Sheila's Books
Click on the covers to read more or order autographed copies!







My Webrings



Crazy Hip Blog Mamas Members!





Photobucket


Photobucket





Medical Billing
Medical Billing



Advertising
For ALL Your Graphic Needs

Dine Without Whine - A Family 

Friendly Weekly Menu Plan
What to Do When a Friend's Marriage Falls Apart

My heart is heavy today, because I have just learned of another couple that I love very much who have separated. I don't believe the separation is necessarily permanent, but I still mourn for the pain that is involved, and for the children, and for the chance that it may not work.

And it got me thinking of this series of posts that my blogger friend Terry refers to, where Dalrock is asking, "what can the church do to prevent divorce"? (my paraphrase, not his). He starts a very needed conversation.

However, I have another perspective I want to add to this question. First, as soon as we ask the question "what can our church do", we tend to think in terms of pastors, or elders, or small group leaders. We don't tend to think of us as Christians. So let's rephrase the question, and ask, "what can Christians do to prevent divorce"?

Now, I think there are two main strategies we need to employ: prevention and crisis management. I'm going to focus more on crisis management in this blog post, but let me deal with prevention first.

How can Christians help prevent divorce? These would be my key points:

1. Emphasize that the purpose of marriage is not happiness; it's holiness. Often people split because "they're not happy", or they're not in love anymore. But the reason they're not happy is often because they are expecting the other person to meet all their needs, rather than focusing on what they can do to meet their mate's needs. We're missing the boat.

We think that life should be about fulfillment, and that's not the point of life. And ironically, we tend to feel more fulfilled when we submit to God, live out our commitments, and find His peace and joy. When our focus of life becomes finding our own happiness, we drift horribly.

I don't want to spend too much time on this, even though I think it's extremely profound, because I've written of it before and there are other things I want to talk about here. But I do want to stress that perhaps in church we focus too much on making people comfortable and happy rather than making people challenged. Just a thought.

2. Encourage family time. Couples don't wake up one day and decide to split. It comes usually after years of drifting. The natural course of family life is to drift apart. People don't naturally drift together. It is the drifting that causes bad feelings, affairs, workaholism, etc. So we need to create a community where families are encouraged to do things together; not to have tons of meetings away from each other, or tons of small groups where the women are away from the men and everyone is away from the kids.

I'm not saying there's not a space for that, but often in our Christian lives we put people in the position of spending time not as a family but as individuals within the wider community. It's time to get back to family. Encourage family game nights instead of all kinds of small groups. Encourage family hikes or outings instead of church picnics. Have the youth baby-sit the kids so that parents can take a date night. Let's make the church a place where families are together, and as Christians, let's talk to our friends if they're spending too much time in extracurricular activities and not enough time as a family.

3. Offer marriage support groups. Make sure that all couples who are in their first two years of marriage have a mentor. Marriage counselling is almost more important after the wedding than before, because before everyone thinks, "that will never happen to us! We really love each other!" It's only after the wedding that you find out you're human. Make marriage support a regular part of what you do as a couple with your friends, and what you do inside your church.

4. Have messages that clearly tell why marriage is important--not just because God ordained it, but because society and children rely on it.

Now, those are my prevention points. But what happens when a couple comes to you and says, "I moved out yesterday, and I'm staying on my brother's couch while we figure out what to do next." All too often, that's the scenario we find ourselves in. We don't tend to know that couples are having problems until they've already made the split.

But what do we do? We tend to react in panic, and then we tend to use the tools that we're used to--namely our prevention techniques. We start talking to them about the importance of commitment. We talk about how it's not about your happiness, it's about holiness. And this does absolutely nothing to help.

Let me try to diagnose the problem for us, and then maybe see it in a different light. In my experience teaching at marriage conferences, if one person wants to work on a marriage, but the other doesn't, the chance of the marriage working is probably just under 50%, no matter how small the issues are. If one person really doesn't want to work, there's not a lot you can do.

On the other hand, if both people want to make it work, I would put the chance closer to 90% that the couple can work it out--no matter how big the problem. Even if it's multiple affairs, or workaholism, or jail, or whatever, if both are committed, it can work. And in fact, often these relationships that are terrible are the best demonstration of God's grace and power.

