Thinking About Divorce!
You could take the title of this pamphlet one of two ways: First, you could think in terms of research or study or secondly, you may be thinking about getting a divorce. Actually, we will address both, but our focus is on the latter, those who are thinking about getting a divorce. Are you really considering a divorce? Do you think about it often? Be honest with yourself. It’s just you and this little computer monitor. No one is around. No one knows that you looking at this article or why. If I could produce evidence that would support the conclusion that 8 out of 10 divorces produce even greater unhappiness, would you be open to the truth? Would it hurt you to consider what I have to say in this essay? You can read this article in an hour and what is that compared to a lifetime of frustration and unhappiness? Would it comfort you to know that most married people consider divorce at some point in their marriage and that what you are experiencing right now is not uncommon? Does it shock you to know that the divorce rate is as high among professing Christians as it is among those who do not profess Christ as Savior? I must warn you that what I have to say is blunt and at times graphic. It is a desperate attempt to stir your mind, provoke you to thought. It may even be disturbing in places. I am convinced that the reason 8 out of 10 divorced persons eventually become dissatisfied with their new spouse is that they did not think the process through. Marriage should not be entered into lightly. It is a serious thing to make a vow, but it’s even more serious to break one. Here are some things to consider:
- If you are a Christian, how will this affect your relationship with Christ and your testimony before the world?
- How will it affect your children, if there are children involved?
- Whose interest are you putting first? Are you giving consideration to others and how divorce would affect them?
- If you decide to bail out of your current marriage because of a lack of commitment, what will keep you in the second or third, etc.?
- What will be important to you when you reach age 65?
- Do you realize that divorce is an unpardonable sin? Not with Christ, not with me, but with your children. They will continue to love you, but they will never forgive you. Can you live with that?
- Divorce destroys homes: if you make this step, you will most likely never be able to return. It will destroy your family unit and all the King’s horses and all the King’s men will not be able to put it together again.
- Are you willing to sacrifice your children’s happiness for the sake of your own?
I am a pastor with 42 years of experience. I am not a marriage counselor. As a matter of fact, I do as little counseling as possible. First of all, I do not have adequate training in the field of counseling; secondly, I am a poor listener and thirdly, I am too prone to give advice. Over the years, I have discovered that most of my advice is incorrect. The problem is: I am quick to jump to a conclusion based on false data. An unappreciated spouse, usually the wife, comes in to talk with me and I quickly identify with her emotional pain and, of course, I want to help because I am concerned about her need. There are however, some pit falls that have to be considered. Do I know the truth about the situation or do I know what she chose to reveal to me, which may or may not be totally accurate? It is human nature to tell things in our favor? Seldom do we confess anything that makes ourselves look bad. We accuse, we excuse but we seldom come clean with an honest confession. When it comes to the matter of divorce, I do very little counseling for two reasons. Divorce is a very complicated and sticky issue. If a pastor tries to counsel, he inevitable gets caught in the middle and both parties end up getting angry with you and they may even try to put the blame on you. If possible, I had rather be a friend to both and a counselor to neither. Secondly, I have to preach on Sunday and if I am in counseling with a couple, I have to be extra careful about my illustrations. I cannot break confidentiality and I don’t want to use a story that they think refers to them. Since I prefer to be free to denounce divorce by stating the truth, it is better for me not to be in counseling. The second reason is that I have very little training in that area and I prefer to refer them to a trained counselor.
The major problem from my perspective is that people do not seek help in time. I can refer them to some very good counselors, but by the time one or the other speaks to me about the problem, the other has already made a commitment to go through with the divorce. In the 20 years, it has been men coming to me for help because their wives were leaving them. Sometimes they asked me to speak to the woman, to plead their case before her and I have obliged. It puts me in a precarious situation, but I have been successful on a couple of occasions. Success in this area is rare, most of the time my input has little or no bearing. As a matter of fact, most people who are seeking a divorce have made up their mind and they really don’t want to hear what I have to say. Out of desperation, I decided to write this pamphlet. Perhaps you will sit down in a quiet place and consider what I have to say prayerfully. You may choose to disregard everything I say, but if you will read this book and keep it for evidence, I guarentee that someday you will agree. Nothing will convince you any faster than for you to go through with your intended divorce. Chances are, you are looking at divorce as a solution to your unhappiness. Would it make a difference if I could convince you that divorce will complicate your life even more and may result in even greater unhappiness?
Let’s Face The Facts
Adrian Rogers once said, “When the good ship matrimony left the port for the open sea, there were ten couples aboard. As soon as the first storm hit, one couple jumped ship. Before the cruise was over six out of ten couples had jumped ship and two couples had lashed themselves to the mast to keep from jumping. They continued on the voyage of marriage for moral reasons or for the sake of the kids. This means that only two out of ten couples returning to port were happy with their spouse.” You can argue with the numbers if you like, but the truth is, there are no perfect marriages and there are very few happy marriages. I heard someone say the other day that finances was the number one cause of divorce. I asked him where he got his data and he could not tell me. Folks, finances are not the number one problem. Unhappiness is the number one problem and sometimes we blame it on finances. If you are considering divorce, chances are–you are unhappy with your spouse. Let’s be honest, you are dissatisfied with your mate. When a person gets dissatisfied with their mate, they set them up for failure. We make it impossible for them to please us. You want out of the marriage, but you don’t want to be the bad guy. Without realizing what you are doing, you are operating on a faulty paradigm. You are viewing divorce as a “solution” when it’s just the opposite. Obviously, there are exceptions to the rule, but I bet you are not one of them. Are you being physically abused? Physical abuse is hard to cover: Generally, your physician, your neighbors, or your family will pick up on physical abuse. I don’t necessarily recommend divorce for this problem, but I do think separation may be necessary because your spouse needs help. I would never send a wife or child back to a home where they were going to be beaten. In all my years as a pastor, that is one problem that I have not had to deal with. I am not saying that it does not happen, but I am saying that in my experience, it is very rare. I have had women tell me that they were being abused, but I they never convinced me that it was true. They were simply rationalizing. I have even had women tell me that their husband was gay, but again it was their way of dealing with the guilt. People will try to convince you of all sorts of things just to get your approval. I stand on my original paradigm: divorce stems from unhappiness and unhappiness from unmet needs. It is seldom the solution to anything and I am very hesitant about giving it my approval.
