“Forks in the road”

I sat down today and thought about all the “forks in the road” that could have led to a much different life for me. 

Some of these “forks” were faced by my parents and others were the ones I faced, but each one resulted in where I am today. 

The major “fork” that my parents had was to stay married or get divorced. When I was a child, I imagined what it would have been like for them to stay together— my mother wouldn’t have married my step-father and my life might have been more stable. I used to spend a lot of time wondering what that might have looked like. Now I know that it was just a waste of time. 

One of the “forks” I faced was to get sterilized or not get sterilized. I chose to get sterilized after four children and two miscarriages. There are days when I regret that decision and I wonder what it would have been like to have more children. The days I spent mourning my decision was also a waste of time. 

Sometimes we make bad decisions and sometimes people make a choice that we just have to “live with.” Even though we replay these things in our heads and wish that we can go back in time and do things differently, we can’t do anything to change the past. 

I used to have a lot of guilt about the “forks” I had taken, but I realized that God had allowed me to take these various paths. If I wasn’t supposed to take them then He would have done something to prevent me from taking them. 

Sometimes the path is difficult and full of heartache, but even then I have to realize that it’s the path He wanted me to take. I can’t waste my time thinking about things that “could have been” because there’s a reason why I was on that path and not on the other. If my mind and heart are elsewhere then I won’t be alert to what I’m supposed to see and experience. 

I had a very difficult childhood because of the “fork” my parents took, but looking back I think that experience has made me more aware of the issues that some children and teenagers face when in a similar situation. I want to tell them to cling to God no matter how bleak their circumstances are at the moment; and I want to encourage them to never give up, to look up and to look ahead. 

Although I regret some of the “forks” I had taken, I need to stop feeling guilty and sad.  I think discouragement happens when we focus on our past and lose sight of everything else.  I need to “look up” and “look ahead”— to fix my attention on God and to concentrate on the future. 

“For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just
    and fair—every good path.
For wisdom will enter your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Discretion will protect you,
    and understanding will guard you….

Thus you will walk in the ways of the good
    and keep to the paths of the righteous.” 

(Proverbs 2:6-11, 20)

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti
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Response to Gerald Rogers

My response is long overdue to a post that received wide attention a few months ago, “Beautiful advice from a divorced man after 16 years of marriage” (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151735776813486&set=a.81166678485.79418.696628485&type=1). The post was so popular that it circulated on Facebook numerous times. The words seemed heartfelt as the man shared the twenty things he wished he “would have done different.”

I was left with one glaring question: Why didn’t this man try to reconcile with his wife since he loved her so much? You’d think that after she saw the post that it would convince her that divorce was a mistake and that they needed to give marriage another try.

The truth is, we have no idea what was going on “behind closed doors.” We get an idea from his post that perhaps this man was selfish and self-centered. Maybe this post was just another way to get attention?

He responds, “I hope everyone realizes- I wrote this advice FOR ME. I shared it in the hopes that others might learn from my journey. I don’t pretend that this advice is for everyone, but this is the MAN I CHOOSE TO BE, and these are the lessons I COMMIT to carrying forward into my future relationships. This is what I have observed in common among those rare thriving marriages that seem to endure anything. That is the type of marriage I want to create when I have the chance again.”

Again, I go back to, why not reconcile with the woman that he claims to love? “…may you rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18). Why is he looking for someone else to marry to do the right things?

What would be truly awesome is if he won his ex-wife back—if he started anew with his first love. Now that would be the ultimate love story!

Instead we have words from a man who wished he would have done the things he described, and that he is hoping to try with someone else.

It’s easy to start all over with someone new, but I think it takes even more work to get someone back after a breakup/divorce. I’m not sure if this man is willing to put that kind of work into getting his wife back.

Here’s my advice to Gerald Rogers:

“Put your money where your mouth is and reconcile with your wife– put what you have learned into good use.  You said, ‘That is the type of marriage  I want to create [a thriving marriage] when I have the chance again.’ Why not create that type of marriage with your wife? Don’t let your divorce paper stop you from reuniting with your first love, to start all over again and find happiness with her. Show her that you have learned from your mistakes. Try to win her back and don’t give up.”

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Work things out!

I remember when my parents divorced. They had a lot of arguments before then, and I think the main issue was that my parents didn’t know how to communicate with one another. Another issue was that my father was always away (he was in the Navy and gone for many months at a time). There were other issues too, but I think those stemmed from the two issues already mentioned.

