“How much does a divorce cost?”
I asked myself this when my wife was pregnant with our second child, Justice. I even Googled this very question. I don’t remember what the answers were, but I knew they weren’t for me. A divorce was going to cost me money, a divorce was going to cost me time, and a divorce was going to cost me my family.
When my wife was pregnant with our first child, Journey, pregnancy was a new experience for both of us. It was such an exciting time. I was all in and completely connected with the entire process, from the second my wife’s said “I’m pregnant” all the way through the birth.
I once heard someone say the devil does everything he can to get you in the bedroom before you’re married and everything he can to keep you out of the bedroom once you are married. I also heard someone say the biggest intimacy killer in a marriage is responsibility. The more responsibility you have, the less time you have to focus on being intimate. Many couples with young families fall prey to this intimacy killer without even realizing that their relationship is slipping away. We didn’t want to fall prey to that.
Before our struggle became too great, we started seeing a marriage counselor. This turned out to be very good for our relationship. So good, in fact, that we decided to have a second child. But as the second pregnancy progressed, I was a little less engaged than I was the first time around.
By this point, my wife and I had been married for nearly 10 years. I knew she had become a person, who, if she really wanted something, would tell me. I trusted she would let me know if she had a need so I could connect with her. However, I had disengaged to the point that I didn’t notice some emotions she was feeling during the second pregnancy.
I thought that I was all in. I made sure things were good with our first child, so much so, that I began to neglect what my wife was experiencing and feeling during her second pregnancy. It got so bad that at one point we sat down at the table and asked ourselves, “Do we want to be married?” That was a very difficult question to ask.
Relationship ‘staff meetings’ for marital status check
As a couple, we routinely have a weekly “staff meeting.” During this weekly meeting we check in with one another and go through a list of questions. The questions we ask each other include:
- What are your biggest barriers to your relationship with God?
- What are your biggest barriers to your relationship with your spouse?
- What are the most serious temptations you’re facing right now?
- What are your greatest points of vulnerability?
- How can I help you the most?
- Do I truly want what is best for my spouse?
- Do I want my spouse to feel loved by me?
- Does my spouse believe that I have his/her best interest in mind?
- Does my spouse see me looking out for myself first, or him/her first?
This routine kept us on track for where we wanted to go as a couple and in our walk of faith.
Sometimes it would be a quick 30-minute meeting. Other times, especially during the second pregnancy, our meetings would last nearly two hours. During one of our lengthy staff meetings, I said, “Let’s ask ourselves this question. ‘If we got a divorce, what role did I play in the divorce?’” She would answer for herself and I would answer for myself. It was a difficult question because I said, “We know the obvious thing.”
The obvious thing was actually getting divorced. We were both talking about it and thinking about it. The conversation was intense. If we were willing to pay the cost and go all the way to the very end, we needed to know that we had thought everything out. So, we asked ourselves the “what if” question.
The next week we came to the table, my wife had a list of things that she knew she would be responsible for if we got a divorce. The answers she provided surprised me because there were things that I thought she felt, but I didn’t think she would ever say. Then, I shared what I thought I would be responsible for. It drew us closer. So close, in fact, that we realized divorce was not worth it. We recognized we were just in a tough spot. This is part of being married. I feel, from my personal experience, that marriage is one of the things that you just don’t do by accident. You do it by choice. You do it intentionally.
Each day I wake up and I choose to be married. There are going to be certain things in life that cause me to know that I’m choosing to be married, not just the “getting by” type of married, but striving to have a flourishing growing marriage. I don’t want a marriage where my daughters are miserable watching their parents together. I want them to see two broken people coming together daily for the better good of what they believe that they can have and offer one another.
How much does a divorce cost? Too much for me to ever want to find out because I am not willing to make the sacrifice. These are the types of conversations that should happen in marriages when children are involved. They need to be asked, they need to be discovered and deciphered because, if not, it’s too easy to get blindsided by not knowing what your spouse is thinking or feeling.
Marriage is a constant routine of re-evaluating, tweaking and re-engaging. Sometimes hard questions in marriage have to be asked, and when they’re answered, the goal is to see the answers from my spouse’s perspective. In essence drawing us closer to becoming one.
How much would a divorce cost you?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jonathan “J.O.” Oliver is a personal development coach, motivational speaker, author and a stay-at-home dad. He is happily married to Dr. Saran Oliver and together they have two adorable daughters, Journey and Justice. Being diagnosed with the gift of dyslexia and ADHD has allowed him to see what is possible rather than feel limited by his condition. He has authored two books, Joy In The Journey: 1st Year Chronicles From A Stay At Home Dad, and Impersonations. His next book, To The Little Boy In Me: Learning with Dyslexia & ADHD will be released in spring 2019.