How we wish there never had to be a topic such as this! And we’re sure you feel the same way. But because marriage is as complicated as it is, the following are quotes from various resources on the subject of Separation and Divorce praying that they will minister to your situation.
• “Few problems are more urgent in society or the church than the soaring divorce rate,” said Mike McManus (Marriage Savers). “The divorce rate among atheists and agnostics in the United States is below that of almost every Protestant church,” he said. “Only the Lutherans and Catholics are at a lower rate in divorcing than the atheists.”
• Marriage is like a freeway and divorce is an off-ramp. As long as you insist on getting off the freeway, you never complete the course God has set before you. (Author unknown)
• Adultery is grounds for divorce —but not necessarily a reason for divorce.
• Isn’t there anything that we, as concerned Christian friends, can do to stop the divorce train before the marriage is totally wrecked? Many times I’ve heard people in my DivorceCare groups say, “If I had known before I divorced how bad it would be, I would have worked harder at saving my marriage. I would have spent the money I spent on lawyers on a marriage counselor.”
Once a couple starts having problems, their friends, family and even their own pastor may think the only solution is divorce. It seems that we are afraid we will be prying if we try to find a way to help them save their marriage. My own pastor told me that because my husband had committed adultery, I couldn’t live with him anymore and I might as well get a divorce so I’d be free to remarry. I saw no alternative except to get a divorce and start a new life. (From the Growthtrac.com article, “Stop the Divorce Train Before the Wreck.”)
• “My experience is that divorce is almost always unilateral. It’s not a democracy. One person gets to decide the fate of not only the marriage but the family,” said Michelle Weiner Davis, (author of The Divorce Remedy – The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage).
• People get divorced for one reason and one reason only: One or both of them get selfish. People won’t say they got selfish —they’ll say, “Oh, we were too young” or “We rushed into it,’” but it’s all [nonsense]. They’re getting divorced for one reason: One of them is being selfish. (Pastor Mark Gungor, pastor at New Beginnings Church in Stevens Point, Wisconsin)
• It’s said that, “A self-centered life will have a tendency to confuse its selfish desire with God’s will.” Think about those words for a moment, in how it applies to marriage. So often we’ll see what we want to see. And unless we’re on the alert, as we’re told to be in the Bible (1 Peter 5:8), we can easily slide into a self-centered way of thinking. We’ll justify and rearrange our thoughts and actions to fit the best conception of our actions that we can (much like using a kaleidoscope to see the prettiest design we can while using one). (Cindy Wright)
• God’s will for you and your spouse is to love one another and have a joy-filled marriage that glorifies Him. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). However, it’s a misconception to think that separation should never be an option. Over the years, we’ve seen many cases where separation was the wake-up call that an unrepentant spouse needed to break off an affair or receive help for abusive or addictive behavior. And, as with us, many couples, together or individually, have become Christians or rededicated their lives to Christ during a painful separation. (Joe and Michelle Williams, from the book, “Yes, Your Marriage Can Be Saved”)
• What I’ve learned since is that divorce lingers. It makes you sad when you least expect it. It colors everything —from a first date with a promising somebody to a basketball game where your kid makes three-pointers. And you can tell yourself, yeah, I did it for my kids, so they could grow up with a healthy mother, a happier mother who had more time for them. But single motherhood, even with access to help, is not for sissies. Sure, I have more control over my children under the circumstances —but in return, I’m more strung-out, I’m more overwhelmed. (Gigi Levangie, from Huffington Post article, “Wasbands and Wives: Seven Reasons to Stay Married)
• I am amazed at how many husbands and wives try to justify their desire to date other people while they are separated. So, please allow me to place the following position on the table for discussion. Separation is a state of marriage. So, is it a good idea to date someone other than your spouse when you are separated? Let me state it another, yet the same way: Is it a good idea to date someone other than your spouse when you are married? (Steve Harley—The Marriage Builder’s Newsletter)
• Some relationships are very toxic; in other words, verbal or physical battling occurs and thus safety is a concern. The only way to stabilize the environment is to create space between the two people. Even if space is needed, you can create that space with an “in-house” separation. You can choose to live in separate bedrooms for a while, live on separate floors if that is possible, decide to exclude certain topics of conversation without help from a trained third party, or decide not to socialize or take family trips together while you seek to heal. Couples can get very creative about honoring separate space for the purpose of individual reflection and growth. I’ve seen such separation provide enough salve to allow deep wounds to begin to heal. (Debra Laaser, from Growthtrac.com article “Shattered Vows”)
• Due to the controversy surrounding separation, most people —especially Christians —wait too long before taking a stand against the unacceptable behavior of their spouses. As a result, many of the separations that happen by the time healthy boundaries are in place, end up being transitions to divorce. (Joe and Michelle Williams, from the book “Yes, Your Marriage Can Be Saved”)
• DURING A TIME OF SEPARATION: My warning would be that you do not get involved with or emotionally connect to another man [or woman] during this time. You must guard your heart from involving yourself with another person. Your heart is vulnerable right now. You need healing. Be careful not to find yourself in situations where you are emotionally connecting with someone of the opposite sex.
Too many times in my ministry have I counseled someone who was itching for a divorce primarily because they had someone else they wanted to be with. Involving yourself with another man will short circuit the healing and restoration and may hinder possible reconciliation with your husband. (From the Smalley Relationship Center in an answer for a DNA Relationship Question of the Week for 01/30/06)
• Like a bad cold in the office, divorces may be contagious. Yvonne Aberg, a sociologist at Stockholm University, found that as the proportion of recently divorced co-workers increased, the chances that other married workers will subsequently divorce also increased. She also found that men and women were 75% more likely to divorce during the study period if they worked in an office populated mainly by people of the opposite sex and of the same age. And the more single people working in an office, the higher the divorce rate, she reported in a paper presented at the last meeting of the American Sociological Association.
