions?

Updated: 5/15/14

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