You know when folks come to me with plans of marriage, I ask a lot of questions that many other wedding officiants might “skip over” for a very good reason- because I actually care about the longevity of the union. I created a business to afford anyone regardless of their income, the opportunity for a beautiful wedding or memorable event service for a very solid reason- I believe in families, I believe in the strength of community and giving back. My sister and I are often laughing to keep from crying after a lifetime of painful memories and endurance. We are very close and have survived many tragedies because we’ve always had each other! We are both on our third husbands and have very good reasons for divorcing our first two husbands, but I will get to that later.
Many times money and infidelity play a role in divorce and a divorce with children can be quadrupled in expense and emotional sacrifice as well as having an emotional impact on the children themselves.
I’m fairly blunt about my reasons for “digging deeper” than the average minister because I’m older and wiser and because these are valid questions that deserve consideration and discussion between the couple. Commitment requires sacrifice down the road to give the union the endurance that is often required years into the marriage.
Walk into any family court building in any city and you will find a romance that has gone sour. I’ve been in many courthouses these past ten years as either a witness or on two occasions, a plaintiff myself. So you see, I know what I’m talking about.
Divorce is a death, it’s a death of your trust and your love, it’s a death of your union, promises broken and your hope for a future with someone by your side taken from you.
My first marriage was doomed from the start by an invasive mother in law who was determined to do anything she could to keep her oldest child on her side rather than mine and suggested “slapping me around to keep me in line.” That’s right, I would suffer many humiliating experiences throughout the course of that ten year marriage and, I would subsequently spend years fighting over custody on the only thing from my marriage I cared about- my son.
For those of you unaware of what child custody involves, I’m going to enlighten you because those of us who have survived the “blood bath” often find ourselves wishing we would have simply found a stranger to have a child with rather than having our hearts ripped out with lies and hurtful accusations by our former spouses.
A child study social worker will come into your home to validate erroneous accusations, you may be ordered to undertake a very expensive psychological examination, your child or children will undergo the same and you will he responsible to pay for these examinations. If you’ve divorced due to violence- you will exchange your child or children at a police station which is embarrassing for both you and your child- I did. Happy reunions after visitation at a police station? No, stressful and awkward, the person who once professed to love you is now your enemy and often brings his family to yell things in the parking lot while you attempt to leave with your child hearing everything being said. Sounds like a lot of fun doesn’t it? It wasn’t and it left a hole in my heart. Eventually after 3 attorneys and ad lidem attorneys for my son, I won but was the victory sweet? No, it was like being drug behind an eighteen wheeler for years and the expense of child custody wars will wear you down, the ongoing “money train” for attorneys who never want it to end so they can continue being paid is part of the reason these “wars” exist. My second divorce was due to infidelity, dishonesty and IRS liens that I never knew existed. Trust is something that once taken away, can never be reinstated. Broken promises and shattered memories had me revisiting the courthouse that I often call “the house of pain.”
So, as you can see, I ask a lot of questions because I realize if things “go South” the road you will be forced to travel is far more “rocky” when you involve children into the mix. I’m everyone’s mother, I’m going to care about your future because I never had anyone to care about my own.
My twin sister never had to endure a child custody battle because her daughter, Leigh Ann was a child of rape. Surprised? Shocked? Don’t be my twin and I are honest and forthright regarding our past for good reason, no one can ever hold it over our heads or, threaten to use “it” against us. What you don’t know about us is far more interesting than what you think you know.
Her first marriage was violent like my own and she never even bothered to attend the hearing. Her second marriage was with a dishonest and philandering husband who never bothered paying child support on her youngest daughter, Stephaney. She never had to fight for custody because the fathers never paid child support. Don’t think the irony is lost on either of us, it wasn’t. Custody battles are almost always based on child support that fathers don’t want to pay to mothers. Sadly, mothers are often not in the position for this “money war.”
Often Cindy or I had other children who were friends of our three children “moving in” for days, weeks and even months while their parents were divorcing or dealing with drug abuse, alcoholism or mental illness. These children were “forgotten” by parents to focused on their own needs to consider the children.
You see, these children of divorce had nowhere else to go and had no one who cared enough about them to give them a hot meal and a home until their mother or father could get their shit together and accept responsibility for the child or children they brought into the world. Parenting is a lifelong endeavor and, divorcing your children isn’t something that I could ever fathom. Parenting isn’t a “given.” Anyone can have children but, it takes a warrior to raise them with compassion, respect, and integrity to make a difference not only in the lives of the children themselves but also for the future Bride or Groom their children will one day marry. Cindy and I published a YouTube video yesterday regarding a young lady who had been left at a gas station and my son had subsequently taken into his home while feeding and caring for her along with his wife who helped her seek and attain a job and finally, independence. Leaving your child at a convenience store with no money, no job, no transportation and no hope is perhaps one of the most thoughtless and selfish acts I’ve seen recently. I invited this young lady into my home to hear her story- her mother lives with my first exhusband and apparently is more interested in a relationship with him than she is with her own daughter. Neither of my exhusbands ever re-married.
For over twenty years, my sister and I have listened to these children who had no one. They had no mentors, they had no positive influences in their lives. We took on the role no one else was willing to accept responsibility for or, effectively “step up to the plate” for a very simple intent and purpose, we believed that these children could have a future if they had proper rearing and years later, we were right. I have many children in three cities who still call me “Aunt Wendy” or my sister Cindy “Aunt Cindy.” We have big hearts and we have hearts that have suffered rips and tears throughout our lives but never allowed our own pain to garden us from being the people we are today. Perseverance and poverty didn’t destroy us- they empowered us to achieve great things because we aren’t “quitters.” Our Little Pawners came at a time in our lives when the economy had tanked and young Stephaney was only 15 years old and pregnant with twins?! Yes, we rallied together to raise these twins as a family and although their father never bothered to pay child support, my husband Matthew Wortham and Cindy’s husband, Steve Daniel are the role models in these young girls lives that filled the void of an absent father.
So, when I ask you questions about your commitment for your future, I’m not trying to dig up dirt or cause an argument, I’m asking if you are actually willing to commit yourself for the “long haul” a marriage involves. My Aunt Shirley recently celebrated her 50th anniversary not because her marriage was without its ups and downs but because she was committed to her family and her husband.
Our current husbands have suffered job loss, wage cuts and furloughs but you didn’t see us “heading for the hills” and you know why? Because we dance with the ones that bring us ya all! That’s right marriage is commitment and endurance its compassion and perseverance. When the going gets tough- these twins kept moving and doing what we needed to put food on the table and keep our family together!
After the fairy dust has settled, you will realize that marriage isn’t easy- it’s work and dedication but, if you’re willing to hang in there and hold on tight- when your hands are withered and old, they will still be reaching for each other.
Don’t put your career ahead of your marriage, don’t put your friends ahead of your spouse and don’t underestimate the value of your family to carry you over the bad times- my sister and I are the people we’ve never met and at the end of the day- understanding the most important thing in your life you can do right the first time is raising your children, sometimes it takes a village!
Wendy M Wortham