The antidote to catching a divorce at the office: Have your spouse work with you. That will cut the likelihood of divorce in half in Aberg’s study. (Article can be found in the Smartmarriages.com Newsletter Archives section on Subject: “Catching Divorce – 8/28/02)
• “Women who are walk away wives feel justified in leaving because they think they’ve tried everything, but they’ve actually only said everything,” said Weiner-Davis. “Women are verbal; men are more responsive to action than to words. The real tragedy of the walk away wife scenario is that when she files for divorce, when she has finally done something, he’s moved to act,” Weiner-Davis said.
She doesn’t advocate women filing for divorce to get their husbands to sit up and take notice. Rather, her hope is that women will find constructive ways to move their husbands to be more responsive. “I say in my divorce-busting seminars, I never met a man who, when his wife nags, wants to spend more time with her,” said Ms Davis. (Naomi Ford, From AMFMonline.com article, “Walk Away Wives”)
• People who leave the straight life eventually come back to the straight life. (Dr. James Dobson)
• A recent letter-to-the editor in a large U.S. newspaper reflected the sentiments of one man among the estimated one-third who regretted his divorce. Under the title “Divorce Isn’t Worth the Cost,” he wrote: “I would wish to comment on the letter that ran Jan. 2 concerning the weakening of men and children through divorce. Anne Smart-Pearce was the author. To my great sorrow, I must admit I am a divorced husband and father. Anne speaks of the terrible price that is being paid and then asks, ‘If a mother had an equal fear of losing her children, would she so readily seek a divorce? Or would she do all in her power to avert such a tragic outcome?’
Might I add this, husbands and wives, if there is even one-half of an ounce of friendliness left in your marriage, take each other by the hand, look at each other’s eyes and then remember of the love that brought you together in the first place! Let each other know, somehow, that you are needed, loved and wanted! If you fail, you will reap the whirlwind, especially you, fathers. You will lose all that is important, near and dear to you. And that is your sweet wife, your wonderful children and your home. Oh, that I had been more wise and not let my pride be my downfall. I can tell you with knowledge that a seemingly endless tragedy does await! The mornings do come when you awake, call her name and then realize that you are alone in a house that is ever silent and does not answer back. (Guy M. Bradley, West Point, Utah, Deseret News, January 11, 2001, Letters to the Editor, A-10)
• During our separation, Michelle met with our pastor to get advice because she felt frustrated that we kept dragging things up from the past. The pastor suggested that she say this sentence to me: “Would you please forgive me for not being the wife you have needed me to be?” When she asked me to forgive her using those words, it created a different atmosphere immediately, and I asked her to forgive me as well. Even though we didn’t reconcile until months later, that sentence stimulated a breakthrough in our communication. We refer to that sentence the pastor gave her as the “Forgiveness Sentence” and it works well in [a lot of] relationships.
When Jane called our ministry, she had given up hope that her marriage with Ken could be saved. Her relationship with him was so bad that nothing seemed capable of stopping the downward spiral. Michelle suggested Jane say the “Forgiveness Sentence” to Ken. A few days later, Jane and Ken showed up at a reconciliation seminar at our church and made a commitment to work on their marriage. Jane said the sentence started them on the road to reconciliation. Ken said later, “When she worded her request to forgive her like that, it seemed to stop everything from escalating. We put down our weapons, and saw hope.” (Jo and Michelle Williams, from the book “Yes, Your Marriage Can Be Saved”)
• Preachers have a tough time trying to advise their flocks about relationships because they’re caught in a tension between strongly preaching about divorce and offering comfort to those who have experienced it. They know sitting in front of them are all kinds of people who’ve been through divorce, and they don’t want to dump a bunch of guilt on them. (Anthony Jordan, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and a clergy liaison to the Marriage Initiative)
• When asked the question whether God will forgive us after we’ve divorced our spouse for reasons other than adultery, the answer would of course be “yes.” The Bible tells us that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness“ (1 John 1:9). But we need to keep in mind that there will be consequences to pay even though God has forgiven us. The Bible also tells us that the Lord God of Israel says, “I HATE DIVORCE“ (Malachi 2:16).
“When some Pharisees came to Jesus to test Him, they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’ ‘Haven’t you read,’ He replied, ‘that at the beginning the creator ‘made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.’ ‘Why then,’ they asked, ‘Did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?’ Jesus replied, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorced his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.“
From these passages, we can see that God is strongly against divorce. Know that it will greatly grieve God when we separate what He has put together. And our lives will be impacted in countless ways because of the consequences of our actions. We can’t tear apart from someone that we’ve been cleaved and joined together with as one flesh, and not suffer catastrophic wounding and scarring —that would be impossible.
Divorce rips a severe wound not only in our own life, but also in the lives of countless others (children, family, friends, and many others for generations to come). Everyone within the sphere of our influence hurts from the effects of divorce. We also cause damage to our future influence and testimony of the transforming love of Christ. We also damage the Lord’s witness to the world, because marriage is a “visible picture” that models the love of Christ for His church.
So, when asked the question, “Can you divorce and ever be forgiven?” The answer is, “Yes”! But solemnly and prayerfully count the costs and as we’re challenged in Malachi 2:16, “Guard yourself in your spirit, and don’t break faith.“ (Author Unknown)
• Divorcing before age 30 is becoming so common that it’s creating a demographic phenomenon: the starter marriage. The union lasts a few years and ends before children arrive, a new study says. Women today generally marry at 25; men, at 27. Young couples may be together months, not decades, as divorce occurs progressively earlier. (From: Smartmarriages – Subject: Starter marriage: A new term for early divorce -1/29/02)
• This is a culture of impatience. “We’re a one-click culture,” she says, “an impatient generation in an impatient society” that wants to download life quickly. When the young hit a pothole, they abandon the road. “It felt easy to move on, especially if they felt they were nipping something bad in the bud.” Immaturity is a problem.” (From: Smartmarriages – Subject: Starter marriage: A new term for early divorce -1/29/02)
• Keep in mind that you can win the battle and lose the war!
• Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break.
