Words are just words.We will all get to a place in our relationship – and if we’re divorced, we’ve probably hit that place by now – where it basically no longer matters what we say. To this one person, our opinions do not matter. Our ideas do not matter. Our emotions do not matter. So we can talk or text or email until we’re blue in the face but words are just words and it is the rare word that will actually get through and make a difference. For those of us who have not had an amicable parting of the ways, this is our sad, but true, reality. (Side note: however, others words may make a difference. If your ex-husband is blatantly breaking the rules of your legal agreement, and you’ve deemed the situation worth it enough to fight for what’s right, ask your lawyer what your options are to legally require him stick to what he’s supposed to be doing. That’s, in part, what the law is supposed to be for.)
We can’t change people. This should not come as a surprise, as we probably spent a majority of our marriages learning and re-learning this lesson. Even when people are sinning against us, it can be very difficult to get them to stop. People must feel the consequences of their own actions before they change. Hurting someone else is not always enough to make someone want to stop doing the wrong things they’re doing (it should be enough, but it isn’t always). The person needs to feel the pain within himself. They must feel and believe that they should stop what they’re doing, or change will be fleeting at best.
We can teach our children to make better choices. It’s so tempting to fill our kids in on what’s really going on. And sometimes, depending on their ages and the circumstances, they do have the right to know. But other times, we need to check our motives. Are we only telling them the dirt because it feels so good to tell on our oppressor? If you honestly feel your kids need to know what’s really going on, tell them, but appropriately. Otherwise, use this as a teaching tool. Something like, “I’m so sorry Dad isn’t taking you to soccer practice. I know that hurts your feelings and is frustrating. When you’re a dad, you can remember how this felt and use it to help you make better choices for your own kids.”
This isn’t news but divorce sucks. And this is just one of the many reasons why. But we must remember that we are no longer the person with the right to speak truth into our ex-partner’s lives. We can pray though that God will bring justice and that God will provide.
If this post helped you, “Moving On as a Christian Single Mom” is for you, found here.
Elisabeth, I read your article today. Every bit of it resonated with me, but I am not divorced. Pray that I can keep focused on me and how I need to change. K.a.m.
I dealt with this with my ex-husband — paying medical and dental bills in the hundreds and one dental bill that was a thousand dollars, and him refusing to pay it. I also ended up paying several bills that he was supposed to be responsible for in the divorce decree, and because he wasn’t paying it — the credit companies wanted someone to pay it— me being responsible, ended up paying them.
He has never reimbursed me for these, and probably never will. The thing is that God DID provide me with plenty of money during that time of my life to cover those bills. The only way I can explain that I made it was because of the Lord — my boss would all of a sudden give me a bonus or something — He always provided.
I used to get so upset over him not taking care of these bills, but it didn’t do me any good — and it seemed to bring him joy to make me mad.
Now I literally have to have nothing to do with him. Which is great. Our daughter is off at college, and if she needs money I give it to her directly and visa versa.
It is incredibly frustrating — but to me it wasn’t worth it to take him to court.