You realize this person you married didn’t really share the same goals or dreams that you thought he did. Your whole life seems to have come to an abrupt halt. She says she doesn’t love you anymore; he says he’s not sure he ever really loved you; she’s found someone else; he’s tired of all the fighting. You’re getting a divorce.
Most people starting out in marriage never even think of divorce; it’s just something no one thinks will happen to them. But the harsh reality is that divorce is extremely common in the United States, statistics indicating 40-50% of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce.
Coping with Divorce as a Christian
Shockingly enough, even Christian couples who are heavily involved in a church still find their marriages in trouble. Unfortunately, Christians find themselves coping with divorce all too often, as well.
The questions so many are asking, of course, is “Why?!” Why do so many marriages seem to fizzle or fight until they are dead? There are so many reasons! The phrase “irreconcilable differences” is often quoted in court documents as the reason for divorce, but in reality, there are many reasons that cause the end of a marriage. Some of them include:
- Financial issues
- Sexual problems between spouses
- Differences on how to raise children
- Alcohol/drug abuse
- Domestic violence
No matter what reason or reasons you may have for deciding to end your marriage, divorce is extremely painful. Divorce, even in amicable situations, changes every area of a person’s life. Jobs are impacted; other relationships are lost; viewpoints of family and life change drastically. Many different emotions arise while coping with divorce and managing them can be quite challenging. Some of these emotions include:
- Identity crisis
- Substance abuse
Coping with divorce can also cause physical issues. Some of these include:
- A weakened immune system
- Higher chances of heart disease
- Higher chances of cancer
- Extreme changes in weight
- Digestion issues
- Metabolic problems
Divorce and Children
Divorce and children present another gut-wrenching situation. As if the divorce itself – the tearing apart of a holy union, the parting of ways between two people who promised to love each other “’til death do us part” – isn’t difficult enough, divorce often comes with the “collateral damage” of hurting children.
While coping with divorce can be extremely difficult for adults, divorce for children can be traumatizing and devastating. Children and young teenagers do not yet have the coping skills to be able to navigate the breakup of a home in a healthy manner.
Often children blame themselves for their parents’ marriage ending, although this is never the case. Divorce often leaves children feeling abandoned by one of their parents; they may feel confused, sad, insecure, angry, disappointed, and scared.
Many of these children begin to have trouble in school, show physical and emotional signs of stress, anxiety, and worry and/or begin to show signs of rage. Divorce can even lead young people into self-destructive behavior, such as alcohol and drug abuse, promiscuity, and others.
Does God Really Hate Divorce?
Other relational issues can often accompany divorce. Well-meaning family members, friends, co-workers, and even fellow church attenders can respond in hurtful ways to divorce. These people can feel angry toward one or both spouses or give unsolicited advice as to how to “save the marriage.” Some even point to God’s own words as a way of almost shaming those going through a divorce. Many church-goers will quote Malachi 2:16 as a Scripture against divorcing. It says,
For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.
“God hates divorce.” These are strong words, leaving little room for interpretation as to how God feels about divorce; His message here is quite clear. But, let’s take a look at why God hates divorce and what it is that He actually hates.Does God really hate divorce? Yes, He really does! Why? Because of the hurt and destruction that covenant-breaking causes in the lives of people. Remember, God loves people! People are the most important thing in all of creation to God. We see that when we look at a very familiar verse, John 3:16, which says,
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (NLT)
God wants us whole and happy in Him. So, when someone breaks covenant with their spouse He wants nothing to do with it, wants it far from us, and, yes, He even hates it! As we said above, the aftermath of divorce is catastrophic: broken hearts, destroyed relationships, weakened families, and damaged children are just a few of the blows dealt by divorce.
Of course, God hates that! He hates what it does to His people. This is where this verse, if not dealt with carefully, can be used as a weapon to wound already wounded people. If we think about the context of Malachi 2:16 we see that it is directed at the person who is unfaithful to the covenant they made with their spouse by divorcing for less than the two situations in which the Bible allows it: adultery or abandonment by an unbelieving spouse.
For the victim of unbiblical divorce, know that God is walking through it with you. When you cry yourself to sleep at night, He cries, too; when you feel lost and alone, He’s right there, holding you, comforting you as only He can; when you feel like everything in your life is upside down, He’s right there, waiting to guide you on to the next part of His plan for your life.
Life After Divorce
So, is there life after divorce? Absolutely! Does it seem like surviving divorce is impossible? Take heart! God sees you, He knows your heart is broken. He knows you need Him more than ever to be near to you and see you through this dark and lonely place.
This is a time for you to be proactive about your health and well-being. Many families struggling through the pain of divorce can’t do it alone; they need professionals, people who can help navigate each member of the family, and their feelings and misgivings through this traumatic situation.
It’s true, maybe the marriage is beyond repair, maybe one spouse is unwilling to work at reconciliation, but even then, divorce can happen in a less destructive way. Seattle Christian Counseling has counselors ready to help you navigate through a divorce. Please contact us today!
Finally, here are some verses to read and meditate on while going through a divorce:
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again – my Savior and my God! – Psalm 42:5
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on You! – Isaiah 26:3
Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles. – Psalm 119:50
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19
“Meeting at the Cafe”, Courtesy of Matthieu, Joannon, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Contemplation”, Courtesy of Yogendra Singh, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Heading Out”, Courtesy of Tobi, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Cross”, Courtesy of Felix Mittermeier, Pexels.com, CC0 License