Marriage is hard, but you never thought it would be this hard. One day the lightbulb goes off. “Now I understand why Mom left Dad”. You swore your kids would never experience what you did, but they’ll just have to understand. And you call the lawyer.
You’re not alone
According to research from the University of Washington, August is the second busiest time for divorces.1 This data represented Washington State, but various articles around the country confirm this. Many people are unhappy right now.
You’re also not alone with how you feel. Nobody can wound like a spouse because we’re most vulnerable to our spouses. Vulnerability and authentic love go together. But recurring hurts can create a relational disconnect that can lead to divorce if marriage strengthening tools aren’t applied.
Some challenges to consider
In a Huffington Post article2, Debra Macleod lists 8 lies parents considering divorce believe:
1. My kids want me to be happy. No, your kids want their biological mom and dad to get their act together, behave like grown-ups and create a stable, happy home for them.
2. My kids will be better off. Probably not.
3. My next marriage will be better. That’s unlikely. Second and subsequent marriages have higher divorce rates than first marriages.
4. My relationship with my children won’t change. Yes it will.
5. I won’t have any regrets. You probably will. Once emotions have cooled and you have your distance, chances are good that you’ll look back and wonder whether you should have worked harder to save your marriage and family.
6. We shouldn’t stay together for the kids. Actually, I can’t think of a better reason to stay and work through your problems with humility and determination.
7. Divorce will solve my problems. If you have kids together, divorce won’t solve your problems — it will only create a new set of problems.
8. Kids are resilient and will adapt to the new situation……this won’t affect them in the long-term. Kids don’t adapt, they make do. When you break-up their home or bring your new love interests into their life, they hunker down emotionally and do their best to cope.2
This is not what you hear on TV, social media, or from many of your friends, but It’s true.
Alternatives to consider
1. Learn what helps marriages work (not what just makes you happy).
“Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” [Eph. 5:33 NIV]. By the time couples get to my couch, when you drill down to the core, she feels unloved, and he feels disrespected.
Does your wife “complain all the time” about whatever? She’s probably thinking, “If he really loved me (like when we dated), he would…”
Does your husband “get defensive” all the time? He’s probably thinking, “If she really respected me (like when we dated), she wouldn’t …”
In my counseling office, I mostly find ignorance and woundedness not malice among couples. They don’t have the tools to make it work. Check out Emerson Eggerichs, John Gottman, and Shaunti Feldhahn for strong marriage tools.
- Don’t automatically write your spouse off as a narcissist.
According to the manual psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and social workers use, only up to 6.2% of the population are true narcissists. Even if we increase that to 10%, there’s a 90% chance your spouse isn’t. Start here; “…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” [Eph. 4:1-2 ESV]. Most spouses, in the 90%, will respond positively to this.
- Have hope in the One who is Hope
“With God all things are possible” [Matt. 19:26 NIV]. Yes, people make choices, but I’ve found if even one spouse humbles themselves and truly tries to apply Biblical truths and marriage strengthening skills, things can turn around.
4. This does not apply if you are in a domestic abuse situation. There is NO Biblical justification for domestic abuse. However, make sure you have a supportive and protective group that can guide you through the process of moving to a safe environment. Start by calling the domestic abuse hotline.
-Rome Visit by Ed Yourdon, Flicker