I hate divorce. Whenever I hear of someone I know breaking up, it wrecks me. Even if it is the friend of a friend of a friend and their spouse. I weep a little – okay, if we are honest – sometimes I weep a lot. And it happens so often that it makes me feel sick. Why are people breaking up SO much? Just…why?
I am no expert on this topic, because I have a happy marriage. I honestly do, and thank God every day for giving me a guy who loves me and who I love. Giving me a guy who accepts life as it comes (oh, does it ever come some days!) and who rolls with the unexpected. For giving me a guy who is faithful to Him and to me.
But – while we are happy, so many other people aren’t. A lot of people I know are walking into marriage thinking it’s not permanent. Thinking that they aren’t really marrying their one true love. Thinking if things go wrong, they can easily get out of it. And the truth is, they can. It doesn’t take much to legally dissolve a marriage. In fact, friends of mine who were married last year had to actually fight with the bank to allow them a joint account – they now strongly dissuade couples from joining their assets because divorce rate is so high. And not just in secular circles, either. In churches, y’all. Christian homes.
Why!? I mean, I have to say as much as I hate divorce, God hates it more. Malachi 2:16 clearly states that. But the Bible goes on to talk about the serious nature of marriage as well. You know that popular marriage vow “what God has joined together, let man not separate?” Matthew 19:6 – it is actually in Scripture. God knows it will happen, and as such there are Old Testament laws in Deuteronomy to protect divorced couples, especially women. But just because He expects our sinful nature to allows us to divorce, He really doesn’t like it when it happens. And I am sure He wants us to fight for our marriages.
And let’s face it. People have stopped fighting.
Many times when I hear of yet another couple splitting up, I look at my husband and I say “how does this even happen?!” I guess I already know the answers…
1. It Happens Quicker Than You’d Think – I remember someone telling me that they almost had an affair with someone else, even though they loved their husband. Sitting over coffee, my heart broke for this woman as she confessed to dates with a colleague. Her husband was so busy with work that he travelled often, and he was often not home. She felt left out a lot and wasn’t feeling special. One day when she was at work there was a luncheon scheduled and only she and this other man showed up. The food was there, so they stayed and ate lunch and conversed. They laughed a lot – something she missed doing with her husband. A few days later, he casually asked her if she wanted to take her coffee break with him as he was on his way to the kitchen. Thinking nothing of it, she went along. And so it continued over the next few weeks – coffee break and lunch breaks alone with another man who was not her husband. It didn’t seem like something she shouldn’t be doing. Until one day he asked her if she wanted to go out with him for dinner after work. Her husband was away so she agreed. It wasn’t until she was at home that it hit her. She was in her walk in closet looking for something to wear when she spotted one of her husband’s ties had fallen into the pair of shoes she was planning on wearing. Shoes she only wore when she went out on a date with her husband – somewhere fancy. She said it was as if alarm bells sounded in her head. She sank to the floor and sobbed. Had she ruined everything for a few meals and a few laughs?
Thankfully, no. She called her husband immediately and told him to come straight home – it was an emergency. He dropped all his appointments and flew home that evening. She confessed everything and wept bitterly in his arms. They worked it out together. The important marital lesson that came out of this was this, as he would tell me later: my wife should not be less important than my career. He later told me, “my wife felt like I didn’t notice her anymore. She felt like I didn’t make her feel special. I was running from one meeting to the next and treating her like my personal assistant.” It happens. It’s easy to happen when you are soaring through life and getting ahead.
Pay attention to your spouse. Don’t forget to make them feel special. They need you and you need them.
2. You are NOT Safe – This one hits harder for me. You see, I have an amazing husband who thinks I am beautiful. Honestly? I have no idea what he sees in me! I mean, if you follow my blog than you know I am more than just a little overweight. I am “morbidly obese.” It’s not attractive, y’all. Not even a little bit. I always figured my husband must be a little bit deranged, or perhaps blinded by love to think I am beautiful. So I thought to myself, no worries at all, I will never fall into this trap because no one else will think I am attractive. Right? No. WRONG. Something I failed to see is that there would be men out there who would see my heart, too. I kind of wear it on my sleeve, don’t I? There would be men out there who would notice me because my personality is even bigger than my body. Seriously. If you know me, you know this is true. One day, I realized that yes, this could make me unsafe.