Even though I did not see my father very often when my parents were married, divorce felt very different. Divorce was like a death. It kind of reminds me of the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke 16; in verses 22, 23, and 26 it has, “The time came when the beggar [Lazarus] died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he [the rich man] was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side… there is a great chasm separating us.” This was what it was like for me—seeing my father but not being able to be in his presence.

Sometimes I wonder what I would have been like if my parents would have stayed together and saw a marriage counselor and worked things out. Would I have been more outgoing? Friendlier? Instead I find myself emotionally distant from people.

I think some of the issues I experienced earlier in my marriage was a result of my parents’ divorce—how could I truly trust and love anyone if he’s just going to leave me like my father left me? I think this might be a reason why some children of divorced parents get divorced themselves—they have a lack of trust so they do not fully give 100% into their own marriage.

I think my marriage was headed in that direction—divorce, but God intervened. After our 16th anniversary we both took a class, “Marriage Enrichment.” It was taught by Dr. Bill Cutrer and his wife, Jane (Dr. Cutrer is the co-author of the book, “Sexual Intimacy in Marriage,” http://www.amazon.com/Sexual-Intimacy-Marriage-William-Cutrer/dp/0825424372).

The class made me realize that my husband and I had a communication problem—I would say something, but he would take it to mean something else; and when he said something, I would take it to mean something negative. There were other issues too, but I think it steamed from this main issue.

After the class had ended, we signed up for weekend marriage seminars and other helpful courses, and after a while we realized that we no longer needed these courses anymore—our marriage had stabilized.

This year my husband and I will celebrate our 29th anniversary in November. I am amazed that my marriage has lasted this long— sadly, all of my siblings have had one or more divorces.

What is really amazing about my marriage is that I truly love this man. I feel blessed to have shared my life with him— we had the privilege of raising our four beautiful children together, seeing the three older ones get married, and God has now blessed us with three beautiful, smart, and amazing granddaughters.

My wonderful marriage is what drives me to want to help couples. I know that if they could just get through the rough period, then the rest of the marriage would be so much better.

I have a passion to help married people stay together. In fact, I did a study on keeping marriages from ending in divorce (http://books.google.com/books/about/Marriage_Mentoring_with_Couples_in_Marit.html?id=eAdnMwEACAAJ). If at all possible, I think married people should avoid divorce (although, I realize that there are circumstances when it is necessary).

If you are having problems in your marriage, then please find a good marriage counselor (http://www.aacc.net/resources/find-a-counselor/) and try to work things out. Don’t give up!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Set back

Yesterday was “Day 5” post-surgery. I was doing great—eating some solid foods, not taking any pain medication, able to open my mouth to see the back of my throat, and even though I had difficulty with it, I was able to swallow my allergy tablet.

Early this morning, I woke up with intense pain radiating from the surgical site to my ears and down my neck. The back of my throat was swollen and I could hardly swallow. It was about the same pain I felt right after I had surgery.

I quickly realized that I had forgotten to take my steroid last night before going to sleep. I quickly got out of bed to take it, and for the first time in days, I also took pain medication. As I took the meds, I started to blame my husband— “why didn’t he remind me to take my medication? Does he know that I’m not well? All he cares about is himself!”

The good thing about taking liquid pain medication is that it gets into the body quickly. The pain is less intense now, and with a clearer head I realized how easily people can revert back to their “old self.”

It’s almost effortless to exhibit Christian-like characteristics when everything is going well, but when something is wrong or if nothing positive is happening then we go back to acting the way we did before we knew Christ— doing and saying things that we shouldn’t do or say, and even relying on ourselves.

James 1:12 says, “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation…” Galatians 6:9 encourages us to keep going, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

I think all of us have moments when we stumble, but we need to get up and continue on the road that God has placed us—we can’t go back to the way we were when we didn’t know Him. Sometimes that’s hard to do, especially when life is difficult; but that’s when we need to fully rely on God.

I am like a wounded animal right now. I am tired of being in the state that I am in, but I can’t let my current circumstances hold me back from growing into the image of Jesus. I need to find joy despite my pain and misery. I need to continue focusing on positive things—“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise… Then the God of peace will be with you” (Phil 4:8-9).

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti