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Narnia: Lessons From My Parents’ Divorce

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dreamstime_m_38496281My siblings and I lived a sheltered life but we were quick to spot that something was not right at the home front. At the age of 5, I saw my mum get scalded with boiling water and after news of my father’s new secret family reached us, I was sure that things were not going to be as perfect as before. We (my mother and us) experienced some financial crunch and had to move to a much smaller house, in an “ungated” community.

This was not a big deal for my siblings and I because we made friends immediately and we were not brought up to practice any form of classism. Also, we only saw our father twice or 3 times in a year, who thankfully chipped in for school fees. For the first twenty part of my 30 years, I went with the flow but I have regrettably, recently come to observe that this separation had (and probably still has) a negative rub off effect on me. Thankfully (but quite painfully), I came out of this self review experience with these lessons. When I get the chance, I like to share these lessons with single people, happily married people and people thinking of separating/newly divorced people.

You will gradually evolve from “team mum” or “team dad”, to team me.
Until about 6 years ago, I was team mum. But in all honesty, I do not miss those years of going back and forth. Mum always had a story of something terrible dad did and vice versa. Every single mistake we made was traced back to a trait we inherited from either of them. I woke up one day and realised how exhausting it was pretending to one parent that they were perfect. I was an innocent bystander who did not ask to be born into this vile negativity and I began to mentally separate myself from this “situation”. While I still have full empathy and love for my parents, I became very diplomatic and chose not to take sides whenever their ranting episodes started.

Communication is everything.
If you are not a great communicator, marriage is going to be extremely difficult for you and you are likely to pass on this trait to your children. Communication here is simply asking the right questions repeatedly and what i call listening patiently. This means listening as twice as you speak. How did I know my parents were not good communicators? I knew when my mother persistently asked me to ask our father what she did to him. Also, my father was a painfully shy man who replied with “when you grow up, you will understand”.

You must have what I call non-negotiable and make your partner stand by them before you commit.
This does not mean a long list of unrealistic expectations. I mean, things like your individual views on polygamy, number of children you want have, your philosophy on infidelity and money, etc. I know that these things look very simple but it might surprise you to know how many people overlook them.

Find you a man who is answerable to at least 3 people in his inner circle of friends and family.
People who are not only older but wealthier than he is. It was very difficult for people who got monthly allowance from my father, to chip in whenever there was a misunderstanding.

Do not form SuperWoman
Especially to your female children. Independence is an admirable virtue but a healthy dose of vulnerability is required to make a relationship flourish. Besides this, you will wear yourself out too quickly and this will make you bitter easily when things do not go the way you planned. If you have the money and time, buy yourself a few gifts and date (responsibly) again if you want to. I noticed that my friends from “broken homes” who’s mothers moved on are happier and have had more successful/ meaningful relationships than I have.

The sad reality about the relationship between abuse and an uncouth tongue.
I am always infuriated when I read people who ask what she said to make him hit her, on domestic violence stories. This is because usually, this has nothing to do with the woman and more with the abuser’s temperament. BUT.. I come from a family where I have heard my mother say it to us severally, how she regrets having us and has even on one occasion said something about one of us dying. If you are quite uncouth and you run away from an abusive man, you will continue to inflict pain on people in your circle and thereafter, destroy other meaningful relationships. It is always advisable to leave an abusive relationship without wasting time, but do a self assessment (after you flee of course) of your own deficiencies.

Your man’s abuse and infidelity has nothing to do with the fact that you are not; (a) sexy enough (b) not praying enough and (c) not submissive enough. My father, a serial monogamist, has been with women with the above attributes and he did not change.

This last point is an after thought but very important in my own opinion. I think that if you have intensely negative reservations at the beginning of your marriage, you should leave before you get pregnant/start having children. I recently stumbled on an anonymous Facebook page containing memoirs from women who felt trapped/stuck with their children. Children deserve to be born into love and peace of mind. You owe them this right and hanging on because you’re self conscious about societal expectations, is quite selfish.