The key, then, is to get both people wanting to work it out. It is not to get both people to agree on what the problem is; it is not to get both people to agree on who is to blame; it is not to actually even solve the problem. The key is simply to get both to agree that what they want is to work it out. In other words, the problem that caused the break is not the issue; the commitment to the marriage is the issue.

Too often, when couples arrive in a pastor's office or in a sibling's home or on the friend's phone and announce that they have split, our first instinct is to talk about the problem. Why?, we ask. And when we get the details, we then try to analyze and solve the problem. Are your grounds for divorce biblical? If there is an affair involved, it very well may be biblical. Then we start arguing that even if it is biblical, it doesn't mean you HAVE to divorce. And we go back and forth and we don't really get anywhere.

The reason we don't get anywhere is that we're misunderstanding where the person is coming from. We don't want to see the marriage end, and we're desperately trying to get them to see what is so obvious to us. But that's being very condescending. Most people, when they split, didn't begin the process wanting to get out. They wanted to make the marriage work. They have cried rivers of tears. Their heart has been broken--even if they're the one who had the affair. They have been torn apart by this. By arguing whether or not they're in the right we seem to be dismissing all their feelings and their turmoil. We're treating it logically, rather than emotionally. And we're trying to insert ourselves into the problems that this couple has had--problems that we can never fully understand because we weren't there.

Let me suggest another road. At this point, once a couple has separated or are preparing to separate, they already believe that the issue is big enough that a breach is imperative. To argue about the cause of that breach, the legitimacy of that breach, or the solution to that breach is counterproductive. They are in pain. Instead, we need to appeal to the two solid things in their lives--the two things where love is still present. Let's not focus on hurt; let's focus on love. There is so much negativity when it comes to the marriage right now that you don't want to feed into that by focusing on the cause of the negativity. Instead, you want to focus on the two things that, hopefully, still give them strength and joy.

Now I am talking primarily about Christian couples here, so if you're dealing with couples who are not Christian, you'll have to modify this approach a bit. But for a couple who is a Christian, I would focus on two truths:

1. Your children will be hurt by this divorce, even if the divorce is biblical. On the whole, children do not fare well when their parents split. What is it that you want for your children? Presumably, they want their children to grow up with the best possible start in life, feeling loved and safe and secure. The best route to that is to be raised in a home by biological parents who love each other.

Even if you don't love each other now, and even if you don't see a way to love each other, do you agree that parents being married is best for your children? Can you give us two or three months to fight for this marriage for the sake of the children--not to stay so that you're fighting all the time, but to stay to rebuild a marriage so that the children will be safe and secure. We aren't talking about staying married but hating each other, because that isn't necessarily good for the children (though studies have shown that even that situation is often better for kids than living through a divorce). But let's agree that what's best for the kids is two parents together.

Don't discuss the issue that is tearing apart the marriage. Don't discuss how you get to the point that you love each other. Don't discuss who is right or who is wrong. Simply talk about what is best for the kids. Arm yourselves with the statistics (and if people want I can publish another post about all these stats; just le me know in the comments if you'd like that). Tell people what happens to the children after a divorce. Right now a split looks like a relief for the parent who has lived through something horrible. Let them know that it is the exact opposite for the children.

Most people, even if they are exhausted themselves, can agree to fight for their kids. Focus on that, not on the spouse.

2. God is big enough to see you through. Now here's the next point: Can you trust God to see you through? Can you trust God to restore your joy in life? Can you trust God to transform you and your marriage? You don't have to know HOW God will do this, and likely the person will start talking about the issue and how it's impossible.

Here's the key talking point: you do not have to understand how God will do anything. You do not have to understand what it is that God will do. The only relevant question is: can you trust God to get you through this? Because if you can't trust God to transform you and give you joy inside your marriage, how can you trust Him to outside?

God wants marriages to thrive. He doesn't yearn for marriages where people just stick it out and are miserable. He wants people to have abundant marriages. He will still be there for people if they split; absolutely. But that is not what He wants. He hates divorce. He permits it in some cases, but that does not mean that He likes it, even then. And if He hates it, wouldn't He prefer to transform your marriage? Wouldn't He like it better if your marriage worked, rather than seeing you divorce and having to deal with all of that?

Again, the question is not believing whether or not the spouse will change or whether or not the issue will be resolved, and if people start trying to talk about this, stop them. Change the subject. Come back to the main point: It's not about the issue, it's about God. It's not about how bad the issue is; it's about how big God is.

