Finding a new path: Stories of students and divorce


This article was written by Cece Freyre

They attended therapy to try and save their marriage, but once the divorce was filled, Salley said he gave up.

A couple divorces every 36 seconds, according to McKinley Irvin Family Law, the largest family law firm in the Pacific Northwest region. This means there are 2,400 individuals who make the transition from married to single each day.

Idaho is not immune to people getting divorced. In Rexburg alone, nearly 20 couples had a divorce case from Jan. 6 to Feb. 24 of this year according to court case files. That is almost five couples a week. Of those 20 couples, 15 have children.

CHRIS GOYETTE | Scroll Illustration

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints refers to marriage and families as being essential to the “plan of happiness.” Yet according to Pew Research, only 46 percent of U.S. minor children live in a home with married parents in their first marriage.

In the state of Idaho overall, the number of divorces decreased 4.3 percent in 2014 to 6,943 compared to 7,248 divorces in 2013, according to Idaho Vital Statistics of 2005 to 2015.

These same statistics show that the 2014 divorce rate of 4.2 per 1,000 population was slightly lower than the rate of 4.5 per 1,000 population in 2013. At the same time, Idaho is seeing fewer marriages, in general.

“Those are only figures written on the pages of a book,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley in a general conference talk in April 1991, referring to statistics of divorce in that year. “But behind them lies more of betrayal, more of sorrow, more of neglect and poverty and struggle than the human mind can imagine. Millions of those divorced in this nation are lonely, frustrated, insecure and unhappy.”

Kent John, a senior studying exercise physiology, is one of the many students who is divorced at BYU-Idaho.

“You’re one when you’re a couple,” John said, “If that other 50 percent betrays you, it’s like that half of you dies.”

The transition from being married to being single again is a turning point only understood by those who live it.

“It’s kind of weird because the only person that understands what you’re going through is the person you’re divorcing,” said Adam Salley, a senior studying business management.

The Struggle

“The hardest thing for sure is sleeping,” John said. “Laying alone in my bed is really hard. That’s when time slows down.”

John said he spends most of his days working hard and being busy to keep himself occupied, in order to wear himself out before bed. Although this helps him to stay distracted, he is not sure repressing his feelings will be good in the long run

“It’s just not feasible that you can run 100 mph your entire life,” he said. “So, at some point you have to face those demons (…) and I don’t know how.”

BENNETT LANE | Photo Illustration

According to The Huffington Post, although divorce is more than challenging, “the positive consequence is really awesome.”

This is what Salley applied to his now one-person home.

“I hated to hear the house echo,” Salley said.

After his divorce, he changed everything in the house to make it this own.

Salley said it was difficult feeling lonely, but he had to accept his different role in his ex-wife’s life.

“I wanted so badly to help her, but, at the same time, it wasn’t my place,” Salley said. “It was hard to let go of this person I’d devoted my eternity to and to realize she’s not my responsibility anymore.”

Amongst temporal changes, faith is also challenged during this transition.

Salley said he thought he was rock solid in the gospel until he had to go through a divorce.

In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”, written by the First Presidency and council of the Twelve Apostles, it states “…marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of his children.”

John said that this statement has caused divorced students to question themselves and “the  Creator’s plan” during their transition.

“In my situation, I was doing the things I was supposed to do, and it still all fell apart,” John said. “Where’s your faith in everything you believed your whole life? It’s gone. That didn’t work.”

It is common to feel anger during this transition process, according to grief.com. Anger is one of the five steps in the grieving process.

“Anger is poisonous both physically and spiritually in a very real way,” John said.

Both John and Salley expressed feelings of anger but were able to overcome it and grow stronger.

John said, anger, if it is not put away, can kill you either spiritually or physically because of how toxic it is.

The Biggest Help

PsychCentral informs individuals, especially with news articles, of the five stages of grief, which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression  and acceptance.

Salley said that divorce is individual. He found comfort in others leaving him alone and not treating him as a “project.” However, this is not the case for everyone.

Apart from his busy days, John said his biggest help throughout his transition were his friends.

“I was surprised with how good of friends I had,” John said. “I knew I had good friends, but they really saved me.”

He said moving in with great roommates was one of his biggest helps in this transition.

John counts this as a huge blessing in his life, because, following the divorce, he said he did not know where to go.

Hope in all things

“I think finding happiness after divorce is not a possibility, but rather a high probability,” said Jackie Pilossoph, author of “Divorced Girl Smiling,” according to The Huffington Post.

Salley said this experience was the “best, worst thing” that has happened in his life. He said he encourages those thinking about or going through divorce to hold close to their faith.

“Know that it’s going to be hard,” Salley said. “People may go through the grieving cycle multiple times, so really hold on to whatever testimony you have.”

John said his transition helped him to recognize his personal strength and capability.

He encourages everyone to “not lose your relationship with God,” accept that one cannot control everything and continue to believe in love.

John said he still believes that he will be able to love another person again and that person is somewhere.



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