• When you’re living in a “coping situation” in your marriage, you need to make sure that you put activities and “helps” into your life that will enable you to build up your energy back up. Living in a “coping situation” can drastically drain you emotionally, physically and spiritually. Therefore, if you deplete your reserve energy without restoring at least part of it back from time to time, you’ll find yourself in a crisis situation eventually. The Bible tells us that we can “do all things through Him who strengthens“ us (Philippians 4:13). But we have to make sure that we don’t neglect to plug into the source of energy so we can do all things. (Author unknown)
• Fitting the pieces together with others after a divorce is a constant struggle, whether you’re talking about old exes, new marriages, or the children from either. I’ve talked and talked to women and men desperately trying to figure out how and when and with whom to start again. And why? Why put yourself through the drama? How do you fit the puzzle pieces together when one of the pieces is a hormonal pre-teen, another is a borderline personality ex bent on destroying everything in her path, including her own child, and a third is the dog who growls every time you enter the room. This is not the most romantic scenario. Bottom line: You may care as much for your significant other’s children as they do, but you are not their parent. (Gigi Levangie, from Huffington Post article, “Wasbands and Wives: Seven Reasons to Stay Married)
• During the years of my separation, when I felt myself slipping into depression, I would often insert a praise album into my tape player at home or in the car, and immediately I felt a rush of relief as God lifted my spirit toward him. I could focus on him and push away the clouds of despair.
…Praise is the most intimate way we connect to God. As we acknowledge who he is, as we humble ourselves and magnify him, we draw God into our circumstances. He pushes out our worries and fear, our attitude of unforgiveness, our pain, our selfish desires, our confusion. He brings us a fresh revelation of his love. He heals our emotions and deep hurts, and he transforms the inner places of our souls so that within us soars a chorus of praise acknowledging the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, our everlasting and faithful God. (Linda W. Rooks, from the book, “Broken Heart on Hold)
• Trauma puts you at the wall of conflict (Gary Smalley). Be especially “on the alert” during times of trauma in your life. The enemy of your faith will try in every way to try to pit you against one another in your marriage.
• Any change in the family system —the birth of a baby, the first baby going to school, the last child leaving home, turning forty, an aging and sickly parent, the death of a loved one —challenges even the best of marriages. (Michele Weiner-Davis, author of Divorce Busting)
• If you had an emergency, you broke a bone, you wouldn’t hesitate to go and have it fixed. And we need to realize we have many families in crisis. We have marriages in danger of disintegrating which is much worse than a broken bone. We need to take emergency measures to combat that, which can kill the marital relationship.
• All those “and they lived happily ever after” fairy tale endings need to be changed to “and they began the very hard work of making their marriage happy.” (Linda Miles, author of 8 Keys to Lasting Love)
• It’s never too late to do what is right. (Chuck Swindoll)
• We’re a throw away society. It appears to us to cost less to replace something that’s broken than fix it. But what we see on the surface isn’t always the total cost.
• What people need to know is that the majority of divorces today don’t end high-conflict marriages. Two-thirds of divorces today end low-conflict marriages. They’re ending marriages that are not characterized by abuse or violence or very serious and frequent quarreling. They’re ending marriages that are often ending for reasons like people grew apart. They’re not sure if they love each other anymore. Somebody else at work is more interesting. Sometimes they’re ending for reasons that we can be sympathetic for —the people in the marriage are hurting. But a lot of this stuff is not on the radar screen to the child.
They struggle with the idea of, “Okay, my parents are happy, but are they as happy as they could be? Would they be happier not married to my mom or dad? Are they as fulfilled as they could be? Are they bored sometimes?” This isn’t on the kid’s radar screen. What’s on their radar screen is the day their parents come and tell them they’re getting a divorce. That’s when that child’s world falls apart. So my message to people based on my own experience as a child of divorce and all the people I’ve talked to is if you’re married to someone you know is a good person and a good parent, and you’re not sure you’re in love anymore, you feel like you’re growing apart, there are so many good reasons to reach out and get help and save that marriage for your child and for your own sake as well. (Elizabeth Marquardt, The Emotional Hurdles of Living Through a Divorce” Family Life Today Broadcast Date: 10/24/06 – This FamilyLife Today)
• Couples might struggle about money in their marriage, but that’s nothing compared to how they’ll struggle if they get divorced when there will be less to go around and the battles will simply get uglier. Learn some skills, now, before you slip down the slope. (Diane Sollee)
• A poll of divorced Canadians shows that a majority believe divorce is the most financially expensive event that can happen in a person’s life and yet many of the poll respondents were ill-prepared to handle this aspect of the break-up. Money isn’t just a problem during the divorce process; it is often one of the root causes of the break-up. The poll showed 22% say that issues with respect to money contributed “a great deal” or “almost completely” to their divorce. 47% of respondents say divorce made their financial situation worse. In fact, respondents also reported that because of their divorce: 35% had to go into debt; 22% had to seek financial support from friends and family; 28% had to sell household items or personal assets; and, 27% had to sell or redeem financial investments. (Article can be found in Newsletter Archives section on web site for www.smartmarriages.com Subject: Divorce: Most Expensive Event – 7/19/04)
• Unfortunately, “We’re in an age of consumer marriage —this comes out not in people’s stated values, but when their marriage is troubled,” says Dr. William Doherty. “Then they start asking, ‘Is this meeting my needs? Am I getting what I deserve?'” In his book Take Back Your Marriage, the therapist details how to identify and resist consumer values in family relationships. “Permanent commitment is really the linchpin of marriage,” Doherty insists, along with perseverance through hard times. In a study of people whose marriages had been troubled but were saved, he says a main point was that “they put one foot ahead of the other and persevered, often outlasting the problem.” (From article: SHAPING THE FUTURE OF MARRIAGE – By Jane Lampman
• We’ve created a myth of what the happy home looks like. And marriages are like people, they get isolated. They get isolated from other marriages, they get isolated from people who can bring health to them and hope and healing and encouragement. And this is where the Christian community, the spiritual community of faith needs to be offering solutions. …I think what we have is a great need today that must be addressed at the soul level among adults and what couples dare not do is toss the towel in too early, because they may be pronouncing the benediction on a marriage and proclaiming it dead when all it needed was just a weekend away to be able to strengthen it and provide some help and hope. (Dennis Rainey, “The Emotional Hurdles of Living Through a Divorce” Family Life Today Broadcast Date: 10/24/06)
• Americans invest less moral, spiritual, cultural, political energy in supporting marriage. Why? Many rationalize alternatives to marriage, such as divorce, cohabitation or unwed childbearing. Too many say, “We’re Christians, but we’re getting divorced.” No! If you’re Christian, love and work at your marriage. “‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord God of Israel“(Malachi 2:16).
