talking about divorce

“The reason there are so many divorces is that we live in a throw away society and no one is willing to work to fix things.”

You’ve no doubt heard a version of this statement before, or possibly even repeated something like it yourself. It is often followed up with comments that start with “in my day” or “I was raised to believe that …”

Yes, the statistics on divorce are alarming at worst, disappointing at best. But not just because they seem to increase or because they might reflect a shift in attitude to marriage (or any other cultural trend that we might point to) but because each of those numbers represents two broken people, maybe a broken family and a whole lot of implications for those in the sphere of this couple … forever!

Divorce is devastating. Divorce is sad. Divorce is taking a ‘one’ that has been created by the union of two and tearing it in half. God says He HATES divorce (Malachi 2 :16) and I can totally understand why. It’s messy, it’s hurtful and its consequences are far reaching. I know this from my own experience – both as a child of divorced parents and as a divorcee myself. 

It doesn’t matter how bad a marriage was, a divorce is never good.

Our language matters.

We need to be more careful in how we talk about divorce – because, again, we’re talking about people. Not just a social trend or statistic. People. On the end of every one of our generalisations is a person who has been impacted by divorce in ways that flippant language not only fails to consider but may also compound. As I move around I hear so many stories of people being unnecessarily wounded by the careless words of others and see the easy traps people fall in when speaking about divorce. Our language matters.

No one gets married intending to be divorced.

No one.

Even people who don’t do anything to make their marriage work aren’t expecting that it won’t! Anyone who finds themselves divorced, even if it was them who initiated and actioned it, is living a different future than they expected. It might be better (safer, healthier, necessary) to not be in the marriage anymore but it still isn’t anyone’s goal to be divorced.

Divorce isn’t the easy way out.

Even when the pathway to divorce is clear – an abusive partner, an unfaithful spouse, untenable circumstances – divorce is not an easy option.

It is practically taxing. Division of assets, closing and opening bank accounts, relocating (for one or both), potential custody considerations and all manner of things required to detach and then re-establish independently and recover financially. It’s emotionally devastating. Even the most amicable of separations are founded on a level of relational fracturing that carries all sorts of implications for a sense of self and one’s view of the world – a life story is forever altered. 

It may seem easier than staying. It might seem like a cop out. But it carries its own consequences and challenges that can’t be underestimated (by those considering it or those journeying through it with others).

“We just never gave up” only works if it’s truly ‘we’.

Often, when asked the secret to a long marriage people respond “We just never gave up”. Which is undoubtedly true. Sticktoitiveness is one of the essential ingredients to longevity in anything. But it’s important to emphasise the ‘we’ in that statement. It requires BOTH people to have not given up.

The old adage applies that if only one is paddling in a two person canoe it will just go around in circles. Some divorced individuals never gave up. Some fought harder to compensate for another who didn’t fight. In the end one can’t be married alone.

A high value of marriage should be second to a high value of people.

Many people stay (or are counselled to stay) in abusive or destructive relationships because of the emphasis placed on the value or sacredness of marriage. Well might we benefit from a greater honouring of and investment in marriage – your own or those of family, friends or church community around you. Let us be champions of marriage – encouraging and supporting in anyway we can. But let that never be at the expense of the emotional or physical safety of the people in it.

Our language matters.

How you speak about divorce – in public forums (the platform at church, social media or other communications) or in casual conversations – matters to those impacted by divorce. Let’s be mindful to consider the people the statistics are referencing when we make observation of cultural trends or shift. Let’s be champions of people and places where healing and support can be sought and experienced rather than (perhaps inadvertently) communicating judgement or exclusion to people already navigating a difficult life experience.

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when porn is the ‘other woman’


Pornography is insidiously addictive and destructive. Whilst it holds almost no resemblance to true intimacy (read more –5 lies porn tells) it engages the hearts and minds of men and women and distorts a person’s own sexuality. It leads to sexual dysfunction and relational breakdown. 

Given that almost 100% of boys have seen porn before they reach adulthood the reality for all couples is that porn will be an issue to address. It is a wrestle most men (and many women) will be entrapped in – addiction is rife. 

For the wife of a porn using man it is a hurtful and difficult path to walk. 

Porn feels like rejection. 

For a woman, it feels like a man’s choice to use porn is a competition that she has lost. Between the real life her and the on screen performer, the performer has won. This speaks inadequacy and inferiority into her heart from the person she is most vulnerable to.

Porn feels like unfaithfulness. 

Anyone who steals the affections, attentions and desire of one’s husband is the ‘other woman’. It is hard for a wife to not feel betrayed by the breach of the intimacy of the marriage bed to include other images, acts and preferences beyond that which has been explored and experienced together. 

Porn feels like the standard. 

Women whose husbands use porn know that what they watch is appealing to them. Rather than the wife being the standard of beauty, attractiveness and fulfilment a highly produced, orchestrated and edited image becomes the new standard. One to which no woman could possibly attain. 

