Divorce, a Terrible Thing

2 Comments

For those of you that have followed this journey through daring to love, the seemingly inevitable happened, Beth’s divorce of me was finalized on June 20th, 2011. I maintain that God’s Will was not done in this situation. That being said, God’s Will was not being done in my conduct towards my wife all the years we were married.

I see the failure in our marriage as a spiritual failing. I was to be the Spiritual Leader in our family and I never developed as that leader. I believe it takes 2 plus God to make a marriage great. A man of God fulfilling his responsibilities to his wife and children would more than likely result in encouraging the wife to live a God designed life also. Pure speculation on my part but I did see glimpses of this dynamic in my marriage.

God forgives and forgets, not so with we mere mortals. I did not know how to cope with the dynamo my wife was and certainly needed spiritual help to live successfully with her. My way of getting along was to go along and 9 times out of 10 this was not a problem. When I did not want to go along, I was pressured so strongly that I did 1 of 3 things, all with anger. I either refused to comply and faced her anger, complied, or left. The leaving was stupid and childish not to mention painful. Each leaving was with the intention of not coming back, then the pain came and I returned on my knees with promises that would be broken over and over again.

My wife was wonderful. Through her wounding she accepted me back dozens of times, only to be heart broken again and again. She forgave me much, so I love her much, ultimately she did not cancel my account of wrongs and states she had 16 years of walking heartbreak. I also held her to account for things that I had no right to hold her to account for. God is the Judge and God forgave us our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus, PERIOD.

The key I believe of a successful life, marriage and relationships is to accept God’s plan for forgiveness, for ourselves and forgive others as we have been forgiven and to turn our wills and life over to Him. There were so many missed opportunities in my marriage to step up to the plate, that if I had a double, I’d give myself a good butt kicking. Was Beth responsible for her conduct in the marriage, of course, but that was God’s job to correct not mine.

The Bible describes marriage as becoming one flesh. In divorce and in all the times I left, there is a tearing of that one flesh and it is excruciatingly painful! Do I blame my wife for wanting to bring this pain to an end? No. Do I wish she would have chosen the path of forgiveness, true forgiveness and trust God to fulfill His promises? I desired that and prayed for that more than you’ll ever know.

So now I’m attending Divorce Care, a Bible based course and support group. It promises healing through the only One who can heal, Jesus.

Day 12 Love lets the other win II

Leave a comment

I had a conversation with a friend last night. He is of the opinion that there are “no good marriages”. I admitted that most of what I believe concerning having a Bible-based, God-centered marriage is based on faith, not experience. I know a few married people who have good marriages, but they seem to have them by “luck” and not by design. If I consider what makes the marriages I see as successful work, many of the elements outlined in this book are being implemented, not by design, but perhaps through discovery or just due to the individual’s personalities. What this says to me is this Love Dare book is really needed!

We are to glorify God and give honor to Him through our lives. When we do not have marriages that glorify God and bring honor to His Name, it is a terrible testimony and a HUGE missed opportunity to witness to others what the reason for our success is. When we divorce, what does that tell those who look to us as Christians for answers? I can say this about my own failed marriage; it is not God’s fault. It takes two willing people to submit to God’s guidance and live out what He empowers us to live out when we are willing to do His Will in our marriages and lives.

Today’s lesson in “The Love Dare” covers stubbornness, willingness and the ability to lay aside personal “rights” for the good of the relationship. Stubbornness can be good in certain areas, like our belief in God and a refusal to deny those beliefs. In a marriage, a stubborn insistence on our own way and “rights” is detrimental to a good relationship. It only takes one partner to “give in” to diffuse an argument, but ideally both should become willing to cooperate with one another.

I am a stubborn person, my wife is stubborn also and this knowledge causes me much grief. I know my wife is stubborn enough to take her being offended, hurt and disappointed all the way through Divorce Court. I did not file an “Answer” to my wife’s Petition for Dissolution. I told her I could not, would not file an Answer and would not appear in Court. In Minnesota, it only takes one person to file for divorce and if there is no “Answer” filed, all that the person filing for requests is granted by default. I had the “right” to challenge my wife’s settlement requests, but was physically, emotionally and mentally unable to. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6: 1-11 admonishing believers not to take one another to court. I read this after I was unable to file legal papers and felt better about not being able to do so.