“Permissive divorce attitudes do more than encourage divorce. They actually make happy marriage less likely,” states The Case for Marriage. “When people aren’t certain their marriage will last, they invest less time in the relationship and take fewer steps to resolve disagreements. But what if a person’s in a bad marriage? Isn’t divorce acceptable? Usually, no. Consider this: 86% of unhappily married people who stick it out find that, 5 years later, their marriages are happier. In fact, three-fifths say their marriages are now very happy or quite happy!'” (Michael McManus, www.marriagesavers.org)
• Doherty believes the two key ingredients for a successful marriage are commitment and intentionality. Commitment may sound obvious and clear-cut. But in his years of therapy, Doherty has come to recognize two distinct kinds of commitment couples make. One is what he calls “commitment-as-long-as.” It means staying together, “not as long as we both shall live, but as long as things are working out for me.”
The other kind is what Doherty calls “commitment-no-matter-what.” He describes it as “the long view of marriage in which you don’t balance the ledgers every month to see if you are getting an adequate return on your investment… You’re here to stay.” This long-term kind of commitment is essential, according to Doherty, but can lead to stale marriages if not accompanied by intentionality. (Intentional Marriage – By Marcia Segelstein)
• By intentionality, William Doherty means making one’s marriage a high priority. During courtship, a couple’s relationship is front and center, as he puts it. After marriage, other things often take priority: careers and children, to name the most common. Having an intentional marriage means being conscious about maintaining a connection through, among other things, “a reservoir of marital rituals of connection and intimacy.” (Intentional Marriage – By Marcia Segelstein)
• If marital counseling is needed, Doherty advises that this is a time when being a good consumer is important. Selecting the right therapist can make all the difference. He suggests talking to people who can make a recommendation based on successful personal experience. He recommends asking questions and making it clear that you want to hold onto your marriage and make it better. (Intentional Marriage – By Marcia Segelstein)
• Nobody is advocating that men and women stay in a physically abusive marriage, or in a marriage unhinged by constant infidelity. But most people who get divorced, as James Wilson (social scientist and author of The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture has Weakened Families) said, aren’t trying to escape such dire situations. “Only about a third of all divorced couples report any prior abuse, frequent arguments or serious quarrel,” he said, “but they got divorced, anyway.”
Couples divorce at lower thresholds of unhappiness now than in the past, researchers have found, and it may be that many of them are bailing out too quickly. In a study conducted over many years, Waite found that nearly three-fifths of married men and women who said in the 1980s that they were unhappy said 10 years later that they were “very happy” or “quite happy.” Unhappily married people “don’t seem to stay locked together in an angry hell,” write Waite and her co-researcher Maggie Gallagher. “We’re losing many marriages that could and should be saved.” (Why Marriage is Good for You — By Andrew Herrmann — Chicago Sun Times — June 8, 2003)
• Call it the “divorce assumption.” Most people assume that a person stuck in a bad marriage has two choices: stay married and miserable or get a divorce and become happier. But now come the findings from the first scholarly study ever to test that assumption, and these findings challenge conventional wisdom. Conducted by a team of leading family scholars headed by University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite, the study found no evidence that unhappily married adults who divorced were typically any happier than unhappily married people who stayed married.
Even more dramatically, the researchers also found that two-thirds of unhappily married spouses who stayed married reported that their marriages were happy 5 years later. In addition, the most unhappy marriages reported the most dramatic turnarounds: among those who rated their marriages as very unhappy, almost 8 out of 10 who avoided divorce were happily married five years later. (Article can be found in Newsletter Archives section on web site for Smartmarriages.com Subject: DOES DIVORCE MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY? Findings from a Study of Unhappy Marriages By Linda J Waite, Don Browning, William J Doherty, Maggie Gallagher, Ye Luo, and Scott Stanley)
• The study found that on average unhappily married adults who divorced were no happier than unhappily married adults who stayed married when rated on any of 12 separate measures of psychological well-being. Divorce did not typically reduce symptoms of depression, raise self-esteem, or increase a sense of mastery. This was true even after controlling for race, age, gender, and income. Even unhappy spouses who had divorced and remarried were no happier on average than those who stayed married. (Article can be found in Newsletter Archives on web site for Smartmarriages.com Subject: Does Divorce Make People Happy? -By Linda J. Waite, Don Browning, William J. Doherty, Maggie Gallagher, Ye Luo, and Scott Stanley)
• Over 30,000 people were studied for 18 years by Richard Lucas, from Michigan State University and the German Institute of Economic Research, who found that divorced people report a permanently lower enjoyment in life than married people. ‘One of the most surprising findings in the study was that divorce was associated with permanent changes in levels of distress,’ said Lucas. Studies have consistently shown that marital status is associated with life satisfaction but the long term effects of divorce have never before been thoroughly investigated. Lucas’s study found that happiness decreases for people in the years leading up to their divorce. Even among those who reported a rise in happiness after the divorce, their overall enjoyment in life never returned to previous levels. (Divorce Makes People Miserable for Life, The Guardian UK, Amelia Hill, January 8, 2006, The Observer)
• Adults choose to divorce, then, not mostly to escape from violent hellholes, but because they’re lonely, bored, depressed, dissatisfied. How often does divorce deliver on its seductive promise of a better life? Hetherington’s sample consists mostly of white, middle-class, and relatively well-educated men and women. Yet even among this advantaged group, the answer is: Surprisingly seldom. Hetherington judges that 20 years after a divorce, only about 20% of divorced individuals (most of them women) were Enhancers, whose lives were improved by the divorce. Another 10% became what Hetherington calls Competent Loners-whether divorce improved their lives isn’t clear. For about 40%, divorce was a tumult that made no difference: “Different partners, different marriages, but usually the same problems.” The remaining 30% were in various stages of just plain miserable: Hetherington uses words like “desperately unhappy,” “empty, pointless,” “clinically depressed,” “joyless,” and “embittered” to describe how they felt about their lives. (Smartmarriages® -Subject: Third Thoughts on Divorce – Gallagher – 3/25/02)
