Share This Episode
Focus on the Family Jim Daly Logo

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

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1089 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

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)

Receive Susan's book "When Happily Ever After Shatters" for your donation of any amount:

Get more episode resources:

If you've listened to any of our podcasts, please give us your feedback:

Our Daily Bread Ministries
Various Hosts
Matt Slick Live!
Matt Slick
Focus on the Family
Jim Daly

Do you feel called to serve God in your career? Check out some of the exciting job opportunities we have at Focus on the Family. We're looking to fill positions in marketing, IT, and marriage counseling. Work with other talented believers. Enjoy a meaningful Christ-centered work environment and use the skills God gave you to encourage others and help families thrive. To learn more, visit slash careers.

That's slash careers. My daughter and my son, the 11 and 8 year old, just completely fell apart, bursting into tears and weeping and wailing. And they were, you know, please don't leave daddy. And I think my little boy said something about us being poor and living on the street or something, you know, just instantly went.

An interesting place for an 8 year old. So I just kind of gathered them all in my arms and he went up to pack and get some more clothes to leave. So in essence he left you with the rubble of their emotions. That's Susan Birdsy, a single mom of five kids, describing the day her marriage ended unexpectedly and she was facing an unwanted divorce. We're returning to Susan's story today on Focus on the Family and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, I'm John Fuller. John, last time we shared a powerful conversation that we recorded with Susan and I was personally touched by her vulnerability and candor about the hardships she and her children have faced as the result of her husband's infidelity.

Think of that, 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 I would urge you to find opportunities to serve such families through your church as well. And that's why we're 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 missed 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 When 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 Birdsy on Focus on the Family. Susan let me just say it's great to have you back here. Thank you so much. It's very good to be back. I just love your spirit.

You have a bright smile. I can only imagine the days that you had tears in your pillow and how lonely that must have 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 and was gone a long time and came back and and hit you with that. Your 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 he had to deal with the kids and he told your kids as we just heard in that clip the way in which he did it. He told your kids what was happening. You said something that really I mean it really gripped my heart when you said he didn't touch them. He didn't I mean it brings tears to my eyes that a dad in that moment wouldn't know the damage he was doing to put his arm around his little daughter and hug her and say I love you but we're just not able to stay together. That had to have such an impact on your kids.

Huge definitely huge impact. Okay I'm gonna 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've got to question your walk with the Lord because that's not the heart of a believer even when bad things happen to you. 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. Sure it is a huge huge issue because it will infiltrate all areas of your life. Your parenting to your children it's impossible to hide bitterness. It just seeps into everything if you allow it to.

