The Divorce Cycle Can Be Broken – MM #272

Divorce Cycle Dollar Photo

Did you grow up in a home damaged by divorce? Are you concerned that your own marriage might end up in the same situation? Or maybe you’re just plain scared to marry because you see divorce all around you. These are valid concerns we’d like to address. Above all, please know that the divorce cycle can be broken.

Most people don’t realize this. But author John Trent learned this personally. He lived through it in his growing up years. And later he learned how to break the divorce cycle in his own marriage. He even wrote about it in the book titled, Breaking the Cycle of Divorce: How Your Marriage Can Succeed Even If Your Parents’ Didn’t. To learn from Dr Trent’s experience, here’s a portion of what Dr Trent writes:

The Divorce Cycle

You hope for a strong and lasting marriage. But as an adult child of divorce, you can’t escape the nagging fear that your marriage will fail—just as your parents’ marriage did.

Growing up, you never had the benefit of seeing a loving, committed marriage modeled for you. So it’s hard to figure out what that should look like. And the wounds you suffered when your parents’ marriage ended make it difficult for you to trust other people, and even God. Despite your struggles, however, you’re not doomed to divorce. You can break the cycle and build a healthy marriage. Here’s how:

Embrace the love that will never abandon you.

Understand that, while people might let you down, God will come through for you. Accept the love that He offers you. He offers unconditional love that you can count on, no matter what. If you haven’t already, begin a relationship with God through Christ. Make it a top priority to build a closer relationship with God each day. [If you need further direction on this issue go to our web site. There you’ll find a number of web links to ministries and organizations, like the one we’re providing, where you can find answers.]

Know that you have a choice.

Recognize that you aren’t a powerless victim. Know that what happened to your parents doesn’t have to happen to you. You aren’t a slave to your past. Decide to choose to respond to your circumstances in ways that will lead to a positive future.

Face your fears.

Take your fears out of the dark (lurking in your imagination). Instead bring them into the light by talking about them openly with your spouse. Pray about them specifically rather than just worrying about them. Seek and accept help from a close friend or a professional counselor to confront stubborn fears.

Focus on positives instead of negatives.

Ask God to renew your mind and help you reprogram your thinking about your marriage and life in general so you’re more positive than negative. Write several lists: one that lists ways you and your spouse are not like your parents. Also write one that lists ways your marriage is not like your parents’ marriage. And write one that lists your spouse’s strengths and positive attributes. Then post your lists in prominent places in your home or car where you can see them every day to remind you.

Take small steps toward a big difference.

Don’t worry about trying to make huge strides of progress in a short time. Recognize that that is unrealistic. But be encouraged that making small, steady steps toward breaking bad habits and establishing good ones will eventually lead to a significantly more positive life for you. Focus on one issue at a time. And keep stepping out as God leads you to do so.

Find an accountability partner.

Ask God to lead you to someone who will hold you accountable as you make changes for the better in your life. Consider a friend, family member, clergy person, or counselor. Meet with your accountability partner regularly to honestly share your thoughts, feelings, and recent behaviors. Know that support from a relationship like this can be a great source of encouragement and help to you.

Seek professional help when you need it.

If you aren’t making progress on your own in dealing with tough issues, don’t hesitate to get help from a professional counselor. Schedule some strategic sessions so the counselor can coach you through the issues. Realize that just a few short meetings can benefit you.

Rely on God’s power rather than your own.

Don’t try to wrestle with your struggles on your own. Instead, invite God to work in and through you, empowering you to handle everything that comes your way. Trust that whenever you ask for His help, He will respond —day by day, and moment by moment.

Find a healthy marriage model.

Look around for couples who have healthy marriages. Then choose one to ask if you can build a friendship with them and study how they interact with each other. Know that observing a good example of marriage can give you: hope that marital commitment can endure for a lifetime. It can give you the expectation that commitment will endure for a lifetime. You can learn specific ways to relate to your spouse in healthy ways and build up your marriage. And you could discover ways to resolve conflicts without destroying your relationship with your spouse.

We all know of people around us that have been negatively impacted by divorce. By sharing this article written by John Trent with them you are showing that you are taking a stand. You also want to help them take a stand to break any generational curse of divorce that may be prevalent. Keep in mind that it only takes one couple to start a “revolution” of positive change. God wants it to be YOU!

Steve and Cindy Wright

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Filed under: Marriage Messages

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One response to “The Divorce Cycle Can Be Broken – MM #272

  1. (USA)  It all sounds well and good, but really, you cannot prevent divorce. If your spouse wants a divorce, there is little you can do.

    I recall the folks in the church saying, "Just pray about it."

    Now don’t get me wrong, I believe God hears prayers and cares about how things go. However, I have the impression that many who give the "just pray about it" are really saying they don’t know, or don’t want to be bothered with the issue.

    As I’ve said in many other comments here, my church refused to engage in the Matthew 18 process designed to lead a sinner, not just a sinning spouse, but any sinner who is a church member, away from the sin and back into fellowship with Christ and her family.

    So while I’ve read many articles on how to avoid divorce, what I’ve not seen is how do you make that happen when one spouse refuses to end a divorce she filed?