In conclusion, I still love my parents and these lessons have not made me apathetic in any way towards how they feel. Having gone through a few heartbreaks myself, I understand how heavy the baggage of a broken home is for them. However, I would like to hear from others how going through something similar has changed them, either positively or negatively.

Photo Credit: Atholpady | Dreamstime.com

I am a story teller and spontaneous adventurer who is currently pursuing a career in finance.

33 Comments

  1. Marian

    October 19, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    I thank God for my mom mehn!! After the divorce that lady went above and beyond to make sure things were as stable as possible.

    The kids are always the inoocent party and their needs should come first. Unfortanately my dad was not in my life after the divorce but somehow my mom was able to fill both roles. It was hard on her for sure but look at me now 🙂 i can now start paying all her hardwork forward. It’s weird but i actually see my mom as my dad.
    It takes the grace of God to create a balance after divorce.

    The experience actually shaped me in a positive way. I was able to assess and take mental notes to make sure i don’t repeat their mistakes.

    • Hear back from me

      October 19, 2016 at 5:08 pm

      I come from a single parent household. I must commend your great and necessary points. I grew up with love, my mother thankfully is soft spoken and used the church as therapy. She is not perfect but I have to say she did a tremedous job with us. All children are married and in meaningful relationships, as she always talked about good marriages in glowing terms. She harboured no bitterness, but decided to live a purposeful life. Still, being from a single parent household had numerous challenges. Her love, however made it easier.

  2. Ss

    October 19, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    You will gradually evolve from “team mum” or “team dad”, to team me.
    My reality!!.
    Time for me to do me. Being born into a toxic environment is emotionally draining.
    So help me God

  3. Rahila

    October 19, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    This article was very insightful. It came just at the perfect timing for me.

    Divorces, especially the really bitter ones always have a domino effect on several other relationships involved. Even when the estranged couple decide to try love again.
    This is why couples considering divorce should seriously pray about it before making the bold decision, or even starting a new relationship. Imagine re-marrying when Gods divine purpose was actually to restore your previous marriage.

    Praying AND listening isn’t so easy though.

  4. annonymous

    October 19, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    I was raised by my mom after a bitter divorce and till date, the thought of my husband leaving me still haunts me, even when my husband is doing all he can to be the best husband to me and the best dad to our kids. I still worry that I will be abandoned, the same way my mom was abandoned. I grew up believing that men are not trustworthy and can never be faithful. Many times, I exude a lot of negativity and pessimism in my marriage, all because of my mother’s experience. I pray for God to heal my soul and cleanse my thoughts so that I can enjoy the lovely husband He has blessed me with. Amen.

    • anon2

      October 19, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      Its funny,bcos as a guy, I grew up thinking men were evil, so I started mission impossible to be Mr. Perfect guy and Mr.different… I became too soft, ad caring always careful not to hurt someone…I would rather be in pains than cause someone else harm. It took several heart breaks to tune my brain,. And I came to understand that there is no good or bad gender. Just bad and good people. Truth is most ladies took guys like that for granted.
      Well I blame my dad 99% for the whole thing. He is a Difficult person…always correct in his eyes. We stayed for a whole year without talking. We resumed. I tot things were going to be different.. Then gbam.….another 1year plus…and I WS the one who had to take the high road to call a truce. So if I as his son had this amount of difficulty communicating with him, then how much more my mom. He never listens then goes on to accuse you of not telling him things.
      I blame my mom 1% why? She should never have married him in the first place. So when she complains I tell her. But I appreciate her though cos she always gives her all to make sure myself and my younger bro get the best. My dad has tried in his own little way too..I just learnt to accept his personality…..he is very proud man…and avoid holding ggrudges

    • Menoword

      October 21, 2016 at 10:59 am

      Hi Anonymous, I commend your honesty. Please see a therapist or a coach who can walk you through your fear of abandonment and help you to let go of the trauma.