I believe every marriage counselling session should focus on these two points: Can you fight for your kids, and do you believe that God is big enough to restore joy and fight for you? These are the heart issues, and neither of them has anything to do with the issue that has caused the marital split.

It's dangerous to start marriage counseling by trying to talk about the issue, because you're trying to apply logic to a subject that is inherently fraught with emotion. And by starting to analyze whether or not the grounds for divorce are biblical, or whether the issue is enough to cause a split, you are, in effect, insulting the person who has struggled with this for months if not years. Instead, get to the real point: you have a responsibility to your kids, and God has a responsibility to you. Do you trust God to live out His responsibility? Because if you don't, your life is not going to be any better if you split.

Christians, when they are considering leaving a marriage, are often quite close to God, because it's in those times of great pain that we cry out to Him the most. We often assume that they are far from God, because they are choosing a path we disagree with. But that's often not the case. Many have been praying. Many have been pleading with Him. They often do love Him very much. Talk about this love. If you love God, can you trust Him? What they are often looking for from God is approval to break up the marriage. Change the direction into not one of approval, but one of trust. Can you trust God?

And then, in that first counselling session, ask the two people to pray for their kids and pray that they will trust God. Maybe it's only a sentence prayer (and it probably should be only a sentence prayer), but pray it with each other present. There is something very powerful about praying together when you are in such turmoil. Even if the prayer is simply, "God, please help us to do what is best for our children, and help us to trust you," with both of them saying it, God can do an amazing thing.

Remember this: no amount of arguing or logic can save a marriage when people want to leave. What you need is God. You need them to turn back to God, and you need them to turn back to their kids. That is hard when they are so burdened personally, but that is the road to recovery: get your eyes off of yourself, and get them on to the Lord.

Once they are both committed to working for the kids and to trusting God, you can then start to talk about the issue--perhaps after three or four more counselling sessions when the main focus is trusting in God to deal with their emotional turmoil and to deal with the kids. Don't jump into the issues right away. No issues can really be solved until the person decides to yield to Jesus anyway. Yield to God, and God has power to work miracles. Appeal to logic, and you'll hit your head against a wall.

Friends, I can't tell you enough how important I think this is. I believe that we do marriage wrong in the church for all kinds of reasons--busy-ness, a refusal to admit our problems, overscheduling, an emphasis on happiness rather than holiness. And I believe that when people have problems, we start the blame game, or we try to talk them out of it. All of it will fail, and you can tell that we're not doing a good job just from the stats of divorce among Christians--30% in Canada and 50% in the United States. Something has to change.

I believe it comes to this. Let's stop relying on our own power to solve marriage problems. You can't use logic to fix things. All you can do is help encourage people to move to a deeper level of submission to God. Do this, and things have a chance. Fail to do this, and you'll likely do little good.

More people need to hear this, so please comment, tell me what you think, and share this on Facebook below! Or perhaps forward it to your pastor. We need to get a real discussion going on how to rescue couples who are in crisis.

Labels: , ,

23 Comments:

At 8:46 AM , Blogger Homeschool on the Croft said…

These statistics are so frightening. We live on a Scottish island, and do not have divorce statistics anywhere close to these figures even in our communities as a whole.
I don't think we realise how blessed we are. I personally don't have one family member who has gone through a divorce...even right out to first cousins.
But I know that what happens with you folks on that side of the Atlantic arrives over with us - maybe a generation or so later. We must be prayerful, watching for the evil one, who would have all believing households broken if he could.
Let us all be watchful - even those who think their marriage is unbreakable. There's no such thing as an unbreakable marriage. And so let us 'watch and pray'.
Really good post.
Love, Anne x

 

At 9:01 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Great and timely post, Sheila! One better construction in the first paragraph (from the grammar police) would be to insert "that I love very much" after "friends" so as not to confuse the loving with them divorcing. Just saying ... C:C:

 

At 9:02 AM , Blogger Kelly@Tabitha's Team said…

Well said. It is very hard to watch friends separate, and even harder to know what to say. But these two truths provide all that is needed.

 

At 9:23 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Having gone through a very nasty split, I wish someone had of taken this approach with my ex and I. We would probably still be together if someone had drummed it into our heads about what was best for the kids and did we trust God enough. Instead, my kids are by-products of much pain and scarring. Now years later and into their teen years, I see the pains still there and hear it in their voices. One parent is still very selfish and the wounds open fresh once again for the innocent victims--the children.

 

At 10:02 AM , Blogger Shana said…

I am sharing this on facebook and twitter. It is so true and it needs to be battled.

 

At 10:37 AM , Blogger Sheila said…

Anonymous, thanks for your comment. I'm so glad you think this approach has merit, because someone who has walked through it knows. I'm sorry things didn't work out better for you and your children, but I pray that God will still wrap His arms around your kids and protect them!

Thanks everyone for hitting the share button!

 

At 12:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I agree that this approach to separation has merit and just might work! I felt that our Pastor failed miserably in his brief attempts to try to help my former husband and I. Basically they said our problems were too big for them to deal with -- that we should go see a professional counsellor but they couldn't say where we should go or when (or how this counselling would be paid for financially) -- I felt like the Pastor and the Deacon just opened a "can of worms" and then left us drowning in the ocean without so much as a life preserver thrown our way. When a marriage is sinking the parties often do not have the emotional resources to do their own research to find solutions... My children are still hurting (my daughter not so much as she was only 18 months at the time of the split and at 5 now, she thinks all children have two daddies) but my son who was 7 at the time (and is now 11) struggles with the fact that his Dad does not spend quality time with him, attend his school events, etc.

I have also felt frustrated that not one person from the church (that we'd attended for 7 years up to the time of the split) called me to ask how they could help, what they could do, or just even to say they were "there for us" -- and it would have been nice to even get a little card in the mail that said "Praying for you" or a casserole dropped off at the door. It doesn't have to be words (if you aren't sure what to say to your friend)... I found that the whole situation really made one aware of "who was on your team" and supportive and who wasn't...

I didn't want to divorce. But I couldn't stand the stress of a bipolar spouse who was violent towards the children and I, and all the negative stuff going on had extinguished any love we had for one another. Very sad, indeed. Maybe if your approach had been taken, Sheila, we could have found the counsel we needed and worked on things but, as it was my former husband decided "there were patches on our patches" and that we were "flogging a dead horse" so he left. It was almost a relief for me - when it all came to a head...

Just my own personal experience...

Denise in Saskatchewan

 

At 12:52 PM , Blogger Tessa said…

I think it was a Focus on the Family study that showed that couples who read the Bible together, pray together and attend church together regularily have about a 90% chance of success in their marriage. Not sure of the exact details but remember the pastor talked about it in church one sunday.
The pastor also mentioned that when statistics say "Christian couples" they are often referring to couples that got married in a church. We all know that just because you got married in a church it does not make you a Christian couple. Not to mention the fact that many Christian couples get married outside of the church as well.
All that being said, I'm 25, been married 6 years (earlier than most of my friends) and have already seen marriages fall apart. Isn't that sad? I have a friend who is also my age and her husband just went to a high school reunion to discover that he is one of the only (if not the only) one still married.
I'm so blessed to be surrounded by strong marriages and have seen it in my parents and their friends.It helps to have good examples :)

 

At 4:12 PM , Anonymous Dalrock said…

Hi Sheila,

Thanks so much for tackling this issue as well as for the link to my blog. There is a great deal to consider in your post, so I'll probably have to read it a few more times before I have more comments.

From my initial reading though you appear to start with the assumption that most divorces are entered into with great hesitation and due to very strong emotional reasons. I think we have all seen this kind of divorce, and I think you are right to address this.

But I also see far too many cases where there is no real reason whatsoever. The husband or wife simply declared they are bored or "not happy" and pull the ejection cord. In my post Her husband was her best friend I link to a blogger who acknowledges in retrospect that her own divorce was frivolous, and also recount an example of a woman who shared with my wife her intent to divorce frivolously. I also share the comments of a woman who talked her mother from getting divorce fever when she learned that Al Gore's wife was divorcing him.

The data seems to back this up since they have found that divorce spreads like a disease. I know it would be hard to find people admitting they would do such a thing, but I'm convinced a high percentage of divorce has neither biblical or any other solid reason. My personal take is this is where the church should start. Right now the law and popular culture are deliberately egging women on to divorce. Movies and books which glorify frivolous divorce are considered acceptable forms of entertainment by millions of Christian women. When I pointed this out on my blog, no women would acknowledge that this was a problem. They felt I was making a big deal out of nothing. And while churches are willing to discuss the biblical commandments on divorce in theory they almost never call couples out on this in practice. Do you have any thoughts on this aspect of divorce?

