Divorces

14 07 2011

 By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about the effects of divorces on children entitled, “The Divorce Generation”—and subtitled, “Having survived their own family splits, Generation X parents are determined to keep their marriages together[, but it] doesn’t always work”—which is worth reading, including the comments relating to the article.[2]  What is clear is that “no one size fits all,” and every family situation is different.  However, the similarities are illuminating as well.

A divorce is the flip side of marriage, and hate is the flip side of love, and failure is the opposite of success.  Ideally, marriages should be unions before God that last forever.  They should be sacred and monogamous, and represent a compact between the participants and God—instead of being “disposable,” like a used tube of toothpaste or an empty bag of potato chips.  Few couples begin their marriages anticipating a divorce; and adultery should be considered a crime against God.  An “ideal” mate or spouse is difficult to find, via Internet dating or otherwise, in no small part because no one is perfect.

Perhaps the best summary ever written about the psychological tugs and pulls of divorces, from the standpoint of the spouses and their lawyers—which after all underpins the effects of such divorces on the children—was set forth many years ago by one of America’s original celebrity lawyers, Louis Nizer, in his timeless book My Life in Court.  He wrote that litigation between husbands and wives “exceed[s] in bitterness and hatred those of any other relationships.”

And he added:

I leave to the psychiatrists the explanation of the volatile transformation from love to hate. The chemical ingredients of rejection, jealousy and possessiveness certainly play a part in the explosive content.  But there is something more, a mysterious element, which unbalances the mind, changes the personality, and distorts the character.  It derives undoubtedly from the sexual ties which, if profound and ecstatic, can never be completely severed.  The mutual enslavement of love will not tolerate unilateral freedom. Two people joined together in intimacy are often like Siamese twins, the separation of one causing the death of the other.  . . .  When one reads of a man of good repute and solid business judgment who has shot his wife and two children, or a woman of impeccable rearing and social status who has thrown acid in the eyes of her husband and then shot herself, the insanity of the rejected reaches its extreme manifestation.[3]
Regardless of whether a marriage and subsequent divorce ever approach such extremes, it is clear that once-loving feelings often turn to hate, or something very close to it.  Just ask divorce lawyers who have spent years handling such matters.  Indeed, one lawyer-friend who represented clients in more than 500 divorces vowed never to handle one again, inter alia, because of the bitterness and animosity that are present, which seldom go away.

Divorce is the worst thing that can happen to a family, aside from illnesses that tear a family apart as well.  However, if a beloved parent who is ill survives, it often makes the family stronger and builds character.  The emotional turmoil and toll of a divorce are staggering; and the scars never heal, years and decades later.  The situation is compounded when lawyers are involved, who more often than not “stir the pot” and make things even worse[4]—because they are generating ever-increasing legal fees, and they are taught to be advocates and contentious—which only add to a couple’s problems, whose relationship is strained already.  They need care and love, not acrimony.

Obviously those who are hurt include the children and the parents, but also others who come in contact with them.  Future spouses and even friends are subject to the effects of divorces, in ways that are incalculable.  If a parent is genuinely caring, sensitive, loving and compassionate, a divorce often tears that person apart.  It affects one’s ability to work; and every time that the parent and child are apart, there are tears and anguish—and yes, anger too—that never seem to go away.

Forty or more years after a divorce, there can still be rancor among the parents, which is often intensified when the children favor one parent over another.  If the divorce took place when the children were very young, they never knew fully what transpired between their parents, yet one parent can be blamed and judged by the children who only see things from their point of view—of sometimes spoiled, entitled lives.  At best, they have heard bits and pieces, generally filtered through prisms of enormous bias, distortion and long-simmering hatred.

Today, the issue of the parents’ divorce many years before may be the 800-pound gorilla in the room.  The parents and their grown children might never discuss it, yet it percolates just beneath the surface, like a boiling cauldron.  It is always there, at least for a sensitive, loving parent.  It is the pain that lingers and never disappears, but gets fanned again and again when the children side with one parent or the other.  It renews old hurts and hatreds among all concerned.

Even when both parents do their best at parenting, and do not move apart geographically, and share almost equal time with their kids, theirs is still never a family again—much less a happy one.  At best, life becomes two families, separate and distinct; and there is nothing that one can do to change this.  Vacations and holidays are often split; and the lives of all concerned are complicated even more when spouses of the children arrive, as well as children of their own.