A Biblical Solution To The Problem
Would you agree that your basic problem is unhappiness? Your marriage is unfulfilling and you are thinking about jumping ship. Perhaps you are not being loved the way you desire to be loved. Maybe your heart craves intimacy, but your spouse is not capable of intimacy. Could it be that your mate constantly puts you down? Instead of affirming you, they find it difficult, if not impossible, to praise you, even in private. The result is that you are lonely and vulnerable. You feel used and abused. Welcome to the GOOD SHIP MATRIMONY, remember eight out of ten couples face similiar problems. Can a marriage like this survive? The answer is yes, imfactically! Not only can it survive, it can thrive.
Is It Wrong To Desire Happiness?
It is not wrong to desire happiness, to the contrary is very moral. Many people believe, and I happen to be one of them, that Jesus was a very happy man with a cunning sense of humor. He practically mocked the Pharisees. He spoke to them in satire and even used redicule at times. Jesus was no wet blanket. Do you think that God the Father is miserable? Of course not: He is happy and He wants you to be happy, but you must follow His directions in order to be happy. There are some other things that you must cultivate before you can be happy. God’s primary objective for you is not your happiness, but your holiness. The gospel truth is that by seeking His holiness you will find happiness. If you aim for happiness you will not get it. You cannot make happiness your primary goal. Make obedience to Jesus your primary goal and trust Him to make you happy. He will do it, I guarantee you but you must trust Him. Right now you are tempted to follow your feelings and that is not good: trust Christ, not your heart.
Practical Problems That Cause Unhappiness
There is a wonderful verse of scripture in Isaiah 30:18, “The Lord longs to be gracious to you…He waits on high to have compassion on you”. This word ‘gracious’ means to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior. For example: Jesus was ‘gracious’ to His disciples at the Last Supper by stooping to wash their feet. What a marvelous truth! The Lord longs to show kindness to you. Perhaps you feel trapped in a one sided relationship. You have what I call a 50/50 marriage. You give 50% and your spouse takes 50%. It is a humorous way of saying that you are doing all the giving. This is not a healthy situation and you are probably suffering from burn out. In a happy healthy marriage, there is mutual giving. Neither spouse dominates the other. A person who attempts to dominate their spouse is either ignorant or insecure. They may get their way all of the time, but they will destroy the relationship in doing so. It is a very high price to pay just to have your way. A dominating spouse is certainly a problem. A second problem that I see very often is an unappreciated spouse. In the past, this has generally been the wife, but it can be the husband as well. I know that days are very special to my wife. Valentines Day and Anniversaries are very important to her. I try to do something special for her on special days. I have known her to keep a rose for weeks. My gifts are usually small and inexpensive, but she cherishes them as if they were costly. Days and events are important to women whereas men could care less. Men are just not into cards, gifts, etc. Men are different; we prefer praise instead of special days and sex instead of gifts. I know it sounds crude, but that’s the way it is. I heard Dr. Neal Anderson say “the average male has some sex related thought ever 7 minutes”. If you think that is an exaggeration, get a man to be honest with you. Whether you are male or female, you can feel taken for granted in marriage. You can feel unloved and unappreciated. It’s like the story of the man who was a certified jerk. He always put himself before his wife. He never thought of her on special days. He was fully convinced that she had over achieved in marriage. What a lucky girl she was. One day at work, he accidentally overheard a co-worker taking about his marriage. It was falling apart because he had been insensitive to his wife’s needs. Suddenly the jerk realized what a fool he had been. He checked out of work early, rushed by the florist and bought a dozen red roses. He got home two hours early with a bouquet of roses. He rang the front door bell with roses in hand. His wife came to the door, opened it and with a look of shock she exclaimed. “First, I had a flat on the way back from dropping the kids off at school, then the neighbors dog got into the garbage before the garbage men could pick it up, then the washing machine broke and now you have come home drunk.” What was she to think? Her husband had never appreciated her. He had taken her for granted for years. This may not be the number one problem in marriages today, but it is a problem.
How Does Divorce Affect Children?
Truth and Consequences
If by God’s gracious providence, you are reading this pamphlet and you are giving heavy consideration to divorce. It could be that you really need to read this chapter. Do you have children? This is a very important issue. How will your decision affect them? Would a divorce produce temporary side affects or would it create life long emotional scars? You must give this question some thought.
The Blame Problem
For some reason, children seem to blame themselves when their parents separate. Someone has suggested that children blame themselves because they idolize their parents. For them to blame their parents is to destroy their security system. They trust their parents more than anyone and they believe in them. To accept that one or both parents are to blame is too much for them to process and besides, it would shatter their image of their parent who is a type of “Super Hero” to them. One thing I know, children do tend to blame themselves and a divorce puts an unbelievable amount of guilt on a child. As the child grows older the blame will be shifted. They will reach a point when they will blame their parents. To hope that your child will someday understand is unrealistic; it is not going to happen. You may feel that your particular case is unique and that your children are exceptional, but you are only decieving yourself. This form of thinking is called “rationalization” and it is the most subtile form of deception. You are merely trying to convince yourself that what you wish to be true is actually true when in reality it is not. Your kids are going to eventually blame you and it will be for the rest of your life. Can you live with this blame? You must give this question prayerful consideration.
The Relationship Problem
When there is a third party and I’m not referring to Jesus, but to that significant other that you have become infatuated with, your prayer or dream is that once your children get to know them, that they will accept them as a “step” mom or dad. Guess what? It is not going to happen. Some divorced parents would argue this point, but that is because they are completely out of touch with their children. They have a casual relationship with their own kids and the children, out of courtesy, have kept their feeling to themselves. Although they are being nice, I guarentee you, they have not accepted the “Step”. The “Step” is an intruder to them, someone who does not belong and sooner or later, the child’s resentment will surface. A child is never threatened when their mom loves their dad or vice versa, but when the sacred marriage vows are broken and the “intruder” steps in, the children are threatened. It doesn’t matter how nice the “Step Mom or Dad are. They can be wonderful people with good intentions. The child’s rationale is that “my dad or mom, as the case may be, loves you more than me”. Think about it from the child’s point of view. Every boy wants to spend time with his dad, but in the case of divorce, the son doesn’t live with his dad anymore, but the “Step Mom” does and she is getting all or most of Dad’s quality time than the child. Children have a real problem at this point and eventually they reach the conclusion that they are not as valued as the new step mom or dad. Sooner or later they realize that you had a choice between their happiness and your happiness and you choose yours. Every child wants to be loved sacrificially because they know this is the way a parent should love a child. Something is definitely wrong when the parents put his or her needs above the child. Even a child can sense that something is not right when this happens.