 

At 4:36 PM , Anonymous Marriage Preparation said…

You made some excellent points in your post - things that few people are saying these days. First of all, the foundation that marriage is not for our happiness but for our holiness, but this goes against the very fiber of our culture today where everything is about our happiness. No wonder so many marriages are in trouble.

You gave some excellent talking points and ways to help a couple in trouble. The challenge to trust God to be big enough to handle the situation is so critical. Without that faith there is no way to fight. Supernatural forces of evil are out to destroy every marriage so putting the fight back on a spiritual level is really our only hope to turn the staggering divorce statistics around.

Thanks for a great article. I'm sharing this one.

 

At 4:50 PM , Anonymous Dalrock said…

Hi Sheila,

Thanks so much for tackling this issue as well as for the link to my blog. There is a great deal to consider in your post, so I'll probably have to read it a few more times before I have more comments.

From my initial reading though you appear to start with the assumption that most divorces are entered into with great hesitation and due to very strong emotional reasons. I think we have all seen this kind of divorce, and I think you are right to address this.

But I also see far too many cases where there is no real reason whatsoever. The husband or wife simply declared they are bored or "not happy" and pull the ejection cord. In my post Her husband was her best friend I link to a blogger who acknowledges in retrospect that her own divorce was frivolous, and also recount an example of a woman who shared with my wife her intent to divorce frivolously. I also share the comments of a woman who talked her mother from getting divorce fever when she learned that Al Gore's wife was divorcing him.

The data seems to back this up since they have found that divorce spreads like a disease. I know it would be hard to find people admitting they would do such a thing, but I'm convinced a high percentage of divorce has neither biblical or any other solid reason. My personal take is this is where the church should start. Right now the law and popular culture are deliberately egging women on to divorce. Movies and books which glorify frivolous divorce are considered acceptable forms of entertainment by millions of Christian women. When I pointed this out on my blog, no women would acknowledge that this was a problem. They felt I was making a big deal out of nothing. And while churches are willing to discuss the biblical commandments on divorce in theory they almost never call couples out on this in practice. Do you have any thoughts on this aspect of divorce?

 

At 4:55 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Dalrock,

So glad to see you here! Thanks for commenting (and for getting the ball rolling).

Here's what I would say: I completely agree that many, many splits are caused because people are simply selfish and unbiblical. Sort of the "we fell out of love" mentality that is completely rampant and completely wrong.

You're right: there are the ones that have big causes and are fraught with emotion (and often years of turmoil), and then there are the ones which are far more frivolous. Should we treat them differently?

I'm not so sure. I think when someone is divorcing frivolously, to call them on it and tell them that God thinks they're wrong will have absolutely no effect. They're already running away from God. And even if it is frivolous, in their mind the relationship is the problem and they are justified in doing what they are doing.

To start debating with them whether or not they are justified, then, would be, in my mind, counterproductive. I have been in such arguments with people (such as a sister-in-law), and I realized afterwards that my approach was wrong. I couldn't argue the merits of the marriage or the importance of commitment, because she had already decided that these things didn't matter, and nothing I was going to say would change her mind.

What you need to do, then, is to return to things that still do matter--namely the children, and your trust in God. Even people who leave marriages believing God says it's okay are often open to the thought of exploring what it means to really trust God. Of course, if you're dealing with a couple where one or both are not Christian, this is a tougher sell, but I think it is still possible. In that case, I'd focus mostly on the children, and also throw in, for good measure, the statistics that after divorce most people are more depressed and more miserable than those that stick it out.

Again, the point is to stop arguing the issue, because you won't win. They are already closed off to thinking about it. The point is to talk about something that they do still feel an allegiance to--and if they don't feel an allegiance to God anymore, talking about how the divorce is frivolous is certainly not going to work anyway.

So I was not saying in my post that I believe that most divorces are not frivolous. I don't. I think many, many are. But here's the truth: whether or not they are, you are not going to win an argument about the issue because to the person divorcing, it has become very, very serious. And they have thought about it a lot, and justified it in their mind. Better to get into a discussion about something more solid where you may find some common ground, and then move forward from there.

