I’ll be honest. I’m a little sad and frustrated today.
In the past few months I’ve been blown away by how many couples we know who are divorcing, separating, or heading very quickly in that direction.
And it’s not only people I’m acquainted with – it’s all over the country.
It makes me shake my head. Especially when I read that marriages ending in divorce lasted an average of 9.8 years. (9.8 years!) That’s like shutting off a movie after watching the previews. You haven’t even gotten started!
I believe there are biblical reasons for divorce (infidelity), but I honestly think the majority of divorces boil down to one reason: selfishness.
On both parts.
The top ten reasons for divorce
Why do I think selfishness plays such a role? Here are the ‘latest’ top 10 reasons people give for divorce:
1. We grew apart
2. We don’t make each other happy anymore
3. We aren’t in love anymore
4. It’s better for the kids if we divorce
5. I grew up but he/she stayed the same
6. We’re different people than when we got married
7. It isn’t fun anymore
8. I found a new person who really understands me
9. He/she let him/herself go
10. I deserve to be happy
One couple in our acquaintance decided to divorce after 6 years of marriage. Their reason: they discovered they were best friends. What? Am I the only person who doesn’t understand that?
Now, I’m not a fly on the wall, so I can’t say what goes on in a person’s home. But I’ll be honest – about 10 of those top ten reasons make me want to grab someone and shake them.
Marriage isn’t perfect
Okay, let me back up and be a little more gracious. I know there are very real difficulties in marriage. No marriage is perfect – not mine, not yours, and not the ‘perfect couple’ you think you see in family or friends’ marriage.
What I am saying is don’t throw in the towel so quickly.
When a couple get to know one another, they’re on their best behavior. Smiling, opening doors, and going out of their way to be considerate. Care is taken in what they wear, how they look, what they say, and how they express themselves.
Then they get married.
9.8 years later they’re getting divorced because neither of them are thinking of each other anymore. The consideration and care they once showed isn’t important to them anymore.
The top ten rebuttals
#1 – We grew apart.
Growing apart means you’re not asking him how his day went and actually putting the phone down to look him in the eyes while he tells.
Growing apart means you’re going to work for eight hours while she carts the kids to activities, grocery shops, and comes home to clean. You go out to play basketball with your buddies for three hours while she shops at the mall. When you both come home she opens a book while you log onto the net.
Growing apart means there’s no communication.
#2 – We don’t make each other happy anymore.
When was the last time you tried to make him happy? Really tried – for more than a few days. Did you kiss him hello when he got home? Did you have his favorite dinner ready? Did you sit with him on the couch and touch his knee while he talked to you? What can you do to show him he’s loved?
When was the last time you went out of your way to make her happy? I don’t mean all those over-rated romantic movie scenes, but simple everyday things. Did you start a load of laundry without her asking? Did you sit down with your 6th grader and help him with his math while she cared for the crying baby? Did you surprise her with a gift certificate for a massage? What can you do to show her she’s appreciated?
#3 – We aren’t in love anymore.
Love is overrated. Most people think love is the butterflies and the romantic movie-love Hollywood has brainwashed us with. That’s not love. Not the kind that lasts “till death do us part”. Love is a choice.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (I Corinthians 13:4-7)
#4 – It’s better for the kids if we divorce.
I’d have to disagree. It’s better for the kids to see you sitting across the table from each other, holding hands and talking rather than yelling across the room when they’re ‘sleeping’.
It’s better for you to ask your kids, “What can we do to surprise mommy when she comes home today?”
It’s better for the kids to see hugs, gestures, and signs of affection – even if they’re not returned.
It’s better for kids to hear, “Oops, dad forgot to take out the garbage last night. He must have had a lot on his mind. Let’s do it for him.” instead of, “Isn’t that just like your dad, leaving the garbage all over the place again.”
#5 – I grew up but he/she stayed the same.
What do you think he/she would rather hear? “Grow up! Act your age – I have three kids already, I don’t want another one!”
Or, “Hey sweetie, I know you really like to do _________ or go __________, so I was thinking. . .what if we compromised and went where you’d like this afternoon and then next Saturday we can try someplace new.”
#6 – We’re different people than when we got married.
#7 – It isn’t fun anymore.
Okay, here’s some tough love: Love isn’t about ‘fun’.
A healthy relationship doesn’t just happen. Life is work. Love is work. Raising kids is work. Happily ever after doesn’t start just because you walk down the aisle.
Your attitude, your selfLESSness, and your actions make your marriage work. If you’re not having fun, redefine what fun means and decide what’s more important.
#8 – I found a new person who really understands me.
Don’t go crying on your co-worker’s shoulder about how bad your husband is. If you want your relationship with your husband to change, talk to him about it. Don’t go near the marriage-wrecker with a ten-foot pole.
At one time your wife was the person who really understood you, remember? It was probably because you talked to her. Create a date night once a week or every two weeks and just talk. Share your thoughts, your concerns, and your ideas. She can’t understand you if you don’t let her in.
And then let her have a turn too.
#9 – He/she let him/herself go.
Did your wife gain weight after the kids? Is she 60 lbs. heavier than when you met her? Is your husband a couch potato with a big gut and sweatpants? Then help them get themselves back.
Instead of, “Who ate this whole bag of chips? You again!” how about, “Hey honey, let’s go for a walk. I just want to hold your hand for awhile.”
Don’t bring home donuts and ice cream. Start cooking healthier and doing more physical activities as a couple or a family. Losing weight isn’t easy.
Be an encourager in any way you can and don’t give up.
#10 – I deserve to be happy.
Happiness is an interesting word. Do you mean, “I deserve everything I want” or were you really thinking about the joy in making someone else happy?
I’ll be the first to admit that changing your thoughts and attitudes toward someone isn’t easy. We’re all selfish; it’s human nature. Ask God to help you stop those hurtful and bitter thoughts and replace them with loving and supportive ones. What you think will eventually come out of your mouth.
“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” Proverbs 21:23
A few last thoughts
One last thought: someone once told us that marriage is like a triangle. God is at the top and you and your spouse are on each bottom corner. The closer you each become to God, the closer you become to each other.
Don’t underestimate God’s plan for marriage.
What books or Biblical principals have made a difference in your marriage?
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