Classes about marriage should be taught in colleges, high schools and before.  No one tells us that it may be the most important decision we ever make; and if we make a mistake, we will live with it for the rest of our lives.  It is like a bad dream that never goes away.  Many times we think: if only we could reverse the clock, and not make that decision again.  But it was made, years ago, and no one told us how important it would be.  If we had any reservations before marrying (e.g., we were friends, but not in love—or there was something that just did not feel right), someone should have stopped us and told us to back off and not go through with it.  The chances of things getting better after marriage are slim to none.

My great aunt died at 99, and her husband died at 92.  They are my role models—above everyone else whom I have met, including my parents—with respect to a loving marriage.  In the final years of her life, she told me many times how much she missed him, and how she looked forward to joining him.  It was very loving, real and touching; and I have never seen love like theirs before or since.  It was as if God had truly blessed them.  They were friends; however, on a deeper level, he loved her and she loved him.  He lit up when she came into the room; and both were very special, loving human beings.  They never had any kids of their own though.[5]

Perhaps the most important thing for any parent to do is to give his or her child unconditional love, and teach what genuine love and faith are all about.  Divorce is an experience that many of us would not wish for our worst enemies; and we hope and pray that our children and their children never endure such catastrophes.  Some people enter into marriage with the expectation that if it does not succeed, divorce is an easy answer.  If children are involved, it is not easy or painless at all.

Lastly, there are enormous pressures on couples today; and many if not most are ill-equipped to cope.  The economy, coupling itself, changing mores, religious and personal differences, illnesses and the like make Life challenging at best.  Surely, this has been true since marriages first took place; however, the pace of our lives may be faster.  Indeed, given the demands on couples today, it is a wonder that any marriages survive.  Throw in kids—who are a blessing, but add a whole new dimension to the relationship—and marriages that survive and truly flourish are tantamount to miracles.

© 2011, Timothy D. Naegele

[Note: The information contained in footnote 2 may prove to be very helpful to the readers of this article]


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g.,www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com; see also Google search:Timothy D. Naegele

[2] See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303544604576430341393583056.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsTop

There is useful information, provocative thinking, and wisdom in some of the comments that appeared at the Journal’s Web site, in conjunction with the article, such as: (1) “spouses need to take care of each other and ensure each other’s needs are met” (Trevor Denham); (2) “Couples need to understand that what’s most important is their relationship with each other[, and if] that is well maintained, the kids will be fine” (M Mullen); (3) “Kids who grew up in divorced homes (like myself) often do not know how to recognize what a healthy relationship looks like and often make poor choices” (Sharon Brooks); (4) “I can tell you exactly what’s made a good marriage for my wife and me for the last 28 years: the marriage is more important to us than anything else, we are totally committed to it, and we will do anything to make it work” (Gershon Ekman); (5) “Every guy i know who has a prenup is still married with an intact family, normal kids and……………..a respectful wife! His pre-nup will put the same fear of divorce in her as his own fear of divorce.  . . .  If she wants to take it to court and you lose……….sue the attorney who wrote it up. Thats [sic] what his malpractice is for. Either way you win.  . . .  No wonder men have stopped asking women to get married!” (Don Mango); (6) “when a person who ‘married their best friend’ finds that their best friend has found a new best friend, that is more devastating than a lecherous husband screwing around” (James Burton); (7) “marriage is a sacramental convenant. It is not about being good roommates or even best friends” (Gerald Garcia); (8) “Your spouse isn’t there to complete your life, just to share it” (Carol Sandor); (9) “mothers initiate nearly three times as many divorces as fathers. . . .  Divorce is, essentially, a female phenomenon” (Mark Henricks); (10) “While a man may cheat and not intend to end his marriage[,] a woman almost always can’t get past that violation and pursues divorce afterwards” (Michelle Madsen); (11) “I have learned after 4 decades of marraige [sic] that in fact, ‘opposites do not attract'” (John Herman); (12) “the best parenting advice I have ever been given is actually marriage advice, ‘The most important thing a father can do for his children, is love their mother'” (Brett Krieg); (13) “divorce sucks, & everyone is adversely affected” (Richard Dockery); (14) “Marriage is a Covenant with God, not a contract with [your] spouse.  . . .  There is no joy in serving yourself.  It eventually leads to complete loneliness” (John Pater); (15) “The reason why divorce is so devastating to children is because they are supposed to personify the love between their mother and father; an act of loving union brought them into existence (or was supposed to). When we tamper with this design, [it] has profound psychological effects. Thus, counselors say the experience of divorce is like that of a death in the family and this is absolutely true: a part of them really has died. Beyond losing the familiar ‘structure’ of their home, when a child’s father and mother split[,] it tells the child that the love that was supposed to bring them into being never existed or wasn’t real – which strikes at their core” (Mike Day); (16) “Faith and religion, along with the institution of marriage, are becoming obsolete.  Sorry if that offends the ‘faithful’ and ‘believers’ among us. The number of ‘closet’ atheists and agnostics is one of the fastest growing segments of the American populace” (Rhinnie Rohrback); (17) “When the husband and wife are devoted to each other[,] everything else follows including a stable family for the kids” (Rocco Papalia); (18) “At least the backward concept of giving sole custody to the mother is going away. This was always crazy, especially for boys. Boys after the age of maybe 2 or 3 need their father more than their mother. Separating them from their father, especially by force if the father wants to be involved, is incredibly stupid and destructive to the child” (Christopher Grey); (19) “I was five when my parents called it quits and their break-up was the single most devastating event of my life” (Bill Kilpatrick); (20) “I do not recommend divorce for anyone ever, yet realize that sometimes it may be the only option left” (Annmarie Chereso); (21) “As a divorced man of a certain age, I will probably not marry again. Why? Two reasons :A) no possibility of children; and B) lawyers” (Alan Wells); (22) “At the end of the day in today’s anti-father culture and Family Court laws, a man is a fool to marry in America. After all, when he loses his children, 18 years of his income and over half his stuff, he moves into the apartment” (Terri Christopher); (23) “If you only love when it comes to you easily, then it simply isn’t true love—true love weathers storms” (Vladimir Bachynsky); (24) “If your only reason for staying together is a legal document, a vow, or a social stigma, your relationship is obvioulsy dead, and you are better off finding somone who will love you for who you are, and who will be thrilled to be loved by you” (Jay Schwartz); (25) “As a society, we should not allow government to be invol[v]ed in marriage and families. Government should only have two purposes. To defend our country and our freedoms” (Philip Stanley); (26) “I read somewhere that in over 90% of divorce cases, the spouse wanting the divorce has a lover” (Michael Trian); (27) “My grandparents were married for more than 70 years. I watched them as I was growing up. They were partners and always did sweet things for one another. I think that is key—simply being thoughtful” (Kat A); (28) “No one has the correct answer. No one knows the secret to a lasting marriage. Like politics, if there was one clear and correct answer, we would all likely abide by it, but the debate rolls on” (Victor Vazquez); (29) “If our parents had not had kids, I think they would’ve moved on from their divorce happily and never looked back. We were a human chain that bonded two people who never wanted to see each other again. Fun role to play in life. Let me tell you” (Adam Hendricks); (30) “Love your spouse more than your kids and your kids will grow up happier” (Jim Beam); (31) “Children of divorce often spend 18 years or so, until they leave home, learning how to fail at marriage from their primary role-models. Reforming one’s self in spite of that amount of training in failure takes tremendous effort, loving self-examination, and a willingness to ‘leave home’ in the heart and mind. It requires scary interior trail-blazing to become someone that you weren’t formed to be. Scary because, the character that it takes to be successfully married won’t feel natural, doing what ends in divorce feels natural” (Vince White); (32) “I’ve . . . witnessed the Depression and what families were like then; I’m afraid too many of today’s folks lack the discipline thats [sic] going to be needed very soon” (Aloysius Koller); (33) “As it says on the billboard, “Loved the wedding, now invite me to the marriage. – Signed God” (Dan Pierce); (34) “In my view, men, in general, are not trained to negotiate or compromise – we are trained to be No.1, to win, at all costs and against all odds. Or, we are a loser. So, pair a man up with super woman who knows she too can be No.1 . . .  and we wonder why there is conflict?” (Jeffrey Allen Miller); (35) “far too many unknowing Psychologists and therapists  . . .  still see a couple and even the family as a collection of individuals rather than an emotional/spiritual team that must learn to function as a team or lose as a team” (Gary Sweeten); (36) “Sure, it’s hard to learn to serve and love the other person when our parents gave us the worst examples. But with determination, and by not creating problems waiting for ‘shoes to drop’, and planning an escape route, it can be done. We’re happily celebrating our 30 anniversary this year, and we’re looking forward to many more happy anniversaries! Just remember to reach for each other when things get tough; don’t hide or reach for the door. It’s tough, but worth every minute!” (Lisa Eichman); (37) “The people I know, including my parents, my in-laws, my son’s in-laws, and even my husband and I, are all very distinct individuals who have found ways to stay married while staying individuals. I would argue . . . that people who try to subsume their individuality in a marriage wind up resenting the loss of their personhood, and that only a marriage that respects the differences of both people can endure” (Annag Chandler); (38) “There is no good way to do divorce anymore than there is a good way to cut your own arm off. There are simply bad ways and worse ways.  . . .  If we think that quitting on marriage is a viable option, then we do not understand what marriage actually is—a picture of God’s unfailing love for us. . . .” (Nathan Howell); (39) “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”   (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)).

[3] See http://www.nytimes.com/1995/01/01/magazine/lives-well-lived-louis-nizer-legal-maxims-for-our-times.htmlsee also http://www.amazon.com/My-Life-Court-Louis-Nizer/dp/156849145X

[4] As I have written: “[M]ale lawyers prey sexually on their distraught and vulnerable female clients, which should give rise to immediate disbarments but it does not.”  I added: “[T]he lawyers involved should be disbarred automatically, but the American Bar Association and State bar associations ‘turn a blind eye’ and do little or nothing to curb such abuses.”

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-american-legal-system-is-broken-can-it-be-fixed/

[5] See Timothy D. Naegele, A Journey Home, which embodies recollections of a trip taken with Sally Collette to Hannibal, Missouri in 1979, when she was 92 years old.  This book will be republished in the future, with the original photographs that were set forth in it.


Actions

Information

8 responses

14 07 2011
Rod R

Insight and encouragement appreciated. A wise friend told me…the 24hour rule…”you have 24 hours to confront the person that hurt you OR you lose the right to be hurt”…because others cannot read your mind And may not even be aware that they have hurt you. Without you doing all you can do to confront the situation…you are becoming part of the problem.

Like

27 07 2011
Timothy D. Naegele

Losing The Love Of Your Life

This can happen by reason of a death or a legal divorce, or by separation if marriage never occurred, or by not consummating what you thought was meant to be.

One article written by a clinical psychologist in the UK has asked: “[W]hat happens when we lose a loved one and how—if ever—the process of grieving comes to an end”?

It continued:

When someone encounters unbearable pain, physical or emotional, their first reaction is numbness. This is a protective response, allowing the body to assess the damage and activate whatever coping responses are necessary. For some, this first stage of grieving lasts only hours; for others it may continue for days, even weeks.

A series of reactions then follows, some of which occur again and again. The bereaved person may feel anxious, even frightened, although when asked what’s frightening them they’ll have trouble explaining. Their appetite and sleep will almost certainly be disturbed.

. . .

Some may feel angry that life could be so cruel—others will feel angry at their loved one for leaving them alone.

. . .

Over the following months, these exhausting, negative emotions become less intense and less frequent, and the bereaved begin to experience moments of calm. They’ll start to remember the good things about their relationship without feeling overwhelmed with sadness.

Sometimes, even if just for a little while, they’ll forget their sadness altogether, and enjoy their surroundings or become completely engaged in a conversation with a friend. They’ll also start to make plans again and to look ahead, rather than always focusing on the past.

In one sense the process of grieving never ends, because no one totally forgets a person they’ve loved. However, the bereaved are ready to move on when they find they’re once again looking forward to the future, and when they can reflect on their loved one without feeling only loneliness and sadness.

. . .

Those who had a strong and happy relationship are likely to move on more quickly and with more inner strength than those whose relationship was troubled.

This seems surprising at first glance—you’d think those in happier relationships would miss their partner more. But maybe they have a greater store of happy memories and know they had the best experiences possible with their loved one, so they find it a bit easier to work through the pain.

Some people also think men seem to move on from grief sooner than women. I’ve not found this to be the case, although it is true that after losing a partner—whether through death or separation—men are more likely to make a long-term commitment again.

. . .

But will you make a mistake when you choose a new partner? Yes, you might—anyone can do that. However, if you’re not trying to replace the person you lost, but instead to find a new companion to share your future, then you have as much chance as anyone else of making a wise choice.

. . .

[H]ow should you respond to those who are criticising you for finding a new love? The answer is to ignore them. They’re not your true friends. True friends accept they can’t know your heart—only you know what’s right for you.

Real friends won’t judge you. They’ll simply be delighted that you’ve found happiness again.

See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2019506/On-couch-Liam-Neeson-When-right-losing-love-life.html (emphasis added)

Like

5 09 2011
Theo P. Neustic

All I can say is , “If I had only listened” .Why didn’t the pastor that counseled us prior, come right out and say what he clearly saw but only hinted around at? Why didn’t I listen to my parents? Do we as 20 somethings ever listen to our parents? Most importantly, why didn’t I listen to the little nagging voice, inside of me, that kept asking if I was sure of what I was doing? In some respects I see it as a life thrown away or stolen, but on the other hand, it is and was my life and what I make of the rest of it is up to me.

Like

5 09 2011
Timothy D. Naegele

Well said, Theo, well said.

Like

7 09 2011
Timothy D. Naegele

Infidelity: Fewer Men Than Women Are Cheating On Their Partners, A Study Has Found

An article in the UK’s Daily Mail that discusses this subject added:

Just 1 per cent of men confessed to having had a meaningful affair, compared to 5 per cent of women.

While infidelity has fallen sharply over the last three decades, the U.S. survey still found 14 per cent of women had admitted to having sex with someone else, compared to 10 per cent of men.

See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2034511/Gwyneth-Paltow-admires-love-cheat-friends.html

One comment mentioned in footnote 2 of my article above was:

While a man may cheat and not intend to end his marriage[,] a woman almost always can’t get past that violation and pursues divorce afterwards.

For many men, this is true as well. Intellectually they may be able to forgive but emotionally they cannot, and the “marriage” is finished from that moment forward.

Like

18 05 2012
Timothy D. Naegele

Is Cheating (By Either Spouse) Worth it?

Cheating

The UK’s Daily Mail—in an article entitled, “The ex-husband yard sale… and everything is FREE! Wife dumps former partner’s belongings by side of the road and spray paints ‘cheater’ on his SUV”—has reported:

One angry divorcee has taken a cathartic approach to the end of her marriage and removed every reminder of her ex-husband from her home.

Unfortunately for him, she then simply dumped the possessions in the front yard next to a spray-painted sign which read ‘free’ and ‘x-husband sale’.

And if the source of her rage wasn’t at first clear, the woman from Superior, Wisconsin also flattened the tires of his truck and sprayed the word ‘cheater’ on the side.

See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2146141/Wife-dumps-cheating-husbands-possessions-yard-Superior-Wisconsin.html

As the English playwright and poet, William Congreve, wrote 315 years ago:

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.

And it can last forever. . . .

Like

1 08 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

If You Are Not Sure About Marrying Someone, Don’t Do It

Great advice given to Frank Sinatra by his lawyer.

See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3181898/The-one-lover-obsessed-sex-Sinatra-Ol-Blue-Eyes-biographer-crooner-s-carnal-relationship-actress-Lana-Turner.html; see also the article above, note 2.

Like

21 06 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

Why Relationships End [UPDATED]

Broken heart

At the outset of these comments, it must be stated unequivocally that I believe fervently and idealistically in the institution of marriage, and that it is sacred. Ideally no marriage or loving relationship should ever end, period.

In footnote 2 of the article above, some factors that may be helpful in fostering a successful and long-lasting relationship are outlined.

Tragically, when a marriage or relationship ends, there are a myriad of factors that converged. It is not a masculine or feminine issue, but mirrors the fact that far too often relationships of all kinds end (e.g., those involving business, politics, competition).

The UK’s Daily Mail has stated:

Any married couple will tell you that arguments occur even in the happiest household, but how do you distinguish minor tiffs from potentially relationship-ending rows?

In a series of heartbreaking online confessions, ex-husbands have shared the moment they knew their marriage was over.

One curious Redditor started the thread asking: ‘Divorced men of reddit: what moment with your former wife made me think “Yup, I’m asking this girl to divorce me”?’

It sparked thousands of responses, with one divorcee describing how his epiphany came when his three-year-old daughter pleaded with her parents to ‘stop yelling’.

Unsurprisingly, affairs were an obvious catalyst for the end of many marriages, with some men recalling learning of their wife’s infidelity in the most heartbreaking ways.

Money also proved to be the cause for many relationships ending with several divorcees revealing their exes had duped them for cash.

While many of the stories came from men who had instantly filed for divorce several revealed that they had attempted to work through their issues with marriage counselors to no avail.

For those who were parents, their children played a huge factor in their marriage, and a concern for their offspring was often listed as a cause for divorce.

Many confessions came from men [who] admitted their reasons for their split [were] not as clear-cut, revealing that they had simply grown apart over the years.

Abuse also came up as a reason why the marriage failed whether that was verbal or physical on the wife’s part.

See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4624760/Men-reveal-moment-decided-end-marriage.html#article-4624760 (“Is YOUR relationship heading for divorce? Husbands reveal the moment they decided to end their marriage in heart-breaking confessions“) (emphasis added: comments omitted)

There is generally plenty of “blame” to go around; it is not one-sided. Reading the comments beneath the Daily Mail article is instructive.

Some of us knew before we married “her” that it was not meant to be, yet we went ahead anyway.

Years later, long after our divorce, a lovely old woman in Glendalough, Ireland gave me very sage advice on the morning after my long-time Irish love got drunk the night before—the “Irish virus” of alcoholism—and did not return with me to our hotel:

It’s better to know now, before you tie the knot.

Amen, in spades!

Like

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: