A Merry Heart…

Written By Author  Susan Reidel  “Reel Love Equals Real Love” 

It’s funny what you remember about your parents when you are a child. I remember my dad driving all of us to Seal Beach and he had this special, unexpected road he would take us on. We would be driving along and suddenly without warning straight down! The kind of down that made you want to lose your lunch! Only seconds, but the laughter from everyone, loud and loving!

I remember when we reached the bottom of the hill my dad would look at my mom, whom he nicknamed Gert, and make a growl with a twinkle in his eyes, “gerrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.” My mom would look back laughing at us and then at him and he would put the “t” to it, “Gerrrrrrrrrrt.”

They had a healthy and happy marriage, worked together everyday and so the example they set for their children was realistic, loving and stable. Unfortunately, I believed I would have the same kind of relationship when I got married. I was married at seventeen, just turning eighteen in a few weeks. My husband was nineteen. I can say with all honesty that we had a pretty good marriage, but never the twinkle my parents had. We kind of went through life just doing what you do. We were in ministry so we kept very busy with friends and new people we were meeting all the time.

Where do the years go? It seemed like they just passed us by. We were together for great times in the beginning but eventually we were just living in the same house with no communication, connection, affection or laughter. It seemed like brother and sister rather than husband and wife. If you would have said I would divorce after 42 years of marriage I would have bristled at the very thought. Well, here I am, 63, divorced and wondering what happened? There was no adultery, battery or terrible treatment. There was just no connection, laughter or caring for one another. Of course, looking closer I can see why the inevitable happened.

Bowling Green State University released a study called, “The Grey Divorce Revolution.” It seems that people over 50 are divorcing after long term marriages! In fact, it has doubled in numbers in the past two decades. This is so easy to write but when you are one of the statistics it is numbing, scary, lonely and leaves you questioning what went wrong. The first step I needed to take to help myself was to quit thinking it through over and over again. I had to come to the place where I could say, “It is what it is.” As a Christian I could go back to the hope of the promises of scriptures. God would never leave me. God would bless me. God knew the tears I cried. God promised to answer my prayers. It was still hard!

I wish I could say I didn’t feel despair, pain, betrayed, fear, abandoned and lonely, but I did. I was on the self-pity train riding it over the cliff. Stop! Stop! Stop! Yes, you are allowed some time to feel the hurt but if you want to have a life you have to pick yourself up and realize God has a plan for you. It’s okay to be happy again. For me, I can say I’m really happy for the first time in my life. Happy with who I am not who everyone expected me to be.

Having married so young I obviously never dated so the first date I went on after divorce was a real eye-opener! One nice thing that happened is I said something sarcastic to answer back a very forward suggestion and the gentlemen laughed, a hearty laugh, from deep inside. My husband had never laughed at anything I ever said. I realized in that moment I had a sense of humor, it was appreciated and I could enjoy life. Find your laughter it really is the medicine that scriptures tell us is healing.

If I have any advice I could give you during this time in your life it would be these five things.

1. Stay healthy and eat right. I was overweight when I divorced and my feeling about myself were distorted. I have lost some weight and it is amazing how great you feel about yourself.

2. Don’t let anger or self-pity rule you. There is a time and place for it but as hard as this is for me to say, “Get over it.”

3. Find your passion again. What talents do you have? Enjoy life and people again.

4. Realize life has changed, for the better if you will let yourself believe it. Find a way to move on and contribute to others. I wrote my book Reel Love Equals Real Love and it is wonderful when someone calls and tells me how it is helping their marriage! They don’t have to be apart of the Gray Divorce Revolution!

5. Find your laughter again. It is your heart. Once when laughing with a group of people I noticed someone said to me, “Wow, your eyes have a twinkle!” Thanks Mom and Dad I now know it came from shared laughter.

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