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Surviving Divorce and Single Parenthood (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
March 16, 2022 6:00 am

Surviving Divorce and Single Parenthood (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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March 16, 2022 6:00 am

Susan Birdseye shares her dramatic story of learning about her husband’s affair after 17 years of an apparently happy marriage. She describes the devastating effects of her husband’s decisions on her family and her struggles navigating her eventual separation and divorce. Susan also shares some of the challenges she is facing now as a single parent. (Part 2 of 2)

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Check out some of the exciting job opportunities with Focus on the Family when looking to fill positions in marketing IT in marriage counseling work with other talented believers enjoy meaningful Christ centered work environment and use the skills God gave you to encourage others and help families thrive. To learn more visit that's Focus on the and my daughter and my Sunday at 11 and a irrelevant just completely fell apart bursting into tears and weeping and wailing and they were pleased only daddy and my think my little boy said something about us being poor living on the street or something. I just instantly went to an interesting place for an eight-year-old.

So I just kind of gathered them all in my arms and he went up to pack and get somewhere close to the essence he left you with the rubble.

That's Susan virtually single mom of five kids describing the day her marriage ended unexpectedly. She was facing an unwanted divorce were returning to Susan story today on Focus on the Family and your host is focused president and author Jim Daly on John Fuller John last time we shared a powerful conversation that we recorded were Susan and I was personally touched by her vulnerability and candor about the hardships she and her children have faced as a result of her husband's infidelity.

Think about that one bad decision, and the ripple effect of it. Susan is living with the tragic fallout of divorce and she's one of too many unwilling victims in our culture today who have been abandoned by a spouse who walked away from their family and ignored God's plan for marriage.

So it's up to us in the Christian community to reach out with compassion, forgiveness, grace to these broken families and help them in any way we can. Thankfully, Susan had a church family that supported her and would urge you to find opportunities to serve such families through your church as well and that's why were addressing this difficult but important topic again today so that we can all be more aware and sensitive to the struggles that families of divorce are facing. If you miss program last time, get the CD or download from us or get the focus broadcast app so you can listen at your convenience and we mentioned last time that Susan has captured her story in a book called would happily ever after. Shatters seeing God in the midst of divorce and single parenthood, and we have copies of that for you.

Call 800 the letter a in the word family to learn more or check the episode notes and now Jim, here's how you began part two of our conversation with Susan virtually on Focus on the Family Susan, let me just say it's great to have you back here not very good to be back.

I just love you spirit you have a bright smile. I can only imagine the days he had tears in your pillow and how lonely, that must've felt when your husband said to you. I'm leaving. We talked last time about how that came out of the blue he simply went to pick up the dry cleaning was gone a long time and came back in and hit you with that. You kids were playing in the background you had to gather your senses.

You had to find out what was going on and over the course of a few days. It unfolded as he defended and then eventually was forthright with what was happening an affair with another woman and then had to deal with the kids and he told your kids as we just heard in that clip the way in which he doubted he told your kids what was happening.

You said something that really mean it really got my heart when he said he didn't touched him. He didn't and it brings tears to my eyes, that a dad in that moment would know the damage he was doing to put his arm around his little daughter hug her and say I love you but were just not able to stay together that had to have such an impact on your kids. He definitely huge impact. Okay to reset a little bit with your ex-husband the emotions that you were feeling. We talked last time about bitterness and how that root of bitterness. It really is the differentiator you can call yourself a Christian, but if you go through trials and tribulations, and you come out with great bitterness. You gotta question your walk with the Lord because that's not the heart of the believer. Even when bad things happen to talk to us about how you dealt with that there are many men and women that have been wounded in their marriages talk to us about how you dealt with that specifically so I and is a huge, huge issue because it it will infiltrate all areas of your life. Your parenting to your children, it's impossible to hide bitterness into seats and everything. If you allow it to think there are some steps that I definitely knew God was the source of my strength and everything else falls to you like it wasn't real, but you're saying it anyway. Absolutely, there definitely are times when you know you're just walking by faith. You know and and there were times that had to be like it's not valid and feeling it's that what I know about what I now I know who God is.

I know his character. I know I can trust him. I'm totally not feeling it right now and so many times because they are just the mountains and valleys of this scene are days when you feel like I know in coping with it for myself. There would be days when I I felt so sorrowful I just wanted to fix that I would do anything to fix it. And then there were days I was so angry I just wanted to pound something and run away and you does the range of motion is profound. But you dealing with that cost us the study. I used to say on. I was, I felt like I was in this rocky tumultuous water all the time, but that there was a steady stream of peace underneath me like my feet were in it, you could foundation but the rest of me like that. I knew that guy I knew God was in get me through it.

