When they walked into the conference room at Orchard Church in Brighton, CO - I could feel the presence of the enemy, an aura of darkness, if you will.
“This is our last stop,” they announced. “When we leave here it’s off to the attorney’s.”
They didn’t say “if we can’t find a solution.” They didn’t say “unless we work things out.” Just, here, then there. Not a lot to work with. I looked at my wife and she looked at me and, as if a common decision was made, we reached for our bibles.
We’ve been doing this for a while now. Marriage counseling that is. I’m the “trained,” counselor and my wife, Cindie, is a natural and empathetic counselor with skills she doesn’t even realize she has. We’ve worked with dozens of couples and, through us, the Holy Spirit has a pretty high batting average. I don’t know of a couple who went on to divorce after we brought the principles of a Godly marriage to them. Not that there might not be some. I’ve just never been made aware of any. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
The overwhelming and obvious thing about each and every couple we encounter is they haven’t approached marriage as a covenant relationship with God and they haven’t made a consistent effort to build their marriage on Biblical principles.
So what are the main reasons for divorce? Statistically they are:
- Commitment. Survey results indicated that the most common major contributing factor to divorce reported by participants was lack of commitment, reported by 75% of individuals and by at least one person in 94.4% of couples.
- Infidelity. One or the other and often as not, both.
- Conflict and arguing. Part and parcel with all of the other reasons.
- Marrying too young.
- Financial problems. Depending on the survey, this is often number 2.
- Substance abuse. One or the other and often both.
- Domestic violence. And No, it’s not always the man.
Now the question remains, is divorce where you go when nothing else works?
Let’s consider what constitutes “nothing.” or everything, if you will. You say you’ve tried everything. Counseling, both secular and faith based. You’ve gone to work shops and online meetings. You’ve listened to the “experts,” on video and in person. You’ve sat and talked, and talked, and talked. You’ve stopped drinking, taking drugs and “seeing,” that other woman/man. You haven’t raised your voice or your fist in over a month. Still, it’s not working. What now?
In his book, 50 Powerful Principles for Clear and Effective Thinking, Brandon Royal says, “If two people pursue individual and mutually contradictory goals within a single partnership, the likelihood of “divorce,” is imminent. When two people both contribute substantially to a growing relationship, “romance,” can flourish.” He was speaking of both marriage and business relationships, but the truth is evident in his words.
One by one, let’s consider the problems.
When we get married, we stand before the pastor with our prospective mate and say, “I will,” to all of the promises, but do we really intend to keep them? For richer and for poorer. In sickness and in health. Forsaking all others. Till death us do part.
Did you even think about a third party standing with you? Marriage is a “Covenant Relationship” between a man, a woman and their God. A trinity, if you will, meant to mirror the trinity of God, the father, God, the Son and God, the Holy Spirit. When two parties make a covenant in the Bible, they are joined together and identified with each other. They may exchange coats (1 Sa 18:3–4), have a commemorative meal (Ex 24:11), and erect a long-lasting memorial to their promise (Gn 31:46).
At every covenant’s core, there is a change in relationship. In marriage, we give over our old selves to form something entirely new. (Gn 2:24) “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
You committed to your spouse by covenant which is permanent and never to be broken! You did not sign a contract or make a promise or swear an oath. The two of you entered into something much stronger than all of those combined. God himself is joined with you in your covenant!
If you maintain that you are a committed Christian, how then can you walk away from a commitment to your spouse or your God? A commitment God sanctified? A commitment as much to God as it is to your spouse. When you think about it in those terms, the seriousness of even contemplating divorce becomes evident.
“Forsaking all others.” “Thou shall not commit adultery.” How many ways does God need to say it? The grass on the other side of the fence is NOT greener. It’s just different grass with its own set of problems. It has all the weeds, thistles and burrs as the grass on your side of the fence and God has not sanctified it!!!
Conflict and arguing
It happens and it’s normal! As long as two people share the same living arrangement, there will be conflict and argument. The key is to fight fair. Instead of automatically reacting negatively to what your spouse says, try to “get behind their eyes.”
Try to see the world through their reality instead of the one you think they should have.
Try saying, “This is what I heard you say. Is that really what you meant?” Or begin a conversation with, “You know how much I love you but I really need to talk to you about something that’s bothering me.”
Words can be like sharp knives. When we use them against the person we love, they cut deeply and, worst of all, even after they are long gone, the scar remains to remind us of how much they hurt. Try not to use words as weapons. Use them for what they were intended for; loving communication and understanding.
Marrying too young
When you’ve married very young, often, as you age, one or the other of you will feel cheated out of the opportunity to "sow some wild oats". What started out as love can turn bitter and a source of regret. That’s hard to overcome if you don’t recognize the problem and become “intentional in your love.” Even though you don’t FEEL the love you once had for your spouse, you know in your head that the love is still there and that’s NORMAL!
Almost all married couples go through that. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love your mate anymore. It simply means that you need to be “intentional” in order to get the feeling back and fall in love with them all over again.
It is an act of will.
An intentional decision on your part to do so.
Jesus didn’t say you could pack up and leave based on your “feelings”. He said marriage is a “covenant relationship” that has to be honored and “As I have loved you, love one another.” He told us that love was a choice we could make; a decision that rested with us. As Christians we must be intentional with our love and not necessarily base it on our feelings because the enemy can use our feelings to deceive us. After all, he hates marriage!
Dave Ramsey’s "Financial Peace University" is offered widely and is invaluable in curing this issue.
Ask yourself this question. A hundred years from now will anyone know what kind of house you lived in or what kind of car you drove or how big your bank account was? Yet the world may be different because later generations in your family based their relationships on YOUR story. Your relationship with your spouse has more impact on your children, relatives, and acquaintances than any material assets you might acquire. Besides that, you can’t take it with you! So get your financial house in order!
AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), SAMHSA 1-800-662-4357. Help is available! Until you overcome the addictions that plague you, your marriage will suffer. One of the few “good,” reasons for divorce is when one party is bent on self-destruction and refuses to halt and change. Substance abuse = self-destruction. Please get help. God can do miracles with a willing heart.
There is never a good reason for a spouse to instigate violence of any kind on their husband or wife! NEVER! God does not expect us to suffer this kind of abuse. I recommend that a spouse leave or lockout their spouse when physical violence is present. The offending spouse must then agree to submit and complete anger management and/or individual counseling. Only then, can marriage counseling begin to recreate your marriage the way God intended.
In each of these circumstances, there is a common thread. The ignorance and/or refusal by one or both parties to live, act, and love in accordance with God’s holy ordinance.
If you live a Christian and godly marriage, your chances of having a successful marriage are 100%. If you live any other way, you are about 66% liable to divorce and you will never achieve the intimacy God intended in marriage. That’s two out of every three marriages ending in divorce. Simply learning God’s design for a successful marriage from the Bible will change your world and your joy in ways you never imagined!!! Divorce does not have to be the final solution.
Orchard Church helps people find and follow Jesus in Brighton, Thornton, Commerce City and the northeast Denver, CO metro area.