The Pain of Mom's Divorce

John says his mom is unemployed and broke and believes the relationship is becoming toxic. He doesn't know how to move forward. Dave tells John his mother's heart is broken from his parents' divorce.

QUESTION: John in Nashville says his mom is unemployed and broke. John doesn’t think anything is going to change in the future and believes the relationship is becoming toxic. He doesn’t know how to move forward and deal with that. Dave tells John his mother’s heart is broken from his parents’ divorce.

ANSWER: Her heart is broken, so she’s not employable because she doesn’t know how to interview or look for a job, and she doesn’t care to. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” and this has crushed her. The way that she will become employable and excited about a new career, or excited about some education to get the new career moving, will happen when she gets her hope back.

She needs to be in a good church and sit down with a good pastor and a good counselor and start to work her way through these broken emotions of hers. So that, as she becomes whole, then you’ve got something to work with. But you are trying to teach someone with a broken leg to run a sprint. Then when they don’t, it’s frustrating to you.

I don’t blame you, because what you’re doing is a classic example of what I would do. When it’s someone that we love, the whole thing becomes weird and twisted, and we can’t see as well. We have blinders to those closest to us. I would tell her to get up and get a job, and I don’t know if you’ve done that yet, but that’s the first thing that would run through my mind.

All of that really doesn’t matter to her because she keeps playing the tapes of “whatever it was your dad did” and all those kinds of things. She wants to spend a lot of time discussing this like it was 20 minutes ago. That means she’s never healed and gotten whole after that, and were she to come in for an interview, we probably would find that and wouldn’t hire her because she’s going to be a problem in our environment. That’s not because we’re mad at her; it’s because people who are messed-up mess up other people.

My prescription is, before we worry about employment and a career track, let’s first make her employable by getting her to grieve this process properly, heal from it, and start looking to the future. It can be done; plenty of people survive divorces. They survive bitter ones, they survive the end of a 25-year marriage all the time, but it’s almost worse than a death. It’s a tougher kind of grieving, I think.

Some good, strong divorce counseling is where I would spend my money if I were you rather than career counseling.

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