I completely get, now more than ever, why the divorce rate is so high. I believe, that even among Christians, it's at 50%. And it was so easy to sit on the judgmental seat back in the day and say, "Oh they weren't being spiritual enough", or "they didn't marry the person that God had for them", or "they are taking the easy way out!"
But it's so much more complex than this!
There's a ton of elements that make any relationship challenging:
- People change! Or they don't! There's growth, or lack of. And what if you are ready to grow but your spouse isn't? Or if they resent you because you've changed?
- The dating game is a SCAM. Because you ALWAYS wear your best clothes, smell your best, and behave your best. And then you get married and your guard is DOWN. And the real you comes out. And years after you are married you feel cheated, deceived some how. It turns out that the "hard worker" you married just liked having cash to blow when he was single, and now that you have a family he can't keep a job. Or the "patient" lady you married is like a boiling pot, and then the "snappy" side comes out and you didn't think she'd ever explode at you the way she does now.
- You stop trying. It's like, oh well I'm married now. Because getting married is like a video game, right? you reach the last level, beat the bad guy, say your "I dos", and then now you enjoy the music and credit screen. The end.
And the killer that adds to all these things is the question, "Is this how it'll be for the rest of my life!?!?" And you feel trapped... and that bitterness building up inside of you suddenly begins to kill you ever so slowly to where all you are waiting for is to die as physically as you are dead emotionally and spiritually.
However, there's hope. Because there are good factors, things that - if the love was genuine at the beginning - it can help:
- It should hurt to see your partner hurting. If there's no compassion, empathy - if it makes no difference to you or "you're just sick of it"... it's not good!
- There needs to be a large, grand amount of selflessness. If you truly feel that the person you vowed to is number one (instead of yourself), then making whatever adjustments are necessary is not a challenge! We will lovingly, willingly do for our spouses whatever they will need us to do.
- It has to be a two-way street, and the minute one person feels like they are doing all the hard work, it is in a precarious situation!
- You can enjoy the good times! Never underestimate a good laugh, a great conversation, a wonderful walk. Learn to create moments to enjoy together because there will be plenty of time for drama and strife, so you need to be able to look back and pull to memory things you enjoy about your spouse. And remembering good things about your spouse is not the same as making excuses for them, or justifying... it's truly being able to see and recall specific good things that the spouse does.
And now I see how these things can make or break any relationship. And I only barely scratched the surface of relationships. This is not even factoring in physical, verbal, or emotional abuse... or a person who has deep personal problems that affect their ability to successfully have a relationship (asberguer's, learning disabilities, a history of abuse, poor relationships with parents... oh the list goes on!). It doesn't take a bad couple to break up. It doesn't take a good couple to stay together.
I look at a few people I know whom I respect and consider godly women who are divorced and I understand, completely, that they didn't have much of a choice! They had to make the choices that they made simply to keep their heads above water, to keep their sanity, and to survive. I'm not advocating in favor of divorce. I know it's not in God's will and Jesus said He didn't want it for us.
But at the end of the day, we are broken people, trying to have a permanent and faithful relationship with another broken person, while living in a broken world.
My prayer for everyone out there is that you wake up and smell the coffee! Don't let one day go by where you don't do anything out of the ordinary to let your spouse know that you care. Don't get so caught up in the grind of life that your marriage is as monotonous as your job. That the "bed time routine" of the kids and the family becomes just something you have to do.
Work out your problems! It's not causing drama to argue. The problem is in silently boiling. Or walking away to make it easy (actually, walking away is being cowardly!). Do not be afraid of confrontation, but face them head on keeping in mind that you and your spouse are on the same team against the problem! STOP just blowing off your spouse but consider that if it upsets your spouse then it is important enough to address and fix right away!
How would you like to feel like you are screaming for help and your spouse has headphones on, oblivious to your cry for help? Don't put your spouse in that position - in that emotion! IT MATTERS! Because at the end of your day, it's your spouse who will have your back... it's your spouse that deserves the best from you.
And if you are in the screaming point yourself, feeling like your relationship is a prison and not a blessing, may I encourage you to pray and seek appropriate counsel. There will always be someone that will give you godly advice, that will allow you to vent without picking sides, and that will not make you feel guilty for being frustrated. I would love to say that this person is a pastor, but maybe not - and you need to pray and ask God to show you who this person is. But seek some counseling, and don't be too quick to give up SPECIALLY if you are not in an abusive relationship. Because unless your mental or physical well-being is in danger, your spouse deserves a second chance (or maybe a third, or a fourth... or seven times seventy-ith). If you can be merciful and gracious to ANYONE else - then your spouse all the more.
And to my friends with broken hearts and failed relationships, who maybe have recovered, or maybe not... even if you put your heart back together with duck tape and put your best foot forward anyways... I pray God brings complete healing to your heart and gives you hope in a future relationship that is as rewarding as God called it to be.