 

At 5:50 PM , Blogger Frazzled Mom said…

Great article Shelia! This is the approach our church counselor took with us also and it worked. Our marriage was doomed and bibically we could divorce. It was the hardest thing in the world to physically pray outloud for and with my spouse while he was standing in the room with me. You create intimacy with whom and for whom you pray. It was the start of our reconciliation. While we worked on our own relationship with God individually, God did the healing work in each of us Himself. Where there was no way, God made a way! We have been married for 22 years! All praise be to God! We have continued the work our church started and have counseled many couples on the brink.

 

At 6:35 PM , Blogger Herding Grasshoppers said…

Sheila,

That is SO REFRESHING. Start by focusing on what is true and good rather than on what is broken.

Amen.

 

At 10:55 PM , Blogger Marsha said…

Sheila, this is excellent! I'm going to put this up on my FB wall tomorrow, maybe even my blog. Being the marriage editor over at Internet Cafe, I'm always looking for great articles to help strengthen marriages.

Blessings.

 

At 11:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

We were a Christian couple who divorced. We went through some marital counseling and one-on-one counseling. I prayed for a year that God would change my heart and help me love and respect my husband. I should also have prayed that my husband would love and respect me. He simply wasn't willing. No matter how much we talked about us, he just yes'd me to death and go on as usual. Finally God made it clear to me that He was permitting me to divorce. My stepchildren were wounded by my leaving, especially since their own mother had left them when they were younger. Except for the pain I caused them, I have never regretted the divorce. The truth is that my husband didn't love the real me. I would rather be alone all my life than ever face that sense of failure and rejection ever again. And the worst of it was that it really was all my fault. I would never have married him if it hadn't been for the fact that we had pre-marital sex. I'd suffered sexual abuse as a child and when I became born-again, I'd felt clean for the first time. Then one day we were alone (first mistake) and I wanted to test him (major, major mistake). I wanted so badly for him to be that romantic hero of the Harlequin novels who loved and respected his woman so much he would never have sex with her before marriage. I wanted him to stop himself, but of course, he didn't. So I did the only thing I could think of to clean up my own mess and that was to marry him. Even as I prepared for marriage, I knew I didn't really love him, but I ignored it and made myself go through with it. What a fool. The response of our church was horrible. Within 2 weeks I had become a sermon illustration and my pastor had instructed the staff to stay away from me. So much of what happened was my fault, but I was so embarrassed that I couldn't admit it. I developed horrible anxiety and panic attacks as well as depression with thoughts of suicide. I had become such a disappointment to everyone - my husband, my stepchildren, my pastor, my church, even those I'd thought were my friends. It took me 9 years and a move across country to forgive everyone involved. And although God has done a grand work of healing in me, yet tonight I'm crying again as I write these words. Another layer of the onion, I guess.

 

At 11:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

We were a Christian couple who divorced. We went through marital and individual counseling. I prayed for a year. Finally God made it clear that He was permitting me to divorce because of my husband's hardness of heart. Except for the pain I caused my stepchildren by leaving, I have never regretted the divorce. The truth is that it was all my fault. I would never have married him if it hadn't been for the fact that we had had sex. I'd suffered sexual abuse as a child and when I became born-again, I'd felt clean for the first time. Then one day we were alone and tested him. I wanted so badly for him to be that romantic hero of the Harlequin novels who respected his girl so much he would never have sex with her before marriage. I wanted him to stop himself, but of course, he didn't. So I tried to clean up my own mess by marrying him. I knew I didn't love him, but I ignored this and went ahead anyway. What a fool. The response of our church to the divorce was horrible. Within 2 weeks I had become a sermon illustration and my pastor had instructed the staff to stay away from me. So much of what happened was my fault, but the rejection and embarrassment was so overwhelming that I couldn't admit it. I developed horrible anxiety and panic attacks as well as depression with thoughts of suicide. I had become such a disappointment to everyone - my husband & stepchildren, my pastor, the church, even those I'd thought were my friends. It took 9 years to come to the place of forgiveness and healing. God has done a mighty work in me, but I'm crying even now as I write. I don't think I'll ever be willing to become that vulnerable to anyone ever again.

 

At 8:43 AM , Blogger Sheila said…

Anonymous, I'm so sorry for the pain that you're in! My mother went through something similar, and I know what it is to be a single mom when you never intended to be. And the pain is always there, to some extent, though God's comfort is there, too.

