You might wrestle with thoughts like: God wants me to be happier than this. Once we get through the divorce, the children will adjust. In the long run, everyone will be better off. But the honest truth is that divorce is a tragedy with painful repercussions for everyone involved. More important, its advantages rarely outweigh its negative impact.
Divorce is ugly even when it’s between two nice people. The notion of a “good divorce” is a definite oxymoron. Whether it is the man who walks away or the woman who leaves, the very nature of divorce places a couple in an antagonistic position. It forces each of them to look after his or her own personal (and, yes, frequently selfish) interests.
…There are many reasons why we believe divorce is a choice you will regret.
Following are six that occur most often in our research.
1. Divorce devastates your children.
Although it is common to assume that children are resilient and “bounce back” after divorce, many recent studies reveal that divorce leaves children with lifelong scars. The reality is that kids (regardless of their ages) are innocent victims of divorce. And yet they often blame themselves for the failure of their parents’ marriage. At the same time, they lose the constant presence of one parent. They may also lose their home, their church, and their standard of living. They may lose their sense that life is secure, and their role models for lasting love and healthy relationships. As a result, children of divorce have a higher probability of being abused, having difficulty in school, and struggling with depression. There is higher probability of acting out violently, getting involved in promiscuity, falling into addictions, failing in their marriages, and rejecting their parents’ faith.
2. Divorce confuses and disconnects other people too.
Family members and friends feel like they have to choose sides, and they feel disloyal if they still love and respect the left-behind spouse. “My heart is broken,” said the mother of a walk-out woman. “I love her so much, but she will never understand how hard this is for me.” Many times the extraordinarily valuable interaction between grandparents and grandchildren is compromised or ruined.
3. Divorce is a financial disaster —especially for women.
It’s obvious that it costs more for a couple or family to live apart than to live together. Sometimes the family home has to be sold and other assets divided. Add in the lawyers’ fees, and from a purely monetary position, divorce doesn’t make sense. The impact on everyone’s self-esteem and the adjustment in quality of life is far more severe than most women ever think possible. Because women usually retain custody of children and because women usually earn less than men, the majority of divorced women experience a dramatic drop in their standard of living. This can be as much as 27 percent, while men typically gain about 10 percent.
One person summed it up this way: When you think of the thousands of dollars a couple spends on divorce proceedings, how much better if that money were spent on marriage counseling and attempts at reconciliation. Another says, “Divorce is much more financially devastating than most wives can imagine. I know because I’ve been there.”
4. Divorce rarely solves the problem.
It’s tempting to believe that divorce is easier than keeping the marriage together, but that’s simply not true. Running away rarely solves problems; we carry them with us like heavy suitcases. If you had communication problems in your marriage, chances are you will continue to have communication problems. If there are intimacy issues in marriage, those issues are likely to follow you out of the marriage.
No matter how painful your relationship has become, you really do have a choice. You can stay in the marriage and work on the issues where you are. Or you can leave and work on those same issues in a different situation —with all the added pain and devastation created by the divorce itself.
5. Divorce sets you up to repeat your difficulty.
It may be tempting, while in the throes of a painful marriage, to assume that things would be better with someone else. But research shows just the opposite. The truth is that second marriages have about a 60 percent failure rate. And that percentage increases exponentially for third or fourth marriages. Too often the complaints heard about a first marriage are the same complaints that develop in subsequent relationships.
6. Divorce often weakens your faith.
Knowing that God hates divorce, it is not uncommon for a walk-out woman to distance herself from church and Christian friends. As her pride and self-esteem tumble, she may become like a lonely ember separated from the fire. And her faith may slowly turn cold.
The school of life, as well as many passages in the Bible teaches us that difficulties help us grow. But walking away from our problems usually does just the opposite. It promotes immaturity because we escape the challenges and hard work of perseverance and patience. Yes, it is natural to look for a way out when facing adversity. But choosing to remain steadfast builds character and helps us discover the great faithfulness of God. God has set eternity in our hearts. And He is preparing us for the there instead of providing us with what we call happiness here. Unfortunately the choice between happiness and godliness is not always easy.
We realize that some of you reading this are in such dire circumstances that you must leave. If that’s true —if you’ve carefully and prayerfully considered your options, sought counseling, done everything you can to make your marriage work —then we certainly aren’t sitting in judgment. The road before you will be hard. We hope you will rely on your heavenly Father, who loves you no matter what. He is there to comfort, guide, and help you grow through this new kind of adversity.
Consequences of Divorce
But before you reach that point, we pray that you will think very hard about the consequences of divorce. We have found that people who think about walking away usually minimize the consequences of divorce. They believe they can beat the odds and make another marriage work. Many believe that their children will get through the trauma of divorce without any scars. They rationalize away their moral and religious beliefs by saying that God wants them to be happy. And yet they make a choice that leaves a wide path of pain for others.
You may think it would take a miracle for your marriage. But again, God is in the miracle business and nothing is impossible with Him. With His help, you can not only survive, but actually thrive in your marriage.
The Bible says that we leave an inheritance to our children’s children. If you intentionally leave your marriage and forsake your vows you made on your wedding day, you leave an inheritance of regret. We don’t know anyone who is proud of his or her divorce.
But if you stay in your marriage and with God’s help it turns around, think of the wonderful inheritance you will leave for others. It will be a legacy of faith and faithfulness. That is truly a rich and worthy gift to pass along to future generations.
Marriage Missions Editors Note:
This is what the Bible has to say on this subject:
“When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.” (Numbers 30:2)
“Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth.” (Deuteronomy 23:23)
“It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vows.” (Proverbs 20:25)
“…the Lord is acting as a witness between you and the wife of your youth. She is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are His. And why one? Because He was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” (Malachi 2:14-15)
“When you are making a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools. Fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, ‘My vow was a mistake.’ Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the works of your hands? Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-7)
This article comes for the outstanding book titled, The Walk-Out Woman: When Your Heart is Empty and Your Dreams Are Lost. It is written by Dr Steve Stephens and Alice Gray, and is published by Multnomah. We HIGHLY recommend this book! It really is a “must-have resource!” It’s especially beneficial for women who really need practical help to breathe new life into their marriages, which may seem hopeless.
This is what the authors have to say, concerning this book:
“We want to help you understand your husband better and show some ways you can encourage him to listen to your hurts and anger. We want to help you understand more about yourself as well—why you may have started ‘keeping score’ and how you have built a wall around your heart. We’ll talk about realistic and unrealistic expectations and the dangers of creating a new fantasy with someone else. We’ll also give you strategies for taking care of yourself, and getting connected again with your husband. There is also help for resolving conflict, dealing with anger and loss, remembering the good times, and pressing closer to the Lord.”
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Filed under: Separation and Divorce