      I wish you the very best

  5. iyke

    October 19, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Taiwo’s parents divorced when he was 9. It was an ugly divorce, his parents still don’t talk to each other to this day. Only their personal concerns mattered, and his needs as a child were pushed aside. Anytime he spent time with one parent, all they could do was talk bad and put down the other parent. He always felt like he was in the middle of their battles. His mother had severe depression for 3 years and in that time he had to learn how to take care and feed himself. He recently gone through therapy in London and learned that he suffered with PTSD for nearly 20 years because of his parents’ divorce. When he brings this up to his parents, they dismiss that they were responsible in any way and that he’s always been too sensitive.

    Ifeoma’s parents divorced when she was 20 and although you may think she was old enough to deal with the pains of divorce, she certainly didn’t know how.
    From what she told me, she felt like she had been stabbed in the back by the two people she trusted the most and since her siblings and her lived with their mom after the divorce, she do not remember a time where she took the time to sit her down and ask how she was doing and dealing with their separation then divorce. Neither with her Dad. Also to this day, her parents do not talk to each other and they are only in the same room because of an important event such as her elder brother’s graduation from Unilag. She always felt like she was in put in the middle and had a couple shocking encounters with her mom where she talked really bad about her Dad (mainly because she was very upset/frustrated over something that had happened to Nonso (Elder brother) – even though he was already an adult as well). She do feel like they just like to talk about their feelings and how that was a very difficult time for them but what about for her? Even though Ifeoma is happily married to a great husband that supports her, she still cries in bed sometimes over something that happened 10 years ago yet and is still very fresh in her mind. Because of this she always feels like she can’t have the close relationship she would like to have with her mom. (She was the one that wanted the divorce).

    I am sure some of you will relate to these case studies or have similar cases. Maybe you do…maybe you don’t – What I would emphasize is that we must not underestimate the effects of divorce on young people and even adults.
    When I read some comments, especially when it has to do with relationships, love and marriage, on this blog I see a lot of young people and adults who desperately need to develop psychologically. People who desperately need a sense of belonging, safety and security.

    In this day where men are becoming more irresponsible , feminism and female emancipation taking stronger roots, our task as would be parents MUST be to ensure our kids get their psychological needs met whether the decision is to stay together or get divorced. Otherwise, we shall all be left with an explosion of highly broken children with diminished psychological well-being including greater unhappiness, less satisfaction with life, anger, weaker sense of personal control, anxiety and depression.
    Remember that children of divorced parents are also more likely to experience conflict in their own marriages, and are more likely to experience divorce themselves.
    #lets get it right
    #stay with who love what you love.

  6. FinchleysFinest

    October 19, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    *I woke up one day and realised how exhausting it was pretending to one parent that they were perfect. I was an innocent bystander who did not ask to be born into this vile negativity and I began to mentally separate myself from this “situation”. While I still have full empathy and love for my parents, I became very diplomatic and chose not to take sides whenever their ranting episodes started.*

    DEEP STUFF!

  7. Me

    October 19, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    It is well dear; in my own case we grew up with our dad after mum left. So I am actually close to my dad and feel more comfortable with him. My mum resurfaced years later but sadly, even though I live my mother there is no closeness, no real bond. She has helped us in her own way but because of her temperament I can’t always have a proper conversation with her. She did something a couple of months ago to me that I consider a betrayal. When I mentioned it to her things quickly escalated and I was physically and verbally assaulted by her. I told my dad about it and he was asking why I didn’t call the police. I live in the U.K so assault is a serious thing but I would never ring the police on her. But I have become quit scared of her and don’t know what to do at this point. Plus I’m no child I’m married and a mum.

  8. Anon

    October 19, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    I feel sad that after what your mum went through, you subconsciously still harbour some resentment for her. Your dad was the one who left but it’s your mum that takes all the heat in the entire article. You say you didn’t want perfection but you’re somewhat bashing her for not being perfect. You wanted someone who would pet you and be soft on you, maybe YOU should have been there for her, and told her all these without coming Ehre to write a bellanaja article on her. Imagine what she went through as a single mother nursing heartbreak… I can’t imagine writing this about my own mum

    • May

      October 19, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Sorry but I need to ask first, are you from a broken home? If you aren’t then I can understand why you don’t get what the writer is saying. When you are from such, you understand where your hurt parent is coming from and feel for him/her but at the same time if that parent has bitterness in him/her, coping in such a situation will be exhausting and after awhile you will feel the need to separate yourself from the situation.