The Problem Of Immaturity
Sex Is Serious Business. The last time I checked, children were concieved as a result of a man and woman having sex. The moral of the story is…don’t have sex until you are married and ready to have children. No one should even consider having sex outside of marriage for this very reason. Sex is for the mature and the married. A person should never engage in sex until they become responsible. Once you become a parent, your rights and privileges become secondary. A responsible parent always puts the child’s needs first. One of the most patented lines I hear is…”I’m just not happy”. I have even had them tell me, “I’m not happy and I think God wants me to be happy.” I always respond the same way…”show me that verse”. There is no verse of scripture that reads, “Be ye happy for I the Lord am happy”. It reads, “Be ye holy, for I the Lord am Holy”. God’s greatest concern for you is holiness or character. You will never get either without some adversity. If you are having difficulty in your marriage; it may be for a reason. The Lord may be trying to teach you something. Stay where you are and learn what you can. It’s no time to be jumping ship. It is a time to dig in and allow God to work in your life to make your marriage better. Don’t cop out on being a parent. Your problems can most likely be resolved if you are willing to put forth some effort. Make some sacrifices if necessary but be willing to do whatever it takes to resolve the problem. Please give your children consideration, put their needs first. When you get old and gray, you will not regret it.
The Problem Of Frustration
Children whose parents are divorced have lots of adjustments to make. Sometimes it involves moving, but it always involves separation. Somebody is missing at the supper table, either daddy or mother. That, in itself, is traumatic for a child. But there are other adjustments to be made. The child is generally forced to make uncomfortable choices such as “do you want to live with your daddy or with your mother?” The child’s answer is “yes” to both and his or her problem would be solved by the reconciliation of the estranged parents who, by this time, are in the process of despising each other. Can you imagine how frustrating this is to a child? Where is home to the child of a divorced couple? Is it with mom during the week or dad on the weekend? I grew up with three grandparents, two on Mother’s side and one on Daddy’s side. My grandfather on my father’s side was killed in an accident when my father was only 16 years old so I never knew my granddaddy Bailey. Normally, we have four grandparents, two on either side, but kids today have six and eight and some cases even more. Plus, there is the problem of “Step Brothers” and “Step Sisters”. What about a child who sees their parent (Mom or Dad) one day a week and then they have to share that time with with a step? All of these things are frustrating to the child because he or she can do nothing to change the situation: to them everything is out of control. This results in deep frustration, which manifests itself in outbursts of anger or depression. The child becomes a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. One day, he or she is doing great and the next day you get a call from the principle and find out your kid has just beat up another kid for no reason. This frustration can also be seen in the pre-schoolers. I am telling you, the life that these children are being forced to live is neither right nor fair and they know it. It is not natural and they are deeply frustrated because they are helpless.
I am a pastor not a counselor, but I am obligated by my call to help if I can which in my opinion seems to be rare. The major problem is that people often come to me for help after the other party has already committed to the process of divorce. Most often, it is the spouse who wants to save the marriage that comes to me for help. I hear all kinds of confessions and some of them seem to be very honest. The problem is they have two strikes against them when they walk in my door.  Their spouse has already made up their mind that they want out of the marriage.  There is usually a third party by this time and I am not referring to Jesus. Their mate has their heart on someone else. There are rare occasions when the one wanting out comes to me: especially if they have grown up in the church and don’t want their relationship with the church severed. These people ususally rationalize or try to build a case for justifying their pursuit of a divorce. I have had them try to convince me that they were being abused physically or even thier there spouse was gay. I hear one line repeatedly from those who are committed to divorce – “I’m not happy and I think God wants me to be happy”. My first question is: Do you really want to be happy? The second question; do you believe that divorce, getting out of your present marriage, is the way to happiness? I don’t think that there is any doubt that most marriage partners seeking divorce see it as a way of escape from their present unhappiness. Is there any evidence to support this paradigm, this way of thinking?
Let me say up front, there are no perfect marriages. Every wedding ceremony that I have performed included vows, I Joe Blow take thee Jane Doe…for better or for worse, for rich or for poor, in sickness or in health, as long as we both shall live. Every experienced pastor knows that all marriages will be put to the test sooner or later. All couples are going to have overcast and stormy days. The rain of sorrow and disappointment will come, the winds of adversity will blow,a flood of problems can put pressure on every side and even the bottom, but a marriage built on the Rock can withstand the storms. There are no problem free marriages. I’ve seen some great marriages in my lifetime where the couple seemed to be designed for each other, but as I got to know them better, I discovered that they had some issues just like everyone else. Let’s be honest, there is no such thing as a perfect marriage, but some are better than others. Is it wise to bail out of an imperfect marriage, seeking a greater happiness in something that does not exist? Would you consider staying where you are if I could show you that your prospects for happiness are ten times greater if you remain faithful to your vows?
Is it wrong to desire happiness? The answer is no. The Lord Jesus wants you to be happy. There is a wonderful verse in Isaiah 30:18, “the Lord longs to be gracious to you…He waits on high to have compassion on you”. This word “gracious” means to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior. What a marvelous truth: “The Lord longs, He is just waiting to show you His kindness”. So your marriage has problems but does this justify a divorce? Do it justify scaring your children emotionally for the rest of their lives? This is something that needs a lot of thought and meditation.
All marriages have problems. What you are experiencing is very common, but it is a fatal mistake to scrap a marriage simply because there are problems or because you are unhappy. A new spouse will not solve your problems nor will it secure your happiness. It is wishful thinking but it is not reality There is a wonderful passage of scripture in Psalm 37:3-7, “Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He will do it…Rest in the Lord and wait patiently on Him.”
