Easing the pain of divorce

Published 9:10 am Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Niles Daily Star

It has been observed – and experienced – by generations.
The evolution of divorce has grown beyond religious tradition and even social stigma. It remains a fact of life and a painful one at that.
Now, a national program designed to ease the pain and the process of divorce is being offered by one area church – and the hope is it just might offer support to those who are dealing with the pain that divorce can bring and perhaps save a few marriages along the way.
DivorceCare, a national support program is now being offered at Mapleview Free Methodist Church, on Niles-Buchanan Road in Niles.
The program’s administrator, Barb Wagner knows a little something about turning the painful experience of divorce into a positive. She experienced her own nine years ago and since then, she said, “that has always been my passion, to help people who are going through a divorce.”
DivorceCare is described as “nondenominational,” and the program features biblical teachings to help people recover from both divorce and separation.
Over the course of 13 weeks, participants view special video presentations featuring experts on the subject. Through registration, members of the group receive a workbook as well, outlining each of the weekly topics and offer different exercises for participants to do at home that Wagner said helps “keep a level of introspection” throughout the week.
“I think the basic premise,” Mapleview’s pastor Greg Rensberry said. “(Was) because so may people in the church were going through divorce, they developed a program to help people spiritually.”
Wagner didn’t have the option of taking part in the DivorceCare program when she was going through her own experience, but said even so many years later, “I see people struggling,” and wanted to help them find ways to move on from divorce with a little help from faith.
“The great thing about it is, it does function and help everybody whether they have faith in any religion or not,” Rensberry said. “It’s designed to help the spiritual and the emotional.”
Both Wagner and Rensberry agree that the support group could be beneficial for those who have already seen their marriage end – recently or years ago – as well as for those who might be considering putting an end to their relationship with their spouse.
When it comes to the emotions and realities of seeing a relationship end, Rensberry said “a lot of people have really not had anything to help process that.”
“People carry a lot of bitterness,” added Wagner. “Bitterness and anger.” Left alone, Wagner said, those emotions can make the process evermore painful and leave it ultimately unresolved and unforgiven.
“Forgiveness,” she said. “Isn’t necessarily for the other person. It’s for you.”
And, Rensberry said, forgiveness is crucial, “so you can move on.
“This is a program that could be beneficial for a couple who are even pondering or considering divorce,” he said. “…And there’s the hope to, say, there’s a couple that’s really struggling, this could actually save their marriage.”
Mapleview has already hosted one complete cycle of the program, which Wagner said went very well.  The next cycle of sessions begins Aug. 6 and group meetings are held Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m.  Registration is $15 (for materials) and those interested can contact the church at 684-5135.
The subject of divorce has found recently found its way back into social conversation. Yet another example of how the deep and widespread recession is affecting how people live, reports have taken a closer look at couples struggling with their relationships and the financial repercussions of ending them.
There have been stories of couples filing for divorce, but continuing to live in the same home, as the housing market made moving difficult and tighter financial times – for some – made it nearly impossible.
Others are struggling with looking for any possible way to make their marriages work to avoid the sometimes costly process altogether. With a program like DivorceCare now available in the Niles area, the avenues of relief are at least open to those who are in need of just that.
“We need to respond to that great need,” Rensberry said. “Not only in our congregation but in our community.”