An Open Letter to Parents Considering Divorce

by Melanie | August 19th, 2012

Here’s a letter I posted in response to a homeschooling mother who told an email list that she was thinking of divorcing her husband because she didn’t love him anymore and they were not getting along at all. I hope if you are thinking of divorcing your mate, that you will read this very carefully and think it through.

Dear Friend,

I wish I could give you a hug! I’m so glad you asked for help instead of going to a lawyer! I believe God will intervene in this situation!

Now for the tough love part: a real, practical, earthly reality check. We are state homeschool leaders and sooner or later, many problems in the homeschool community in our state cross our desk. We see a lot of divorce situations! How in the world, you’re probably thinking, would a divorce affect homeschool leaders? Here’s the reality check: when you divorce, you are telling the state that you can no longer run your own family, that the adults in the marriage are no longer in agreement, so can not be allowed to make decisions about the children. When you do this, the family judge has, hear me, **complete authority** over your family. Most family judges are older people who are ignorant about homeschooling and they will jump on the slightest excuse to *order* you to place your children in public school. Now, I know that there are exceptions to this, but you can’t decide what judge your case comes before. Our state homeschool board members and those in other states will testify if asked, but generally to no avail. And HSLDA will not help you in custody situations, even if homeschooling is the issue.

Now, you may think that you and your husband are in agreement about homeschooling, but when it comes to a divorce, *anything* can be used as a weapon. When someone is cut to the quick – and tearing apart a one-flesh relationship definitely does this – they can react like a wounded animal. We see parents reporting each other to social services, calling the state oversight agency and making complaints, asking the judge to give them total custody, asking the judge to stop the homeschooling. We see this a *lot*because the hurt or angry mate knows how important this is to their spouse. Often these are Christian, homeschooling families that no one ever thought would be in this situation.

Even if you can possibly get through the judicial situation, you are not done with your husband. When a couple with children divorces, I think they seldom realize that they will be tied to each other forever through the children and courts. One of my dear, homeschool-mom friends is allowed to homeschool, but her husband has custody every weekend (and even if it is a situation where there is wrongdoing in the marriage, 50/50 custody is the norm), so she almost never gets to go to church with her son, never gets to relax on a Saturday with him. Every other holiday is alone. He is gone a lot of the summer to make up for the 5 days she has him to every 2 his father does during the week. This, if you can believe it, is one of the best situations I know – not much of a best is it?

I can not urge you strongly enough, that nothing short of a real, physical, abusive situation or unrepentent adultery is even close to worth submitting your family for the rest of your children’s childhood to the authority of a probably unsaved, probably hostile judge! Trust me, we see a lot of tough situations, and legal separation or divorce will not take away your problems, they will just become problems you are not allowed to change – court orders. How much better to imitate Christ in His love for us – the church. He loves us despite our sin and unfaithfulness. In fact, we love Him because He first loved us.

The next thing we see, is moms who have gotten through all that and now they have to support themselves. Generally, judges will *not* order the husband to completely support the family as before since he sees no reason the wife should not work. And if you go to work, you can bet the judge will want to know who is supervising the children and not believe you can homeschool, too. I imagine it’s even worse for a dad who wants to keep his children homeschooling. It’s a vicious cycle.

Now, there are people who get through divorce more easily than this, but can you take that chance? If Satan cares enough about wrecking your familyto spend two years tempting you away from loving and respecting your husband, do you think he will stop when victory is in his grasp?

I’m not going to go into the spiritual and emotional rebuilding advice, because I think you are getting a lot of great help, except to say, God would not command us to love one another if it wasn’t something we can choose to do and not something that comes and goes without our decision.

Dear friend, I really don’t want to see you go through this! You may even be in our state. I don’t want to have to see a judge take over your family. Please count the cost and ask God to restore your marriage.