It's hard to get through it now and I think he he did bring me through. It was hard it wasn't a month it was in a day was a week it was an evening yeah I mean it's been a process I don't and I think you have good days and you have bad days and you need to recognize that the processing God is faithful to stay with you when you're faithful and when you think less absolutely knew that my core and I think he brought me through the night. I knew I had to deal with anger. I would say a big thing with the anger issue is to recognize it is a valid emotion. You have some serious righteous indignation, and there we also have some Yunnan and hunt you down and I publish and say what you have those feelings yet. I just wanted to tell you that things I might chapter that anger is slashing tires and other that's take captive because you get that wrapped all his tires and whatever, but I knew I had to take control of those emotions because I knew it that we do to my family if I was angry. My children would be angry. I just I did not want to raise angry bitter children. I think for me that was a very strong motivation for that situation. They're not going to listen to your words because words we all over the place there to watch your actions determine your honesty through your actions and through what they see in you.

Yes, and it's a constant battle is a conscious battle to do that. Anger, bitterness, thing, and you, I would say that one thing is not to allow yourself to be to make sure that your friends are people who I don't want to jump into that pit of anger with you because your friends feel it so deeply when they're walking you through this and sometimes I think they almost take on more of that anger because they wanted to go out there and set it straight straight for you and I knew I had to make sure my friends.

The friends I surrounded myself that I sought counsel from people that would hold me to a higher standard and say no you feeling that you wrote about giving your husband's ultimatum you try for a few days and maybe weeks two weeks to get through to and to prove to him that we have a chance, let's try. But then you realize that you didn't think there was hope, and you gave your husband the ultimatum meteor her. That takes a lot of courage and a lot of women will shrink back from them because they don't want to hear the answer that they may hear, how did you find the wisdom to make that statement to your husband to give him that ultimatum if you could describe that force and in looking back on it. Do you think that was healthy. I sought counsel my pastor a marriage counselor of friends that I really trusted people that had gone through difficult circumstances when you are prayer warriors who are and you know just truly godly counsel what to do because I think sent even in the Christian community you get people that are like to come to the curb.

You know soon as you find out just he didn't deserve it just Yunnan as I know I will call to midcontinent with this man and until God tells me no time to say and so II really paid about it. What was happening. I had been weeks. I was trying to convince him to stay. I noticed that his behavior was, not changing for the better and he was pulling away from our children is increasingly distant, which was a reduction method because he didn't want to face reality really fess up to when setting boundaries on the relationship with the mistress and it just seems like it was time and I would say what helped me. I had a friend that said, you know.

At no point is it hopeless and I knew that my saying choose to him was not my saying Leith, I was asking him to leave.

I wasn't asking for divorce saying choose I'm holding you accountable for your actions and their consequences for what you doing and the consequences are. You have to choose that when you said that. How is your stability emotionally and what were you expecting to hear the more you put cared for that answer. Yes I was. I had formed all my kids out and I had been praying and got so gracious to give me verse says about standing strong in him being my foundation and not shaking it's just really interesting diversity brought me to and I was just praying God if this is not what you want me to do. We please make it abundantly clear when he walks through that door just give me a sense of what I where I need to go with us but he was late and I suspected that he had been running with her and he didn't notice that our kids weren't there, you have six children, you note that is almost immediately apparent when you walk through exactly and he was very demanding and very rude, which had not been my husband prior to all that is happening. Not that type of person and is coming to take a shower and had dinner on the table and I contact as I dwell like a confirmation he came down and I he ate dinner and I sat across from them.

When he finished I said I need to talk to and I had prepared a settlement agreement. It's a property settlement agreement is what is called the marriage counselor had said if you can give your husband in ultimatum you have to have something that he signs it says he's can it take care of you because as soon as he sets his foot outside of the door.

Any sense of guilt he has is diminished as each day passes and he will no longer want to take care of you while I had it on the table with me. He said okay what you want when you want to talk about. I said I want you decide tonight if you can stay with the children and me are you going with her. I said if you're going to go I need you to sign this and he instantly reached across the table and pulled it 10 and at that moment I knew and when he left he said he packed up some more things and he said ominously that the office is very emotional and I had friends that were waiting. I had three couples from church that were kinda up at the Starbucks near my house and as soon as he drove away. They drove up and were therefore you mentioned that support group several times how vital is imperative godly support people who I can encourage you in your faith going I can encourage you to be angry or bitter malicious it's very easy to go down that road absolutely Susan after the discussion and use slider.

He grabs the separation agreement and quickly wants to sign it. There's a whole new process in place now know you're moving from kind of an emotional environment to almost like a business environment order to separate your assets. Now you're headed to court the judge is going to throw the gavel down. It's going to be done through that process in your book. It indicates that your husband is not the one willing to do this yet. He's created the environment that the ultimatum needs to be put to him.