I think there are some steps. I definitely knew God was the source of my strength. Did it ever feel false to you like it wasn't real but you were saying it anyway? Absolutely there definitely are times when you know you're just walking by faith you know and and there were times where I had to be like it's not about what I'm feeling it's about what I know it's about what I know I know who God is I know his character I know I can trust him I'm totally not feeling it right now you know and so many times because there are just these mountains and valleys of this you know days where you feel like I know in coping with it for myself there would be days when I I felt so sorrowful and I just wanted to fix it and 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 just the range of emotions is profound what you're dealing with but God is just this steady I used to say 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 and like my feet were in it you could foundationally I was in it but the rest of me was like you know just a complete mess but I knew that God I knew God was gonna get me through it it's just hard to get through it you know and I think he he did bring me through it it was hard it wasn't a month it wasn't a day it wasn't a week it wasn't even a year I mean it's been a process I don't and I think you'll have good days and you'll have bad days and you need to recognize that you know it's a process and God is faithful to stay with you when you're faithful and when you're faithless absolutely knew that to my core and I think he brought me through you know I I knew I had to deal with anger I think I would say a big thing with the anger issue is to recognize it as a valid emotion you have some serious righteous indignation in there you also have some you know I'm gonna hunt you down and well I probably shouldn't say what it's honest to have those feelings and those thoughts yeah you just want to do very bad things and I my chapter about anger is slashing tires and other thoughts to take active because you do you kind of go that route slash all those tires and you know whatever but I knew I had to take control of those emotions because I knew what that would do to my family if I was angry my children would be angry I just I did not want to raise angry bitter children and I think for me that was a very strong motivation and you have to model it for so they can see it I have kids in that situation they're not going to listen to your words because words will be all over the place they're gonna watch your actions and they're gonna determine your honesty through your actions and through what they see in you yes and it's a constant battle it's a conscious battle to to do that anger bitterness thing and you I would say the one thing is not to allow yourself to be to make sure that your friends are people who are who 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 want to go out there and set it straight it straight for you and I knew I had to make sure my friends the friends I surrounded myself that I sought counsel from were people that were going to hold me to a higher standard and say I know you're feeling that let's not go there you wrote about giving your husband an ultimatum you tried for a few days and maybe a weeks to think it through and to do 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 me or her that takes a lot of courage and a lot of women will shrink back from that 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 for us and in looking back on it do you think that was healthy I sought counsel my pastor a marriage counselor friends that I really trusted people that had gone through difficult circumstances who I knew were prayer warriors who were and you know just truly godly counsel what to do because I think some even in the Christian community you get people that are like kick him to the curb you know soon as you find out just he doesn't deserve you just you know and I was like no I that that's not what I feel called to I made a covenant with this man and until God tells me no I'm gonna stay and so I really prayed about it what was happening I it 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 his increasingly distant which was his protection method because he didn't want to face reality and really fess up to everything going on wouldn't set any boundaries on the relationship with the mistress and it just seemed 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 leave I wasn't asking him to leave I wasn't asking him for a divorce I was saying choose I'm holding you accountable for your actions and there are consequences for what you're doing and the consequences are you have to choose now when you said that how is your stability emotionally and what were you expecting to hear and were you prepared for that answer yes I was I had farmed all my kids out and I had been praying and God was so gracious to give me verses about standing strong and him being my foundation and not shaking it's just really interesting the verses he brought me to and I was just praying God if this is not what you want me to do will you 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 this well 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 know that is almost inconceivable it would be immediately apparent when you walk through a door exactly and he was very demanding and very rude which had not been my husband prior to all of this happening not that type of person and he's like I'm gonna go take a shower and and kind of have dinner on the table when I come back she I was like wow okay well I guess God just said confirmation he came down and I he ate dinner and I set across from him and when he finished I said I need to talk to you and I had prepared a settlement agreement it's a property settlement agreement thinks what it's called the marriage counselor had said if you're gonna give your husband an ultimatum you have to have something that he signs that says he's gonna take care of you because as soon as he sets his foot outside of the door any sense of guilt he has is going to diminish as each day passes and he will no longer want to take care of you all I had it on the table with me he said okay what do you want what do you want to talk about I said I want you to side tonight if you're gonna stay with the children and me or you're going with her I said if you're gonna go I need you to sign this and he instantly reached across the table and pulled it to him and at that moment I knew yeah no hesitation and when he left he said he packed up some more things and he said well I'm gonna go sleep at the office it was very emotional and I had friends that were waiting I had three couples from church that were kind of up at the Starbucks near my house and as soon as he drove away they drove up and were there for me that's you've mentioned that support group several times how vital is that imperative godly support people who are going to encourage you in your faith who are not going to encourage you to be angry or bitter or malicious it's very easy to go down that road yeah absolutely Susan after the discussion and you slide or he grabs the separation agreement and quickly he wants to sign it there's a whole new process in place now now you're moving from kind of an emotional environment to almost like a business environment where you're going 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 where I've heard men that are they're almost numb they don't want to initiate they're fine if you do this to me if you file for divorce I'm not going to do anything talk about from that point forward what was happening in your relationship well what I didn't realize that the property subtle agreement when you file it becomes a legally binding document that begins the divorce proceedings in my state I didn't realize that you're there's so much going on and it's very difficult to keep track of everything nobody typically is an expert and yes when it happens yes I did have a very good friend who did become my attorney a 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 it that person with my heels dug in 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 she's like even if you're divorced you can get 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 and that's a lot of the women and men I have spoken to going through this it that is such a quandary as a Christian because you don't want to do this you're trying to take the high road and hope absolutely you don't want to play this game I don't want to play the divorce game it's difficult it's time-consuming it's painful you have to keep track of things oh it was just a nightmare and divorce I always say to people divorce is not a solution it is another problem on top of a problem it doesn't make anything better it's just a whole nother 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 me that I was giving up hope it just meant I wanted to make sure the children and I were taken care of you know five kids is a lot to take care of and that's what it did and God totally protected me through that process and I