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Real Answers™
Copyright: © 2009 Shaunna Howat
600 words


By: Shaunna Howat

When she came home from college for the summer, my daughter wanted me to watch the reality show she and her roommates had enjoyed, Jon and Kate Plus Eight, featuring a family with twins and sextuplets.

As summer began, Jon and Kate’s marriage fell apart. The tabloids ate it up; news shows speculated on who was at fault; paparazzi drooled. A recent episode highlighted their breakup, interviewing each of them separately. The children were excited about playhouses being built in the back yard, while inside the home their family was dissolving.

Very sad but resigned to the fact of their broken marriage, their web page says, “Our goal is to do the very best for our children.” Unwilling to point a finger of blame at either of them—because I won’t read the gossipy tabloids—I still got frustrated at them both. Their fondest desire is to give their children a happy life. However, they miss a vital concept: the best thing they can do for their children is to heal their marriage.

If Jon or Kate were to find their home invaded by a criminal, they would rightly become fierce as grizzlies to defend their children. Why can’t they—and countless other families—see that a malevolent force has already invaded and torn up their homes?

The epidemic of divorce tears up children. Jon and Kate may want happy, simple lives, but the sad fact remains that children of divorce suffer in countless ways. Some divorce is inevitable, in cases of abuse or abandonment. However, when a couple simply “falls out of love” or loses interest, or can’t get along, if they truly want to keep their children healthy and happy, they must do the most difficult thing of all: try to repair the damage and reconcile their marriage. The best answer becomes the hardest: set down your own agenda and try again.

The simple answer seems all too frequent: file for divorce; pretend that everything is normal. Kids know that everything is not normal. Talk to most adult children of divorce and they will tell you they never stopped hoping their parents would get back together again. The pain of disappointment colors how they view marriage, and it is carried on into their own marriages.

An increasingly me-focused generation tells us that our own fulfillment is paramount. The culture and the media only reinforce that.  Marriage is not a union of passion for a time of personal fulfillment. It is a selfless, spiritual bond. The great instruction book, the Bible, tells men and women to love and honor one another in a way that mirrors God loving His people: “For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church” (Ephesians 5:29). However, here’s the secret: in pursuing a strong spiritual bond, you get the greatest personal satisfaction.

In truth, a successful marriage is the hardest work. I reflected on my own 27-year marriage while watching the show. When my daughter expressed surprise at my strong reaction, I reminded her that growing up she never had to doubt that her mom and dad loved each other. The best present we ever gave our children—for their happiness and security, and our own great fulfillment—was a happy marriage. She had never thought of that before; she’d never had to question it. And we hope it is a gift that keeps on giving.


"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091;

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