Divorce and Kids

Someone emailed me and asked if I could write something about kids and divorce. My heart went out to the person… The truth is I am not divorced and I know very little about it. See, in Turkey, divorce is becoming more common but still it is quite a taboo (overall divorce rate is about 0.14%). There are many social networks that mediate troubled couples and most often than not prevent divorce.

The first person I knew closely that went through divorce was my elder brother. Witnessing his painful experience of not being able to see his toddler more than 1 day/week and the fact that if you have a child, you are NEVER completely divorced from the other person, hit me hard. As God’s mercy is in everything, he is growing more mature and questioning the meaning of life as a result of this process. God’s Attributes (Asma) of the Most-Compassionate and the Most-Wise…etc. are ever-present in all His creation. So He is not only the Most-Compassionate when He created a healthy baby girl. He is the Most-Compassionate when He creates this process of going through divorce for that little baby girl. Sometimes it is easier for us to recognize His Wisdom and Compassionate in creating certain things and at other times it is harder to us to comprehend. In the case of my brother, it was so evident that his pain was taking him closer to God. And who can say that the divorce was ‘bad’ or ‘evil’.

Going back to the idea of divorce… It is permitted in Islam to divorce. There are situations when it is better for everyone involved to dissolve the marriage then to carry on. However, divorce is described as the least liked by God among the permissible things. So it is seen as a last resort.

Since Islam is a path of ‘prevention’ rather than ‘punishment’, all the guidance is there for us to make smart marriages in order to prevent the need for divorce later. Hence, talking about divorce…etc. is only attacking the outcomes of the problem, where as we should focus on the causes of the problem. What steps should we take to make sure we are entering a marriage that is sound, and what steps should we follow to maintain a healthy marriage? These I will reserve for a later post…

If you are in a troubled marriage AND if you have kids, you should do everything to make that marriage work. There are two reasons that I personally consider as definite reasons for divorce, cheating and domestic violence. Yet even in these cases, I believe that we should seek counseling, therapy…etc. whatever is needed to remedy these problems. Short of these two reasons, most if not all things can be worked out = that is IF the couple is willing to make the marriage work. I am of course assuming a great extent of humility, willingness to transform oneself…etc. for both partners. And I realize that this is not always the case.

I also believe that the source of all our problems is our lack of understanding of God and why He creates us…etc. So if we want to fix our marriage, we need to focus on our existential questions. God creates us to attain spiritual education. If we are on that path, if we are struggling to become better human beings and live accordance with our purpose of creation, then our relation with our kids, our partner, our colleagues…etc. will also improve as a direct result of this.

To go through that spiritual training requires a purposeful decision to improve yourself as a human being, to submit your ego to God’s Will, to serve humanity and all of God’s creation solely for the sake of God… We cannot attain a university diploma without consciously registering to the school and sweating day and night for years. Just like that, we cannot become the spiritually enlightened/learned people miraculously overnight, without putting lots of effort into it.

Older generations had more patience and endurance for all that life might offer them. Growing up in today’s “fast-food” culture, we get used to having everything right now without putting much effort and time into them. This shapes our attitude towards the “hardships” in life that are there to educate us, train our egos, and make us wiser and more mature. My mother was not given the opportunity to go to college and she was a home-maker raising four kids. She did not have economic independence and had to stay in a less-than ideal marriage. However, the calculations are not as simple as this. She also “chose” to stay for her children, knowing that a dispersed family would have been more devastating for our well-being. She made a noble sacrifice putting her family before her emotional needs. When I was young, I used to get angry at my mother, accusing her of being weak to start over again. After being married and realizing what it means to be a mother and to grow up with two parents in a stable home, I am grateful that she was so selfless. The peace this sacrifice brought to her heart must have compensated for her emotional discontent caused by other things.



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