Can someone explain this to me, please? I have had more than a few women tell me, when asked about their family status…..Children? “Yes.” Marital status? “Single” Divorced? “No. I don’t believe in divorce.”
Okay. In our culture today one can “believe” in having children outside of marriage and having as many intimate paramours as one cares to have, but not marriage because one “doesn’t believe in divorce.” It seems to me the emphasis is on the wrong thing in this scenario. Why not focus on making commitments and making marriages work instead of avoiding marriage because of the risk it may end in divorce, in which one does not believe?
Marriage does not always equal divorce. It is sad when marriage has come to be so inextricably associated with divorce when a relationship fails to meet expectations that people will not commit to the former because of their belief in the inevitability of the latter. While there are no guarantees in life (except the proverbial fact of death and taxes and, of course, the guarantee of our salvation by faith in Jesus Christ!), it seems to me that there should be room for the resiliency of true love and the redemptive work of God in our marriages.
A young man came to me a few years ago and asked for advice in his marriage. Some behavior on his part was problematic for his wife who had two prior marriages that ended in divorce (as they should have, due to the spouses’ unrepentant and continuing abuse.) This young man was drinking more than just a little and his size and behavior intimidated and scared her when he was drunk. She had visions of divorce number three looming and was seeking counseling on her own.
When he came to me, I asked him did he love her. His response was, “I love her so much I would die for her.”
I asked him, “Tell me what that would look like, you dying for her because of your love.”
He replied, “If we were victims of a home invasion I’d put myself in front of her and take a bullet for her.”
“Okay,” I said, “how realistic is that?”
“Give me another example,” I requested.
“If our car went over a bridge abutment and went in the water, I’d make sure she was out and safe first.”
“Okay, maybe a little more realistic, but not really a likely event,” I said, “unless, of course, you are driving drunk. Now, let me understand this, you love her so much you are willing to die for her. Is that right?”
“Good, because that is exactly what you are required to do…….die to your own selfish desires and self-serving interests and habits every single day. Marriage requires sacrifice for the sake of the best interest of our spouses everyday. If your drinking causes your wife to fear that you will act in ways that have been a problem in marriage for her in the past, even if you do not believe that you have a problem, then her security emotionally and physically in this marriage is more important than you enjoying a few beers after work with the guys.”
I knew this young man’s family and they, too, had concerns about his drinking, but he was clearly in denial about it and his marriage had become a struggle over who was “right” and who had the “rights”. Both of them had been raised in Christian homes and know the Lord but they had not yet begun actually putting their Christian faith to work daily as part of their journey in marriage. Once they started Christian marriage counseling at their church, he began to make changes. He joined a men’s group at church for accountability. They remained married, are reportedly doing well, appear to be happy, and have started their family. .
Marriage tends to be one adjustment after another for many years as each spouse grows and becomes more fully who God intends and as they raise children and go through various life stages and trials. It doesn’t have to be a matter of growing apart. As each person commits to the other and as each commits to growing individually and together in Christ, the direction will be toward one another, not away.