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There are few things married people can say to shock me. My husband and I have dealt with everything short of physical abuse – anger, resentment, bitterness, sexual problems, communication problems, and financial problems. We’ve been brought back from the brink of marital death more times than I care to count, and what it has taught me is that there is nothing a marriage can’t overcome with the help of a loving Father, and some old-fashion elbow grease. I know it may sound like I’m oversimplifying the problem, which is not my intent. I guess you could say I’ve made so many excuses in my life that it bugs the daylights out of me when I hear other people making them. I know how desperate people can get when they want to escape pain, because I’ve experienced it for myself.

I once saw divorce as a (sometimes) necessary evil. Marriage is about sacrifice and commitment and not about being happy all the time… but it’s not about being miserable, either, right? When your marriage is teetering on the edge of disaster and you’re so miserable you can barely live with yourself, then it’s OK to leave, isn’t it? I mean, God has to understand. God just wants us all to be happy, after all.

Here is what I’ve learned, the hard way.
1. Divorce is like putting a little bandaid on an enormous, gaping wound. Why? The assumption is that you will get divorced, leave the situation, and either live alone in peace, or (usually) find someone else to share your life with. Does it happen? Yes. All the time? Not hardly. You’ve heard the saying, “you can run, but you can’t hide,” right? What do we expect to accomplish by divorcing, other than doing simply that – running? If you leave a broken marriage behind you in a heap of dust, you’ve resolved nothing. You haven’t solved any problems, you haven’t learned how to deal with the relational issues involved, and apart from blatant abuse, you can never honestly blame the breakup on your spouse. It doesn’t work that way. It takes two to tango – even if you tango yourselves into a tree.

2. “God has given me peace about it.” Are you sure? Now, look, I’m not entirely refuting this and saying it never happens. There are legit reasons for divorcing…unfortunately, most people don’t get divorced for those reasons. They get divorced because a struggling marriage is painful and it’s easier to walk away. Before you declare that God has given you peace about a divorce, get real honest with yourself and think, OK, do I truly have biblical grounds for this divorce? Am I truly feeling God’s peace, or am I simply feeling relieved that the end is in sight? Get together with other people that are grounded in the Truth, and be honest with them. Get their godly perspective. You might be surprised what you find.

3. “For the sake of my kids, I have to get a divorce.” Don’t base your decision on something Oprah said, or even the short-term impact divorce will have on your children. Seek God’s counsel, not a TV shrink’s. And do some real research. Children of broken homes have far more issues than children from traditional families…even ones that have to fight hard to stay that way. What message do you want to send your kids? If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again? Or, give up and run away from things that are too hard?

4. “My husband/wife refuses to do the things he/she needs to do in order to make this marriage work.” Over a year ago, I blogged about a Christian singer who had chosen divorce, and stated my (hopefully compassionate) disagreement with her choice. She read what I had written and responded to me, and we had a not-so-pleasant volley of e-mails between us. Anyway, she blamed most of the problems on her husband’s unwillingness to change. This, however, is a very basic tenet of faith. If we walk by faith, not by sight, then that means we live according to Truth and not according to what feels best. The Bible is very specific about telling us how to treat our spouse, and what kind of mate we are supposed to be. The fact that our mate does not follow the same guidelines does not give us the right to stop trying. Feelings follow actions. Did you catch that? FEELINGS FOLLOW ACTIONS. Our culture tries to convince us it’s the other way around, but it’s not. You act, then the feelings come. You respect, love, and encourage your mate, and deliberately focus on the positive vs. negative aspects of your spouse, and you see if it doesn’t bring forth positive change and renewed effort in your spouse.
Husbands, the Bible instructs you to love your wife as Christ loved the church. Christ’s love was unconditional, and it was not just an emotion – it was an action. Many times, the church did not deserve unconditional love, mercy, forgiveness, grace, or a second chance… but that was what Christ gave us. That is how we ought to be loving our husband/wife.

5. It’s not about being happy. Marriage isn’t always romantic, or fun. It’s hard work. Life gets in the way. You won’t always a feel burning passion for your mate. It’s a drag sometimes, but guess what? It’s for your own good. God is not as concerned about your happiness as He is about the state of your heart. If it takes rough seas to knock you out of the boat, expect a violent storm. If allowing a division between you and your mate is what it takes to make you focus on God first and foremost in your life and in your marriage, expect to be unpleasantly redirected. If you’re not walking with God, if God is not the center of your marriage, GOD WILL ALLOW UNHAPPINESS TO INFILTRATE YOUR LIFE IN AN EFFORT TO MOVE YOU FORWARD IN A RIGHT AND HOLY DIRECTION. IF YOUR MARRIAGE IS IN A SHAMBLES, IT’S BECAUSE THE ENEMY HAS MADE IT THAT WAY, AND THE ENEMY HAS MADE IT THAT WAY BECAUSE YOU LEFT THE DOOR OPEN AND UNGUARDED. IF GOING THROUGH A DIFFICULT PERIOD IN YOUR MARRIAGE HOLDS THE POTENTIAL TO DRAW YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE CLOSER TO THE LORD, THEN DON’T BE SURPRISED IF IT HURTS FOR A WHILE! If you can learn a valuable lesson from pain, God will allow you to ENDURE pain!

We live in an “anything goes” culture. If it feels good, do it. If it doesn’t feel good, can it.
What kind of marriage are you in? One that runs on feeling and emotion instead of hard work and perseverance? Or are you willing to go all the way – regardless of how painful or how difficult – to have a marriage that is consecrated unto God, and set apart from the rest of the world?

Sometimes being an example for Christ means allowing people to watch you hurt, and being willing to accept inconvenient, godly instruction along the way.

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