The first step is to trust the Lord and do what is right. The second is to delight yourself in the Lord. Begin by purchasing a good yearly devotional and block out at least 30 minutes per day to spend with Jesus. Take your bible, your devotional guide and a journal of some kind and spend some quality time alone (no phones, no T.V.) with Jesus. He wants to have an intimate relationship with you and the wonderful thing is: He knows all about your problems. He knows that you are attracted to someone other than your spouse – He knows all about your daydreams of night things. You can talk to Him about anything your heart desires because He already knows; He is not going to be shocked by anything you confess. Now the wonderful truth is this – although He knows you inside out, He still loves you. In scripture, this is called “Agape” which means “a divine or supernatural love”. Agape love is unlike all other love. “Phileo” love is to be fond of, have affection for; it is a natural love. It is natural for a father to love his son or daughter. It is natural to love your parents. It is even natural to love those who love you. Whereas “phileo” is governed by natural affection, sentiment and feelings, “agape” is a deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and priority. The Greeks also had a third word for love, it is “eros” from which we get our word erotic. So we have an erotic or sexual kind of love. So we have “phileo” which is a love of the heart that is affectionate and tender and we have “agape” which is s love governed not by the genitals, nor by the heart, but the mind or head. Loving your spouse is not the problem. Your first need is to love the Lord Jesus Christ with all of your heart. He will teach you how to love the way He loves. It is a matter of the will. Are you willing to love Jesus? If the answer is yes, then Praise God, you have taken the first step. As you spend time alone with Him, you will observe your love for Him increasing. You will love Him more each day and He, in turn, will teach you how to love the way He loves, which is by choice and unconditionally. Jesus Christ loves you because He chose to do so before the foundation of the world. He doesn’t love you because you are deserving; He loves you because He has committed Himself to do so. As I said earlier, I keep hearing that financial problems cause 80% of all divorces. I don’t know where these people are getting their statistics, but I don’t believe them, not for a minute. In 42 years of counseling with those who are in the process of divorce, I have never known money to be the key issue, never, not even once. Men get unhappy in marriage because of sex or lack thereof and women become dissatisfied because their husbands are insensitive. There are other issues involved, but I believe these are the top two. A man comes home and finds his wife buried in the T.V. going ape over some Hollywood hunk and then at bedtime, she treats him like a night watchman. What do you expect? This will lead to problems, especially when he discovers at work or somewhere else that he can still be turned on. What about the insensitive husband who never thinks beyond himself? Everything revolves around him. It’s his supper, his den, his T.V., his bed and his woman. Ladies, isn’t it a joy to be in wed-locked to such an insensitive, selfish creature. In his mind, God created you to serve him and keep him happy. Folks this is simply raw reality. Rule number one: never take a spouse for granted. Rule number two–appreciate them often. In many cases, marriages are suffering from burnout.
EROTIC LOVE IS CONDITIONAL
Eros [romantic love] is highly conditional: you cannot take it for granted. It is like a fire. It has to be cared for and nurtured or it will go out. Men can get burned out just as easily as women but for some strange reason, it seems to be mostly women who are burning out these days. Some of them have a root of bitterness, a deep resentment that has been fostered by an unappreciative and insensitive husband. They may feel something like this… “I’ve waited on this slob as long as I’m going to – he can find himself another slave.” A one sided relationship where one serves the other constantly with no appreciation or kindness in return is dangerous. Some have gottem by with it but it is because they were married to very good person who stayed committed to the relationship althought their needs were not being met. It is very risky to assume that your spouse will continue to live in a relationship where needs are not being met.
Generally speaking, we are attracted to a person who is sensitive to our needs. For example: A woman who is married to an egotistical jerk who thinks the world revolves around himsef and that he is God’s gift to women–when she meets a man that is sensitive, kind, gentle, and appreciative; she is bound to be attracted. He always notices her clothes, her perfume or her hair. He listens attentively: He seems to enjoy hearing her talk about herself. When this womans needs for attention and appreciation have not been met at home and she is working side by side with a man who notices her and appreciates her, you have major problems.
Is there any hope for a marriage where the flame of erotic love has dwindled to a flicker or possibly gone out? The answer is yes. Simply follow these biblical steps (1) Trust the Lord and do right, (2) Delight yourself in the Lord Jesus – develop a love relationship with the One Who loves you most, (3) Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him (Psalm 37:7). Remember, it is the Lord Jesus and only He that can give you the real desires [longings] of your heart. Look at verse five: “Trust in Him and He will do it”. You must be patient.
There are two Greek words for patience in the New Testament. Both are used in James 5. The first word is found in verse 7. As a matter of fact, it is used four times in this passage: “Be patient therefore brethren until the coming of the Lord”. The word for patience here is “makrothumeo”, a compound word formed by the combination of two Greek words – “makro”, which means long and “thumeo”, which means passion. Both words are familiar – marathon means long distance and thermostat is the do-hickey that regulates your heat. So this word describes a person that can go a long distance without getting heated up (angry). The other word for patience is in verse 11, “You have heard of the patience of Job”. This passage used to puzzle me because anyone that has studied the book of Job knows that he had a temper. He could get heated in a hurry. The word for patience here is “hupemone”, another compound word. “Hupe” means under and “mone” means stay or abide. So the meaning is clear – “stay under your load or burden”.
Don’t rush ahead of God. Think about Job. He was patient in this sense. He stayed under his burden. His wife was a witch; actually, she was something else, but I’m being nice. Let me illustrate. Job is the richest, most prominent man on earth until began to rain sorrow and adversity. Then the winds of doubt came against Job with all their horrible fury and he despaired of life. He lost everything except his life and his wife. I would assume that the hardest blow was losing all ten of his children in one tornado. If Job was human, he had to question why the Lord took them and spared her. With no money and poor health, she kicked him out and he became homeless. Due to his disease, he lived out in the open, away from people. It was a critical time in Job’s life as he wrestled with his faith and his future. All of his so called friends either abandoned him or passed judgment upon him. His lovely wife encouraged him to commit suicide, “curse God and die”, she said. Wow, wasn’t she a ton of encouragement. She was a real sweetie! I have come to the conclusion that she must have been a looker; a beautiful woman. Why else would Job keep this heifer around? I will tell you why and it was not because she was good looking: I was joking about her looks–Job stayed in his marriage because he was a good man and he wanted to do what was right.
His wife, lovely or not, could have helped Job through his struggle but she choose to play the devil’s advocate. She encouraged him to do what the devil had been trying to get him to do from the start. I heard W. A. Criswell share the story of John Wesley, who was a devoted Christian, songwriter, preacher, and father of the Methodist Church. John was a small man with long hair. He was married to a British woman much larger than himself and she was a brute. She, in her fits of rage, would drag him by the hair of his head. So guys, if you think you have problems, remember Job and John Wesley. I think you have to agree with me that Job did not have a perfect marriage. I don’t have a perfect marriage. My mother and daddy didn’t have a perfect marriage. No one has a perfect marriage but if at all possible, don’t throw in the towel. Be like Job, do what is right.
