Q. My marriage is in trouble. We have been married for ten years and have two children. Over the years we have lost the good feelings we had for each other. We argue a lot and we avoid each other. Recently my husband suggested we separate. Since we aren’t happy together he thinks we might as well get a divorce. I'm very upset about this and would like to work things out. I still care for him and I worry about how divorce will affect our children. What do you think?
A. The decision to divorce is not one to be made lightly. Nor should it be made based on unhappy feelings alone. If you have a sore throat or the flu do you threaten to commit suicide? Of course not. You know that life will give you an occasional cold or an occasional bout with the flu. Most all marriages go through unhappy phases. Some couples with very serious marital problems have stayed together and found ways to work out their differences. Yet many couples threaten to “kill” their marriage at the first sign of “the sniffles.”
We’ve been sold a bill of goods that divorce will solve our problems. If our marriage isn’t going the way we think it should, we’ll enjoy the single life and freedom again. Or we’ll find someone else who will love us or understand us better.
Divorce creates problems. It does not solve problems. Long range studies of the effects of divorce show that divorce is not just a brief crisis in the lives of those affected. Five years after divorce most families are still in great pain and turmoil. The statistics against divorce are formidable. Financially divorced parents struggle. This continues not just briefly but for six to ten years after divorce. Remarriage with children may make things worse as two families, often still hurting from divorce, struggle to blend and become one.
There is overwhelming evidence that divorce is very harmful to children of all ages. Children of divorce are two to three times more likely to have behavioral problems. As adults they are less successful in their careers and in love relationships.
Tell your husband you still care about him and want to work things out. Don’t argue with him. Instead, listen and try and understand his point of view. Tell him your concerns about the effects of divorce on the children. Read The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Dr. Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis and Sandra Blakeslee. In this book children of every age speak about the fact that their parent’s divorce was devastating to them.
What can you do to solve things? Watch five videos called Choosing Wisely Before You Divorce available free on www.beforeyoudivorce. Urge your husband to watch these videos with you. The videos cover: the legal and financial impact of divorce, the physical, emotional and spiritual effects of divorce, the effects of divorce on children, forgiveness and reconciliation. Each video shows film clips of experts talking interspersed with couples telling their experiences.
Some couples who have watched these videos have decided to stay together. Those who have decided to go ahead with a divorce have had a more peaceful divorce as a result of considering the effects of divorce before hand. I hope these ideas will convince you and your husband to work on your marriage. Reconciliation is hard work but it is less painful and less expensive than divorce and it enables couples to keep their wedding promises to each other and to God.
Counseling with a Christian counselor or pastor along with The Third Option group for couples on the brink of divorce can help you work out the differences and conflicts in your marriage. Don’t give up. Divorce will compound your problems, not solve them.
“Each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33