• In a report released last week, Maggie Gallagher of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy says that people in long-term marriages ”live longer, healthier lives with higher levels of emotional well-being and lower rates of mental illness and emotional distress. (They) make more money than otherwise similar singles and build more wealth and experience —than do single or cohabiting couples with similar income levels.” And it’s good for kids. David Blankenhorn, founder of the Institute for American Values, a think tank that studies family issues, calls marriage “our society’s most pro-child institution. If you want kids to do well, then you want marriage to do well.” (The State of Our Unions – By Rick Hampson and Karen S. Peterson USA TODAY Feb 26, 2004)
• Why doesn’t divorce typically make adults happier? The authors of the study suggest that while eliminating some stresses and sources of potential harm, divorce may create others as well. The decision to divorce sets in motion a large number of processes and events over which an individual has little control that are likely to deeply affect his or her emotional well-being. These include the response of one’s spouse to divorce; the reactions of children; potential disappointments and aggravation in custody, child support, and visitation orders; new financial or health stresses for one or both parents; and new relationships or marriages. (Article can be found in Newsletter Archives section on web site for Smartmarriages.com, Subject: DOES DIVORCE MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY? Findings from a Study of Unhappy Marriages By Linda J. Waite, Don Browning, William J. Doherty, Maggie Gallagher, Ye Luo, and Scott Stanley)
• In the marital endurance ethic, the most common story couples reported to researchers, marriages got happier not because partners resolved problems, but because they stubbornly outlasted them. With the passage of time, these spouses said, many sources of conflict and distress eased: financial problems, job reversals, depression, child problems, even infidelity. In the marital work ethic, spouses told stories of actively working to solve problems, change behavior, or improve communication. When the problem was solved, the marriage got happier.
Strategies for improving marriages mentioned by spouses ranged from arranging dates or other ways to more time together, enlisting the help and advice of relatives or in-laws, to consulting clergy or secular counselors, to threatening divorce and consulting divorce attorneys. Finally, in the personal happiness epic, marriage problems didn’t seem to change that much. Instead married people in these accounts told stories of finding alternative ways to improve their own happiness and build a good and happy life despite a mediocre marriage. (Article can be found in Newsletter Archives section at Smartmarriages.com, Subject: DOES DIVORCE MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY? Findings from a Study of Unhappy Marriages By Linda J. Waite, Don Browning, William J. Doherty, Maggie Gallagher, Ye Luo, and Scott Stanley)
• On the subject of staying with your spouse despite hurts: “Is it God’s will to leave your husband and find someone else because he doesn’t give you the attention that you wish he’d give you? Is it really the best thing for the world, not just for you, to leave this man and find another one? After all, the main purpose for why we’re here on earth is to glorify God and enjoy HIM forever.
If a woman’s going through the awful situation of living with an unloving, unkind husband —it’s a terrible thing. But if she cannot see a change, can’t she turn that situation around and say, ‘I’m going to give my life for the people in my neighborhood? I’m going to try to empathize with women who are suffering. I’m a Christian woman, therefore, I’ll turn my agony into a source of good.’ All of us have conflicts in our home, even the best of us. So, can’t we turn our weaknesses into strengths by thinking, ‘how many people are going through what I’m going through, therefore, I’ll learn something from this situation with my spouse and use it for the glory of God’?
I’ve found that some of my strongest points in helping other people in counseling or preaching, have been from the greatest weaknesses in our marriage. Because as I’ve thought about it, and I’ve learned from it, I’ve been able to help other people. If I would have, run away from my wife, I wouldn’t be helping as many people as I am today.
Continuing on the same subject, James Dobson had this to say: “I do have to say as I read the scriptures, and that is the source of our understanding, that God has not called us to happiness. God has called us to obedience. And it may be that he’s called us to endure —to persevere in the face of some frustrating circumstances. And it might be that He has a plan down the road that He hasn’t revealed yet with what he wants to do in the relationship. And what He wants of women and men, in that kind of situation, I believe, is to stick it out —make the most of it —and stay on our knees before Him, and let Him work us through it.”
Continuing on the same subject, Louis Palau responds to James Dobson’s comments: The word sacrifice has disappeared. Jesus Christ was spat upon and buffeted, blindfolded, endured a crown of thorns, the nails in His hands and His feet. Therefore, the situation that we have to learn today is that suffering often brings life. Death produces life in God’s economy. The other side of the coin on the suffering aspect is this —a woman can learn to make God her husband.
Isaiah 54:5 says this, ‘your Maker is your husband. The Lord of hosts is His name. The Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer. He is called the God of all the earth. For the Lord has called you like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit —like a wife of youth when she’s cast off says your God.‘ Although the Lord is addressing Israel, the teaching is there that if a woman who’s going through a situation like this can say, ‘my husband is not what I wished he had been when I married him. My husband is not the dream of my youth. My husband has not fulfilled his vows. He is not the man I dreamt I would give my love to. Never the less, for the sake of the Lord, because it’s revealed in scripture as you said, I will stay here to see what the Lord’s going to bring out of this.
