As a kid, I was very blessed to have had both of my parents very involved in my life. Yes, there were some times that I thought they were ‘involved’ too much, but as I grew older I came to appreciate the time they spent raising my three siblings and me. As soon as I would get home after school or ball practice, both my mother and father, would be there, inquiring as to how my day at school went.
Not having a TV in our house (which according to my Dad would be the ruination of the mind), after dinner we would do our homework and then play cards as a family, taking turns being the partner of either Mom or Dad. Although we didn’t have much, we had an abundance of love. And in that sense, my childhood was idyllic.
As I entered my 20’s, and living on my own, I longed to have the kind of family life and the closeness of family that I remembered as a child.
In hopes of making this kind of family happen again, I asked my girlfriend to marry me and a few months later, we married. But, just having a wife wasn’t all of what I wanted; I wanted children! And in due course came our daughter, Ashley, and son, Ben, Jr.
Having a family again delighted me beyond measure! I was crazy about my kids and I vowed that they would be raised properly and would emerge from childhood healthy in mind, body, and spirit.
But, after a few years, while the children were still very young, their mother and I found ourselves arguing. And it was affecting everything. To make a long story short, after counseling, prayer, and reflection, we came to the conclusion that Ashley and Ben, Jr. should not be raised in such a tumultuous environment.
We decided to divorce.
That was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I knew that I would not get to see my children on a daily basis. That was gut-wrenching. My dream of an idyllic family life was not going to be.
Once the decision was made, I packed my clothes and personal items and moved out.
That evening, I contemplated what all of this would mean to Ashley and Ben, Jr. I decided I would go back to their house the next day, after they got home from school, and talk with them about what was going on. I wanted to make sure that Ashley and Ben, Jr. would know that (1) that I was divorcing their mother and that the divorce was not caused by them and that (2) even though I would no longer be living with them on a day to day basis, that I would always be there for them, whenever they might need me. For me, it was extremely important for them to know that I wasn’t leaving THEM and that (3) I would always love them with all my heart.
When we three sat down and talked, there were tears. My heart was broken seeing them like this but I knew I was doing the right thing for them in the long run. It was hard to do, but I had to be honest and open with them. As the two of them hugged my neck, I could feel the bonds that were so strong to begin with, become even stronger.
Talking to them like that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But it was the best action I’ve ever taken. That conversation set the precedent for many conversations to come. It showed all of us that we could talk about anything - no matter how hard.
These lines of communication are open to this day. I’m proud of the people both Ashley and Ben, Jr.have become and am overjoyed with the families they have created with their spouses.
As a very wise man said, “You have three choices when the hard times come. You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.”