After Esther Adler realized it was time to end her marriage she and her husband lived separately under the same roof. Almost immediately he started to use religion to drive a wedge between them. Even worse, he was using religion to distance their children from her. Here’s Esther:
I grew up religious. He grew up somewhat religious, too. We were married in the religion, we both left the religion together, and then when he saw that he was losing me, he went back to religion. So one of the ways he tried to win me back is he said that he would leave the religion again. He covered the stairs with rose petals and said he would do anything to try to make this work and I told him that, “It’s not possible, it’s a little too late” essentially.
From that moment on, he actually became more and more abusive to the point where when we physically separated, he became physically abusive. So he went from one extreme to another.
We stayed living in the same house for eighteen months after I had decided to end the marriage. I wasn’t working at that time and we were waiting to sell the house. He had his office, and essentially a huge bedroom. We had a four-story house, and he’s a computer guy, so he set up his whole office upstairs for himself and he set up my computer in the basement. He also set the kids stuff up right by him.
He had told me that he was going to make the kids religious and then, essentially, alienate them from me, get them away from me, and I just didn’t believe him, I didn’t think it was possible.
It was really, really hard. I was essentially in my own home, but feeling very alone. I had a wonderful relationship with all of my children up until probably six months before we physically separated, and by the time we physically separated, my oldest had become religious and the alienation started.
My husband started hating me and acting very, very cold to me and essentially, he was continuing the abuse through her, he used her as a puppet. It was unbelievable. It was like a light switch. When we were living in the same house, she wasn’t religious. When we separated, she became religious and became, essentially, abusive. She was really, really mean and cold and slowly turned the rest of her siblings against me, one by one.
When we were in the same house, I was miserable, but at the same time it made it that much more startlingly clear that what was happening was the best for everybody, that it was the right decision because his abuse became more and more apparent, his control became more and more apparent.
The Divorce Coach Says
In the next post Esther talks more about how religion turned her children away from her.
Even if both you and your STBX follow the same religion, go to the same church or even if neither of you is religious, it is important to discuss how you will handle your child’s religious education in future. You can start by identifying what religious tenets are important to you, and what you could be flexible on. Think about the situations in which you’d be concerned, think about how you would feel if you STBX wanted to take the children to a different church, how would feel if they didn’t go to church at all. Ask your STBX to do the same. Now you have the foundation for a discussion.
My parenting agreement gives my ex and I joint decision-making on all major religious decisions. Then, since he and I have different religious backgrounds we agreed that each of us could take the children to church in our respective denomination but that participation in any ceremony such as confirmation, or first communion had to be mutually agreed. It’s never been an issue for us probably because neither of us feel strongly about it. However, had my ex decided that the children should follow an orthodox branch of his religion, I would have been concerned.
What does your parenting agreement say about religion? Are you concerned about your ex using religion against you?
You can read more about Esther Adler’s book, Breaking the Chains to Freedom and her work at Esther Adler. Her Twitter name is @EstherWarrior. Esther Adler, author, speaker, trainer helps you turn the most devastating events in your life into your biggest opportunities. She focuses on letting go of grief, trauma and pain, through unique movement processes, helping you gain true freedom and ultimate peace.
Photo credit: iZENstein