Porn diminishes sexual appetite. 

Increasingly younger men are reporting decreased or dysfunctional sexual drive and capacity for arousal. This means some relationships are failing in terms of intimacy before they’ve even begun. The joy of sexual exploration and discovery together is usurped by a counterfeit experience. 

Porn is not harmless. Porn impacts those who view it and those seeking intimacy with them.

See Fight the New Drug’s “Fortify” program http://fightthenewdrug.org/get-help/ for help in getting freedom from porn addiction. Don’t do it alone. 

If you are an impacted partner of a porn user reach out to talk to someone to help you navigate what you’re experiencing. Don’t do it alone. 

are you the one the one you’re looking for is looking for?


“Describe your ideal partner.”

It’s the stuff of magazine and online quizzes and random questions from well-meaning people at church. What’s on your list? In your ‘quest’ for a partner, what are you looking for? Inevitably this leads to speculation about whether one is too ‘picky’ or not. Matched by another’s assertion to ‘not settle’ because you ‘deserve a good one’ (as opposed to the others who clearly don’t?).

Unfortunately, the narrative around prospective dating or marriage relationships can be intensely focused on what an individual WANTS from or in a partner. We probe others about their preference or tease them about the ‘kind of girl/guy they like’. I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve asked me to give some sort of list or description of the guy I’m ‘looking for’.

Andy Stanley flips that question on it’s head and instead asks,

“Are you the one the one you’re looking for is looking for?”

When you imagine the kind of guy YOU would want, and then you imagine the kind of girl that guy would want, are you that kind of girl? If you think of the type of girl you would want to marry and envisage the type of guy she would be looking for, are you that guy?

To personalise it, the kind of guy that I would want to marry would want to marry a girl who was strong in her faith, growing in her walk with God, refining her character through submission to the Holy Spirit and wise counsel, sure in her sense of self, a person who apologises and forgives, a person who loves her family and friends, someone who is generous and open-hearted. Because if they didn’t want to marry that kind of girl, then they probably are not the kind of guy that I would want to marry. And so it follows, that if they’re the kind of guy that I would want to marry, then I need to be exactly that kind of girl.

It sounds like linguistic gymnastics but the shift in focus is profound.

Relationships and marriages that work and flourish are others focused. They are made up of two people who are intent on being their best, giving their best and helping the other to be their best. When it comes to considering our future partner, given that we most likely have little knowledge of if or who that actually is, the only activity we can do to impact the potential outcome of a prospective relationship is to ensure that we are growing into the best version of ourselves.

Of course, the upside of this is that we become the best version of ourselves!

Not just FOR a partner, but because the best version of ourselves is exactly who we ought to be striving to be. We benefit from constant growth and development and the fact that a future partner might benefit also, is just a bonus!

 

another wedding closer to single

“Every time another friend gets married it hurts more.” – a Single person.

Well, actually, many Single people. It seems a commonly experienced emotion among those desiring to be married – the pain of watching others experience what they are waiting and longing for can be intense.

My personal journey with jealousy is well documented (see a blog sample here!!) and an engagement, a wedding or a birth announcement are certainly able to flick my jealousy switch. But one thing I try and remember in the midst of that emotional response is that marriage is not a numbers game.

Marriage is not a numbers game.

Each wedding that happens is not actually making it less likely that I will get married. There is not a finite number of weddings that can happen in my lifetime and every time one happens my odds decrease. I know we know that, but sometimes it’s easy to forget we know that and add another layer of despair to our grieving.

We say, think or hear things like “well, there aren’t many good Christian men left in your age bracket!” Or, “you do live in an area where there aren’t many Single people!” Here’s the deal, we don’t need many we only plan/hope to marry one. Whether that one is one of a thousand or one of one is not the point. You just need your one.

The Bachelor is a TV show not a real life phenomenon. You don’t need to start with twenty-four to find the one. The process of discovering your life mate is not a game of comparisons. You don’t need to like Bachelorette number 11 more than Bachelorette number 3 in order for Bachelorette 11 to be your future life partner. The qualities of an individual person stand alone and should be interpreted in relation to how you are or are not suited – not because they beat out another person in an apple bobbing competition or some other randomly determined measurement of their true feelings for you!

But stop! Before this becomes a rant about the inherent stupidity (and oh so appealing watchability) of the Bachelor franchise, hear my point. It is not a numbers game.

Another wedding does not make you more Single. You are not more or less valuable, likable, dateable, husband-or-wife-able the day after a friend’s wedding than you were the day before. Undoubtedly the moment of celebration for another person can be a poignant time of heightened emotion, longing or grieving but let’s not add an unnecessary element to that emotional cocktail.

Now … the fact that your friends just got a whole lot of free household items when you had to buy all of your own!? Well, that’s another matter. You’re completely right to be indignant about that! 😉