I kid one of our Senior Adult couples all the time about this very thing: I will never forget the first time I heard them get cross with each other. I did a little jig…I was celebrating the fact that they are like the rest of us. No one has a perfect marriage. Notice what the LORD instructs us to do in Psalm 37– “Be patient, wait upon the LORD: stay under your burden.” Do not focus on your unhappiness, instead focus on what is right, what is best for others. Never allow the focus to be on your personal happiness. Do like Job, stay where you are until God gives you the desires of your heart. Did He come through for Job? You better believe it! He will come through for you as well.
If You are in an Unhappy Marriage
The Biblical steps to victory are (1) Trust in the Lord and do what is right, (2) Delight yourself in the Lord – develop a love relationship with Jesus, and (3) Wait patiently (stay under your burden) until God grants you the desires of your heart.
By now you are may be thinking– it will be impossible for God to give me the desires of my heart because my desire is to be married to someone else’s wife or husband and I know enough about the Lord to know that this is definitely not his will. Once again, your thinking is flawed. If you are a Christian, listen to what the Lord says to you in Isaiah 30:18, “Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you…He waits on high to have compassion on you.” The Lord can and will give you what you desire most, but you must follow His plan. He blesses obedience, not disobedience. If you choose to leave your spouse for another, you will live the remainder of your life under a curse. There is a better way. Notice the very last part of Isaiah 30:18 “How blessed are all those who long for Him”. Let me do a little prying into your mind. Right now, the person that you admire most is not Jesus, am I right? You have fallen in love with someone other than your spouse. Let me ask you a second question. Do you really love this person? Dallas Willard said, “When we truly love someone, we will promote their good for their sake.” Do you want what is best for this person that you claim to love? Now, for the most painful question of all, “are you what this person really needs; are you best for them?” If you are a child of God, you must know that the answer is no. The devil has convinced you that, by divorcing your mate and marrying this person that you love erotically, you will be saving her or him from a bad situation and you will be able to give her/him the happiness that they so desire. You will get two for one – you’ll be a hero and make her/him happy and all at the same time.
LUST AND LOVE
Love is not the same as desire. Erotic love is prone to be highly emotional where as Agape is more an act of the will. When you truely love someone, you desire what is best for them and you separate that from what you want. When we talk about a man and woman falling in love, we are talking about eros and eros always produces an emotional high. Anyone who has ever fallen in love remembers the feelings. I ran into a woman that was in her late 60’s about to marry a man in his 70’s and she was giddy. She was acting as silly as any 16 year old I have ever seen. I am not making fun: I am merely stating the facts. Falling in love at any age will make you feel giddy, elated, happy, excited and full of hope and confidence. When you run into a person that has been married multiple times, chances are very good that they are emotional junkies. They fall in love and experience the emotional high that eros produces and then when they come down from that high, they start searching for a new love. These people have fallen in love with love [eros] and what it produces. Dallas Willard says, “The person who primarily wants the feeling of being loved or being in love is incapable of sustaining a relationship.” They are going to go from one relationship to another but none of their relationships will last. America is litered with children who have parents that cannot sustain a relationship.
What we have here is a person that is driven by their feelings and that is a very dangerous way to live. Jeremiah the prophet said, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” Your feeling come from your heart and your heart is unreliable or untrustworthy. Your heart will convince you that lust is love and unfortunately in today’s culture, few people know the difference between the two. Love constantly falls prey to lust. This is the sympton of the deep sickness that prevades our society.
Friend, I beg you, in the name of Jesus, to seek out at least 10 divorced people. Find out if any of them sought a divorce so they would be free to marry another. Interview them, listen to them. Unless they have just recently divorced, I believe they will tell you the truth. The devil is a liar and your heart will decieve you: do not listen to either [the devil or your heart]. I have known folks who were ready and willing to give their children’s inheritance to their new found love. Some have told me, that they would gladly lay down their life for this person whom they now love. Look, I do not deny that eros is real and that it can produce noble aspirations but you must work through this emotional jungle and the only way to get through it unscaved is to follow the compass of God’s word and will. You cannot trust your heart under any circumstance.
Please read carefully for just a moment. Your heart may be deceiving you. What you feel for this person may be lust, not love. At best it is “eros” which is romantic love between male and female. Would you like to know the truth? Actually, the truth is rather simple –You cannot build a lasting relationship on eros. Eros is a great starter but it lacks the power to comsumate. People get old, their faces wrinkles, their bodies sag and eventually their teeth fall out. Starting a new relationship when you already have a family is not wise. Fast forward to your 65th birthday. Will you have a relationship with your grandkids? What will be important to you as a senior adult? If you think sex is going to be your number one pleasure, you are smoking crack. Think about what it will do to your family to pull out now. Once you break a family up, there is no putting that family together again. All the kings horse and all the kings men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again. Your family will never be the same if you jump ship. True love always wants what is best for the other person: think about what they need long term especially if she is 25 with three kids and your are 50. These kids need a father and she needs a provider. Sometimes what is best for the other person does not include you. Perhaps you are thinking, “this conversation is going nowhere, I want him and he wants me” or vice-versa and you are telling me to wait or to break it off for their sake.
Make A List
Let me ask you to make a list of the desires of your heart. Stop right here: do not read the next line: make a list of your top three desires. Do it now! What was the first thing on your list? Was it your lover? You have children and now they are not your first priority. If you are a Christian, Jesus should have been at the top. Since He is not at the top, your only recourse is to repent and tell Him the truth, which He already knows. Don’t do anything until you get this matter of His Lordship settled. Once it is settled, your highest priority will be to “please Jesus”. You will want to bring glory and honor to His Name and you know that divorcing your mate will not honor Him. Once you get this issue settled, you are on your way to full recovery. As in the case of Job, the Lord is going to bless you and restore you. Once you get your verticle relationship repaired, you can think about the other things on your list. You may have a deep desire to be loved unconditionally. Perhaps your mate has threatened you many times as to what they would do if you for some reason was unfaithful. Maybe you just want an intimate relationship with the opposite sex. These things are normal. God created us with these desires but we cannot rush ahead of Him in fulfilling them. Remember, God has eternity to fulfill His promises to us.