    • Ajala & Foodie

      October 20, 2016 at 6:54 am

      @ Anon and the 17 people that liked your comment, I have a question. How do you expect a child to be there for a parent??? That you are unable to grasp that a child is unable and should not be expected to be an adult as being the whole point of the article, is cause for concern. You accuse the author of expecting some kind of “soft handling” from her mum. When your mother tells you she wishes she never had you, that is no longer an issue of soft or hard; or talking about death in relationship to her own kids that has sure taken things way beyond being strict, that speaks to some deep issues that no child (adult or otherwise) is equipped to handle and in most cases, have adverse effect on a child. What any child like the author of this article needs is the love of a father and a mother regardless of what is going on between said parents. Because at the end of the day, the child never asked to be “brought into all that negativity”.

      What I am trying to say is that : It is NOT the responsibility of a child “to be there” for a parent, at least never in that capacity. There is a reason why even trained psychologists would refer family members to colleagues as opposed to seeing them for themselves, to expect that of a child even as an adult is not only unfair but totally inconsiderate and unacceptable.
      It is also very inaccurate and immature to equate being candid to bashing. When you are stating a fact, it has nothing to do with “bashing” or rude,( we really need to get rid of that mentality especially when the person stating the fact is younger or perceived to be). I know our culture strongly advocates facades in a bid not to “air our dirty laundry” but see how far that has gotten us. i.e no where.

      Lastly, that you have the sort of relationship where you would not be comfortable being honest about things between your parents or family with others does not mean someone that does not share the same type of relationship or belief system is wrong. Many have shared their familial experiences on this page, that they did not write an article about it does not make it any different. The truth is we are all different and it is our being opened to learn from others perspective and experiences that makes us better human beings. BTW, did you miss where the author wrote that her father is a “serial monogamist”??? I don’t consider that has embracing her father. This article was a honest article and raises quite a few salient points that are thought provoking or would you disagree?

  9. Me

    October 19, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    Typo error. I don’t live with her she lives in Germany but comes to the UK occasionally.

    • Gorgeous

      October 19, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      Your mum obviously has control and personality issues. You did the right thing by not calling the police. I would have walked her out of my house though. I dont think its right to hit anyone physically or abuse them verbally, that means she as an adult, a mother and a grand mother has lost the ability to control herself. I really do not care who that person is. Especially if there is a child in the home where this occurred. Calmly tell her that a repeat of hat will not be tolerated, and she will not be welcome in your home if it occurs again. Simple.

  10. oo

    October 19, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    @ Me
    That’s assault but kudos for not reporting her. Best thing to do is never allow her to come visit. She is toxic and a ticking time bomb. since there is no emotional bond, and she obviously does not need you to survive, keep things over the phone. Send her money every once in a while and speak to her on the phone. She wants to come visit, tell her you are travelling, she will get the message.

  11. gracelane

    October 19, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    my mom relocated with my siblings and I.. with my dad not providing for us.. mom had to go back to school and has taken up both roles.. don’t get me wrong.. i am grateful BUT at a point, I got completely drain.. my mom enjoys fighting (verbally) and i don’t back down ( i have a mouth).. so it gets worse… (i have learnt to just ignore her, i also block every source of communication ..so she doesnt send me abusive messages. she has become so bitter.. everytime..” you are just like you father, so wicked, witch ..bla bla bla”. Thank God for growth, prayers, and my bf.. I just ignore her.. (she can be fun sometimes, don’t get me wrong)
    My dad isn’t any different.. he is also abusive.. verbally (also blocked his number to avoid abusive text message as he enjoys sending these..) and was physical before we left..
    I wasn’t asked to be brought into this dysfunctional “home”..All i need now is a full time job and I can move out…I just want peace (this is something I have lacked in my life since i moved back home from college).
    With this sort of experience and upbringing. at 25, i still do not picture myself being someone’s wife. I am scared of living this sort of life or worse case marrying someone like my dad or becoming my mom.. i just pray to God that if I ever get married, i want it to be nothing like my parents..that cycle (my maternal/paternal grandparents have dysfunctional relationship) needs to be broken.

