Just recently my husband and I had the opportunity to return to our home state to the exact spot where he got down on one knee and proposed almost 30 years ago. We couldn’t help but think about how much we had gone through as a couple and how much there was that we were simply not prepared for.
We knew marriage would be a journey, but we had no idea how many valleys it would take us through. We also had no idea how much refinement we were both going to need, and we certainly didn’t know that it would be our spouse who would be helping with those refining moments!
As we looked back we realized how much we would have missed had we given up, and boy were we tempted! We thought about how different our children’s lives would be, and how different their own marriages would be if we had called it quits.
We certainly know that not all marriages survive, and in fact, some shouldn’t because of how toxic or abusive they are. We also know that far more end that shouldn’t, and we’re so glad ours wasn’t one of them, despite how hard it got at times. In light of all our pondering, we have this to share with you…
Bad Reasons to Divorce
As Christian marriage counselors, we hear an awful lot of, “I just don’t love them anymore.” Falling out of love is something we believe is a bad reason for divorce. Instead of a call for divorce, it can be an opportunity to grow a mature, deeper love—a love that is based on action, actions of patience, kindness, humility, and selflessness. You didn’t start off loving your spouse when you met them, you intentionally grew it. That can happen again with some effort and the right mindset.
Another thought is, “I need to find myself”. To put it more bluntly, in a loving and honest way, that thought process is a selfish one. Your marriage should be helping you become more of who you are and you helping your spouse become more of who they should be too. You can work on yourself and your marriage together. You should not be in your marriage with a self-focus. That’s always a recipe for disaster.
Here’s another one, “God wants me to be happy”. We hear this one all the time and the truth is, God will never use the sin of divorce (divorce without a justifiable cause) to achieve happiness. He will not break apart something He joined together for the sake of something so wavering and temporal. Happiness is the icing on the cake of marriage, not the goal.
Finally, the old, “We grew apart”. What this really means is perhaps you didn’t invest in your marriage and intentionally grow together. The only way to grow apart is to head in different directions, and if you can do that, then you can certainly turn it around and begin to grow back together.
So, here’s the deal, your marriage is going to have problems, and abuse and adultery aside, it’s not the problems that get you into divorce court, it’s what you do with those problems that is the real culprit.
The majority of marriage struggles, including those listed above, can be corrected and overcome. It will take some work, some effort, and perhaps some humility, mindset shifting, and grace, but when you walked down the aisle this was truly what you signed up for. What the Enemy is using for harm, God is big enough to turn it around and use it for good. Divorce will never fix your problems, especially if done unnecessarily. In fact, it will only bring you more.
Lean in, get some help, and give your marriage your best efforts.
If you want to hear more of what we learned about marriage from our engagement spot, check out The Expedition Marriage podcast, episode 65, What We Didn’t Know about Marriage. Be sure to check out the other episodes for more practical help and encouragement too!
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Expedition Marriage