What My Parent’s Late Divorce Taught Me About Life and Relationships

It wasn’t an event I anticipated, nor something I thought would shape my understanding of life and relationships as deeply as it has. But, life teaches us the most through unexpected experiences. You see, my parents got a divorce after 30+ years of marriage! My brothers and I were all in our late twenties and had wives and families of our own. So, it was quite a shock!

It’s not like the signs weren’t there. While all is forgiven now, let’s just say my Dad thoroughly earned those divorce papers. My mom only kept it together for my brothers and me to grow up in a two-parent household. Once we were all married and building our own families, and his behavior still hadn’t changed, she cut the cord. More power to her, but even though we knew there were problems, those problems were our normal.

It was only when the marriage dissolved that myself and my brothers were slapped in the face with the realization that our “normal” childhood was a facade. It was hard…really hard, but it made me take a good long look at my own marriage and my family ties, and it forced me to make some changes.

The Shock of Change…

I had always viewed their relationship as a permanent fixture, not perfect, but a constant. This upheaval forced me to confront the reality that even the most seemingly stable aspects of life can change. It was a stark reminder that nothing is guaranteed and that we must be adaptable— prepared to navigate the unexpected twists life throws our way.

The Pain of Betrayal…

One of the hardest things to accept was that my father’s numerous affairs were a major reason for the divorce. Learning the details of his infidelity was heartbreaking. It shattered the image I had of my family and made me question many aspects of other relationships in my life. This painful truth taught me that trust is crucial in any relationship. When trust is broken, it can be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to repair the damage. I learned the importance of being honest and faithful, no matter the situation.

Acceptance and Forgiveness…

One of the hardest parts of the divorce was dealing with feelings of anger, especially towards my father. Essentially, the betrayal was against God and my mother, but it certainly had a trickle-down effect. Holding onto these negative emotions created internal turmoil and affected my relationships with others. I realized that unforgiveness can cause calamity, popping its ugly head up in seemingly every area of your life. Learning to forgive, both my father and myself, was a crucial step in healing.

There were moments of anger and hurt during the divorce, but over time, both of my parents found a way to forgive each other and themselves. There was a lot of bitterness in our family for a while, and it took a few years to heal. Watching them move toward acceptance taught me that holding onto grudges only prolongs the pain. As a husband of many years now, I know how easily I could screw up. I know how hard marriage can be. This entire situation taught me how to hold someone accountable while extending them some grace.

Embracing Change and Growth…

My parents’ divorce taught me to see change as an opportunity for growth. Both of them had to rebuild their lives independently, discovering new interests and paths. Their resilience inspired me to embrace change in my own life and to see it as a chance to grow. I learned that personal growth often comes from stepping out of our comfort zones and facing new challenges. This perspective has made me approach life with a more open and adventurous mindset.

The Importance of Communication…

Unfortunately, my family was terrible at communication! We rarely talked about any issues, and now I can see that all our interactions during my childhood were very superficial. A key lesson from my parents’ divorce was the importance of heartfelt communication. Their experience taught me that open and honest conversation is essential in any relationship.

Avoiding difficult conversations or hiding emotions only leads to misunderstandings and resentment. With a lot of work (and patience from my wife), I learned to express my feelings and needs clearly and to listen actively to others. Not only do I have more intimate relationships with both my parents now, but with my brothers, my in-laws, and my wife too!

Strengthening Sibling Bonds…

Initially, the divorce created a lot of tension and confusion between me and my brothers. We each processed our parents’ separation differently, leading to misunderstandings and conflicts. However, over time, we realized that we needed to support each other until we could repair the relationship with our parents. The shared experience of navigating our new family dynamics actually brought us closer.

Thankfully, most of us had married into stable and loving families. We took cues from that. We began to discuss the aspects of our spouses’ sibling relationships and how they differed from our own. We strove to communicate more openly, sharing our feelings and supporting each other through the tough times. Our bond grew stronger as we leaned on each other, transforming our relationships into ones of deeper understanding and mutual support.

Some good can come out of every bad situation…

With time, the wounds from my parents’ divorce began to heal. The initial shock and pain lessened, and I started to see positive changes in our family dynamics. My parents found happiness in their new lives, and my brothers and I developed a stronger bond than ever. Time (and a lot of pointed effort) proved to be a great healer, helping us rebuild our relationships and find a new normal.

Life is unpredictable, relationships are complex, and change is inevitable. But through it all, we grow, learn, and become stronger. I hope by letting you in on a personal point of pain that you’ll be inspired to take the ugly bits, the downtrodden days, and the unexpected crap that life throws at you, and find a way to use it for good. Every hard experience presents an opportunity for growth!

About Author
About Author

Ryan is a professional travel and relationship writer, originally out of Arkansas. Educated as a health and physical education teacher, he sold all his possessions, uprooted, and went on sabbatical in 2020 to go exploring! He's spent the last four years traveling the world, living and working in more than forty countries. At his side, is his wife of 19 years and fellow travel writer, Abby. Aside from being a sports fanatic and Jesus lover, he's uncle extraordinaire to 14 of the greatest creations on Earth. His passion is sharing cultural finds and encouraging men to experience a more fulfilling life by loving, serving, and understanding their partners better. Ryan is often published on Adventures From Scratch where he shares his relationship advice and family adventure tips, and on Let's Roam, where he details his travel experiences. You can find more from Ryan on he and his wife's YouTube Channel- LostAmongLocals.

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