Divorce is not a private matter. We often act like it is, but it isn’t. There are many reasons why it shouldn’t be. One reason? “Like a bad cold in the office, divorces may be contagious.” That’s what research is revealing.
Divorce Is Not Private
“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 per cent 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.” (From article, “Catching Divorce”)
Divorce Influences Others
So divorce influences, affects and almost appears to infect other marriages, as well. That reason alone, makes divorce a public matter.
Another reason divorce is not so private is because as Christians break up their marriages, they also break up God’s living picture of His relationship with His bride. Throughout the Bible, we see that God compares marriage to His love for the church. It’s a living picture —a testimony of God’s love. So when we tear up this picture, it becomes a very public matter.
It becomes the business of followers of Christ, as the “world” is watching, how we do this thing called love and marriage. Do we just preach love and teach love? Or do we truly do what it takes to love each other and stay true to our vows? You have to know that when a marriage falls apart it affects us all. It gives us all cause to be concerned and grieve. Marriage is a witness to that, which God can do in and through us as we follow His ways. He also does this as we tap into His empowerment.
For those of you who are followers of Christ, the following is a Love lesson.
God Makes a Difference
“If you fall in love with God —really fall in love with God, you’ll notice a difference in your love toward your spouse. We each study and personalize the Bible. Plus we memorize specific verses to continually renew our minds to God’s power and character. If we fail to do that, our culture and society will shape our minds in the opposite direction.” (Mike and Debbie Breaux with Ginger Kolbaba, from the Marriage Partnership article, “The Real Thing”)
To consider additional reasons and thoughts written on this subject of divorce, please read the following. It is a shortened version of a newsletter article, authored by Mary Kochan. It is titled, “Divorce Is Not a Private Matter.” Here’s what Mary writes:
Ever notice how when folks are getting married they make it everybody’s business? This happens from announcements to bridal registries to showers to showing off the ring. From guest lists and invitations to bridesmaids to something borrowed —everybody is expected to get in on the act. Interesting isn’t it how these same people can decide to call it quits and slink off a few years later and get divorced. And then whose business is it?
The problem is that we all buy into it. Even if we try to talk to them about it, we usually feel compelled to begin the conversation by saying, “I know it’s none of my business, but… Well, enough of that. Because divorce is no more private than a wedding. And it is time we stopped pretending it is…
Here’s why their divorce is your business:
• 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.
Every year the magic of compound interest works in reverse: Combined resources that the married couple could have set aside for retirement or the kids’ education are diminished. Less of a return is earned, and the future financial security of everyone is threatened.
—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?
…Those who are ignorant of the temporal and spiritual damage divorce causes need to be instructed. Those who are doubtful about their ability to heal a damaged marriage need counsel. It might help them to know that many couples who were on the brink of divorce, but who try again, later report happy marriages. They may need direction to resources or something as practical as a baby-sitter while they go talk to someone.
Consider the Positive Effect
Putting your arm around a shoulder and saying, “I know you are going through a tough time. Let me know if I can help” is not admonishing. God hates divorce. (Malachi 2:13-16) Don’t be afraid to assemble a team to intervene if necessary. Peer pressure does make a difference. Marital partners should be reminded that charity begins at home and that to bear wrongs patiently and forgive offenses willingly is not an optional requirement of our faith.
Yes, to comfort the afflicted is also a spiritual work of mercy. But if we perform some of these others and do so prayerfully and courageously, we might have fewer people afflicted by divorce to comfort.
Responsibilities of Attending Weddings
One friend, who wrote to me about her own attitude toward weddings, had this to say, “I don’t even attend a wedding unless the person is someone I know very well. They must be someone whose marriage I think I will be able to uphold should trouble strike. I don’t treat them as social Extravaganzas. I treat them as sacred covenants that I’m witnessing, and as a witness I have an obligation to uphold.
For me, witnessing a wedding is akin to becoming a godparent. It’s an obligation to continue witnessing to “the marriage—encouraging, supporting, helping out practically, etc. is what I expect of myself.”
Imagine what a difference we could make if we all took weddings this seriously and made it our business to make our position known to those around us. (From a past Newsletter, courtesy of “The Catholic Exchange”)
We encourage you to pray about the above information. Ask God to show you how you can be an encourager to those who are married. And then help those who need it. It’s a matter of getting outside of our comfort zone. You are not condemning them. Instead, you are confronting and giving help, when needed. (We have a lot of tools on this web site that can help. Pray and ask for God to guide you in this mission.)
Reach Out For Help
And if you are someone who needs the help, then please prayerfully look around this web site. Ask God to show YOU what you can do to help your marriage grow healthier. We acknowledge that you are not in complete control of all that goes on in a marriage. Sometimes divorce happens no matter what you do. Again, this message is not to condemn you. It’s to wake up those who are sleeping, thinking that divorce is a private matter. It isn’t.
For a parent, please know that:
“Once you divorce, you let a judge into your parenting to decide how you can raise your child. Your parenting values can be jeopardized by what the courts decide.” You may think that getting a divorce will help you to experience more peace than you have today, but consider that there are ‘hidden costs’ that could be much more expensive to pay in the end. ‘Consider the costs’ before tearing apart your home.” (Terri Meeuwson of The 700 Club)
You may have no say or any choice in whether the divorce happens. But please consider what has been said above, if you do have a choice. Don’t buy the lies and myths of the world. Ask God to help you to fight against divorce and do what you can to help others do so, as well.
May we work together to make our marriages reflect the love of God everyday, in every way,
Cindy Wright and Steve Wright