    • iyke

      October 19, 2016 at 5:39 pm

      I am touched! Dp not be afraid hun – the cycle is already. Keep improving on yourself and never settle for a man who is not ready to be a man. One day you will find someone and he will never say you are too much or not enough.
      Love isn’t dead …I haven’t given up…neither should you!

    • Gorgeous

      October 19, 2016 at 6:37 pm

      So sorry about this experience. I will move away from both if i were you. Good on you for blocking your dad’s abusive messages. I cannot fathom what you are going through at all, as i lost the best man in my life, and he was my father. I hope you choose your husband carefully. As annoying as my own mum can be, i really respect her for choosing a man like my dad. And giving us the opportunity to be raised and nurtured by such a wonderful father. My sympathies.

  12. Ify

    October 19, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    In my case, I remember wishing with all my heart that my parents would just get a divorce. they’d fight all the time and say the nastiest things about each other. then the next minute, each parent will corner us (the kids) and try to explain why the other partner is a demon and they are just holding on for the sake of the children.
    At one point, I was always around my mother and I began to hate my Dad (because of her stories). Then, one long vacation, I got an IT job and would ride to and from work with my dad, the long rides were filled with nasty stories about my Mum and I found myself hating her. Later, I just hated them both,and much later, I just became indifferent – they’d be fighting/quarelling and I’d just plug in earphones and enjoy some music.
    The house was toxic and I was absurdly gleeful when it was time to leave home.
    They are in their sixties now, still together and still fighting everyday.
    Although now, I have a better relationship with them and feel both gratitude and love to/for them, the one thing I have learnt from their marriage is that sometimes, divorce is the better and more humane option for the children.

    • Gorgeous

      October 19, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      Chei…

    • Gina B

      October 20, 2016 at 10:07 am

      WORD!

      My parents had a similar toxic relationship. My memory is ridiculous and I remember things from when I was barely a year old (no exaggeration!), so you can imagine the database of their fights in my head.

      They eventually separated for a year and that was the HAPPIEST time of my growing up years. When they got back together, I was in shock for 2 whole days and literally unable to speak.

      Them getting back together was even worse than before. Such toxic environments can hardly breed wholesome children.

    • vhicky

      October 20, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      This is my story though a bit different. The scary part about it is that none of them thinks about the effect this could have on us their children. As much as I would wholly accept seperation, I have younger siblings who might not be able to come to terms with it especially my youngest sister. I just pray things turn out well for me as my elder sister is currently suffering from trust issues in her marriage and this is really draining for her husband cux of her suspicious attitude but I know this is as a result of what she saw my mum fight almost daily. I wish I could explain to him where all this is coming from but that should come from his wife not a third party. All these just makes me scared of being in a relationship not to mention marriage. Those who grew up in happy homes should be grateful, I wish for that every time but I still love my family too.
      Sorry for the long epistle & typos.

  13. tunmi

    October 19, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    This article is very well written and impartial. My parents are FINALLY going through their separation. Finances had them living in the same house but I am so glad that is about to be over. Honestly, they need therapy. Separate therapy. And I know I will as well. Frankly all of us kids (now adults) will

  14. Adult from a broken home

    October 19, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    I was in pry 5 when my parents got separated. A year before that it was WrestleMania everyday. I still remember my mom running out with virtually nothing on cos her head was bleeding, I watched the doctor in our compound stitch her head. I also remember seeing them fight and rip each others clothes to shreds and continue fighting naked, I remember waking up in d middle of d night to meet my mum tied up in the corner, my dad had tied her hands behind her back with his necktie, I remember been thrown across the living room cos I had gotten in between, I learnt quickly nvr to do that. I remember hearing the sort of things a child should never hear. I remember running barefooted with only a towel tied to my chest several streets to a family friend’s house to get help cos my parents were fighting again. I was 11 and my baby sis was 7. Even after they went their separate ways we endured close to 12 years of emotional torture, having to deal with my mother who was emotionally draining us and my father on the other hand who never had anything good to say about my mother. These are memories I want to forget. I’m 30 now and I still suffer the after effects.