With much love,
Hal & Melanie Young

Update: Since this was first published, we saw this very situation play out among friends of ours. The father committed open, unrepentant adultery, but the judge divided all the assets and the children’s custody 50/50, even though the father chose to live in sin with his mistress with the children in the house. The judge ordered the always-homeschooled children into public school and gave the adulterous father equal rights over every decision. The children’s world was rocked. Judge Mangum pointed out: “Only when two parents reach an impasse and have specifically asked the Court to make these decisions for them can the Court do so. These parties have reached that impasse and both parties have asked the Court to decide the issues in this case.”
How does this affect the children? Generally badly – for decades! Read this.
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  • liss

    You say, “I can not urge you strongly enough, that nothing short of a real,
    physical, abusive situation or unrepentent adultery is even close to
    worth submitting your family for the rest of your children’s childhood
    to the authority of a probably unsaved, probably hostile judge”

    I understand what you are saying about the judge and forcing the kids into public school.

    I have to say that I have been in a physically abusive situation before and it was much easier to deal with than the manipulation and control and withholding of love or any other kind of attention and irresponsibility that I get now. Not to mention the suffering of the children because their father ignores them, manipulates them, shoves them or makes them cry to the point of hyperventilating. I seems to me that Satan is in my family in the form of my husband and the kids and I cannot be who God created us to be while under this oppression. I have done the best I could for 15 yrs and it is only getting worse. I have deliberated over and prayed about it for 10 yrs. Still, nothing. I cannot change my husband and it appears that God chooses not to. Why should the children and I continue to live like this?

    • Anonymous

      Oh Liss, I am so sorry! How horrible! I definitely understand your desire to be out of this situation! My practical hesitation is that if the judge decides to give their father half-custody, which is almost certain (they have a tendency to not believe accusations against each other), then half the time your children will be under his care *without you there to protect them.* That concerns me. :-(
      Biblically, as well, I don’t see a release here. It’s hard for me to understand that, but it’s just not there. :-( I will pray the Lord will give you direction. I have a friend in this situation right now and she brought it before the elders of the church. They have reproved her husband and counseled with him, but he refuses to admit his sin. The elders read a letter to the church reproving him — and that brought him to a point of repentance. Have you talked to your pastors? Wish I could give you a hug! ~Melanie

      • liss

        I am also concerned about the children being under my husbands care without me there to protect them. They are 15 and 12 now and old enough to see what is going on. The 15 yr old does not want anything to do with his father. The 12 yr old is very upset with her father and has been clinging to me. I am told that I would get primary custody and he would get every other weekend.
        At a counselors advice the kids and I are learning Boundaries from the book by Townsend and Cloud (they have a book for kids that goes with it).

        I have tried to appeal to the church for help but have only met with judgement. My son tried to appeal to one of the youth leaders but only met with judgement. It seems that people don’t believe the abuse is real if I don’t have a black eye. My husband doesn’t go to church much, doesn’t talk to anyone really and is a skilled people pleaser. It appears on the surface that things at my house are okay because I have always done what I had to do to keep it that way. Mother bears protect their cubs you know. So the church assumes it can’t be all that bad. I haven’t been very excited about going back to that church. I am glad your friend has a church with a strong foundation in Christ.

        My husband also refuses to take any responsibility for his sin. What hurts even more is that he claims to be a born again christian, but there is absolutely no fruit of that showing in his behavior.

        Scripture does speak against divorce but it also speaks against oppression. Divorce however, is not a “thou shall not get divorced” commandment. It only speaks against it. I believe that divorce would then be considered a sin, and while not to be taken lightly, since it is a sin it can be forgiven and washed away in the blood of Christ. It is the enemy who wishes us to remain in bondage and oppression so that we cannot be who God created us to be and do the things that God would have us to do for his glory and the blessing of others. The Lord does not wish us to remain in bondage or be oppressed for the same reason.

        The kids and I desire to live in the Lord’s will and be who he created us to be so that we can do what he created us to do. But in this situation we feel like there is a boulder on top of us, smothering us and holding us down. My son is becoming introverted, I think because of his pain and disappointment in his father. My daughter is clingy and wants me with her at all times she does not want to be left alone with her father. Like the mother bear, I really want to run off the creature that is threatening my cubs. I myself have been married but alone for many years but especially the last 3 1/2 that my husband has completely avoided and ignored me because I started setting pretty firm boundaries. It seems as though he actually left me back then.

        I would love to hear any more thoughts you might have. Thank you so much for your compassionate response rather than the judgement I usually get. I will gladly accept that hug.

        Liss

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