The Heartache of Divorce is a reality for far too many of us. Even though it’s not a part of God’s plan for society, its effects can devastate even His faithful followers. It’s often said that a divorce is worse than the death of a spouse. I haven’t been through the death of my spouse but I was chewed up by divorce.
Should We Stay in an Unhappy Marriage?
Is it better to stay married unhappily than to part? There are differing views. Scripture encourages us to stay. It says a Godly woman may save her unbelieving husband but if an unbelieving husband decides to leave, she is free ( 1 Corinthians 7:12-16). It gets really unclear to me when a publicly baptized man is a Christian in public but won’t pray with his wife or children and flatly refuses to be spiritually lead. Is he a believer? Is he like the Pharisees of old that Jesus condemned? Only God knows his heart. Are we required by God to stay?
In my own life, I stayed for 21 years. We attended church, even a family camp one year. He taught a youth group for a few years. It seemed all was progressing well. Still, I was puzzled by his inability or unwillingness to pray. I never understood his aversion to all things spiritual at home.
Are We Refusing God’s Teaching on Divorce?
In Matthew 19:8 and 9, Jesus said Moses allowed for divorce because we refused to accept God’s teaching. I never understood why my belief was not enough to carry us. I did my best and we were reasonably happy for several years. No, I wasn’t perfect and I know I made mistakes. It really started to fall apart when he lost his job again and my business was going well. I didn’t have the time or energy to support him in his loss as I had done before. I was busy providing for the family.
Stress took over, my immune system attacked me, and I became too ill to do everything that was on my plate. He seemed unable to support me in my success after his job failed. I no longer had the time or energy for my two boys who were used to much more from me. Yes, God’s plan for marriage and family was completely off the rails. It wasn’t long before I couldn’t be the provider.
We went through bankruptcy. I don’t think he ever recovered. Life was never the same. We were still at church but he wasn’t participating much. I was still very ill but he didn’t seem to realize I no longer had the ability to do as much as I had in the past. I’m sure the arguing and fighting at home was very confusing to the boys.
Divorce is Never the Easy Way
Our public life and our home life were very different. He wouldn’t go for help even though I first asked 6 months after we were married and a few times in between. I went for Christian counselling a few times on my own but we could never find our way together. We were really only happy when we were ignoring our problems.
That lack of intimacy in communication led to a lack of any feeling of intimacy. When I asked for a separation to force us to get help, it was easier for him to send me divorce papers.
I left out lots of details on both parts but the picture is clear that God’s way for marriage works. How do I know? After 3 years of tears and anguish and conviction especially in church services, my burden was lifted. I felt God’s love and forgiveness for any part I had played in my marriage breaking. You can read more of the story here.
A God of Forgiveness and Love
I had planned on living with my parents when my children left home. I didn’t believe I could remarry and they were pleased to have someone to help them as they aged but God had other plans.
I met Neil shortly after my divorce was final. He was a great friend and I was beginning to feel less lonely than I had while I was married. It was my 16 year old son who told me I was head over heels for Neil.
He had never been married, and I wasn’t sure he would want to be with a woman who didn’t want more children. And of course, I still didn’t believe he could marry a divorced woman without committing adultery. I had told him that we were just friends and if I ever wanted more, I would say so.
One weekend when I was visiting my Mom and Dad, I talked over my situation with them. They didn’t see a problem with another marriage and we agreed it was worth the risk of losing his friendship to tell him I wanted more. I didn’t know he spent that weekend discussing with his parents how important it was to have children. They told him a good woman to spend his life with was well worth not having children. They hadn’t met me yet so this wasn’t a reflection on me.
I guess he believed I was a good woman because when I came home I told him after a pleasant dinner together I wanted a deeper relationship and he grinned widely and floated out the door to his own home. I had no idea what he was thinking. He seemed very pleased.
For three days I heard nothing then the phone rang and I heard “How long a relationship were you thinking of?” I replied 40 to 50 years or so as I was already over 40. He hung up. He’d never had a relationship longer than 2 years and had always wanted to be married. He was very afraid of getting his heart broken again. I think my answer put him into shock. It all worked out. We just celebrated 22 years of marriage.
Back on God’s Path
Neil and I had been raised in the same denomination. Even though we had both left that church years before, it gave us common understanding of our backgrounds. Neil was hungry to know more about God and the Bible. He came to church with me and the pastor married us. Neil has a discerning spirit and he wanted to change churches. We later found out what was disturbing him though we didn’t know at the time.
I agreed to look for a new church family, if we could have daily devotions and prayer time together in our home. It turned out to be a good trade and definitely in God’s will.
We tried a couple of churches. One for a whole year but we didn’t find what we were looking for. We were praying for a small church that would really be family. A friend invited us to an Alpha course and assumed we would then stay at their church. Again, God had other plans.
Finding Our Way
The Sunday after Neil was first introduced to the baptism of the spirit for the first time at the Alpha course retreat, he suggested we try the little white church in our neighbourhood. We knew nothing about them other than they were non-denominational. We opened the door and his cousin was greeting. We were home.
The services are not planned but spirit led which would have made no sense to Neil just one week before. It is a 24/7 church family. We had more connections than his cousin and were introduced to the congregation by a respected elder who was a long time family friend.
We’ve been active in this church for 11 years now. We’re growing spiritually and we have daily devotions together every morning. God has enabled Neil to go before me in his walk with God. It’s easy to be a strong woman under the leadership of a husband who cherishes me.
God Does Not Want Us to Be Burdened with Divorce
I want to encourage anyone who’s been through divorce or has been touched by divorce to look to a loving and forgiving God. It’s not His plan to have us go through this heartache. It’s much better to marry wisely and forever.
Ask for God’s guidance as you prepare to marry. If your marriage is in trouble, look to God for help. Exhaust all your resources before giving up. Many marriages are stronger after going through a trial.
If you read my full story, You will know it took a long time for me to accept that God would forgive me and lead me into a loving marriage after a divorce. There were consequences that I still live with and if I had known what I know now, I may have been able to renew my first marriage. I will never know because my ex decided to end it.
I do know God is forgiving and He has taught me so much about forgiveness. He knew my heart to be a wife and led me to a marriage I love.