Generation ex
Kansas City Star illustration/Eric Hibbeler

Divorce is commonplace in the United States, and the Harker Heights community is no different.

Infidelity and military deployments are often the causes of divorce in this area, legal professionals, counselors, clergy and school officials agree. But sometimes couples just grow apart.

Reflection of a breakup

Brenda Ferkel, 67, was married at a young age to a man she thought would be her lifelong soul mate. He was good looking and someone she had a lot of fun with, she recalled.

But after a 14-year union, the spark between the couple began to fade. She soon found her once-cherished relationship melting away after she found out he was unfaithful.

“We worked different shifts. Since we have two kids, he worked days and I worked nights so we wouldn’t have to have baby sitters, and I guess he got bored at night is the best way to put it,” she said.

The couple struggled to make ends meet, and ended up divorced.

Ferkel has spent the last 30 years reflecting on the marriage that once was, and said she has no regrets.

“Once a person gets enough self-esteem to realize that they can make it on their own, they are good to go and that’s what happened,” she said. She also said any couples whose marriages are suffering should seek counseling.

Adjustment issues

Kashif Haider, a licensed professional counselor with the Family Counseling Center, said a majority of the couples he helps are military families.

“Almost 90 percent are active-duty members or dependents,” he said. “Any of them contemplating divorce usually has to do with adjustment issues from when the service member deploys to the combat arena and then comes back home.

“I would suggest re-evaluating the roles of the relationship. Have they done everything to make that relationship work?”

Children suffer

Divorces have a huge impact on children. Jan Rainwater, director of guidance services for the Killeen Independent School District, said counselors and teachers in the schools are well prepared and trained to help students cope with separations in the family.

“Our counselors are required to spend the majority of time with kids in the classroom to cover coping skills and making good decisions,” she said. “If kids are at risk emotionally or personally, then it’s our duty to communicate that to the parents from both the counselor and teacher perspective.”

Communication problems

About 60 percent of marriages end in divorce, as well as 80 percent of people who get married a second time, said Deacon Klaus Adam of St. Paul Chong Hasang Catholic Church in Harker Heights.

“There’s several occasions where couples have asked me to intervene and facilitate their reconciliation, and I have been very successful in making it happen through the power of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

Klaus said most marital problems surface from a couple’s failure to communicate.

“Marriages come and go, but divorces last forever,” said attorney Bobby Barina, who gets new clients daily asking about or wanting to file for divorce.

Most of the divorces he handles are from the “baby boomer” generation.

“Those are complicated divorces because the amount of assets, and how they are functioning and how they are going to be distributed can be significant,” he said.

The reason couples from that generation are splitting up is because they’ve simply grown apart over decades of being married, Barina said.

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