Even though this is not the scope or application the author was referring to, I feel like I am allowing my wife to “win”. This is a sickening thought in this application and I pray that God will be able to impress upon my wife that this is not the course to stay on. I am not deluded however to think that if the divorce were stopped and my wife reconciled to me, that our marriage would succeed without professional help and the application of the principles laid out in this book. Without God being first and foremost in our lives and a humble submission to His Will for our lives, we can have no success. Whatever the outcome, I am giving myself wholly to God everyday, to seek His Will for my life and ask for His power to carry that out. I am course corrected and I am very grateful for that, “not my will, but Thy Will be done”.

Day 11 Love cherishes II

Leave a comment

Two illustrations are given in the Love Dare book on how we handle marriage. The first example is of an old car in need of extensive repairs, upon learning the cost of the repairs, the owner decides to get a newer model. The next example is of a crushed hand and the expense willingly paid to repair and save this hand from amputation. The authors comment that our marriages should be like saving the hand, cherish our spouse as we do our own bodies.

I have been amputated from my wife and it still feels like the wound has a long ways to go towards being healed. This has been described as a natural feeling, since we become “one flesh” with our spouse. The tearing apart of the “one flesh” does not follow neat lines and the wound is very jagged. Jesus came in part to heal the brokenhearted and I am relying on that healing every day. I pray for healing in my marriage daily, but I realize we all have free will and can do what we want regardless of God’s plan. I can exercise faith with things and strengthen my belief in God but my wife is free to do whatever she chooses to do, as am I, but I choose the marriage.

My stepson graduates this year from High School. He and I are back on speaking terms; he states that he was not angry, just too busy to get back to me for a week. Today I received an invite from my wife to an Open House for Garret, I don’t know if she thought I would come, but I am not emotionally incapable of attending. If the roles were reversed, I am certain my wife would have no difficulty in attending an event like this, which just illustrates how different we are emotionally. I did not make this decision by myself, I have a “Sponsor” who helps me decide what I am able to handle when I am unsure.

Eighteen years ago, my oldest daughter graduated from High School. My first wife had divorced me and I was in worse shape emotionally then than I am now. I was in the early stages of recovery and was able to attend her graduation and make a 2 minute appearance at her Open House. The similarities are present now, my first wife had reached a point where she “couldn’t take it anymore” because of my behaviors that are common to many alcoholics. I had much to learn in my sobriety and the hardening of my first wife’s heart towards me was not something she would change. I have now been sober 19 years, 7 months.

I can write all I want about my beliefs and the confidence I have in God to change lives and marriages, but if my wife continues on the path she is going, I will be spouting theory about God’s plan and work in marriages. I am fully confident that He can work miracles in the marriage of two imperfect people, because of all the cases of His miracles being worked in the lives of alcoholics and addicts.

If your marriage is in trouble or could use a boost, please cherish it enough to do all it takes to make it a great marriage. It is possible with God’s help, and it is worth it.

“Don’t let the culture around you (not even Church culture) determine the worth of your marriage. To compare it with something that can be discarded or replaced is to dishonor God’s purpose for it….it should be a picture of love between two imperfect people who choose to love each other regardless.” The Love Dare; parenthetical opinion is mine.

Day 10 Love is unconditional II

Leave a comment

God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5.8

When I read this verse today, it was if I had read it for the first time, perhaps it is the first time I meditated on the first 5 words. God demonstrating His love, while we cursed Him, ignored him, sinned against Him and denied Him, Christ died for us. Without Jesus, we are at enmity with God, separated from His love; we have no fellowship with Him.

This is somewhat the position I find myself in with my wife. We have no fellowship, we are not at peace with each other, and we are headed for divorce. This separation has been good for me. I think separation is necessary for couples when their problems require professional help. I am absolutely convinced that divorce in a Christian marriage is against God’s Will however.

Think about it, while we were sinners, enemies of God, He laid His life down for us, the supreme sacrifice. Jesus was beaten, spit upon, had His scalp lacerated with a thorny crown, scourged with a cat-of-nine tails, 40 lashes times 9 steel balled ends tearing the flesh off of Him, then nailed to a cross! Who amongst us can claim that extreme abuse? Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing”! Abuse, whether verbal or physical is wrong and must stop and that is where separation until professional help comes to play. We are to forgive, God does not divorce us, and He forgives us.

When you are separated for an extended period of time from your spouse, in my case approaching one year with a short reprieve, you learn what your love is made of. “Phileo”, friendship love is gone as is “eros”, sexual love. If you have forgiven your wife for the wrongs she has done, asked forgiveness for the wrongs you have done against God and your wife, what remains? Good memories? Hopefully. If the love you feel grows during the separation and you get past the hurt, you realize this love is from God and it is unconditional.

“The Scriptures say that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8. 38-39) This is God’s kind of love. And thankfully—by your choice—it can become your kind of love. But first you must receive it and share it.” From “The Love Dare”.

Until yesterday I would say, unless God intervenes, my marriage will be over in “x” number of days. I was corrected, God has intervened, He has given us forgiveness of sins and all the accompanying promises of salvation and that was before we accepted it. In like manner He is intervening in my marriage, my heart has undergone a course correction, He has spoken to my wife through our Pastor, at the bare minimum and has provided her with the same Spirit of truth that all believers have. If my wife chooses to ignore God’s Will and obtains her divorce that is her choice, not God’s Will. If God’s Will was being done on the Earth, Jesus would not have taught us to pray, “Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in heaven”.

Day 9 Love makes good impressions II

Leave a comment

The first time I saw my then future wife, she smiled her 1,000 watt smile. If all that ever transpired between us was her smile, we’d both be happier people today.

I have worked through the Love Dare book several times, this is the fourth journey. I cannot perform the “dares” by request of my wife. I do seek God daily, several times a day even, on what I am to do in this difficult situation. Unless my wife has a change of heart, her divorce from me will be finalized in 31 days. I used to say, until just this moment, that unless God intervenes, the divorce will be finalized. I believe God is intervening, in my life as well as hers. God directs, urges, prompts us to do the right thing constantly and it is our choice to follow those promptings or not. We often receive bad counsel from other “well intentioned” Christians and relatives and friends.

One of the reasons I am sold on “The Love Dare” is because it relies heavily on Scripture and gives supporting Scripture for emphasis. There is a danger creeping in to Christian Counseling of “worldly” counsel. As mature Christians we need to be absolutely certain of what God says about divorce. God “allows” divorce due to our hardened hearts. Is that really a place we want to be? There obviously are some serious issues that need to be addressed in a marriage that is heading for divorce, I haven’t heard of anyone divorcing because their marriage was great.

So far in The Love Dare we have been encouraged and shown how to show patience, kindness and encouragement towards our spouse. Christians should recognize these qualities as being “Fruits of the Spirit”. My wife and I both need to grow up in many areas. The ironic and now not surprising thing to me is I embarked on a program for improvement in areas of my life that previously I had resisted. This began in January of 2010, by June of 2010; my wife ejected me from the house and her life. Ironic because we had been struggling for 17 years in the old way of doing things, not surprising because as Joseph Prince teaches, “when God begins a good work in you, the Enemy comes to destroy that work”.

Through all the years and difficulties my wife and I endured, there were times of such incredible joy and goodness, I’d have to be a poet to do the memories justice. I have absolutely no doubt that God has placed a tremendous love in my heart for my wife. I was immature, unforgiving, lacked the grace and mercy to fully develop this love, but it remains. I am not denying that my wife does not have issues also, but I know that with God’s help and submission to His Will, this marriage could be a shining example of what God can do with two willing believers.

As the authors encourage in this reading, greet one another warmly and with love. My memories are filled with the waking smile on my wife’s’ face and the joy she showed when seeing me again after even a brief absence. I am blessed to have many great memories amongst painful memories that are thankfully fading. Forgiveness of our spouse’s sins is an incredibly freeing act; accepting forgiveness through the shed Blood of Jesus is simply indescribable!

Instead of showing “Random Acts of Kindness”, be Purposely Kind! Grace, peace, and blessings…

Day 8 Love is not jealous II

Leave a comment

Love is as strong as death, its’ jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire. Song of Solomon 8.6 NIV

“Jealousy is one of the strongest drives known to man. It comes from the root word for zeal and means ‘to burn with intense fire’. The Scripture pointedly says, “Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, but who can stand before jealousy? Proverbs 27.4”

The authors of The Love Dare state there are two forms of jealousy; a legitimate jealousy based upon love and an illegitimate jealousy based upon envy. The “legitimate” jealousy occurs when someone you love, or who “belongs to you” turns their heart away from you and gives their heart to someone else. The authors do not go into depth in this area and an inclusion of “emotional adultery” might be in order.

With the advent and popularity of texting and Facebook, an increasing level of “false intimacy” is on the rise. Divorce proceedings are using emails and conversations lifted from Facebook and other electronic devices to prove infidelity. This area is complex and it is my opinion that relational difficulties are being left unaddressed, fueling the rise in online adultery. Some people have an insatiable desire to seek and acquire approval from the opposite sex. These issues often stem from childhood and plague adult relationships with the arousal of jealousy.

If we are to have committed and faithful relationships we need to be mature, in our beliefs, our understanding of our nature and the import of desiring only our spouse. I do not know the statistics on broken marriages that are able to get beyond infidelity, but I would venture to say it is rare.

All through the Old Testament we see the story of God’s chosen people turning away from Him and seeking foreign idols, other gods. They are called infidels and called out for their “whoring” after other gods. Yet, God time and again forgives them when they cry out to Him after discovering the dead ends of following false gods. In the meantime many lose their lives due to their adulterous behavior towards God. God is a jealous God and wants us to be faithful to Him.

From the very first sin, we chose to go our own way and ignore God, we see a diminished state for all mankind in the case of Original Sin and a thwarted glory for the man or woman of God who went astray and then returned.

God forgives all our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus. Most of the time we do not accept this provision for ourselves and hold onto resentments, which are just unforgiven sins someone has committed against us. Jesus died for our past, present and future sins. We are to forgive others as we have been forgiven. Yesterday I recommended a thorough listing of the wrongs or sins your spouse has committed against you. I urge you to go down this list item by item and forgive your spouse all their wrongs and failings towards you. New opportunities will arise on a daily basis for you to forgive your spouse, so let go of the past ones, put all their sins with yours, under the Blood of Christ.

We all have been forgiven by Grace, Mercy and the Love of God; we are to give away what we have been given. Forgiving your spouse or another sins, frees us up to love them, it does not justify or give them God’s forgiveness. We can only seek and accept our own forgiveness from God; our spouse must the same.

Quotes from “The Love Dare”

Day 7 Love believes the best II

Leave a comment

This is one of my favorite chapters in The Love Dare; it is also one of the dares that can be done even if you are separated from your spouse.

This lesson describes two different “rooms” one has in their heart. One room is the “Appreciation Room”, and on the walls of this room is written all the things we find most pleasing in our spouse. I agree with the authors, the more time we spend thinking on these positive things, the more gratitude we have towards our spouse. Most of the things written on these walls were discovered early in our relationship and we tend to not spend as much time there because of another room nearby.

This room that we find ourselves in too often is the “Depreciation” room. All the things that irritate us and things that we think due to frustration, hurt feelings and the disappointment of unmet expectations are plastered on these walls. I am one of the people the authors refer to as having written many hateful things on these walls. As they say, this is the place where people fall out of love. “Spending time in the Depreciation Room kills marriages. Divorces are plotted in this room…”

We are all flawed human beings and being married makes us more and more aware of just how flawed we are. What we have forgiven of ourselves for past wrongs, we tend to hold on to and be less gracious to our spouses. The things written on the wall of the depreciation room may be true, but we are not to concentrate on these things. This is where it gets hard, where our feelings are to be protected, but sometimes this comes at the cost of our relationship.

Love is a hard choice at times, but the opposite, the hardening of our hearts towards another, especially if it is our spouse, makes us hard. God does not ask us to do things He has not provided for. God does not ask us to do things that He has not promised to give us the ability to perform. This Depreciation Room is nothing more than the built up resentments and the articles of unforgiveness that we have towards our spouse, not only does it damage or possibly destroy the marriage, it prevents us from growing and being free in our emotions.

“It’s time to start thinking differently. It’s time to let love lead your thoughts and your focus. The only reason you should glance in the door of the Depreciation Room is to know how to pray for your spouse. And the only reason you should ever go in this room is to write “Covered in Love” in huge letters across the walls”. For those of us who have accepted the price Jesus paid for the forgiveness of our sins, we should remember the sins of our spouses are also covered by the blood of Jesus, totally forgiven!

The dare for the day asks us to get two sheets of paper. On one we are to write out the positive things about our spouse. Then we are to spend time writing down the negative things on the other sheet. We are to refer to the positive list and let our spouse know we are thankful for that characteristic.

Having done this exercise a few times, I would encourage you to be very thorough in both areas, especially the negative aspects; I’ll tell you why later. The positive characteristics will be added to daily as we begin to purpose to see the good every day in our beloved.

Older Entries