Unless You Are Referring To Jesus…
A New Relationship Is Not The Answer
Right now, there are people in our midst who are full of anger and bitterness. Some have been married several times but they are still unhappy. Most of us have problems that a new romantic encounter is not going to solve. I had a woman ask me to perform a marriage ceremony and she was up to the limit in the State of Alabama which I think is seven and this marriage would make number seven. I refused to perform the ceremony because she would not take any responsibility in the failure of previous six. The point is this, when she said vows, she was just talking, she did not mean a word. If you make a vow for better or for worse then you stay married during the worse. That is where you are right now: you are in the worse but hang in their, it will get better. Don’t sin against the vow you made. Loving your spouse until there is a problem is not true love, is it? Some love until the new wears off; others love until their mate makes a mistake. Some love as long as all their needs are being meet but woe to the woman/man who gets sick or injuried and cannot perform. Folks, this is not the kind of love that your spouse needs.
Eros Can Start: But Cannot Finish
There is nothing wrong with romantic [erotic] love but in the final analysis, it is incomplete. It cannot possibly give you all that you need. Eros is a heart love that can make your heart sick. When man and woman fall into eros, they want to eat each other up, literally and then later [As C.S. Lewis says] they wish they had. Eros is a passionate love of the heart and the heart is the seat of our emotions. Hey, we all want to feel good. When a person is loving in eros, they are loving with their heart but there is something higher. Agape [God’s love, unconditional love] is a head love. It is a love that is driven by commitment. The big problem these days is that folks thing that love is a “feeling” coming from the heart but it is actually a fact that needs to be embedded in yourr head. We have to graduate our romantic love to that of agape, from a love of feelings to a love of commitment. Agape love is rooted in God’s grace and is capable of faithful commitment. If I commit to love you for better or for worse; I can love you by the grace of God for better or for worse. That means that I will faithfully love you when you are good to me and I’ll love you when you treat me hatefully. This is agape love, it is unconditional.
I love the movie “First Knight”. It is about King Arthur [Sean Connery], Lancelot [Richard Gere] and Guinevere [Julia Orman]. Guinevere is engaged to be married to King Arthur more than twice her age. She in advertently falls in love with Lancelot. Lancelot pursued Guinivere relentlessly until he becomes a believer in Camelot. He admires King Arthur who is a man of courage and character. Lancelot has courage but he has never been taught character. Arthur has faith in the young Lancelot and eventually makes him one of the Knights of the Round Table. This creates a huge problem for Lancelot. He admires Arthur’s nobility and longs to be noble himself but he realizes that his feelings for the queen will betray him so he decides to leave the realm. Guinevere, who has resisted Lancelot’s every seduction is now upset that he is leaving and that he will never return. She wishes to kiss Lancelot good by but the kiss turned into a full and prolonged embrace. So long in fact that Arthur walks in and catches them kissing passionately. Guinevere has kissed Authur before but not with such passion. Arthur is smitten with jealously and rage. The King is vissibly shaken. Lancelot feels shame and betrayal. He never intended to hurt the King. Guinevere is equally shaken. Later, when Arthur confronts the Queen about the marriage; she wants to follow through but Arthur will have no part of a love void of eros. Guinevere then explains to Arthur what every human needs to know. She says to the king, “I will to love you and my will is stronger than my heart.” Listen to me: what is true of Queen Guinevere is true of you: Your will is stronger than your heart. Do what you know is right in your head and do not listen to your heart. Twenty years from now, you will be thrilled that you did not follow your heart.
Deep Down: I Believe Everyone Wants To Be Loved Unconditionally
I believe that everyone would like to be loved unconditionally, but in the great majority of marriages that I see, this is not happening. I had a dear lady tell me, “My husband reminds me periodically that he would never forgive me if I was unfaithful to him”. That husband either knows nothing of agape love or is very insecure. Can you imagine Jesus saying to Peter or John, “Look guys, if you are ever unfaithful to Me, I will not forgive you. This is not baseball guys…it is not three strikes and you are out, it is one strike and you are out for good.” You cannot imagine Jesus saying anything like this, can you? I rejoice this moment to know that my Savior loves me in spite my unfaithfulness. You may be in a marriage where the spouse loves you with only a natural or selfish love. You know that you will be loved by this spouse as long as you please him/her… and so, for years, you have sought to please him/her. You are haunted by the fear or possibly fact that their love is purely selfish and, if you were to make one critical mistake, you would be totally rejected. If you are in such a marriage, don’t bail out. The answer is found in Psalm 37, “Delight yourself in the Lord” and Jesus is Lord. I talked to a young woman who had lost too much weight. I could tell that she was extremely worried and I assumed that it was connected to her marriage. I asked her to come and see me and, just as I suspected, she was battling the insecurity of losing her husband’s affections. I knew what was going on, he had been involved in multiple affairs. This is what I told her, “Don’t build your self-esteem on your relationship with your husband. Your value, your worth, was determined by Jesus and His death for YOU on the cross. He loves you unconditionally and He gave His life to prove it.” I gave her a copy of Robert McGee’s SEARCH FOR SIGNIFICANCE. This book literally changed my life because it changed the way I think. If your relationship with Jesus was all that you had, it would be enough.
Jesus Christ can give us the unconditional love that we so deeply desire. Perhaps you are agreeing, but at the same time longing for another human to love you the way Jesus loves you. I don’t think that this is wrong or uncommon, but I advise you to wait on the Lord. Put your trust in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart, but make sure that you allow Him to fulfill this desire. If you rush ahead of God, you will bring sorrow on yourself, your children and your parents.
