“I have been a stay at home mom (SAHM) for 23 years, homeschooling our 3 children. I have no skills, no income, and our children are traumatized.”
“I have been a SAHM for 16 years, homeschooling our 5 children. I gave up my career because we agreed it was in our family’s best interest. No one is going to hire me now.”
“I have been a SAHM for 21 years, homeschooling our 3 children. 2 are high needs children. How am I supposed to support them now?”
“I have been a SAHM for 10 years. I have a 2, 4 and 6 year old. I have no job skills because I got married right out of high school.”
“I thought I was doing what God wanted me to do. Now, I have nothing.”
“We prayed about whether I should stay home with the kids and be with them while he worked. That was a waste.”
“I feel hopeless. How am I going to find a full-time job with no experience and support our kids?”
“I’ve been deserted.”
These are comments from women I see. They love the Lord, they homeschooled, and they divorced.
We have a tragedy on our hands, faith community. Women who believe God endorsed their choice to be SAHM’s generously dedicate their entire lives to raising and educating their children. They don'r receive an income for this career choice…and would never ask for one.
But their selflessness is being mercilessly exploited during divorce in our family courts.
What has gone dreadfully wrong?
The reality of my work is that many Christian women I see homeschool and have been betrayed by their partners- either through obsessive pornography use, affairs, and/or covert/overt abuse. Divorce becomes a necessity and is Biblically validated.
But, how does an unemployed mom who can only work a specific amount of hours (she’s got kids to take care of) get a job, find a place to live, maybe make a physical move to a new home, emotionally support kids through divorce trauma, emotionally support herself through betrayal trauma, learn the court system, find a new church (some moms are told to leave their churches), figure out how to educate their kids, grieve the loss of her life, marriage, and dreams, and keep the secret of the sexual sins of their partners?
Survival mode. Surviving isn’t a choice. Moms frantically find ways to make a little money here and there. Many give up more than they need to in courts because they don’t understand the system. Many give up their children because they themselves are traumatized, and with little to no emotional support, are unable to make wise decisions for their future. Many develop physical issues as their bodies absorb their trauma.
All of them have drastically new lives they did not ask for. These moms have been floating along, doing what they are supposed to do in their marriage, when, all of a sudden, their boat gets blown up and they must learn to stay afloat in a hurricane with no life vest.
Something’s not right here. Why are these devoted women being thrown to the curb? Where is the financial support they desperately need? What happened to taking care of women and children?
I’d like to pose a radical idea that suggests these women would not be forced to claw their way through survival if our church community would simply support 1 legal concept:
Prenups for SAHM’s.
What would happen if a pastor refused to marry a couple until the husband guaranteed his new bride he would protect her FINANCIALLY if they were to ever divorce due to betrayal or abuse? Pay for any legal advice his new bride might need if he goes astray in the marriage? Instead of the focus being on protecting what he is bringing into the marriage, would he focus on shielding her from further pain?
What if our faith community held men who commit adultery, financially accountable DURING AND AFTER divorce to the woman they promised to love and cherish?
I'd like to think we wouldn't see so many churches ignoring problematic sexual behaviors and, I suspect I wouldn’t see so many women fleeing our churches.
I went from being a homeschooling SAHM mom of 4 to a divorced mom of 4 trying to homeschool. I have been traumatized by the divorce and the continued, costly subsequent attorney and court fees. I have been in survival mode for years. I’m still in survival mode.
As I think back to what would have been most helpful to me when divorce became a necessity, 3 things come to mind:
1. I needed someone to educate me about the divorce process.
2. I needed someone to validate me.
3. I needed predictable income.
My church provided none of these. I led a women’s ministry for years in our church. I gave endless hours to childcare. And the moment I needed Christ’s love, Christ’s arms around me, my church failed. I don’t think they meant to. I think they didn’t know how to wrap me up and hold me.
Faith community, when will you bring in these mothers and their children and protect them? I'm trying to do my part by intentionally educating myself on betrayal trauma and divorce because I know this problem is not going away… especially if our faith community refuses to address the devastating effects of problematic sexual behavior occurring in their churches.
If you are a betrayed partner trying to save your relationship or if you are fleeing your relationship, find support. (See my resource page, sign up for my groups or register for a workshop). If you are a faith-based organization wanting to rescue these strong, broken women, please contact me.