Listening to the Stories of Divorced People Can Help Your Failing Troubled Marriage, Forgive and Find Success Again
This is the Opinion of STEFFSINGS Only, Consult a professional counselor if your marriage is in crisis, Limited Resources listed below
Flowers, Candy, Lace Nighties, Nagging him/her to talk, Forced Weekend Trips, Crying & Hysterical Outbursts, Minipulating,Threatening, and Offering Sexual Favors, These do not fix marriages, it will take much more than these simple outward signs...
Contrary to popular opinion, a couple in the midst of relationship problems may find the key to saving their marriage IS NOT always in listening to 20+ year married veterans. For some, the answer you seek may be in the opposite, those who have failed miserably. This may seem contradictory and controversial, but lets take a closer look before deciding.
- False Assumption 1: Successful and happy marriages, (or at least sustained marriages that are barely surviving for the sake of children or for fear of child & spousal support) are healthy and happy ones.
- False Assumption 2: Length of a marriage is proof it is happy & healthy.
- False Assumption 3: One couples successful or at least sustained marriage is somehow infectious and can to be transferred to other couples suffering under the weight of crisis if you follow their example.
These are not always the case. In fact, some of the advice these couples give can be a painful nail in the coffin of a marriage in crisis; and the results are played out behind the closed doors at home and open courtrooms across America.
Marriages that surrived and pulled away from the cliff -and even- those that ended due to 'irreconcilable differences' may contain the wisdom you seek, the need to get real LOVE back on the table!
This is no ordinary thing. It is not the love that is discussed by wonderful well meaning ‘successfully’ married couples who believe candy and flowers help to heal unhealthy relationships. These are just some of the 'works' or outward signs that can express love, it is NOT proof of love for a couple in real crisis.
Sadly, many Christian marriages end in divorce just as secular ones do as well. Statistics vary from 40% to 60% depending upon the area of the US and religious denomination. Over and again we hear the reason for divorce is that...
“those couples do not understand the commitment necessary to sustain their marriages”, or maybe you've heard: "they do not possess the skills needed to keep their marriages healthy; or maybe this one they do not try hard enough to maintain them”.
This is an absolutely absurd notion that needs to be addressed for the sakes of those struggling. The definition for absurd is: “having no rational or orderly relationship to human life”. This is definitely the case for these types of assumptions. For many, the idea that troubled couples are less mentally, emotionally, or spiritually equipped is an insulting false judgment.
The truth is trying really hard or even following the ‘good advice’ of well meaning 'successful' couples can cause damage than good over time. Why? Because there may be more involved in the issues the couple faces. Some couples will need more than the simple age old equation:
(1)Great sex + (2)Flowers + (3)Male/Female Rules & Roles = PERFECT MARRIAGE?
Let's Explore some of the false assumptions a little further....
They Do Not Have Enough Information or Know How to Maintain a Marriage? There are any number of failed marriages who sought out advice of clergy, family, friends, even professional counselors yet still ended in divorce. Couples hear marital advice from many different avenues such as print and spoken media, seminars/classes, friends/family, even church sermons on a consistent basis. The information is widely available and in overwhelming abundance. It is ridiculous to suggest that failing marriages somehow missed the information boat while those with successful or sustained marriages received the information.
They Don’t Try Hard Enough or Apply what they Heard? Hurting couples receive the same set of marriage rules 'guaranteed to sustain your marriage' that have floated around for years and have applied them religiously without success.
Here are a few of the leading pointers many give; maybe you recognize one or more?
1) Do the same things you did to get him/her now that you did when you were dating.
2) Wear nice negligees & do creative romantic things frequently.
3) Get away for the weekend (without your kids).
4) Men are from one planet, women from another so appreciate the differences while listening & communicating with each other.
5) Learn each others 'love language' then speak them.
6) Women like to talk a lot; men don’t, so men let the ladies talk while you actively listen & women shut up more and don’t force him to communicate.
7) Men: women like to be taken care of so make sure to pay the bills & be a stand up guy.
8) Women: cook, clean, and submit appropriately at all times.
9) Pray and go to church together (though the rest of the week is the same)
10) __________________________________________ your advice here!
These are EXCELLENT tips for those with sustained marriages, or to enhance a successful marriage, NOT for the salvation of a failing marriage!
The Danger of Bad ‘Good Advice’
“For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise”. (2 Cor. 10:12, NKJV)
...Or More Plainly:
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. (2 Cor. 10:12, Message Bible)
It is a mistake to assume these man made rules will save all marriages. The list of RULES listed above are only nice things to do. It is unfair to assume those who fall victim to divorce or couples in crisis now, were unwilling to apply these rules. Some have done this an even more to no avail. Maybe the problem is deeper than chocolates and movie dates?
Poor Advice can make more problems than the ones they originally faced. In the heat of family crisis, feelings are compounded while the meanings behind actions carry more weight. When troubled couples feel forced to imitate healthy relationships it may ring false and patronizing:
- You just appologized so I would 'shut-up'
- You just did that because they told you too
- You really don't mean that, you just read it in a book
Simply handing over lovely flowers, wearing pretty night gowns, opening car doors, talking & listening for the sake of being 'obediant', or offering up one’s body in hopes of restoring marriage is not the answer.
