Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

DadPad Quotes & Notes: The “One” Thing

March 15, 2010

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” -David O. McKay

[tweetmeme source=”jeffabram” only_single=false]

You’ve probably heard this quote.  As a full time missionary on the staff of FamilyLife, it’s one that is at the heart of our ministry.  Based on all the statistics I’ve seen regarding the state of marriage in our country, I think it’s also at the heart of our culture.  If more father’s loved their children’s mother, the family would be the fertile growing grounds for children as God had intended.

Recently a young man with whom I got to know via Twitter and have continued to communicate via Facebook and email asked me about the many comments I make about my beautiful wife.  His question was, “what are the top 3 things u think are the reasons for a strong marriage?”  Now, let me preface this by saying I am not the greatest husband.  I have a lot of foibles, warts and have done some pretty insensitive and hurtful things to my bride during our nearly 25 years of marriage.  My biggest success has been not giving up on getting better.  Additionally, after 5 years of working for a marriage ministry, I’ve seen my share of shattered marriages.  And, unfortunately, I’ve experienced divorce through close family members and seen the pain that it creates.  There are many things that contribute to a husband and wife having a vibrant marriage.  But these were the things I shared with my online friend:

The top three things that I believe are critical to a long lasting and vibrant marriage:

1) Shared belief in Christianity – I know that there are plenty of “non Christian” marriages. But, since God created marriage (see Genesis), I believe that unless both husband and wife ground their relationship in a transcendent cause, selfishness ultimately abounds and divorce becomes too convenient. It’s important for both a husband and wife to keep growing in their relationship with God–not to be perfect but striving together. “Two shall become one”

2) Take Divorce out of the equation at the very beginning. My wife and I said right at the start that divorce was never an option. Therefore, we might kill each other but we wouldn’t divorce each other. It also means that when things have gotten tough, we knew we needed to figure out how to work it out TOGETHER.

3) Unconditional love. For too much of our marriage we tried the 50/50 relationship. It doesn’t work. You can never arrive at what that looks like because, in our selfishness, we always think we are carrying more than the 50% and our spouse thinks the same for them. It only works when you give your love without conditions (on how they act, what they do for you, etc) that true love can be exhibited between a husband and a wife. When you give yourself to someone without EXPECTING anything in return, you will eventually get back much more.

Well, there are many more things that go into a marriage to make it work (like learning how to deal with conflict in a positive way, discussing key issues about life before you get married (like how many children you’re going to have, is the wife going to work after having children, etc), financial concurrence, how to deal with children’s issues/discipline, etc…. the list goes on. But, without the three things I mentioned, it is very difficult to bring two very different people together and expect them to “make it work”. Especially in a very divorce centered culture.

For Discussion:  What has happened in your families / marriage (good or bad) that supports the quote above?  Other points that I didn’t make to the young man that you would have made?  Share your insights.

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Father’s Day Memories-a series Pt 2: Weekly Dad

June 14, 2009

Here’s the 2nd installment of our Father’s Day series.

Batter UP: Jeff Abramovitz; On Deck–Leary Gates!

My birth father wasn’t in my home growing up, or at least not for very long.  I don’t remember living with him.  My parents divorced when I was 3 and, therefore, I don’t recall ever waking up and walking over to my dad while he lived in our home.  Yet, unlike many with a very similar tale, my dad was in town and did make the effort to see me on a regular basis as I grew up.

My earliest memories of my dad are of him arriving to my house on a Sunday morning. He and my mom had an unusually amicable relationship (it wasn’t unusual for me as a child since it was all I knew but, obviously, I have come to find out that it was rare). After a few minutes of “chat”, we would leave. Most of the time we would stop by a place to pick up lunch and then it was off to his apartment.

When I was 10, my dad purchased his first set of Minnesota Viking season tickets. I remember sitting in old Memorial Stadium freezing my yammers off but loving every minute of it. I learned to love football through my dad. We still spend a lot of time criticizing the Vikings each season :).

During the summer of my 13th year, we took our first of many summer vacations. We drove up to the lakeshore city of Duluth, located on the banks of Lake Superior (Lake Gitchegoomy for you Gordon Lightfoot fans). I don’t recall anything that transpired that weekend but I remember it was with my dad. The trips got more extensive (and expensive for him) as I got older. Road treks included jaunts to Seattle, Los Angeles, the Bay area (SF and Oakland), Cleveland (yes, that Cleveland), and a pre-bicentennial trip to Boston, New York, Washington DC and Philadelphia. There were blown tires, overheated radiators, lost contacts in a pool, bumpers ripped off by exposed fence posts and other mishaps. Those only served to make the trips more memorable.

Despite all of the good memories of times with my dad, latent longings began to develop inside. Later in life, I realized how much of my life my dad missed. I never recall him attending a baseball game. When I dated I missed having him readily available to counsel me about things to avoid (or look forward to ;). I couldn’t sit down and just tell him about my day. As I contemplated college and career, he provided no input. Feelings of a missed childhood filled my thoughts and I was sad.

During these years, my mom remarried. My stepfather was a provider for the home but we were never close. He wasn’t a bad man, just not a great father. They divorced after 15 yrs of marriage and I have seldom seen him since. We are friendly and cordial when we meet. But, my “dad” hole was never filled by him.

Now, as a nearly 50 year old father of three nearly grown children I look back on time with my dad with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I have some very fond memories of those times together in his apartment, eating strange foods that I still have an affinity for, bonding through football and our trips. Yet on the other hand I wonder what it would have been like had he been more “fatherly” in my life. Might I have persevered through some personal challenges and decision making around a broadcasting career instead of wilting and giving up? Would I have had a healthier view of dating and relationships if he had spent more time teaching and coaching me in that arena? I’ll never really know the answers to these questions.

And, maybe it’s not really relevant. I’ve moved on and love my dad for who he is. There’s no resentment, only wonder and some sadness. His childhood, which was a mystery to me until recently, was not something to be emulated either. Fathering for him had to be a challenge since he missed a father who was active in his life.

So, for this Father’s day, I just want to say, “thank you, dad”. Thank you for introducing me to football and sports. Thank you for the great road trips we took which gave me a love for the road and travel. Thank you for wanting to spend time with me and staying close so that we could be together weekly. Thank you, dad, for loving me and caring for me and loving my family. Happy Father’s day, dad.

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