I believe in love because although I didn’t see many examples of lasting love in my family when I was growing up, I want to give my children the forever family I never had but always wanted.
As a child of divorce, I didn’t grow up with many examples of lasting love. What I learned about love from an early age—beginning with my parents’ divorce when I was two—was that it’s conditional on how a person feels at the time, or on one partner’s happiness or behavior.
I didn’t know what it felt like to see my mom and dad love each other and overcome obstacles together in a marriage relationship. In fact, the only time I ever remember spending time with both my parents was after their divorce, when I was about four, and they took me for a “family outing” to a local park. It was a happy day for me, and for a moment, my family felt complete. But not long after that, my father got remarried, and we never had a day like that again.
I experienced a lot of similar breakups in my family over the years, and I took the end of every marriage personally. I still remember how devastated I was when one aunt and uncle divorced when I was about 13. They’d been together since they were teens, and I was flower girl in their wedding. When my uncle left her and their three kids for a younger woman, I was nearly as heart-broken as my aunt. Their marriage was supposed to be the one in our family that made it. Instead, my uncle was able to ignore the pleas of his children, crying, “Daddy, please don’t go,” and pack his things to go live with another woman. I spent months grieving their divorce, and turning it over in my mind, asking things like, what makes someone stop loving another person? Would he be faithful to his new wife, and if he was, what did that mean for his first family? And what about me—did he miss me at all? Over the years, I struggled to forgive him, and I began to fear that most men, especially those I loved, were incapable of being faithful to their wives and being responsible fathers.
I could give countless examples from my family of other painful divorces, but they all left the same impression on me: that true love was a fairy tale, and divorce was inevitable in our family. But still, I dreamed of something more. Thankfully, through a strong faith community, I was exposed to another way—a better way. I saw happy families with faithful husbands and devoted fathers, who modeled values about unconditional love and marriage that I had not seen in my own family. Slowly, I began to believe that forever love still exists, and that with careful choices, hard work, and God’s help, I could have that kind of love in my life one day. I also watched some members of my family find “happy ever after.” My aunt eventually met and married a wonderful, faithful man, and my grandmother, who suffered nearly 30 years in an abusive marriage, finally found the true love she deserved in her second marriage. Then, God brought a faithful man to me, and he became my husband, who proves his unconditional love for our family every single day.
I believe in love because I know what it feels like when the forever love that should be modeled by our parents fails or isn’t there, and the children are left to pick up the pieces. I never want my children to be forced to choose between their mom and dad, or to spend their lives grieving the loss of their parents’ marriage. Children deserve to grow up in a healthy home where the two people whose love made them find a way to work things out and raise them together.
I believe in love because my children—all children—deserve a forever family. And I’ve learned that building a forever family has to start with me and my husband, loving each other and sticking together through the good times and the bad. I believe in love because I know that by working hard and reaching out for support from others, we can break the cycle of divorce, and build a legacy of lasting family for our children.