    I’ll address the points above, sometimes with questions, sometimes pointing out how it appears to be naive thinking:

    – Embrace the love that will never abandon you. Sure spouses fail us, but God doesn’t. The problem is, God doesn’t force your spouse to end the affair or drop the divorce, or run over the other man with a bus (ok, that last one was humor) God may not abandon you, but that doesn’t mean he’ll give an affirmative answer when you pray a hedge of protection around your wayward spouse, or pray that either your wife will lose interest in the OM or that the OM will lose interest in your wife and return to his wife.

    So while God may not abandon you, there is no promise that He’ll do one thing to save your marriage, regardless how many thousand hours you spend in prayer.

    – Know that you have a choice. Not true. When your spouse chooses divorce, you have no choice that will lead to ending that divorce. If your spouse is hell-bent on ending the marriage, there is no choice for you. You may be able to delay the final outcome. But you WILL be divorced if that is her desire. You can choose not to file for divorce, but you can never force another to not file. So for about 1/2 of those who end up divorced, they had absolutely NO CHOICE in the matter.

    – Face your fears. This assumes your spouse will actually talk. If they ran off with someone else, and never told you they were unhappy, why would you expect them to all of the sudden open up, speak clear declarative sentences and be honest with you now, when they are in an affair, when for years before you tried to engage them in conversation, and they either shut down, or dismissed your concerns. This works if both spouses are healthy. But if someone chooses to have an affair, I’d argue they are not healthy, and it’s unlikely they’ll talk, or if they do, they’ll not be honest about it.

    – Focus on positives instead of negatives. I can focus on the positives all I want. It’s not the spouse being divorced that is focused on the negatives. How do you get the unfaithful spouse to do this. We can’t nor should we control another person. This is like telling a gunshot victim they should focus on not getting hit by bullets. It would be funny, if it wasn’t so sad how naive this advice is. I did this. I’m pretty sure I did everything on this list and things got worse, not better. So color me skeptical.

    – Take small steps toward a big difference. How does it matter if your spouse will not give you credit for the steps. I made big steps, small steps, steps of all sizes. But if your spouse refuses to give you credit for even admitting there is a problem, and worse, if she takes the position that the problem lies entirely with the betrayed spouse, then what does this matter? In many cases, the small steps do nothing. The unfaithful spouse has to take a big step and end her affair, end her divorce petition and return to working on the marriage. It doesn’t matter how many small steps a betrayed husband takes if the unfaithful wife refuses to end the affair.

    – Find an accountability partner. Again, I can be accountable to dozens of people. It won’t make a bit of difference if the one who’s unfaithful refuses to end her affair. Who is holding her accountable?

    – Seek professional help when you need it. I did. I spent thousands with Dr Harley’s Marriage Builders for no salvation of the marriage. As I said in other comments, when I went to the pastor, he asked me what I did to my wife to make her have an affair. Huh? It’s just wasted money if the church or the wayward wife’s family and friends will not step up and tell her what she’s doing is wrong, hurtful. Instead, families take the side of their kids, even if they know their child is wrong. One person seeking professional help will not help if the other person fails to end the destructive behavior. I could have seen dozens of professionals. But since the affair didn’t end, since the divorce petition was not withdrawn, none of that really matters.

    – Rely on God’s power rather than your own. I did. Remember above, thousands of hours praying, asking for a hedge of protection, asking for the divorce to be thrown out, asking for a bus…(not really) asking for understanding of the unfaithful wife’s heart, asking for the Holy Spirit to provide the words and the deeds to show her real love, and not the counterfeit that she had in the affair. What did I get for that? Divorce papers, a monthly bill for child support, the right to see my child that I once spent every day with, every other weekend and one day every other week. So tell me, how did relying on God work out to save the marriage?

    – Find a healthy marriage model. Had many of them. So what do you do once the unfaithful wife rejects these people. She puts them out of her life and walks away. The model only works if people are willing to model their behavior after them. I don’t recall any of our friends modeling the adulterous woman.

    -Pass on blessings to the children around you. Funny thing was, my former wife is the one with the in-tact family, and I am the one who came from a broken home. I will teach my child that divorce is not God’s plan, and that unless her husband is abusive or unfaithful, regardless what she ultimately does when it comes to marriage and divorce, he will always be welcome in my home. I will not reject a betrayed husband, just because my daughter, heaven forbid when the day comes that she should marry, would choose to divorce a faithful, loving husband. It may not be comfortable for her. But her first husband, as long as he is faithful and doesn’t abuse, will always be welcome in my home. Affair partners will NEVER be welcome in my home. That is the best I can pass along when it comes to a blessing. A strong stand against evil.

    -In candid and age-appropriate ways, show children how to: communicate openly and honestly… This I do. I think she sees the stark contrast with her mom’s passive aggressive ways and not keeping her word, compared to a father who typically communicates in a open, honest and loving fashion. I am careful to speak out against behaviors, but not against a person. I teach my daughter the difference between speaking out against a behavior, such as lying, and labeling a person a liar, which is wrong. Even after all her mother has done, I don’t speak out against her. But I do make it clear, in age appropriate ways, what sorts of behaviors are unacceptable. Lying to your spouse, loving another man the way you promised to love your husband, etc are all behaviors that I explain are not proper.

    I find in most cases, she already knows it’s wrong, so what I’m saying just reinforces what she already knows.