The Conditions for Change

A careful inventory of all your past experiences may disclose the startling fact that everything has happened for the best.” – unknown

I heard a story about a woman complaining about her ex-husband. When they were married he drank heavily but once divorced, he stopped drinking, remarried and turned his life around. His ex-wife said, “Why couldn’t he quit when he was married to ME?” and the punch line of the story was “People change, but not when and how we want them to.”

When I was married, I refused to have children. I had an instinct based on raising a dog with my now ex-husband. It was difficult enough that I didn’t want to extend that experience to kids. My husband would ask and I would say, “I don’t want to have kids.” But in my head, I knew the whole sentence was “I don’t want to have kids with you.”

My ex was not a bad guy. But he had a difficult childhood where he was both beaten and neglected. Before we were together, he’d raised a puppy with a previous partner. He told me he’d hit it with a newspaper if it peed on the floor. Only by experience did he find out that made the dog afraid of him and he stopped hitting it. To his credit, he then learned so that when we got a puppy together, he didn’t hit it.

But every step of the way was my husband having to learn a lesson directly before it sank in. He wouldn’t take my suggestion for how something needed to be done, he couldn’t trust an experts work for what might be best, he had to do the cause and effect himself. I didn’t want to raise kids with someone who had to experiment with them to find out what did, or more painfully, didn’t work.

I imagine that it’s pretty obvious now that I’ve had two kids on my own, that the whole sentence was “I don’t want to have kids with you.” But fortunately I’ve never had to say that sentence directly to him. We are on fine terms with each other but he’s moved away and gotten remarried to someone who has grown children so we rarely interact.

More than that, I am grateful for that divorce because it turned me to meditation, strengthened my faith and set me on the path that I’m on. The bigger issues of my marriage such as his infidelities and the things we valued created a relationship that was not meant to survive. But it still gives me rich ground to learn from.

People change, but not when and how we want them to. I think of that now that my life is so different than when I was married. We can’t control how others change but as I watch my children change every day, I see that we can control the conditions that help change to happen. Curiosity, openness and support work like the seed, soil and sunshine with which people grow.

I see as I create the conditions for my kids to change, I also create the curiosity, openness and support for myself to change. As I grow, I realize that even I don’t know when and how I’ll change but in these rich conditions, I trust it’ll be towards something good.

26 thoughts on “The Conditions for Change

  1. A wonderful but often painful and necessary life lesson, for sure. It’s good that you recognized those conditions within your marriage and that you were able to find the right conditions for you to start your blessed family!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you! It was my gut feel that told me not to have kids in that marriage and I think about that often as a parent. We are laying the foundations and values for decisions that our kids will make long into the future even if they can’t articulate why as I couldn’t for years.

      I’m grateful for you, Ab!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. As a former single parent Wynne, I can identify with what you’ve shared here in courageous transparency.

    Marriage is perhaps the most joyous and difficult relationship two people will ever experience. However, it’s not the his/her rights/wrongs, pain/tears that inflict the greatest hurt and lasting damage . . . it’s impact it has on the children the Lord entrusted them to raise.

    Your words, “We are laying the foundations and values for decisions that our kids will make long into the future” speak of a every parent’s . . . single or married . . . greatest responsibility. It’s only when that foundation is grounded in Him that they will be able to endure life’s hurts and dry the tears that will come their way, and pass it on to their own children.

    Stay the course Wynne! . . . your picture radiates Love, and shows the two precious reasons you must.

    Be Blessed!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Claudette – I’ve missed you! Thank you so much for reading, understanding and commenting. You are years ahead of me in this parenting game but I’m not surprised that you understand how this all came to pass.

      I know it’s not Canadian Thanksgiving but I’m sending my gratitude to you! And wishing you the best on your journey of big change!

      Best – Wynne

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh, Fred. You have me in tears. Thank you, my new friend and encourager. You remind me so much of my beloved father. Thank you for that blessing and for sharing parts of your story with me. Sending my best – Wynne

    Like

  4. You wisdom is welcome in this world where people (e g politicians) claim to be Christians and then act in hateful, egotistical ways! Unfortunately, too many people are being sucked into their brand of religiosity that they are perverting people’s ideas of what Christ taught!

    I applaud your loving and caring approach! Happy holidays!

    Like

  5. I love that line …”People change but not when and how we want them to.” We can’t force the process as much as we’d like to sometimes.

    Thank you for sharing a little of your story. Those hard places and what you learned through them were turned into something good.

    Love and train your children well, give them a good foundation and someday you’ll send them out into the world to do good and make a difference.

    Count your blessings and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wynne, of course, I had to “like” this post as a sign to you I read it and paid attention. With that said, I want to add that I am bemused by the notion that anyone can control the conditions of the situations all of us face in our daily lives. Anything outside ourselves is impossible to control. Although we have the ability to control ourselves, often we mess up on that. As for the conditions of situations, as I said, we do not have control over, we have the ability to control our reaction to the condition. Do you really think we can control anything outside ourselves?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, G.J., I don’t think I can control anything outside ourselves. I only think that I can face what comes with curiosity and openness instead of fear and denial and support my kids to do the same. At least for me, that’s helped me roll more happily with the changes as they come.

      Hope you and your family had a lovely Thanksgiving. I’m grateful for you reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My goodness, this is such a lovely reflection, Wynne. I adore this last line: As I grow, I realize that even I don’t know when and how I’ll change but in these rich conditions, I trust it’ll be towards something good.
    That’s beautiful, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, Wynne, I can so relate! It took me newly two years to recover from a painful marriage from my second unfaithful husband. I lost faith in my ability to choose wisely, so I gave up the notion of every remarrying, lest I repeat the same dreadful mistake a third time. Since then, I have done enough spiritual seeking and healing inner work to trust that I would find the right person—if I that as what I truly wanted—which by now, it isn’t. Your children are so blessed to have a very wise mom who will nurture, protect, and support them as they grow up to become the sort of person that would fill a partner with joy. And by the way—my own mother was widowed three times and married the love of her life when she was 83. It’s never too late!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Julia, you are amazing for your ability to convey empathy, wisdom and encouragement in just a few sentences. I love hearing about your spiritual work and restored your faith in your ability to choose, if you wanted. And the story about your mom – just precious! Thank you, my friend! ❤ ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great perspective. When my wife and I divorced, she went through a dramatic physical transformation and I had those same thoughts: why couldn’t she have done this when we were together? Maybe it was a similar train of thought on her end. Well, whatever; she gained all the weight back, and I gained happiness. More than a fair tradeoff in the end!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. More than a fair tradeoff indeed. And man, didn’t we learn a lot in those starter relationships? I think that although hard to go through at the time, they are the things that set us up for happiness if we can grow from them. And it seems you’ve done a fabulous job at that, Mark! Thanks for reading my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

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