And the previous verse says this, “Fear not for you will not be ashamed. Be not confounded; you will not be put to shame. You will forget the shame of your youth; and the reproach of your widowhood, you will remember no more.“ In other words, this period of time where it appears like it’s all over may come to an end. If a person will just be patient with the Lord, they will ultimately not be ashamed. Nor will they be utterly confounded or completely out of joint. The Lord has a purpose. I’ve seen it happen in some of my own close family members that God’s redeemed the hurt.” (Edited from the program, “A Biblical Look at the Family” – Louis Palau on “Focus on the Family” www.family.org)
• Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention, points to a University of Chicago study involving people who had described their marriage as “unhappy” or “very unhappy.” Of those who divorced, only 19% were happily remarried 5 years later. Of those who stayed in the marriage, more than 70% said they were now “happily” or “very happily” married. (From article: Shaping the Future of Marriage – By Jane Lampman
• Couples in Crisis, Michelle Weiner-Davis advises, should bring a beginner’s mind to the process of trying to save their relationship. “I want people to start with a clean slate because they have a lot of misconceptions about marriage and how people change and whether people can change,” she said. “There’s this myth that you need two people actively working on a marriage when at least 50 to 60% of my practice involves working with one person.
The reality is that if one person changes how he or she approaches his or her spouse, the relationship changes. You can change a relationship, but you have to start by changing your own behavior.” Too many people in difficult situations continue to repeat the same behavior over and over. “People figure out the most logical thing to do to fix a problem, and then if it doesn’t work, they think, ‘I guess I didn’t do it hard enough,’ and continue to do what they’ve always done. It’s just going to get worse. It escalates the undesirable behavior,” she said. (From the article, Divorce is No Democracy, by Mark Wolf, which can be read in Smartmarriages.com archives section)
• What if your love for each other is dead? If you have a covenantal death of your marriage, pray for a covenantal resurrection. All things are possible in Christ. (Tony Evans)
• Satan does not want us to be at peace. Satan does not want our marriages to be restored. Satan does not want us to find victory and spiritual restoration. So, very possibly, right at the time when a breakthrough is about to take place, he will whisper doubts in our minds. He will suggest that we focus on something to discourage us, something to make us conclude that everything is hopeless so we will take some action that will put a halt to God’s momentum forward. This is called temptation.
Satan will tempt us to take control of the situation according to our own human understanding, to go our own way, to give up. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?“ Satan asked Eve (Genesis 3:1). Satan knew God’s command did not include all the trees of the garden, but he skewed God’s instruction just enough to throw Eve off guard so she would start conversing with Satan. Once he had her attention, he could begin to manipulate the conversation so that she focused on what Satan was saying rather than on what God had said.
We must never take our attention off the Lord. We must never give Satan the opportunity to discourage us. Remember that Satan is a liar. What looks discouraging may not be what it appears. For all we know, the very situation we are bemoaning may be a part of God’s plan to bring us our victory.
Boldly hold up that shield of faith between you and Satan so his lies and flaming arrows cannot touch your heart or deflate your spirit. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Pray always. Trust that God knows what must transpire before he can give you the good gifts you desire (Linda W. Rooks, from the book, “Broken Heart on Hold”).
• Remember this: God hates divorce. But the same God who hates divorce, loves the divorced, just as He does all his children. If you’re contemplating divorce, I pray you’ll reconsider reconciliation, if at all possible. If your heart has been broken by divorce, go to Him for healing. If divorce has separated you from God, I pray that you will find your way back to Him. He’s left the light on. The door is unlocked. He’s waiting for you (Max Lucado, from the article, “Divorce’s Dark Country” which we recommend you read).
• “My experience is that divorce is almost always unilateral. It’s not a democracy. One person gets to decide the fate of not only the marriage but the family,” said Michelle Weiner Davis, (author of The Divorce Remedy – The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage).
• I’m not sure when we decided that divorce was “best for the kids,” but we sure act on that assumption. However, most of the time it’s just not true. There are circumstances when divorce is “the lesser of two evils” (especially when violence or abuse is occurring in the home), but generally speaking, it is not best for the children. Not even in remarriage.
It’s curious to me that first-marriage couples will justify divorce to give their children “peace” from the marital conflict while second-marriage couples similarly justify divorce as a protection of their children (“my spouse, their stepparent, and I just can’t agree on parenting so I have to get them out of there). Both rationales, in my opinion, are really about at least one adult who is afraid to take any further risk to rescue the marriage.
Want to truly bring peace to your children and stepchildren’s lives? Seek resolution of your marital conflicts, learn to forgive and seek forgiveness, let God remove your selfishness, and reconcile your relationship. It’s often hard work, but if you really want you children to have peace, it’s what must be done. (Ron Deal)
• Our society has two different child-rearing philosophies, one for children of married parents and one for children of divorce— that we essentially treat them as if they are two species of kids. The needs of children of married parents and children of divorced parents are the same. They’re the same species; we just find it inconvenient to treat them that way. Children of divorce are resilient we say. Why? Because we need for them to be.
When it comes to children of divorce, suddenly everything our society thinks about babies and young children gets thrown out the window. Babies need constant care from their mothers? Forget it, babies do fine going three days without seeing their mothers! Babies need a predictable environment and love having the same routine? Forget it; they’re happy to wake up anywhere! Households should be organized around the baby’s needs? Forget it; babies do great adapting to adult needs!
We have two childrearing philosophies in this society one for children of married parents, and one for children of divorce. We act as though these are two different species of kids. They’re not. They’re the same kids, with the same needs. Divorce doesn’t magically make turn a baby into a hardy creature. It just demands that babies become that way, whether they are capable of it or not. (Smartmarriages.com article: Two Species of Kids)
• The children of divorce are handed a really big job. When parents are married, it’s their job to do the hard work of making sense of your different values, your different beliefs, your different backgrounds. When they get divorced that job doesn’t go away, it just gets handed to their child instead, who is 4 or 8 or 12 years old. Their child is and always will be, throughout their childhood, looking to their mom and dad as the first and most important role models for their own moral and spiritual formation.
And now these role models live completely separate lives; lives that, to a child, often seem to be polar opposites. And when the child asks the big questions of moral and spiritual identity —who am I? Where do I belong? What is true? What is right and wrong? Is there a God? They’re looking to two different models that often seem as different as night and day. And those two people aren’t talking about this kind of big stuff anymore. They’re not fighting about it —they’re talking about nothing.
