In the past few months I’ve been surprised by how many couples we know who are divorcing, separating, or heading very quickly in that direction.
I recently read that marriages ending in divorce lasted an average of 9.8 years. When you think about how some couples have been married 40 – 50 years, it’s almost like shutting off a movie after just watching the previews.
Please hear what I’m saying before you read the rest of this article: I believe there are Biblical reasons for divorce (infidelity being one), I’m not saying the decision to divorce is wrong – and I would never encourage someone to stay in a relationship where you fear for you or your children’s safety.
What I am saying, or attempting to say, is that the majority of divorces seem to be the end result of years of hurt feelings, resentment, and. . .selfishness.
According to several divorce statistics, here are the 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
Marriage isn’t perfect
I’m not a fly on the wall. I can’t say what goes on in a person’s home. I don’t know all the details in someone else’s marriage.
There are very real difficulties and situations that do constitute divorce – so please understand that what I’m discussing deals *specifically* with divorces that result from the reasons on that list of ten.
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 struggling – possibly because the consideration and care they once showed isn’t important anymore.
The top ten rebuttals
#1 – We grew apart.
Growing apart means you’re not asking each other how your day went and looking him/her in the eyes while they tell you. Growing apart usually means there’s not enough communication and that more and more time is spent on other activities rather than each other.
#2 – We don’t make each other happy anymore.
When was the last time a special meal was prepared? Was there a kiss hello at the end of the work day? Was anyone touching a knee or holding a hand?
…happily married couples average five positive verbal and emotional expressions toward one another for every negative expression, but very unhappy couples display ratios of less than one to one. – Dr. Lyubomirsky (source)
#3 – We aren’t in love anymore.
Most people think of love as the butterflies and fireworks in movies. I remember my mom reminding me that love doesn’t mean you’re always going to the feel the strong physical desire you do when your first married. Love gradually eases into friendship and companionship. Yes, there’s still sexual desire, but don’t mistake the fact that comfort in a marriage means love is gone.
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.
My parents divorced when I was young, so I know this is a hard one to read whether you’re the parents or the children. What I’d like to encourage you to remember is that whether or not you decide it’s best to divorce, your spouse is your children’s mom or dad.
If you find yourself in an argument with your spouse, or opening your mouth to complain about them in front of the kids, try to turn it into something positive.
It’s better for kids to hear, “What can we do to surprise mommy when she comes home today?” or “Oops, dad forgot to take out the garbage last night. He must have had a lot on his mind.”
Belittling your spouse in front of the kids can make them feel like they have to ‘take sides’.
My parents divorced when I was too little to remember much at all. But what I do remember is that in all the years I grew up, my mom didn’t sit and blame her life on dad. She answered questions, she gave facts, but she never created a monster in my mind. Years later, when I had the chance to meet my dad again as an adult, I saw a man who had become saved, drastically changed his lifestyle, remarried, and openly regretted what happened between him and mom.
If mom had verbally abused him in my hearing, I might have never gotten to know the forgiven man I do today.
#5 & #6 – ‘I grew up but he/she stayed the same’ & ‘We’re different people than when we got married’
No matter how old you are, your interests change over the years. Sometimes what once interested you doesn’t anymore. What you found fun five years ago when it was just the two of you isn’t always the same when you have three kids under ten years old.
People constantly grow and change – some faster than others. If at all possible, try to compromise and adapt.
#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 when you walk down the aisle. There will be ups and downs, there will be changing and growing – some of it’s fun, and some of it’s just plain hard work.
If you’re not having ‘fun’, maybe redefine what fun means and decide what’s more important.
#8 – I found a new person who really understands me.
I’m going to be blunt – unfind them.
Confiding in your ‘new friend’ about how bad your marriage is, isn’t going to change anything but potentially put you in a position you shouldn’t be in. If you want your relationship with your spouse to change, talk to them about it.
Create a date night once a week or every two weeks and just talk. Share your thoughts, your concerns, and your ideas. No one can understand you if you don’t let them in.
#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.
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 are you really thinking about the joy in making someone else happy?
Again, I’m not talking about making the alcoholic, abusive, or unfaithful spouse happy by giving them the selfish things they desire – they’re looking for happiness in all the wrong places. I’m talking about being in the midst of some potholes and rocky places in a marriage. The places were you can both evaluate yourselves and ask, “am I truly trying to make him/her happy?”
A few last thoughts
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
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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