did not give up hope and I think in a way the guilt there again of the offender in this case your husband they may want to hang on to the fact well I didn't file I wasn't the one that asked for this but in essence they were emotionally and in every other way but it gives them a small out for their conscience perhaps yes and I know you know divorce is a very difficult topic and because nobody really knows how to walk through it you know we each have our individual journeys that we're doing that and I think seeking godly counsel your pastor a Christian marriage counselor and making those decisions for yourself and you know God will guide you through it and it's just like any painful thing in our lives we walk through it God is faithful and we do know that the scriptures clear that God prefers again that reconciliation would be there and we've had people on the broadcast that have done exactly that Susan what you've talked 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 have to realize it doesn't always work out that way and I would only say to the person who's saying no never never never you're not walking in their shoes perhaps and if you haven't been there and you haven't had to walk this emotional rollercoaster you may just want to hold back a little bit yes and my attorneys and friends said it takes two people to get married and one person to get divorced and it's true what have you found in your own emotions perhaps some friends both male and female who have had to struggle through what I could have done better to hold on to 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 what's wrong with me as a woman whereas a man it's very much about his role what could I have done better how could I have performed better I hesitate to say that it's performance for a man and personality for a woman but maybe it has a new answer to it more personal for a woman more performance for me maybe that's a better way to say it and I think what has 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 I 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 am I the counselor we went to said to me many times it wasn't about you it wasn't about what you could have done what you couldn't have done what you did do what you didn't do it's not about that 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 I shared with me he said you know you give up God first then you give up your wife and then you give up your kids he said you don't give up your wife first you give up God and the vacuum that you have in your heart that you're trying to fill with that physical relationship or the emotional relationship or whatever this inappropriate relationship is is to replace God so I think it's it's important not to beat ourselves up and try and figure out what went wrong I think you have to come to the place where you go God what do you want to make of me through this and how are you gonna bring me through this make me into the woman you want me to be and that's a hard process and there are there are definitely some judgmental feelings you sense towards you you can feel like you have this scarlet letter D all over you divorced I own that box now on those forms I have to I have to click divorced on there it's very painful it's very hard you know 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 it's 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 in it to see that God can work through these unexpected difficult circumstances and still make something beautiful out of it I mean single parenting oh I do not recommend it is very hard but I've seen God do amazing things I have blessings every day I can focus on it's that it's where my focus is is my focus going to be on I went through this really awful circumstance is that going to define me or as the person I became because of that going to be what I define myself well let me give a little definition of that you can meet people that have been divorced ten years and they're still railing they haven't moved on from that spot and that's unhealthy isn't it mm-hmm that's the forgiveness thing if I forgive if I allow God to enable me to forgive if I make the decision I made I kind of had to go through a process and to make the decision to forgive that's not necessarily forgiving that's saying I'm gonna I'm gonna I'm gonna ask God to help me through it and then I'm gonna act on that I'm gonna act like I have forgiven you I'm gonna treat you respectfully and kindly and graciously I don't feel it I'm gonna 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 were you describing a continuum there was there a point that you can remember where it all fell together and you felt that you were forgiving him did you remember do you remember the day that boom it really feels like it's in my heart now yes and I wrote him a letter that day and told him I had forgiven him it's a funny thing to be divorced and you know he's remarried so I couldn't really call him and go hey let's meet for coffee I want to tell you something because he's a married man it's the weirdest thing you know I can't go have coffee with my husband because he's anyway I wrote him 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 our children but as far as your relationship with me I forgive you and I'm 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 that God will do amazing things in your life and God was so gracious because a couple hours later he took my assessment texted me just said thank you which for me was huge because I didn't think he would even acknowledge it but that was a little step I thought you know for him to say that to me that was a you know a glimmer of the man I knew I mean you're being very kind but I mean it shows more about your graciousness but it's a hard thought it was hard fight it's 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 know let me ask you this which is attached to that looking ahead and I hope this doesn't happen but you look at your little girl and maybe she's fast-forward she's 18 now and she's had a bad experience on a date or something and she comes home and it flares up about the loss of her father in that way that will be a temptation to get angry because of the residual effect on your kids from your husband's decision have you thought about that yes yes I have I do think that's going to be a struggle I mean in all honesty I don't I don't know apart from God just helping me do that how how to do that I mean I there are circumstances with my ex-husband where he does not see or will not see that this affects our children he will not see that he will not admit that he has abandoned his children will not admit that and 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 let it slide off my back because I can't do anything about it and apart from the most powerful thing I can do which is pray for my kids and you know pray that God will take this and turn it around and make them stronger more compassionate faithful individuals because they have been through this I mean that's Susan you are hitting it so straightforward and I again I so appreciate your vulnerability Susan birds the author of the book when happily ever after shatters this has been so helpful and I know many many people both men and women will be helped with the comments that you've made thank you for being with us here's focus thank you so much what a great conversation with our guest Jim over these past couple of days and 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 some things 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's 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 here focus to work on divorce 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 caring Christian counselors or get involved and sign up for our hope restored intensives where we provide counseling over several days to couples who are in desperate need and the good news is that that program is so effective we've seen tremendous results through our hope restored efforts that's right four out of five couples who go through hope restored are reporting back to us two years later we do a 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 we'll send you a copy of Susan Birdsey's book when happily ever after shatters and it may be that you know someone who could benefit from reading and interacting with Susan's amazing story our number is 800 the letter a in the word family eight hundred two three two six four five nine or you can donate when you click the link in the episode notes coming up next time on this program a powerful story about a former drug dealer who eventually became a pastor this guy's from my neighborhood he had this beautiful Cadillac and he was only like 18 and I remember my friend said yeah man he's a crack dealer and then it went into my head crack that's the way I could get a car on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team thanks for joining us today for focus on the family I'm John Fuller inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-21 21:24:20 / 2023-05-21 21:35:26 / 11

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime