Many marriages are in trouble. Too often divorce is viewed as the quick and easy solution. It’s not. However, while the Bible upholds the priority of a lifetime marital commitment, there are some cases in which even God allows for divorce. Unpacking the biblical grounds for a divorce is a thorny challenge but sometimes it’s necessary to respond in a loving way to a damaging or dangerous spouse.
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The reasons for divorce can vary from couple to couple. Join us as Gene Getz discusses his views on the biblical grounds for divorce.
Join us as Gene Getz explains that restored marriages after divorce are possible, but can be a difficult process.
In order for a marriage to be restored after a divorce, both partners must be willing to say that they have fully explored the reasons why they originally divorced. That usually takes a significant amount of time, counsel, and brokenness before they can move in different ways with clarity, purpose, and agreement towards restoration.
In her new book The Beauty of Broken, Elisa Morgan writes in the introduction:
“Formulaic promises about the family may have originated in well-meaning intentions, but such thinking isn’t realistic. It’s not helpful. It’s not even kind—this prodding one another to think we can create something we can’t: families immune from breakage” (p. xii).
Like the vast majority of Christian parents, Elisa had bought into the unspoken, unwritten, and unrealistic expectation that if she did all the right things—like Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, and teaching her kids about God—then her kids would turn out okay or, in her words, would be “paragons of Christian virtue.” When the desired outcome was radically shattered by the entrance of issues like alcoholism, learning disabilities, legal issues, abortion, homosexuality, addiction, teen pregnancy, infertility, adoption, divorce, and death, Elisa was forced to confront the myth she’d wholeheartedly embraced: the myth of the perfect family.
The journey that Elisa and her husband, Evan, took together radically transformed their view of family life and values. They came to understand that there are no perfect families. Every family is broken because everyone in every family is broken. Broken families are the norm, not the exception.
And that’s why I’m excited to sit down with Elisa and Evan in our next RBC webinar to discuss their journey and what God has taught them along the way that we can all learn from as well. Please consider joining us on September 19, 2013, at 12:00 p.m. EDT for our webinar “The Myth of the Perfect Family.” Space is limited, so please sign up at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1023795211087515648
It’s the holiday season. And the season seems to be expanding more and more each year. Stores small and large seem to be decked out earlier every year, with merchants trying to exploit the insatiable demands of holiday shoppers with dwindling discretionary income to spend.
But what’s the holiday season all about? From Thanksgiving through Christmas, this “most wonderful time of the year” has been hijacked by anyone trying to make a buck, hoping to make it into the black before the end of the year.
So, in an attempt to help all of us focus on the spirit of the holidays here at HelpForMyLife.org, we want to focus on some of the unique joys and heartaches, traditions and challenges, as well as opportunities that we hope will help all of us return to a more Jesus-centered focus at this “most wonderful time of the year.” After all, it’s His birthday that is being celebrated around the world.
We’ll be talking about traditions that we’ve found helpful and will give you some ideas that may challenge you to be more intentional in your celebrations this year. And we hope that will make the holidays more meaningful for you and your family.
First holidays celebrated with someone new—a spouse, a baby, a community—can be delightful and fraught with meaning. The newness can bring an intoxicating sparkle of wild-eyed discovery back into a holiday celebration that has become simply predictable or “ho-hum.”
On the other hand, first holidays celebrated without someone special—such as after a divorce or the loss of a spouse, child, parent, or dear friend—produce deep struggles with the ambivalent feelings of being torn over the heartache during a season made for celebration with precious loved ones.
Decisions regarding what traditions will or won’t be celebrated, to travel or not to travel on the holidays, and ways of avoiding getting sucked into the commercialization trap while balancing the desire to be a generous giver will be some of the topics we’ll discuss over the next 4 weeks.
So come and join in the discussion—” ‘Tis the season for sharing.”
In the interest of fairness, I heard back from readers (both males and females) that single dads are also struggling to make it as solo parents. And they’re right. I had no intention of slighting single dads. The fathers out there who are invested, involved, and making their parenting a priority in spite of the obstacles thrown at them are to be championed as well.
In the past, one of the obstacles single dads have faced regarding parenting time with their kids has been how the courts have viewed the whole child-custody issue. In a divorce, are the kids better off with their mom or with their dad? That’s the decision the courts have been forced to mediate between opposing parties who either can’t or won’t make wise decisions regarding the well-being of their children. And let’s face it, a husband and wife who couldn’t agree on how to stay married are probably not going to agree on how to raise the kids now that they’re apart. Sadly, the courts are left to decide . . . and that’s messy no matter how it goes down. Everybody—dad, mom, and kids—lose something.
As divorce escalated in our culture, the courts traditionally sided more with the mother as the primary caregiver of the children. However, that’s beginning to change. As things have become more equal in the eyes of the courts, fathers are getting more consideration in the custody issue. Splitting time equally between parents has become more accepted in the courts’ decisions than previously seen.
That trend bodes well for dads who are lovingly involved in their children’s lives, especially when the mom has been the negligent party in the home. I’ve worked with dads who have altered their careers just so they can be more involved in their children’s lives. These dads aren’t deadbeat loser dads. They’re engaged and want to be meaningfully involved in parenting their children well.
These are the dads who don’t “provoke anger” in their kids (Eph. 6:4). Instead, they are about nurturing, training, and teaching their children in ways that honor the God who has called them to be fathers (Deut. 6:5-9).
So when you see these guys out there doing the parenting solo thing with the kids, remember: They need our encouragement and support too.
Those are my thoughts. How about yours? Feel free to share your thoughts and stories as a single dad, about the single dad who raised you, or on how God has encouraged you to reach out and encourage a single dad.
I’m convinced that being a single mom is one of the toughest challenges any woman will ever face. Let’s be honest. Being a mom is a ton of work, and raising the next generation is a monumental task. Carrying, caring for, shaping, molding, and influencing her children is both a responsibility and a delight for many women. However, being left to parent solo without a husband to tag team with her is much more than challenging. It’s overwhelmingly unfair!
That’s why single moms are heroes in my book.
I know there are many reasons a woman can be left to parent solo, but the one I see most often are those moms whose husbands have bailed.
Recently I was chatting with a single mom who was totally overwhelmed by what she was up against. She’d finally drawn the line with her husband, who had been guilty of numerous affairs throughout their 20+ years of marriage. He’d run off with a woman 12 years younger, leaving her with 3 kids and financial support that was next to nothing because he was also financially irresponsible. No surprise there.
After years of what felt like beating her head against a brick wall, she’d had enough and filed for divorce. Divorce wasn’t an attractive option. Nothing about it made her feel good. But feeling good wasn’t the point. Being the responsible adult in the relationship and doing the loving thing for her children was.
She not only felt all alone, but she felt beat up, betrayed, bankrupt, and buried alive under a pile of relational rubble that her ex had dumped all over her. And she felt like giving up. It would have been easy for her to just give in and make excuses for doing nothing. And, most of us would have understood, given her overwhelming circumstances.
But that’s not what she and many other single moms like her have done. They’ve shouldered the responsibilities of being the adults in the home, have gotten jobs (sometimes two) and paid the bills, and have provided a safe, secure, and loving home for their children.
While it wasn’t what they had in mind when standing at the altar, they’ve stepped up and done the heavy lifting as the sole breadwinner and soul support for their kids. Not that they don’t struggle with it all and sometimes feel like quitting, but they choose not to quit. They continue digging out from under the rubble and demonstrating a consistency in their love that their kids admire and depend on.
They certainly have earned my respect.
So the next time you see a single mom shouldering the load of parenting that was designed to be shared by two, take the time to express a word of encouragement. Let her know that you noticed and that you admire her for all the sacrifices she makes for her children. Maybe even go out of your way to lend a helping hand by offering to help with home or car repairs, childcare, or a gift card for a night out. Your words of encouragement will be like water to a thirsty soul, and your acts of kindness will speak volumes.
I do think this is the kind of 21st-century idea behind James’ exhortation to first-century Jesus followers about one of the earmarks of genuine faith: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).
Those are my thoughts. How about yours? Feel free to share your thoughts and stories as a single mom, about the single mom who raised you, or on how God has encouraged you to reach out and encourage a single mom.
If you are going through a divorce, please don’t put your children in the middle of the conflict between you and the other parent. The children didn’t cause the divorce and they can’t, nor should they be expected to, fix it.
It’s confusing enough for children when they learn that one or both parents want out of the marriage. What children often hear is that the other parent wants out of the family. That mom or dad no longer loves them. That somehow if they had been better kids, didn’t fuss and argue as much, that parent would be happier and stay.
Some parents lose their good judgment and add to their children’s pain and confusion by putting them in the middle of mom and dad. They force them to take sides. They put their children in the role of “message-bearer.” Or they use the children as emotional confidants telling them how painful this divorce is for them and how much they miss their spouse.
Children need to be relieved of this kind of pressure and responsibility. They need to hear each parent say, “I love you and I will always be here for you.” They need to know that while this is a painful time, mom and dad will be OK. They need to hear both parents explain that the divorce is because of adult problems, but that won’t change how much they love their children. And one of the best ways to love your children is not put them in the middle of the conflict.
I hope you don’t mind that I continue to blog a while about abusive marriages. It’s just that after I read some of the responses, I wanted to say more.
First, thank you for sharing your stories. It’s so important that we have a safe place to talk about what is happening.
Many mothers worry about how a divorce will affect their children. It’s so important to know that living in an abusive home can be more damaging and hurtful to a child than living through a divorce, if the divorce protects the children as well. Children are emotionally and psychologically hurt when they live in a home of domestic violence. If you pursue a divorce, find an attorney who will do all he or she can to also protect the children.
If you choose to try and work things out with an abusive spouse, please understand that you have chosen a long and difficult path. Part of the difficulty is that an abuser may try to rush and jump through all the hoops just to get back into the home. Often, he puts pressure on the abused wife to take him back. If he’s doing that, he’s not ready to come back home. Putting pressure on a spouse, no matter what it looks like, is manipulation and has been one of the ways he’s controlled you in the first place. He must get a grasp of what his manipulation looks like and why he’s doing it. Repentance means that he understands fully what he’s done, he’s broken up over it and he has a clear picture of the damage he’s done. Therefore, he will know how much work it’s going to take to rebuild your relationship and he won’t rush the process.
I see a lot of women feel obligated to take back a man who says he’s sorry. He cries and tells the pastor how sorry he is. He brings you flowers and tells you it will never happen again. You are not obligated to walk back into abuse. You and your children should feel safe in your own home. Without safety, you have no home; just four walls that can soon feel like a prison.
No one should make you feel that getting out of an abusive marriage is the wrong thing to do.