Most people who know me know that I’ve been married twice. As you get older, and further from certain events in your life, you tend to look back with a different perspective. Often you realize what at the time seemed like a situation with no options, was really a situation that simply lacked knowledge. In other words, if you had more information, you would have been able to make a smarter decision.
Not always. But many times.
All marriages are different, I understand that. But my first marriage started out, for lack of a better word, pretty normal. We loved each other. Did things together. Communicated. Shared our passions and dreams for life. Had the occasional fights that all married couples have etc. About a year in we had our daughter, and things were good.
I remember one day the topic of divorce came up and my wife asked me, “What would you do if I ever wanted to get a divorce?” And me, being the Christ follower that I am, knowing that the Lord is my Portion and I have need of nothing else (insert all the other Christian cliche’s here______________________________________________________________), responded, “I’d say, okay. Then let’s get a divorce.” She was a bit shocked. “You mean you wouldn’t fight for our marriage?” And I said, “Why would I want to stay married to someone who didn’t want to stay married to me?” I thought I had made a good point. And I suppose she did too because we kind of laughed about it and changed the subject. A couple years later that was exactly how it played out. “I’m not happy anymore. I think I got married too young and there is still a lot of life that I want to live. I want a divorce—–”
Let me just stop here and say this in case I never get another chance to—- Does what she said sound familiar to any men out there? After hearing story after story similar to mine, a very wise man by the name of Dennis Prager once made the astute observation that there is a profound shift that takes place in the minds of most women around twenty nine or thirty years of age. Life, to them, begins to speed up. They begin thinking they’re missing out on things, they reassess their goals and accomplishments. And if you’re married to one, there is a good chance she’s going to want to kick you to the curb. Now, of course, this is not always the case. And men are often just as much, if not more to blame for divorces in this age bracket as women are. But, many, many, females have testified to the legitimacy of this phenomena.
I’ve always said what makes women so confusing isn’t that they don’t know what they want—(because a lot of us don’t know what we want) it’s that they think that they do.
This seems especially true of women under the age of thirty.
. . . Just some food for thought.
But I digress . . .
Several months later everything was finalized and my marriage was over.
Fast forward five or six years and Lorena (my current wife) and I were discussing the subject of divorce among Christians. During the course of the discussion I had an epiphany: Parents seem so much more committed to their children than to their spouses—-I know, it’s weird anyone would ever draw a comparison here, but just think about it for a moment. It isn’t that our kids don’t drive us bananas. Or that we don’t constantly butt heads with them. And sometimes the arguments get loud . . . things get thrown . . . the police get called . . . And maybe you spend a night or two in jail.
This has never happened to you?
Of course not. Me neither.
But there just seems to be this whole other level of determination when it comes to our kids that isn’t even in the same stratosphere with our spouse. It’s a resolve that no matter what, we are going to love them and work with them and do everything in our power to get along with them. Short of death, the idea of divorcing or abandoning our children is not even a thought, let alone an option.
So here’s what struck me so profoundly: While humans have the capacity to exude this type of commitment toward others, for one reason or another, we often decide not to when it comes to our spouses.
Now, I’m not interested in getting into a conversation about what qualifies as justifiable reason for divorce. Regardless of what the Bible says about that subject, I think most of us who have been divorced (including myself) know that that was not the reason we decided to end the marriage. We simply lacked the resolve.
Like the Church has done in so many other areas, we have looked over to see how the world was doing marriage and said, “That seems fine. Let’s do that.” It is no wonder the divorce rate is just as high among Christians as it is among the world. Because we have adopted their version of marriage. And the world’s version of marriage is, “This is a commitment to stay with a person for the rest of your life. But things change. People change.” Irreconcilable differences came to mean:
“They don’t pay enough attention to me.”
“We fight too much”
“I got married too young”
“We’re drifting apart”
“They’re never going to change”
“We have financial problems”
“I’m just not happy”
If you use your imagination, you can rearrange most of these statements to apply to your relationship with your child. Yet, notice how with the change of context these statements go from sounding like legit reasons, to lame excuses.
What is Marriage?—I Mean, Really?
Then again, one could argue that the difference between the bond with your spouse versus the bond with your child is blood. Your children are a part of you. You’re hard wired to have a stronger connection to them. I mean, on the one hand you have your own flesh and blood, on the other you have just—– a person . . . Right?
One of the most commonly quoted passages we hear at wedding ceremonies and regarding the subject of marriage in general comes from Genesis chapter 2, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” I get that there is a point we’re trying to make by just quoting this portion and leaving the surrounding context out. But I am always curious when people quote a section of Scripture that starts with an unfinished thought. ” . . . For this reason ” For this reason, what? Have you ever asked yourself that question? For what reason? What is the reason for marriage?
Genesis 2:23 “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”
See, God had taken Adam’s rib and created Eve. God took one person and from that created two. Adam was missing something from that day on and his own commentary reveals to us the purpose of marital union—Because the woman had something that the man lost. She possessed part of him. Man would now spend his life looking for that one thing that eluded him and when he finds it, he wants it back. So he leaves his father and mother, cleaves to his wife, and regains what had been taken from him.
But the question is . . . Do we really believe that?
Do we really believe that marriage is not just dealing in spiritually abstract ideas of, “commitment” but is, in all actuality, a reset. It’s Man being put back to One Flesh.
This is not just a sentimental story to make you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. It’s a revelation of the inner dynamics of what makes marriage, marriage.
I have to say, I only understood this passage from Genesis in a poetic way, that had no bearing on any real world situation. But the fact is, the reason a man is joined to his wife is not dissimilar from the reason a parent is joined to their child—-Because they are a part of them.
God Works It Out
Again, this is by no means a fix-all for marriages. Much, much, more can and should be said on the subject. But this was one personal reflection of mine I felt compelled to share. The lesson? When it comes to your spouse and children, do not put the ideas of commitment, resolve, faithfulness, and determination, into separate categories.
If you are going through some rough times with your spouse, I encourage you to change your thinking in this area.
It makes a world of difference.
And if you’ve already been divorced, trust Him, because regardless of a bad decision, He will work it all out for the good.
He certainly did for me. I’m now married to a beautiful and wonderful godly woman who enriches my life in so many ways.
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