President David O. McKay famously quoted J. E. McCulloch, for the proposition that, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home” (Conference Report, Apr. 1935 at 116). While I believe these words place an appropriate priority on family, many of us have taken these words to heart as we lived through divorces and believed failure in marriage meant failure in life.
How should you feel if you did your best to prioritize your family and still experienced a divorce? How should you feel if you failed to adequately prioritize family, but have experienced a change of heart and now regret your mistakes? I offer you the words of President Gordon B. Hinckley: “You have not failed until you have quit trying, and please remember that your example in your home will be a more persuasive sermon than will any other kind of preachment” (Live Up to Your Inheritance, Ensign, October 1983). In other words, you have not experienced failure in the home until you stop trying to create an eternal family. Sometimes you need to try another method. In unfortunate cases where your spouse is abusive or you have been abandoned, you may succeed in creating a peaceful home by getting your children out of the abusive environment and striving to create something special in a separate home that you establish.
We acknowledge the difficulty of establishing peace when you are dealing with a former spouse who is at war with you in his or her heart. Part of establishing a peaceful and positive home is to intentionally accept that you have no control over your former spouse or the environment he or she creates in his or her home. But you can be a positive visionary in creating your life after divorce. Have you dreamed of taking classes, going back to college, going dancing with friends, following your alma mater’s sports teams, acting in local theater, learning to speak Spanish, or any other dream you gave up to focus on your marriage?
If you are divorced at mid-life, you may be low on money, have single parent responsibilities, kids with problems, or face a transition point in your career. There are many reasons you might feel like you are “stuck.” But you have something other middle-aged people lack—freedom. You don’t need anyone’s permission to go back to school, start a new relationship, try out for a play, or sign up for a community education class. You just need the desire and, possibly, a little creativity and the courage to think outside the box. So be intentional. Plan the life you dream of, be creative, and make it happen.
You can also dream a new family into existence as you are intentional about how you approach parenting, dating, family atmosphere, and also blending families with a new love in an intentional way. You have not failed in the home. You have had setbacks—sometimes serious ones. But it is within your reach to assess past experiences, learn from your mistakes, be self-reflective, and live your life in a way that is intentionally calculated to fulfill your new dreams. You can do it!
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About the Author
Jeff Teichert, and his wife Cathy Butler Teichert, are the founders of “Love in Later Years,” which ministers to Latter-day Saint single adults seeking peace, healing, and more joyful relationships. They are co-authors of the Amazon bestseller Intentional Courtship: A Mid-Singles Guide to Peace, Progress and Pairing Up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jeff and Cathy each spent nearly a decade in the mid-singles community and they use that experience to provide counsel and hope to mid-singles and later married couples through written articles, podcasts, and videos. Jeff and Cathy are both Advanced Certified Life Coaches and have university degrees in Family & Human Development. They are the parents of a blended family that includes four handsome sons, one lovely daughter-in-law, and a sweet baby granddaughter.
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