My married neighbours are recently separated; they had only been married for about 3 years and we (my wife & I) thought they were deeply in love with each other until cracks began to show up in their marriage. I like both of them and consider them as good people but it still baffles me that the marital relationship between two good people will break in this matter.
They have a 2-year old daughter, Lizzy, who is a good friend of my kids. My daughters are much older than Lizzy but they consider her as one of theirs. Only God knows how many times the little girl’s name is mentioned in our house. Then she had to move with her Mum when the discord became unbearable and the family was split into two.
Initially, my wife and I told our kids that Lizzy went on holiday with her Mum and they would soon be back. God!! My kids can ask questions; it’s almost like I was doing Ophra Winfrey interviews whenever the questions start flowing. The next line of questioning is: why didn’t her Dad go on the holiday with her? I found another excuse to justify why their Dad comes home at night while his family is away. All the while, my wife and I were hoping that the separation would not last long, cooler heads would prevail and the issues would be resolved.
It’s been a year now. Lizzy’s name still rings in our house; especially when my kids see my neighbour’s car. They want to know when Lizzy is coming back; “when is our little sister coming back?”, they ask. Sometimes, I tell them I would ask Lizzy’s Dad while other times, I would just change the subject. But most times, I wish I knew a good way of explaining to my 7-year & 10-year olds that marriages don’t always work out and Lizzy’s Dad and Mum have decided to give up on marriage.
If I tried to give that explanation, I will be in “trouble” with the follow-up questions. Let me make an attempt of the follow-up questions: What is the meaning of divorce? Will you and Mummy consider divorce in the future? Does it mean they don’t love each other again? Are they not children of God again? What will happen to Lizzy?
Honestly, I wish I could find a good way to have that conversation with my kids. The excitement they express whenever they see her picture breaks my heart; knowing that the circumstances surrounding her departure have not changed. I have always watched these separation and divorce stories on TV but this is the first time it is closer home for me. These people are decent people; how come they could not work this out? My kids aside, even adults like my wife and I are also bewildered on the turn of events that led to this current situation.
Using a local parlance, “like play like play”, a good family turned into a battle ground; emotional, mental, verbal, possibly spiritual battles and few physical altercations. Both personalities were strong in their positions, no one wants to yield. You listen to both sides and you get the feeling that they are right with the positions they have taken, yet the fine line that divided them was strong. It was a love story that started from way back, yet the moments that require sacrifices were missed. Each side wanted to “win” as if marriage is for winners and losers. Yet, they are both good people at heart.
Now, I am not sure if it’s my kids or myself that require the explanations again. I am probably as confused as those kids; I wish I could be brutally honest with both of neighbours. They messed up big time; I have seen worst cases that never led to divorce as both parties made sacrifices, took baby steps, appreciated each other’s insignificant efforts until the marriages began to sour again.
My suspicion is that many other factors, which both parties could not reveal, contributed to these issues; family interference, tribal issues, infidelity, sexual denials, financials, male ego, feminine independence etc. Even with all of these, it’s never too late to start afresh; baby steps please, baby steps.