I once wrote a book! I titled it “52 Ways to a Happier Marriage” with the thought that readers could spend a week reading each chapter and thinking about it. I wrote it, but I never looked to having it published. I am sure there were many flaws in it and in the end I decided that I’d written it for my own benefit, to remind myself of what God has done in and through my marriage. One of the chapters is one of the core values that I wrote about last week: Divorce is not an option.
Here’s that brief chapter:
If your marriage is to be long, divorce cannot be an option. Too often and too easy is the state of divorce today. People marry with an escape clause. You don’t have to look far to find the enormous impact divorce has on the confidence and self-esteem of an individual. In most cases, the rejection felt is overwhelming. The road to recovery following a divorce is often more painful than coping with the death of a spouse, mainly because the huge sense of failure and rejection is so dominant. To find total closure is more difficult because many times the ex is seen on a regular basis, particularly if there are children involved. There’s even more pain if the divorce is as a direct result of an extra marital affair.
I was interested to read the book “I want a divorce?” by divorce lawyer Simone E. Katenzberg. She outlines 7 emotional stages of divorce and goes onto say divorce or separation should never be a first option. The reason for this is because those seven stages are so painful. Here is a lawyer who specializes in divorce and yet she still says divorce should never be a first option. She has seen the enormous hurt and pain that divorce has caused. Just the seven emotional stages of divorce are enough to put anyone off. They are breakdown, shock, anger, pain, hatred, grief and finally acceptance. No one wants to purposefully put themselves through those emotions.
I didn’t think too much about divorce when I walked down the aisle. I was young, starry eyed and in love. As I continued along the path of marital bliss, it crossed my mind from time to time. Eventually, I realized that it was a choice to be made and if it had anything to do with me, the choice would be never to divorce my husband. But whenever I thought those words, (I never spoke them out loud), I was immediately transported back to a young 6 year old standing in the kitchen hearing my mother talking to a friend. They were talking about a couple who, way back in around about 1970 were getting a divorce. It wasn’t really accepted in those days and my Mom said words, which I never forgot: “I will never get divorced,” she said. Well, it was just a few short years later that the harmony of my home was shattered and replaced with argument and unpleasantness that eventually resulted in a long-term separation followed eventually by divorce. “How could it happen?” I asked myself. People change, I understood, but as I have walked the road, the hills and valleys of the 28+ years of marriage, I came to acknowledge that each individual in the marriage has to be responsible for staying together.
You cannot control people. The only person in the marriage you can control is yourself.
It takes two to make up the partnership and you can only be responsible for your own actions. Your spouse has to be responsible for his/hers. If both work hard, consistently and permanently on the premise that they will never get divorced, it won’t happen. But they have to be in the boat together paddling the same way, facing the same direction. “Statistics indicate that divorce is more likely if you marry younger than 21; if your parents divorced, if you live together before marriage or if one or both of you is in a second marriage” (Katzenberg: 6). The excitement of an illicit relationship soon dims and after a year or two you’re still waking up to “same old, same old”. This is the real world and with it comes a degree of mundaneness no matter how happily married you have been or for how long.
For a better marriage the permanency of it must be depended upon. It all has to do with right thinking. If you want a happy marriage, put divorce out of your way of thoughts. If it is not an option for each of you, you will find yourself more focussed on making your marriage work.
5 Tips for Instilling “Divorce is not an option”
- Talk about your commitment to each other on a regular basis.
- When in conflict, NEVER EVER mention the word divorce as an option for a solution.
- Remind one another that this is until death you do part.
- Make a list of all the reasons you loved your partner at the start of your relationship and in rocky patches read the list and remind yourself of all his/her good points.
- Store up in your own heart the commitment you have to your partner to never consider divorce as an option.
God speaks about divorce in Malachi 2:16
“For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”
God knows the pain it brings. I know there are many legitimate reasons for a divorce, one of them being adultery, another, abuse. There are those who have weathered the storm of a straying spouse and pushed through the pain and journey to forgiveness and healing, to find it was worth it. With God all things are possible.
God bless you.
In His Grip,
Here’s another Marriage Reminder