These rules have been tried, tested, and for thousands upon thousands who end up in divorce court, did nothing but help. In some cases it created worse problems. Sex and feigned 'copy cat' intimacy, combined with the offering purchased gifts and favors can be a dirty band aid over a hurting marriage.
It can create feelings of usury, loss of self esteem for many women. For many men this can feel dishonest as well. In some cases men can lose respect for wives who offer their bodies as bait to keep their husbands 'managed' and quiet.
These issues can lead to the eventual objectification of women in general when intimacy is not for love but as a quick fix or a cheap salve for an ailing relationship. Obligation in intimacy can become a tedious chore like shopping or getting an oil change. This encourages confused ideals of the use and ‘purpose’ of true intimacy. Two hurting individuals FORCED to ‘chit-chat’ about their day, or even forced to be ‘intimate’ to save their marriage, without addressing the REAL ISSUES (i.e. infidelity, selfishness, disrespectfulness, abuse, gambling, mental health problems, etc...) they face can be the open door to more arguments and hurt feelings.
Do NOT imitate man made rules, but imitate Christ. It is important to apply the words of the scripture: Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ (I Cor. 11:1). and those who are actively pursuing Him; even in their marriages and those who have turned their backs on past mistakes; consider the wisdom of those who tried and failed but turned back to regain their purpose in Christ.
There is much to be learned from evaluating the mistakes of others, then refusing to imitate those errors. Again, this is not as a means for criticism and judgement, but to learn and grow. Take the example of a drug & alcohol counselor. Although it is NOT a requirement to have a history of drug use, a counselor who has a history of addiction, trials & errors may understand the pain and difficulty other addicts face; and the need to call on a "Higher power" (God Almighty) in order to break free.
Another example is a caravan on the highway. When the driver ahead avoids the patch of ice or even slips on it, the wise drivers behind who are watching their error (not as a means for judgement but to learn to avoid it) can quickly and safely change course to avoid this same end.
This is not fail proof either as many divorced people, like drivers who choose to ignore the signs ahead, can see the truth (not manmade rules but God's truth), but still decide they do not want to apply what was learned.
Consider Peter who sank while walking on the water, John who denied Christ, and many others who tried and failed, when they are restored, they ofter return stronger than before. Their stories are written for us as an example to follow, just as the lives of modern Christians who tried and failed can be an excellent example as well. IMITATE THOSE WHO ARE ACTIVELY IMITATING CHRIST. This is KEY!
The Honest Wisdom of the Divorced Man or Woman:
When you follow Christ’s example, there appears to be one rule that can help to save a failing marriage. It is not more talking or more intimacy, all of which can be a wonderful addition to any marriage, bad or good, but not the key to salvaging a marriage. The rule is very simple.
Many divorced persons can tell you: LOVE or the lack of it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Beyond romantic love or brotherly love, what many lacked was the love that gives us the ability to forgive each other. They allowed their love to be overwhelmed by the many wrongs they kept track of “…He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” (Matt. 19:8). Soon this un-forgiveness sets the stage for disrespect and even hatred. It is difficult, yet not impossible to recover respect for your spouse once it is lost. It requires real *LOVE WORK.
It is important to mention that this is not the case for all marriages. In fact there are many that ended due to violence or abuse against spouse or children, decidedly unrepentant and consistent infidelities, drug abuse, or worse. It would be just as unfair to assume these marriages did not have enough love as it is for ‘successful’ married couples to place inconsistent rules on a struggling couple. Instead these affected marriages ended for the sake of safety and wisdom.
The marriages that ended due to irreconcilable differences may contain the wisdom you seek, LOVE: This is no ordinary thing. It is not the love that is discussed by wonderful well meaning ‘successfully’ married couples that brings candy and flowers. These are some of the works or outward signs that can be done to express the love they have, it is NOT proof of love for a couple in crisis.
Jesus explained that marriages fail because they do not love enough, that is to say they do not forgive each other. “…He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” (Matt. 19:8). The Lord asks us to have the kind of love that forgives wrongs. Not merely ignore them, but to forgive. The wisdom many divorced people can offer the one considering divorce is to quickly forgive each other. To quickly assume both or even just one is to blame, but to sincerely and truly forgive despite this fact. This kind of forgiveness is considered real LOVE. The Words of Christ say over and again… Love, love, forgive, and love.
The best advice for those considering divorce may be to attempt to truly love each other; to really love each other, and to forgive and then again to love each other even more. Beyond intimacy that becomes meaningless without it, beyond purchased gifts which are useless without it, above talking which is hollow without it, many divorced people will tell you, if they had it to do over again, they would choose to LOVE better and more.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled. (I Cor 13:4... Message Bible)
CLICK: Singles & Married Couples Resources at Adam & Eve
Christian Counselors 24 hours a day / 7days a week: 1-800-new-life 1-800-229-3000
absurd. (2009). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
Retrieved October 8, 2009, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absurd