The child is wrestling with the differences that the child sees in each of their worlds. And the conflict that used to be between the parents has now gotten transferred to the child’s inner life. And it’s within the child’s own life in a very lonely, overwhelming way that the child is trying to confront these big questions. It’s the distinctive experience of the child of divorce. (Elizabeth Marquardt, Familylife.com broadcast, “The Emotional Hurdles of Living Through a Divorce”)
• Myth: My child will be better off if “he/she” is out of the picture. Fact: Children seldom view a parent in the same way as an adult. Even if a parent is “out of the picture,” they are always in the in the children’s mind. Attempting to remove a parent from the child’s life can actually harm the child. However, if a parent is abusive and represents a clear danger to a child, legal safeguards are available. (Jeff and Judi Parziale, from article, “Divorce and Remarriage Myths.”)
• Two faulty beliefs provide the foundation for our current attitudes towards divorce. The first holds that if the parents are happier the children will be happier, too. Children are not considered separately from their parents; their needs, and even their thoughts are subsumed under the adult agenda. Indeed, many adults who are trapped in very unhappy marriages would be surprised to learn that their children are relatively content. They don’t care if mom and dad sleep in different beds as long as the family is together.
A second myth is based on the premise that divorce is a temporary crisis that exerts its more harmful effects on parents and children at the time of the breakup. …The belief that the crisis is temporary underlies the notion that if acceptable legal arrangements for custody, visits, and child support are made at the time of the divorce and parents are provided with a few lectures, the child will soon be fine. It is a view we have fervently embraced and continue to hold. But it’s misguided. (Judith Wallerstein from the book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, A Twenty-Five Year Landmark Study)
• I’ve talked to adults who have gone through divorce and have spent hours talking with them, interacting as I watch them attempt to recover and pick up the pieces in their lives and sort through all the emotions of what they were experiencing trying to piece it together. And I’ve often thought, if an adult who’s emotionally mature, supposedly, fully developed as an adult, with everything in place —if they struggle trying to piece it all together and sometimes spend decades piecing together their own emotions of what they’re thinking and feeling, how can we expect a 12-year-old, a 15-year-old, or, for that matter, and 18-year-old to process this emotional earthquake that has aftershocks that go on into adulthood —how do they even interpret it? (Dennis Rainey, The Emotional Hurdles of Living Through a Divorce – Broadcast – FamilyLife.com)
• Elizabeth Marquardt says children of divorced parents are more apt than those living in intact families to feel divided between two homes with different values. They’re asked to keep secrets about the different households. They’re left without clear guidance on what’s right and what’s wrong, turning instead to friends and siblings. And they’re “more apt to struggle with loss, isolation, loneliness and suffering.”
Marquardt has the support of psychologist Judith Wallerstein, whose controversial Second Chances in 1989 started a firestorm of debate. Wallerstein found that many adult children had never gotten over the often “cataclysmic” changes divorce brings throughout a child’s lifetime. While divorce is seen as a 2nd chance at happiness for a parent, a child doesn’t see it that way. (Smartmarriages.com article, “Kids of divorced parents straddle a divided world”)
• Divorce makes your kids’ life harder. Would you want to go to a different home every few days because it suits someone else’s schedule? Would you like to remember at which house you left your wallet, your laptop, your workout bag, your briefcase? How about sleep in a different bed, use a different toothbrush, get used to the new person in the kitchen and the master bedroom? Your kids have to remember textbooks, notebooks, backpacks, favorite t-shirts, socks, Vans, homework, football helmet, cleats… No wonder these kids are more anxious.
On top of that, they have to do science reports in first grade, master algebra in fifth. Everything’s gotten harder. I’ve volunteered in my sons’ classes, and I hate to say it, but I can tell which children have parents who are divorced. Admitting this brings me no pleasure, and a great deal of pain. (Gigi Levangie, from Huffington Post article, “Wasbands and Wives: Seven Reasons to Stay Married)
• Many of the children of divorce, fear splitting up and are determined not to let it happen to them. But it does happen. Children of divorce have a higher rate of divorce themselves than children from intact families. Penn State sociologist Paul Amato, who has studied adults whose parents divorced, said that children learn about marital commitment and permanence by observing their parents. In children of divorce, the sense of commitment to a lifelong marriage has been undermined. They come to marriage with unrealistic expectations.
As one researcher put it, young people today are entering marriage in “a profound state of cluelessness. We’re mesmerized by the romantic idea of marriage and blinded to the reality. We’re sold on Cinderella, not on how uncomfortable wearing glass slippers for the next 50 years might be,” writes Paul. “If you don’t grow up viewing a marriage firsthand, you have little chance of understanding marriage as it needs to be. It’s easy to idealize,” she adds in an interview.
“WE” NOT TRIUMPHING OVER “ME”: Unfamiliar with how marriages ebb and flow through good times and over rough patches, children of divorce are quick to bail at the first sign of conflict, says Paul, and that creates a rash of what she calls “starter marriages” —couplings that last but a few years and produce no children. (Andrew Herrmann, Chicago Sun Times article, “Children of Divorce in No Rush to Repeat Error”)
• Marriages of the children of divorce have a much higher rate of divorce than the marriages of children from intact families. A major reason for this is that children learn about marital commitment or permanence by observing their parents. In the children of divorce, the sense of commitment to a lifelong marriage has been undermined. (10 Myths of Divorce, National Marriage Project)
• Here’s why their divorce is your business: The children of our generation’s divorces enter the pool of possible mates for our children. Damaged and hurt by their parents’ lack of commitment, they bring the baggage of brittle emotions and insecurity with them into their marriages. They make what is already a struggle-the nurturing of healthy marriages in the next generation-even harder.
The effect upon children creates a strain upon every resource in our communities. Juvenile delinquency increases. Teachers face ever-mounting discipline problems at school. The ranks of those in need of government assistance and private charity continue to swell. No family comes through divorce and ends up with the financial resources they would have had staying intact, and the effect is particularly bad on the mother and children.