Another common desire and often unmet need in marriages is intimacy. Most of us want to be known by another human being of the opposite sex. God created us to relate to each other and to Him, but sin has all but destroyed our ability to have good healthy relationships. Adam and Eve were intimate. Their bodies were naked but so were their souls. Intimacy is the disrobing of the soul. It is a bold act of trust. Most people confuse intimacy with sex but it is not sex. It can lead to sex but intimacy is a sharing of the soul. It is becoming one is soul and that puts an exclamation mark on becoming one is body. Young people in love are preoccupied with getting married. They are not interested in physiological profiling or a person’s history. Genetics, history, and religious background are all very important, but most of us ignored all of these things. We are discovering today that many women had an unpleasant sexual experience during their childhood or adolescence. As a very young pastor, only 21 years old, a young lady came to me for counseling. This was her story. Her father, a deacon in the church where I was the interim pastor, had been sleeping with her against her will since she was 13 years old. It had been going on for 3 years right in front of the mother, who finally raised up and put a stop to the sorted affair. Now the father, once he had been found out, withdrew socially and refused to speak to his daughter. When this young lady told me her story, I was shocked. I knew nothing about counseling and didn’t even know that such things went on. I reckon the LORD just gave me something to say, at least I hope it was Him. I said, “I know you probably feel that what has happened to you is unforgivable. You probably feel that no one really loves you, but I know one Person that does, and His name is Jesus.” Her Mom was upset with her; blaming her, and the Dad was also angry with her and she was feeling totally unloved. The incestuous relationship with her father had all but destroyed her self-esteem. I had no real idea what I was doing but by the grace of God I pointed her in the right dirction, Jesus! After we had prayed for cleansing, I said to her “Your life is not over, that’s the devil talking. God has someone for you, someone that will love you, but when he comes along, you must be honest with him about your past. If you don’t tell him the truth, he will never be able to love you the way you need to be loved”. A young man did come along about 3 years later. She took my advice and the last that I heard from them, they were happily married with three children. Sin causes our insecurity. Adam and Eve were not insecure until they sinned. To complicate matters, they tried to conceal their sin, which is a horrible mistake. Repressing sin and guilt will destroy you emotionally, simply because you were not designed to handle guilt. When you supress the truth and hid things from your mate, you have blocked all avenues of intimacy.
Folks, only God knows how many marriage relationships are clouded with mystery. Secrets have been kept because trust does not exist. The relationship has never been fully consumated because of the lack of intimacy. The lack of intimacy, which is the mirroring of the souls, is a huge problem in marriages today. It is not a good thing when you meet someone at work that will talk about the very things that you always wanted your spouse to talk about. I have no way of knowing, but there are probably more unsatisfied women, in this regard, than men. Most women, practically all, who have talked with me, were doing so simply because their husbands didn’t care enough to listen. I don’t see many problems that love and sensitivity wouldn’t solve. It is heart breaking when one or the other desires a deep, intimate relationship, but all of their efforts are spurned with cold and insensitive rejection. If this fits your situation, let me give you some advice, don’t divorce your spouse because your desire for intimacy is not being met. Stay where you are and wait on the Lord. Accept the fact that you may never have this desire met in this lifetime, but intimacy, in the spiritual sense, is available to all and it is available now. Begin today meeting with Christ: just you and Him alone in a quiet place. Talk to Him about anything that bothers you. All that you have to do is develop your vertical relationship with Jesus. Over a period of time, you will develop a passion for your time alone with Jesus. Your quiet time will eventually become your favorite time of the day. Maybe this does not satisfy your desire, but you just wait. I have a very strong feeling that there will be no dissatisfied folks in heaven. Please don’t rush ahead of the Lord and live the rest of your life here on earth with haunting regret. Trust the Lord, do what is right. Delight yourself in the Lord Jesus. Wait patiently for Him to act and He will, in His time, give you the desires of your heart.
Obedience Verses Disobedience
Like it or not, life is made up of choices and the choices you make determine, to a great degree, your future. God is holy and the laws that sustain this universe reflect His holiness. The law of retribution is woven into the very fabric of His awesome creation. The bible states this law very clearly and in many ways. Paul may have said it best in Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that will he also reap”. Although Paul is talking about giving in Galatians, this principle applies to every aspect of life. When we make bad choices, we reap bad consequences. It is the law. If a farmer sows wheat, he reaps wheat; if he plants corn, he’ll reap corn. We reap what we sow. If we choose to give in to our sensual desires and sow to the flesh, we will reap in the flesh and the reaping will not be pleasant. All selfishness leads to death of some kind. I know men and women who have abandon their families for a romantic encounter. Many of them have too much pride to tell the truth but I can assure you, they have deep regrets. All children expect their dad to love their mother. You cannot change that and I can assure you that you are no exception to the rule. Children will never respect of forgive a man for leaving their mother. It does not matter how much money you make or how many gift you give: they will take your gifts because that feel entitleed, it is the least you could do but you will never have the one thing you want most–their respect. I seen the shoe on the other foot. I have known women to abandon their children for another man. The same principle works in either case. You will lose your child’s respect and you will never get it back.
Surely you understand the law of gravity and, chances are, you respect this law. More than likely, you have never been tempted to skydive without a parachute and it’s because you have seen this natural law work time and time again. As a matter of fact, you’ve never known this law to fail. The law of retribution is just as real as the law of gravity; it never fails. Perhaps you’ve become attracted to someone other than your spouse. You are infatuated with this person. You think about them night and day. You newfound love makes you feel young and vigorous. A part of you that you assumed was dead has come to life. Suddenly, the things that you have worked for seems unimportant. You love your kids, but right now you are feeling that you love this person even more. The process of rationalization may already be at work. You and your spouse fight a lot, so the kids would be better off if you just got a divorce.
Perhaps you don’t fight at all but there is no love or affection shared within the marriage; So, you are thinking, my kids deserve to be raised in a home where there is love. Listen to me, 99% of the time, divorce is a bad choice that brings bad consequences to your life, and the life of everyone you love. It can produce a bitter harvest. Don’t be misled – you can’t circumvent this spiritual law. In the end, you will regret your bad choice. I do not know one exception to this rule. Some will not be honest about it but you can see it in their face. Listen to me folks, divorce, in many cases, is worse than death because it has no closure. Don’t listen to the devil. He is telling you that your situation is unique and that you will be the exception. It is his patented lie. Your kids will never accept your new love as a substitute for their biological parent. I don’t care how charming this person may be – they are going to be rejected by your children forever. Your children will forgive you of almost anything, but they will never forgive you if you divorce their Daddy or Mother. When a married person with children initiates a divorce, they are saying to their children, “My happiness is more important to me than your happiness”. Divorce makes children feel very insecure because they know that they are no longer a priority in the life of their parents. Are you willing to sacrifice the emotional health and the happiness of your children just so you can have what you want?
What if you get the divorce and get what you want and then discover that you really don’t want what you’ve got? Whose fault will it be? Don’t you think that it would be much better for you to suffer than for you to cause your kids to suffer? What kind of parent sacrifices their kids for their own temporal pleasure? Often times, people who are “thinking divorce” don’t want to hear the truth, but the truth is – you are an adult, act like one. It is not about you or your happiness: Your children come first. It was you that cooperated in procreating these children and that makes you responsible. Put the kids interest first. Do what is best for the kids? It would be better for you to suffer some unmet needs than for them to be torn apart by the traumatic horror of divorce. So your spouse is not perfect. Neither is the one that you are making your plans to be with and neither are you. Accentuate the positive – there are some good qualities in your spouse – focus on these. Determine in your heart that you’re going to make the right choice. Don’t worry about your feelings, just do what is right. Disobedience carries painful consequences. Sin is like the liberal use of a credit card, so remember, you will get a bill. There will be a day of reckoning.