How did you reconcile that and I can only think of stories) men better there almost no they don't want to initiate their fine if you do this to me. If you file for divorce are not going to do anything but talk about from that point forward. What was happening in your relationship. Well, what I didn't realize that the property settlement agreement when you file it becomes a legally binding document that begins the divorce proceedings in my state. I didn't realize that. There's so much going on and it's very difficult to keep track of everything you typically as an expert in Yes I did have a very good friend who did become my attorney Christian woman who wanted reconciliation almost as much as I did, which was a huge, huge blessing for me and I was if you can envision that that person with my heels again like I don't I don't want to divorce I don't want to divorce I don't want to divorce I don't want to do this.

I don't know if this is what God wants me to do. I know, and I knew it was that biblically I was okay. You know I because Jesus makes provisions for that with adultery. My church was supportive of whatever I wanted to do. They were very much walking me through it and she kept saying to me it's never too late. It's never too late to think, even if you're divorced and remarried.

She just kept giving me that perspective that you for me in my circumstances in order to protect my children and myself financially and to make sure that we were cared for. We had to file at that point. A lot of the women and men. I have spoken to going through.

This is such a quandary as a Christian you don't want to do this try to take the high road absolutely you don't play this game. I don't want play the divorce game.

It's difficult it's time-consuming. It's painful. You have to keep track of things is just a nightmare and an divorce. I always say to people. Divorce is not a solution is another problem. On top of a problem. It doesn't make anything better. It's just a whole other set of problems but having that perspective that this was just a way to protect my children and myself. It was a legally binding document, yes, but it didn't mean the that I was giving up hope. It just meant I want to make sure the children and I were taking care of you know five kids is a lot and and that's what it did and got totally protected me through that process and now I did not give up hope and I think in in a way the guilt there again of the offender in this case, your husband, they may want to hang out for who I didn't file I was in the one that but in essence they were emotionally every every other what, but it gives them a small out for their conscience.

Perhaps yes, I know you know divorce is a very difficult topic and nobody really know how to walk through it in a retweet have our individual journeys that were doing, then I think seeking godly counsel on your pastor. Christian marriage counselor and making this decisions for yourself and you gotta guide you through it and it's just like any painful thing in our lives we lock that God is faithful and we do know that the Scriptures clearly God prefers again reconciliation would be there and we had people on the broadcasts that have done exactly that Susan will talk about. They were divorced they remarried and their relationship was very strong because it was all out there. They knew each other, even more deeply than before. So that can happen and that is God's preference, but we also to realize it doesn't always work out that way and I would always say to the person or say no, never, never, never do, not walking in the shoes. Perhaps if you have been there and have another walk. This emotional roller coaster. You may just want to hold back a little bit. Yes my attorneys and friends said it takes two people to get married and one person to get divorced and it's true.

What if you found in your own emotions. Perhaps some friends, both male and female, who have had to struggle through what I could've done better to hold onto this marriage. I think as women we tend to look at ourselves, not necessarily as a wife, but as a woman. What could I have done better what's wrong with me as a woman wears a man say much about his role. What could I have done better. How could I have performed better. I hesitate to say that its performance from Anna personality for a woman, but maybe it has a new one person more personal for a woman my performance from it.

Maybe that's a better way to set and I think what is helped me with that because I don't think you want to revisit the past and beat yourself up over your failures or perceived failures in your marriage because there is no excuse for adultery.

Regardless of what was going on.

There is no excuse and Isaiah our marriage was good on all fronts. I would say you know and I think if you talk with marriage counselors often they'll say it really might become so we went to said to me many times, it wasn't about you. It wasn't about what you could've done couldn't of done what you did do didn't do is not about it's about him. It's about him and God and somebody that I knew that had gone through this and they were restored the offender as short as he said you know you get that God first then you give up your life and then you give up your kids is that you don't give up your wife first to give up, got in the vacuum that you have in your heart that you're trying to fill with that physical relationship or the emotional relationship.

Whatever this inappropriate relationship is to replace God.

So I think it's it's important not to be ourselves up and try and figure out what went wrong. I think you have to come to the place where you got what you want to make of me through this and how you can bring me through this make me into the woman you want me to be and it's a hard process and their art. There are definitely some judgmental feelings.

You sense towards you and you can feel like you have this Scarlet D all over you divorce on that box now on those forms. I have to I have to click divorced on it's very painful. It's very hard, very difficult, challenging, painful circumstances and to come on this other side and you have this new label that you don't really want to have and I think one of the things that really has helped me is to recognize that that's not my identity. My marital status and my identity is in Christ and it's learning to define myself as a single woman and not as a married woman as a single mom and all those things and to see the blessing and it to see that God can work through these unexpected difficult circumstances and still make something beautiful out of it mean single parenting. All I do not recommend is very hard that I seen God do amazing things. I have blessings every day. I can focus on its that is where my focus says is my focus can be on went through this really awful circumstance is not defined me or is the person I became. Because of that can be what I define myself, my little definition of the people that have been divorced 10 years and they're still roiling that have moved on from that spot then that's unhealthy is and that's that forgiveness thing. If I forgive if I allow God to enable me if if I make the decision I made a kind had to go through a process to make the decision to forgive.

