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The lanky young man gingerly approached the pastor’s office, knowing the answer to his question would determine his destiny. His mind flitted to the diamond solitaire nestled in its cushioned box, tucked away for safe keeping. Although the pastor-father had anticipated the request for his daughter’s hand in marriage, his answer was not immediately forthcoming.
Instead, he posed this question,
What are your views on divorce?
That’s a tough one sometimes, isn’t it?
A close friend recently found herself prayerfully contemplating her marriage’s destiny. Should she end her twenty-five-year union, or continue giving grace to her errant husband? These hard issues are frequently difficult to discern.
Readers frequently write, asking prayer over separation, infidelity, and crumbling marital vows.
The ramifications of divorce not only affect the wedded couple, but bear long-term effects on children, in-laws, and extended family. It also impacts close friends, church family, and outer circles.
Like a pebble cast in a still pond, sending ripples to the outer edges, divorce creates a domino effect on an undetermined number of lives. It has been said that roughly two hundred souls are directly affected as a result of a breakup.
I was reared in a pastor’s home where the “D Word” was seldom mentioned, and never as an option for my parents. The young man in the opening story was my future husband and the love of my life.
His answer to my father’s counter-question that day so long ago made me giggle,
I don’t believe in it.
That statement suggests that divorce is a nebulous idea – such as the existence of the Easter bunny or Santa Claus. But the scaling divorce rate across America is proof of a very real problem.
And I’m not giggling now.
Wedded bliss is for Hallmark movies and fairy tales of happily ever after.
Marriage is hard work.
My husband and I do not always get along (especially when he just can’t get the hang of the fact that I’m usually right!).
Totally joking there.
We’ve fought over parenting techniques (especially during the teen rearing years) and questioned each other’s motives. We’ve spoken snidely and gone to bed angry.
Even though we have a good marriage now, ours has been messy at times. But in each instance, we scraped ourselves off the floor, performed the exceptionally hard thing (forgiveness), and started again.
1.) We made a commitment to each other for life – to choose to love for better or worse
2.) We believed God brought us together
3.) We wanted to keep our family together
4.) We believed God’s view of marriage as sacred
5.) We loved God and ultimately wanted to please Him
6.) We trusted His plan for us
7.) Neither of us wanted to answer to my dad (or any of our parents–all believers and staunch marriage supporters).
And so, here we are, over halfway to our golden anniversary–both determined we’re not walking away now, after all that work!
Besides, I can’t imagine trying to learn another man’s idiosyncrasies and training him to get my Eight O’clock Coffee brewed, poured, and served promptly by 6:30 each morning.
That right there has been worth the entire marriage.
But what if both parties aren’t willing to commit? Sometimes the issue is not cut and dry.
Willard F. Harley in the book, His Needs, Her Needs, sums up how to be happily married in one simple statement:
Whether you have just started your life together, have had a mediocre marriage for a number of years, or have had a horrible marriage, you can have a happy marriage if you learn to become aware of each other’s emotional needs and learn to meet them.
Sounds easy, right?
Thus begins our marriage series here on the blog. We’ll discuss heavy, life-changing topics. I hope you’ll join me for the next post, Warning: 3 Unhealthy Indicators your Marriage Needs Boundaries, as we search the Scriptures for God’s word regarding divorce.
Stay tuned–God is a God of the impossible, and also a God of comfort.
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26, ESV
So now I ask you, dear, harried wife,
What are your views on divorce?
And for those of you who have emailed me with your desperate pleas for prayer, I am praying. Please know that I will continue to do so, and if you are reading this right now wishing for prayer or a word of encouragement, you may contact me here. God loves you, dear one! He has answers if you wait for Him.
*I’ve included a couple of trusted marriage resources that you may find helpful:
His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, by Willard F. Jr. Harley.
Boundaries in Marriage, by Cloud and Townsend, is an excellent resource for answers for how to deal with certain types of behavior.