Among Christians in general, divorce is just one more scandal that makes a mockery of what we say we believe. If the power of the Holy Spirit, Whose indwelling we claim to have, is not great enough to enable us to live with one another under the same roof, what good are all our “peace on earth” slogans? (Mary Kochan, from the Catholicexchange.com article, Why Divorce is Your Business)
• Various surveys reveal that the experience of divorce made children “overall much less religious than their peers from intact families.” Many of those who attended a place of worship on a regular basis as children also said that they felt abandoned by their church family, with two-thirds stating, “that no one from the clergy or congregation reached out when their families broke up.” In addition, they “are much more likely to say they doubt the sincerity of their parents’ religious beliefs, do not share their parents’ values, and to say there are things their parents have done that they find hard to forgive.” (Interviews and surveys conducted by Elizabeth Marquardt, an affiliate, and Professor Norval Glenn of the University of Texas)
• “When a younger couple gets a divorce, they worry about how it will affect the children. My Mom told me that’s why she and Dad stayed together for so long. Did it mean that what I saw as a perfect childhood was a lie?” There’s a notion that an adult child won’t hurt as much as a youngster, that a 26-year-old isn’t as likely to be affected by her parents’ breakup. It’s not true. Understanding what your parents are going through is even worse. I began obsessing about their growing old alone. I pictured them in separate houses without someone to make them tea if they had the flu. They could come live with me, but I’d have to choose one.
My parents and I reversed roles. I became the worried one, the one wanting to make sure they had a good weekend or that the birthday present I’d sent was perfect. “I told a friend after the holidays that my family felt dead to me.” “I think you’re exaggerating,” my friend said. But I wasn’t. I was in mourning. My family as I knew it was dying. (Brooke Lea Foster, a 26 year old whose parents divorced as quoted an edition of The Washingtonian Magazine)
• Children growing up in single-parent families are twice as likely as their counterparts to develop serious psychiatric illnesses and addictions later in life, according to an important new study. Researchers have for years debated whether children from broken homes bounce back or whether they’re more likely than kids whose parents stay together to develop serious emotional problems.
Experts say the latest study, published this week in The Lancet medical journal, is important mainly because of its unprecedented scale and follow-up —it tracked about 1 million children for a decade, into their mid-20s. The question of why and how those children end up with such problems remains unanswered. The study suggests that financial hardship may play a role, but other experts say the research also supports the view that quality of parenting could be a factor.
The scientists found that children with single parents were twice as likely as the others to develop a psychiatric illness such as severe depression or schizophrenia, to kill themselves or attempt suicide, and to develop an alcohol-related disease. Girls were 3 times more likely to become drug addicts if they lived with a sole parent, and boys were 4 times more likely. (Smartmarriages.com article,” Study Says Broken Homes Harm Kids More”)
• Children of divorce and of unmarried parents are twice as likely as those from intact homes to drop out of school, 3 times as apt to be expelled or to have a baby out-of-wedlock as a teenager and 6 times more likely to be raised in poverty. Unmarried women living with a man are 3 times more likely to be physically abused that a married woman. (Smartmarriages.com, article, “Increase Marriage: Reduce Child Poverty”)
• “Growing up in a divorced family greatly increases the chances of ending one’s own marriage, a phenomenon called the divorce cycle or the intergenerational transmission of divorce,” says Wolfinger, assistant professor in the University of Utah’s Department of Family and Consumer Studies. … “One reason children from divorced families get divorced more often is because they have a tendency to marry as teenagers,” Wolfinger reports, adding “the older you are when you marry, the less likely you are to get divorced. It’s good advice for everyone.”
On the other hand, the more transitions children experience while growing up, the more they will experience as adults, Wolfinger notes. “What is the hardest for kids is how many disruptions they experience —the up-and-down cycles. Many will have stepparents, and some will see their new families dissolve. A disruption occurs any time they lose a parent —except from death. That’s different, and doesn’t have the same negative effects on children. Whereas divorce is ambiguous. Children wonder whether the divorce was their fault or who is to blame. And they wonder, “is he coming back?” (“The Divorce Cycle: Children of Divorce in Their Own Marriages” article, Newswise University of Utah)
• I’ve got a news flash for the 2 of you: you’re not the only ones living in your home —you’ve got children who are watching you and listening to how you scream at each other. What do you think the impact is when you yell and scream? …If you care about your child, you’ll start caring enough about him to grow up and make a life decision to control yourself (in how you relate to your spouse). Think to yourselves: “We’re going to calm down, grow up and put our son’s interest over our destructive behavior.” (Dr. Phil’s show on September 17, 2002)
• A recent letter-to-the editor in a large U.S. newspaper reflected the sentiments of one man among the estimated one-third who regretted his divorce. Under the title “Divorce Isn’t Worth the Cost,” he wrote: “I wish to comment on the letter that ran concerning the weakening of men and children through divorce. Anne Smart-Pearce was the author. To my great sorrow, I must admit I am a divorced husband and father. Anne speaks of the terrible price that is being paid and then asks, ‘If a mother had an equal fear of losing her children, would she so readily seek a divorce? Or would she do all in her power to avert such a tragic outcome?’
Might I add this, husbands and wives, if there is even one-half of an ounce of friendliness left in your marriage, take each other by the hand, look at each other’s eyes and then remember of the love that brought you together in the first place! Let each other know, somehow, that you are needed, loved and wanted! If you fail, you will reap the whirlwind, especially you, fathers. You will lose all that is important, near and dear to you. And that is your sweet wife, your wonderful children and your home. Oh, that I had been more wise and not let my pride be my downfall. I can tell you with knowledge that a seemingly endless tragedy does await! The mornings do come when you awake, call her name and then realize that you are alone in a house that is ever silent and does not answer back.” (Guy M. Bradley, West Point, Utah, Deseret News, January 11, 2001, Letters to the Editor, A-10)