Is Divorce the Answer?

Blaine Robison, M.A.

 

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"I don't love you anymore!"  "I've had all I can take!"  "I want to be free!"  Does this sound familiar?  There's nothing more emotionally painful than a marriage in crisis. Maybe you've decided that divorce is the solution.  While there may be legitimate reasons for divorce, it is important for you to carefully consider whether divorce is the best answer to your problems.

Reality

      You probably did not enter your marriage with a frivolous attitude, but rather full of hopes, dreams and optimism.  Perhaps those dreams have been dashed by unfulfilled expectations or broken promises. When a spouse doesn't seem to care, hopelessness may follow.  Many people who say they want a divorce really just want a change.

      What happens after divorce? The general impression is that you will have a great chance to be happy after you dump the bum or the witch. Studies have proven this is not the case.  When children are involved, divorce will not get your spouse out of your life. Divorce will impact your life in ways you could never have imagined. Divorce can leave you feeling friendless, because of shifts in social and extended family relationships.  Loneliness can plague life after divorce and lead to inappropriate relationships or premature remarriage.

      Jim Smoke, author and nationally known minister to singles, has described marriage and divorce this way - getting married is like buying a phonograph record: you buy it for what's on one side but you have to take the flip side too. Getting divorced is like getting the hole in the record.

The Children

      There is no doubt that divorce damages children in many ways.  Children are subjected to the continual tugging of parents fighting for their time and emotional support.  Divorce has the power to shatter childhood innocence and leave a child suspicious of a belief in marital happiness.  In fact, children of divorce have a better than average chance of being divorced.

      Children also experience the loss of security and may become angry and carry bitterness against one or both parents.  Higher incidents of problems at school, mental and physical illness, rebellion, promiscuous behavior, and suicide are found among children of divorce.

      Children have a right to love both their parents. You will make their lives worse by using them to carry messages or degrading your mate to them. Children grow up and have long memories. Your child's needs have never been more deserving of your care than now.

Finances

      If you choose divorce, your budget will be severely strained.  Court-ordered support takes into account the needs and resources of all parties and there is rarely enough money to go around. Divorce can take you from comfort to poverty. Many divorced persons soon find their salary inadequate for all the new expenses. In dividing property you may find that getting something may not result in keeping it if the payments are beyond your means.

Divorce Court

      One of the most frustrating aspects of divorce is the adversarial legal system.  You may think you should have certain child custody and visitation arrangements, a certain amount of monetary support, and a certain portion of your property. A lawyer cannot guarantee you any of these demands. If you and your mate can't agree on issues you can deplete resources in an expensive legal battle.  Judges are pressed for time and do not share your hurt, so your case may not be given the time needed for a fair decision. The final settlement may bear little resemblance to true justice and may fall short of meeting your real needs.

Is Divorce Ever Appropriate?

      Most divorces are granted on the grounds of incompatibility. In reality every couple is naturally incompatible because of the curse God placed on marriage when Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3:16).  The law and the courts recognize the obvious.

      But, God commands Christian couples to refrain from divorce (1 Corinthians 7:10-11) and restricts remarriage rights to only those cases in which sexual unfaithfulness was the reason for the divorce (Matthew 19:9).  Christian couples need to remember that "falling out of love" and the inability to "get along with one another" are not biblical grounds for divorce.  God hates divorce for personal convenience (Malachi 2:16).

      However, serious offenses, such as physical abuse, adultery, drunkenness or criminal behavior, are not to be tolerated (1 Corinthians 5:11-13). Hurtful behavior should be confronted and forgiven upon repentance (Matthew 18:15,16).  If there is no repentance, then the church has the authority to grant the offender's desire to be treated as an unbeliever (Matthew 18:17; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:15).

Hope for Bad Marriages

      There are only three choices for any person involved in an unhappy marriage: (1) get a divorce, (2) tough out the marriage without working to improve it, or (3) maturely face up to problems and choose to build a new intimate marriage out of the existing one.

      God desires that couples in conflict be reconciled to each other instead of divorcing, just as He wants sinners reconciled to Him.  Your unhappy marriage can be transformed into a productive relationship through the power of Jesus Christ.  With the help of a biblically based counseling program you and your spouse can resolve conflicts, learn better ways to handle your problems and heal the wounds.  Even if love has been lost, you can still begin again.

Copyright 2003 by Blaine Robison.