I know what you mean about having sex first and then feeling like you have to marry him. I'm writing a book right now that has a lot of that issue in it, so if you want to email me and further share your story, I'd love to hear it! Just find me through the "Keep in Touch" link here.

Thanks!

 

At 10:58 AM , Blogger TammyIsBlessed said…

Great post Sheila. I'm walking with a friend through this right now, and unfortunately, though she is willing to do absolutely anything to save her marriage, her husband is not. He's lived a lie for so long, and told so many lies that it's like he believes them himself now. His thinking is so twisted. Appealing to trust in God is absolutely useless with him. Barring a miracle, there is 0% chance of their marriage working out. That is likely the only thing about your article I disagreed with. If one partner does not want the marriage to work, I think the odds are much less than 50%. :(

I think, as Christians, we really need to work at the preventative part of this. Catching things before they get so out of hand is definitely easier.

 

At 6:30 PM , OpenID dalrock said…

Hi Sheila,

Sorry for being AWOL on this discussion after my initial post. This is the most difficult topic I have written about, and at times I find it mentally and emotionally exhausting.

I think you are right on the approach to take when a couple is going to divorce. This is very different than what I was thinking, but you make a very strong case. If the people divorcing frivolously admitted to themselves that this was the case, they wouldn't be doing it. So you have to start somewhere else. I'm sold on that.

What still concerns me though is that there is a larger culture war that the church as an institution and Christians in general have shown very little interest in. Divorce is being sold as empowering and fun (mostly to women) by our media, and the silence from Christians is deafening. There are at least two cable channels dedicated to glorifying divorce, and perhaps even worse fantasies of widowhood. When I call this out on my blog, the response from women is almost unanimous that this is some divine right of being a woman. The irony being that as you mention divorce tends to be awful for all parties, including the women who initiate them.

The AARP did a study a while back on late life divorce. the vast majority of the divorces they looked at happened when the people they surveyed were in their 40s. What they found was that while most of the divorces were initiated by women, the women were the most harmed by it. The media took this and spun it as "empowering" and "an exciting new trend". Who knows how many women decided to dynamite their families based on this nonsense.

 

At 7:57 AM , Blogger Llama Momma said…

One of my closest friends is going through a painful divorce.

One of the important things to remember, I think, is that the average person isn't necessarily "counseling" the couple. As a friend, just showing up and listening, rather than giving advice, is so important.

One of the things I'm seeing through my friends experience is how quick people are to chime in with advice, and they've got NO IDEA what she's been living with for the last three years and beyond. (3 years ago is when they separated for the first time.)

Affairs, alcoholism...people have NO IDEA. And my friend, being the amazing Christian woman that she is, has no desire to throw her husband under the bus. She tells people that she is deeply saddened by the ending of her marriage, and to please pray for their boys...but it's absolutely over.

And they go on and on with their "advice."

Frankly, the details aren't everyone's business. We live in a fallen world where people make selfish, sinful choices that impact others. The last thing someone going through a divorce needs is more guilt or blame.

Just my two cents.

 

At 5:02 PM , Blogger Tina said…

Such a great and helpful article. I would be interested in a post in regard to a couple who are not Christian. Thank you for your blog and all your wonderful advice.

 

At 7:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Hi,

I wish I could keep this private, most marriages I know are in pain. I am in mine, I tell close friend we have an amazing marriage and a challenging relationship. I will never ever leave me wife. And this is because I am a Christian, I am being conformed to the image of Christ and my wife or my marriage is not my cross to bare. My cross to bare and those around me is my selfishness and what I have not learned how to receive by faith the identity of Christ and to love others more than myself.I love hearing stories in church about great couples who have great marriages but I also want to hear more stories about pain and heartache. The church in general is terrible in talking about the pain and trauma of living and really has much to grow in and creating a community to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.

 
Post a Comment
<< Home
 


About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

See my complete profile

Follow This Blog:

 Subscribe to To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Follow on Twitter:
Follow on Facebook:


Important Links
Previous Posts


Categories
Popular Archived Posts
Archives
Christian Blogs
Mom Blogs
Marriage/Intimacy Blogs
Blogs For Younger/Not Yet Married Readers
Housework Blogs
Cooking/Homemaking Blogs
Writing Links
Credits
Blog Design by Christi Gifford www.ArtDesignsbyChristi.com

Images from www.istockphoto.com

Related Posts with Thumbnails