The Triangle Or Two
In spite of what you hear and read, good marriages don’t just happen. A good marriage depends on many things, beginning with a good foundation. Jesus said in concluding His famous Sermon on the Mount, “Anyone who hears these word of Mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock.” (Matt. 7:24) I’ve read that passage a hundred times, but it was only recently that I noticed the text “the Rock”, not “a rock”. Jesus was not talking about building a house. He was talking about building a life, but this same principle applies to a marriage. A good marriage is built on the Rock. It takes three people to have a perfect (ideal) marriage: the bride, the groom and Jesus. I call it the triangle. No marriage will fail, no matter how severe the storms, if Jesus remains at the top of this triangle.
Christ Husband Wife
The couple that prays together, stays together. No man is going to cheat on his wife when Jesus is Lord of his life. Your greatest concern has to be the Triangle. As long as Jesus is Lord of your marriage, it will last. Notice, the closer you get to Jesus, the closer you will get to your spouse. A pastor friend called me a few months back and he told me about a mutual friend who had left his wife and three children. The man was a gifted evangelist that I had used several times. The news broke my heart. My entire family was upset. The wife did not initiate the divorce – it was all the husband and, according to my pastor friend, this was his rationalization. “We were not happy anyway, all we did was fight. Our children are better off with us being separated. I call them everyday and have prayer with them on the phone.” It absolutely amazes me that grown people will talk like this. Those kids don’t need a call – they need their Daddy to come home where he belongs. This man needed to repent; to acknowledge that he had sinned against the Lord. Jesus was no longer his primary focus. I didn’t say ministry, I said Jesus – he was still focused on ministry because that was how he earned an income, but Jesus was no longer Lord or Boss of his life. Any couple, even those involved in Christian ministry, can get into serious problems the moment the Triangle gets out of balance. Jesus must be Lord of the marriage and both partners must acknowledge this truth. Let me tell you what happens most of the time. We replace Jesus with another human being.
Needless to say, this spells problems. When Jesus is the first party in a three party relationship, things work great because the closer, the more intimate you become with Christ, the closer you will become to your mate, that is, if your mate acknowledges the Lordship of Christ. When the third party is someone other than Christ, perhaps someone you are attracted to, the closer you become to this third party, the greater the distance between you and your spouse.
I am a pastor, not a marriage counselor. I do not give marriage counseling at all if I can avoid it. However, I do listen to those who are in the process or beyond the process of divorce. Over the years, I have learned to look for certain signs or indicators. My paradigms are based on 42 years of experience as a pastor.
Generally speaking, the party that is initiating the divorce proceedings will not come to see me. The partner that visits me is the one feeling the rejection: Not the one leaving, but the one being left. The rejection they feel is a heavy burden to bear and they are looking for friends and support. I usually feel very helpless because I know that there is very little that I can do. Preachers are not miracle workers and we cannot restore broken relationships; at best, we can listen, love and pray. I am grateful to confess that I have been able to help some couples through a storm, but in most of those cases, there was no third party involved. There is always hope if a third party is not involved. Normally, men will not leave women unless they have someone else in line or mind. I will not say that there are not any exceptions, but I will say that there are very few. Women, however, can just get fed up and leave, especially when they have their own income. The rule of thumb in counseling is when one or the other refuses counseling, it indicates a third party other than Jesus. I’ve had them say to me, “I don’t want help, I want her/him” and that’s exactly what they mean. Seduction is Satan’s game and he uses people to seduce us, sometimes they are very attractive and they seem to be totally innocent. Once you fall under the spell of seduction, only one thing can save you, the grace of God manifested in the Person and Power of Jesus Christ. If all Christians could remember one thing, it would save them from years of sorrow and regret. Satan is a powerful deceiver, no one can lie better than he. He can paint you a beautiful picture of happiness and bliss, but it’s all a lie. You cannot believe one word he says, he is a liar and the father of all lies.
Over the years, I have interviewed couple after couple and they all say the same thing – “Satan lied”. Several years ago, a young lady attended our church. She and her husband were in their second marriage. They met while at work, neither had what you would call a bad marriage, but due to the fact that they worked side by side five days a week, they became emotionally involved. It didn’t begin as a sexual thing, it began with them talking to each other about personal things. Both were married to Christians who were devoted to the Lord’s work, but these two became so infatuated with each other that they divorced their mates so that they could get married. There were four children involved. Four children were emotionally scarred for life because their parents became more concerned about their own happiness than that of their children. Some years later, this young woman confessed, “my marriage with ______ was not that bad, there were no problems that could not have been worked out. He was a good husband. Had I not met ______ at work, we would probably be together today.” One man told me, “I remember the night that Satan seduced me. I remember the time, the place, the whole nine yards. I know now that he is a liar and I live with deep regret every single day of my life. I think death is better than divorce. At least death is final, but divorce has no closure and the problems that accompany divorce never go away.” No one can live long enough to get over a divorce. Years ago I met a man who was raising three children because his wife had abandoned the marriage and children. She wanted nothing to do with him or the kids. The man finally remarried after years of being a single parent. To his surprise, his children rejected their new stepmom. I knew her. I had the privilege of leading her to faith in Jesus Christ. She prayed to receive Christ on the front porch of their beautiful home. I have never met a sweeter lady. She was gentle, kind, compassionate and she treated those children like they were her own, but the children resented her presence and her relationship with their Dad. This man said to me, “Bro. Jack, never consider divorce as an option, do anything you have to do to make your marriage work because your kids will never forgive you. It doesn’t matter who did what or who divorced whom, they will blame you forever.” I have never forgotten this man’s advice.
Kids want their parents together. They are not able to accept anything less. I’ve seen kids warm up to step-parents to the degree that you would think, “they are handling this well”, but then suddenly, for no reason known to us, they bottom out. Ask your local school counselor, they can tell you – a kid may do well for a month and then suddenly they hit rock bottom – anger and frustration erupt. They refuse to open their books, they will not eat. Get that child aside and talk to them. Win their trust and then ask them what is bothering them. Here is exactly what they will say, “I want my Mother and Daddy back together again.” They are simply being honest. I pray to God that we adults will learn to be just as honest.