That's not necessarily forgiving, but I think I'm gonna ask God to help me through it and act on that.

I'm gonna act like I have forgiven you a minute treat you respectfully and kindly and graciously and feel it a minute treat you that way and and in doing that. It takes the power of that circumstance that situation that offense away.

I have the right to be angry but I don't exercise that right, describing a continuum. There were zero point but you can remember were it all fell together and you felt that you were forgiving. Did you remember remember the day that it really feels like it's in my heart now. Yes and I wrote him a letter that Dan told him I'd forgiven him. It's funny thing to be divorced and yet he's remarried, so I couldn't really call him the go-ahead. It's me for coffee.

I want to tell you something because he's a married man. It's the weirdest thing got coffee with my husband because he pawed like a letter and I told him I had forgiven him. I said I know I will still struggle with anger towards you because of the repercussions on her children. But as far as your relationship with me.

I forgive you and I moving forward and I'm going to try and always treat you respectfully and I wish the best for you and I'm praying for think that'll do amazing things in life and God was so gracious because a couple hours later he took my sister texted me to said thank you. Which for me was huge because I didn't think he would even acknowledge that that was.

I thought you know for him to say that to me. That was a glimmer of the man I knew very common good shows more about your graciousness. I thought it was hard five is not an easy thing and you don't decide and just forgive it is a process and it is a continual at sometimes, you know, I think you forgive the offense, but there is just like with anything you're gonna have to continually forgive you now let me ask you this, which is attached and looking ahead, and I hope this doesn't happen but you look at your little girl and maybe she's best for she's 18 and she's had a bad experience on a date or something. She comes home and it flares up about the loss of her father and that one that will be a temptation to get angry because of the residual effect on your kids from your husband's decision thought about the yes yes I have. I do think that's can be a struggle mean in all honesty I don't I don't know apart from God is helping me do that. How how to do that I am and I there are circumstances with Max is and where he does not see or will not see that this affects her children, he will not see that he will not admit that he has abandoned his children will not admit and Jeff feels like he is a very good father and that the kids are fine.

I don't think he can go there and you know part of that is I mean sometimes it's laughable the things he'll say, and I just have to be a duck site off my as I can't do anything about it and apart from the most powerful thing I can do is pray for my kids and pray that God will take this and turn it around and make them stronger, more compassionate, faithful individuals because they have been through this coming that's Susan.

You're so straightforward and I so appreciate your vulnerability, Susan Burge, the author of the book one happily ever after shouters. This is been so helpful and I know many many people, both men and women will be helped with the comments made. Thank you, thank you so much. What a great conversation with our guest Jim over these past couple of days. I really appreciated how you concluded offering a message of hope that's right John, we have hope even in the midst of suffering and painful circumstances because we believe in a God who heals and redeems every situation. Romans 828 we know that for those who love God all things, not something's all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose. That's the good news message for every one of us and I know God's got a purpose for Susan and her children in the days and years ahead. I hope our listeners have been inspired and challenged by Susan story to trust God in all things both on the good days and the not so good days of our lives.

But I also want to invite you to join us. Her focus to work on divorced prevention helping hurting couples who may feel like they've lost hope for the future of their relationship.

What these folks need is godly encouragement for reconciliation and the restoration of their marriage and with your financial support we can work together to connect them with one of our current Christian counselors or get involved and sign up for hope restored intensive's where we provide counseling over several days to couples who are in desperate need in the good news is that the program is so effective that we've seen tremendous results through our hope restored efforts just right, 4/5 couples who go through. Hope restored our reporting back to us. Two years later, we do survey and they're still together and thriving, and you can be part of that restoration process. That's 80% by the way, yeah. It's a phenomenal program join our marriage ministry team here with your gift of any amount to Focus on the Family today a monthly pledge or one-time gift in return will send you a copy of Susan Burge. These book when happily ever after, shouters, and it may be that you know someone who could fit from reading and interacting with Susan's amazing story.

Our number is 800 the letter a in the word family 800-232-6459 or you can donate when you click the link in the episode coming up next time on this program. A powerful story about a former drug dealer who eventually became a pastor. This guy from our neighborhood. This Cadillac only like 8C (piece of crap deal and then when it's in my head that way I could get a call on behalf of Jim Daly in the entire team.

Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller and putting you back next time. As we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ

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