    • LEM

      October 20, 2016 at 7:55 am

      My Lord! Hugs for you dear, sad you had to go through such a traumatic experience growing up. Maybe you should go for therapy if its still affecting you at this age.

  15. Anonymous

    October 19, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    Nne please what is serial monogamist? i am not sure your intended message was put across on that point. Otherwise, great job on expressing your feelings. sure beats spending pounds on theraphy.

    • Ajala & Foodie

      October 20, 2016 at 7:00 am

      @ Anonymous, I am guessing her father is with different women but always tries to keep it to one woman at a time, i,e he wonders but ensures he lives one before pursuing a full relationship with the next partner, but it is probably a cycle hence the serial. So the serial monogamist title That’s my guess

    • Ajala & Foodie

      October 20, 2016 at 7:01 am

      ******He leaves one******

  16. africhic

    October 20, 2016 at 9:26 am

    My parents separated in my 20s. still wasn’t easy on us, my father tried to play the victim and at the time i thought maybe that my mother was a bit distant and incapable of loving anyone other than herself. She’s been dead a few years and i’ve realised it would have been extremely difficult to remain married to someone like my Dad. He’s overly melodramatic and emotional, they never officcially divorced before my mum passed, she just had to act to outsiders like everything was alright.

  17. that-i-may-fly

    October 20, 2016 at 10:28 am

    This is a very constructive article. I can relate. I come from a broken home and recently divorced myself. While I missed most of what went on in my parent’s marriage, the blight of violence towards my mum remains. Not having a father figure in my life also affected me while dating and when I subsequently got married. I could relate to the communication part as well as the man being answerable to some people in his life. Those two being absent contributed directly to the failure of my own marriage amongst other things.

  18. alwayshappy

    October 21, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Marriage is an institution many do not prepare for adequately I look forward to the day either of my kids or my nieces, nephews, Godpickins inform me of their desire to marry or start a serious relationship with the opposite sex i go balance , and we shall talk #real talk such as :

    1. How have you prepared for this person, how have you made “room” for them to flourish?
    2. What will you consciously and intentionally choose to do or not do to protect your relationship with this person?
    3. Are you ready to be accountable to God -the father, son and the holy Ghost and his consequences for any damage/hurt/pain you bring upon or into the relationship regardless of who’s fault it is.
    4. Are you ready to Guard your heart and Tongue ? life and death/ springs of living water remember this is a person, wholly formed and made before the beginning of time, not your creation but God’s masterpiece.

    The emotional , psychological, physical and spiritual needs of Marriage requires is variable doses of commitment, patience, intelligence and maturity. Your soul is at the core of it all, and if you are with any man/woman who is incapable of a healthy and complete pursuit of nurturing of their own soul, how much more, yours ( boo/bae/sidechick/madam) , or even kids/children they choose to have. If you are at an intersection in any personal relationship , realize that your choice will not lead to eternal separation/ damnation or isolation , so be gentle with yourself nourish and feed your soul whatever it truly needs and Live! #Flourish

  19. Gretna

    October 23, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    In our own case too my brothers and I grew up with our dad. It was very challenging because i had a paraplegic brother and my dad ended up taking care of him almost exclusively after my mum left us. combining 3 kids with full time lecturing and responsibilities at the village (hes a traditional ruler in my place) made life a bit tough for us kids but he managed us well. Fast forward to a few years later, my older brother is in the U.S. and i am studying in Europe and my mum surfaces and insists i spend my vacations with her in London. To me she was a total stranger and try as i may to get to know her, i just couldnt because i kept feeling a sense of betrayal. i tried to ask my parents why they separated in the first place since i was too young to know why but my dad never talked about it and my newly resurfaced mum always had bad things to say. Sometimes her erratic behaviour makes me want to cut ties with her for life but anothet part of me keeps telling me to try and undersatnd her. I love my dad so dearly and dont know how he feels about my association with my mum. My older bro wants nothing to do with her at this point. The whole situation depresses me but and i feel its so unfair…..

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