It all happened when I was talking to a friend of mine from school – way back in the day. My little baby boy was playing in the play park at the mall and my husband was off getting his hair cut. The play area in the mall was located next to the bathrooms, so he passed by it and noticed me. He came over to talk to me right away. It had been a few years since he had seen me – and this was before Facebook connected everyone and their dog. We made small talk for awhile, and shortly before my husband returned he said, “I am sorry you are married already. I mean, you might not have married me any way, but I had – no have – this huge crush on you. You are the triple threat – smart, funny, and beautiful.” I laughed it off in the moment, but I was relieved when my husband returned. I introduced them to each other and it wasn’t long before he was off again. But in that moment, it was more than just those words. It was the look in his eyes. It made me wake up and realize that I wasn’t safe after all.
Sometimes, as the days get long and my body gets worse, I think the same thing. But here and there people come into my life, innocently. It always starts that way – but then sometimes a look or a comment makes me feel uncomfortable. Perhaps I read more into than I should, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Because it reminds me I always need to be on guard to protect myself from situations I don’t need to be in.
3. Be Careful When Life Gets In The Way – One of the common reasons for divorce is “we just didn’t love each other anymore.” THAT SHOULD NOT BE A REASON. I understand that life gets busy – it’s one of things that is so tragic about this world. You get married and you imagine what your life will be like together. Your honeymoon is a dream. Then you have a baby and that’s a dream, too. But then those babies – they kind of take over your life. They require a lot of time and attention. And then they grow – and you get even busier. Playdates, library trips, preschool programs. School starts and it all just seems to fly by – but then there are sports teams, dance practice, swimming lessons. At the end of the day after you have been running the kids from one extra curricular activity to the next, you just want to sit in front of the television and veg for awhile. You don’t want to talk to your spouse. You don’t want to talk about things that matter because it is exhausting, and let’s face it, you are already exhausted. You think about how wonderful it would be to escape together – take a little second honeymoon – but life is so busy you just don’t have the time. And then, you just don’t see each other any more. You keep busy with work, or with hobbies and it just seems like you become each other’s roommate.
Don’t let that happen. Date each other – do it often. Block it off in your calendar if you have to. I get that it is harder to do with small children in the house, and sometimes babysitters are not affordable. But there are tons of great ideas for at home date nights floating around on the internet. Don’t give up on each other.
4. It’s Worth The Work – This is a popular one, too. “It just isn’t worth it anymore.” It probably stems from being so tired from your busy life that you think it isn’t worth it. But you know what? Marriage does take work. Every day. It is always a little bit of give and take. It’s always compromise. And marriage is ALWAYS worth it. Your spouse is always worth it. Sometimes you need to look back to the days when you first met and when you were dating. Remember how you felt when you were first falling in love? Grab that feeling. Explore that feeling a little – your spouse is still the same person you fell in love with all those years ago. They aren’t going to be perfect. But if you are in a committed relationship, then you are committed to not look for perfection in someone else.
Want to know a little secret about a good marriage? Your spouse gets even better over the years. My husband is not the man I married. I desperately loved him then – I could not wait to be his wife. But that guy back then had some flaws that he worked out. No, that we worked out together. I am sure that I am the same. I know I had some flaws too (like those anger issues – just ask him about that mirror I threw at him in our first year of marriage. Phew! But that is another story for another day!) But I will tell you my husband is more mature, more responsible, more loving, more kind, more gentle, more wise and more godly than he was when we got married 12 years ago. So much better. And I love him more.
Did you catch that? 12 years. We have been married for 12 years. It shouldn’t seem like a huge milestone. BUT IT IS. Right now? In this day and age – 12 years is amazing. So many people don’t make it to five years, let alone ten.
Just…try. Fight. Work on it. Love each other deeply. Don’t be afraid to get hurt – and apologize when you hurt each other. Make love, and lots of it. (Yeah, I said it!) Work through the hard things together. Celebrate when good things happen. Cry together when bad things happen. Pray a lot. God is right there with you in the middle of it all. He’s not distant. He’s fighting along side you. He is there when you are celebrating. He is there when you are crying. He is there when you are feeling desperate. He knows. We had our wedding rings engraved – and inside of my husband’s ring it says “Marriage takes three. God, and you, and me.” It really and truly does.
If you have been divorced, this is not meant to make you feel ashamed. This is not meant to make you feel broken. This is meant to encourage you in your current marriage – or to give you hope for a future one.
Fight for love. Love each other. And don’t give up. Marriage is not something you should take lightly. It really and truly is a gift. Don’t throw it away! Cherish it. It’s sacred.