Saturday, February 28, 2009

Avoiding the "D" Word

(from "Stuff Christians Like")

Getting Caught Off Guard By Divorce

I’m married, and if you are too, then statistically speaking, one of us is going to get a divorce.

I’m not writing that to be sensational, but I just want to be clear that it’s a big deal. And I don’t know if we Christians do a very good job of treating it as such.

Look at it this way: if one out of every two neighbors on your street got mauled by a bear, would you be more careful about bears? Would you buy books on how to keep your house safe from bears? Would you carry a gun and bear spray if there were in fact such a thing as bear spray? Probably. Yet, when it comes to divorce, we don’t do many equivalent things. And the ratios are equally as high as that bear scenario.

When was the last time you and your wife visited a counselor for just a tune up? What was the last book the two of you read together to strengthen your marriage? If you have kids, how many dates do you go on every month?

I fail at most of those things, so please don’t read finger-pointing in this post. My wife and I have far more fake dates at home (dinner after the kids are in bed) than real dates and for Valentine’s Day we got each other a hot water heater. It’s a “State Select” model which I’ve been assured is one of the sexier hot water heaters available. The finger is pointed at me. I just think divorce is something we should think about and maybe work on changing in our generation.

p.s. What's the best marriage advice you ever heard? Mine was that "In most relationships there is a "how person" and a "wow person." When the wow person tells the how person 'I've got a crazy idea, we should start a business and then learn how to paint and then go camping, etc, etc, etc, the how person will ask questions like 'where will we get the money for that, what about your job, when would we have the time?' They think they're contributing to the conversation but the wow person often takes it as an attack against the idea. So instead of saying "how" when a wow person comes up with a lot of ideas, the how person should say "wow" because the reality is that the wow person is going to execute maybe 1 out of 100 of the ideas and just wants to share the overflow of ideas with his wife. I'm the wow person in our marriage and my wife is the how. And that simple idea really rocked our world. John Woodall at North Point preached on that once. So what's the best marriage advice you ever heard? ~ Prodigal Jon

Having gone through a divorce myself, I never figured I would be one of the statistics. Just like dieting, everyone has a proven formula that works for them when it comes to avoiding the "D" word. Funny (ok, not really), but when divorce wipes out 21 years of marriage, you suddenly realize all the things you coulda, shoulda, woulda done differently. One can read all the marital books on love, intimacy, compatibility and still not 'get it'. Going to church together, praying together and learning each others 'love language' are not guarantees of success in marriage. Being equally yoked spiritually is a good starting point but this too is not a sure-fire defense against divorce.

You don't wake up one day and suddenly find your marriage in pieces. It's a slow fade. One that often starts with a drifting away into sin & self by one or both. Sadly, some do wake up one day and find that their covenant partner has given in and given up.

I think both see the clues. The question is, what do you do about it? Ignore the problems? Blame the other person? Or, do you remember your vows... "for better, for worse... till death do us part"? More than anything else, marriage survival depends on a covenant. My favorite line from the movie "Fireproof" is "Never leave your partner behind". That says it all. No matter what. The reality of life however is that we all have a sinful, self-centered nature. I sincerely believe this is the root cause behind most divorces regardless of the reasons given by those who leave.

Marriage requires both to make it work but divorce only requires one to give up.

The issue is not the mistakes we make or the faults we have. The issue is recognizing that each will fail to live up to your expectations at some point and that is where "for better or worse" comes in. Imagine if God 'left' us when we failed Him. One of the most common responses I hear from those considering divorce is, "I'm just not happy anymore... God wants me to be happy, right?"

Wrong. God wants us to be faithful; trusting in Him alone for our joy regardless of changing circumstances or feelings. No where in the Bible does God promise us happiness. What He does assure us of is His love for us. Love is His greatest gift to us and the most complex and difficult thing for us to understand. Why? Again, our sinful nature.... focus on self and not others. We can have everything in life and yet, if we have not love, we have nothing...

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails... ~ 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8