To the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. 1 Corinthians 7:10-11
There are two kinds of marriages, Covenant marriages and Contract marriages. To dig a little deeper I’d like to compare the two kinds of marriages so that you can see what they both are and possibly determine which kind of marriage you have.
* A Covenant Marriage is based on love and the law. It assumes that the relationship is “till death do us part”. The husband and wife each have a “What’s mine is yours” and “Your interests are my interests” attitude. A Covenant marriage prepares for a life together because they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate. Matthew 19:6
* A Contract Marriage is motivated by commitment and compulsion. It prepares for the marriage to fail and each spouse protects what is “theirs”. In a contract marriage the interests of the other spouse are not taken into account as often as “my interests” are. Contract marriages prepare for life apart because couples seeking contractual agreements seem to expect that someone or something will separate what God has joined.8
Believe me, Christian and I are living proof of this! We have always been believers and we got married “till death do us part”, but still… in the back of my head there was always that option of divorce. And when things started getting difficult after our daughter was born, I blamed the strife on her. Well, not her really but having a new baby in the house and the stress of all that. But then after her 1st birthday she couldn’t be the excuse anymore and that’s when I really started questioning what was going on. Christian started staying away from home more and more, and I started being…well… a word that starts with a “B” that I can’t really say because it’s not polite. The idea of divorce was becoming more and more appealing to me. While I didn’t want to leave him, I didn’t want to continue living the way that we were; distant, cold, unloving. There came a night where I went to him and told him that I was extremely unhappy and if I wasn’t such a Godly woman I would have divorced him already. Deep down I didn’t REALLY mean it, but I said it all the same and then it was out there, the D-word. If I remember correctly, this conversation occurred around day 17 in our own fast. I was high as a kite flying with God, but down on earth with Christian I was angry, and hurt, and cold, distant, mean and just plain old fed up with him! The next morning, after our conversation, God took me by the shoulders and shook some sense into me. He gave me scripture after scripture after scripture about how HE felt about divorce… He doesn’t like it.9
I think that Andrew Trees in his book “Decoding Love” summed up our societies view on marriage so aptly when he talks of how people “engage in slow-motion polygamy by engaging in serial monogamy”.10 While hearing it called “slow-motion polygamy” is somewhat shocking, I heartily agree with him! It is exactly what we’re doing. God created humans to mate with ONE person for LIFE, not one person at a time for life.
Joe Beam, a pastor who does marriage seminars, shares his story of his separation and reunion with his wife:
“We got married a second time. It was just the right thing to do. We did not love each other, but we learned how to be in love with each other and now she’s my best friend. I pray every day, Lord, let me die first. I wanna get old with her and sit on the front porch. No matter how bad a marriage is you do not want to die alone. So if there’s something in the way, the Xbox, a job, pornography, get rid of it. Make each other your focus. Please, please. You can do that.”11
I am going to join Mr. Beam in his plea, PLEASE PLEASE, DON’T GIVE UP! Your marriage may not be perfect, no marriage is, but it’s better than divorce and it’s much better than being alone. Nothing is impossible with God12, even an impossible marriage.
We all know someone who has gone through “The big D”. With the divorce rate as high as 35.25% in first marriages and 40.5% in second marriages13 how could you not?
I want to give you a little family history. Tamar and I were married for two years before we had our son. All four of his grandparents are still alive, AND still married to their original spouses. When he was born, all eight of his great-grandparents were still alive AND still married to THEIR original spouses as well. Pretty cool, huh.
As you can see, our families are serious about marriage. Are they all perfect marriages? Of course not. But we all work on them to fix whatever problems we encounter. Can all marriages be fixed? I don’t know. I would like to think that they can. The key, I believe, is that both sides have to be willing to work on it. One half can’t just sit back and expect the other to fix it. It took both of you to get married. It will take both of you to stay married.