Derailing the Divorce Curve: An analysis of modern day marriages
by JOY SMITH
Marriage is not easy. The rise in divorce statistics proves just that. Well over 50 percent of couples, even in the church, are ending up in divorce courts divvying up the king size bed and Lazy Boys.
Have those “core family values” we grew up learning about suddenly disappeared? What caused this huge shift in our homes. and more importantly, how do we change the tide?
One thing is certain: change is not going to occur overnight.
Christians across the US need to embrace a new mission field: their own homes. They also need to focus on the primary responsibility that God has entrusted to them: their families.
Perhaps the earliest means of preventing divorce can occur in premarital counseling. More and more couples are opting out of this “old-fashioned” custom and trading in sessions with a pastor for ring shopping and cake tastings.
However, premarital counseling can produce invaluable fruit in the first few years of marriage. With a skilled therapist or trained pastor, a couple can navigate multiple issues that are often points of contention in new marriages.
With the help of a mediator, the couple can address differences in beliefs, family values, and priorities, all while building on their communication skills.
This kind of counseling provides a forum for couples to talk about tough issues or address sticky subjects. By addressing the issues early and honestly, couples won’t be blindsided in the first year of marriage when contention starts brewing under the surface.
In premarital counseling, a common view of marriage and commitment is established. In unions today, this vital building block is often missing or cracked.
The purpose of marriage is not to simply fulfill your own needs, to share only one rent check, or even to build a happy life together. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” (NIV).
A strong Christian marriage should be an imitation of your relationship with Christ. Just as a relationship with the Heavenly Father requires work, sacrifice, communication, time, effort, commitment, and trust, so does a marriage.
By understanding that the goal of marriage is not to promote self, but rather to join together as a whole and grow towards God, all of your priorities as a couple will be synchronized. What good is embarking on this beautiful journey together if two people are headed in different directions?
Ultimately, however, a common and accurate view of love needs to be adapted before our country has any chance of lowering the rising divorce statistics. In a time where independence and personal success is highly valued, one must reflect on what love really is.
True love does not insist on winning every fight or even fighting every battle. True love does not antagonize or provoke. True love is not simply words without action or promises without intentions.
I Corinthians 13, often referred to as the “love chapter” of the New Testament, outlines exactly what love is, and what is required in order for a marriage, or any relationship, to be successful. Verses 4-8 read:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Love is a selfless choice that a person has to make every minute of every day. God poured Himself out for His children in the most unselfish way possible by sacrificing the life of His only son. If Christians should want to imitate that type of altruistic love, constant sacrifice and compromise are necessary.
Marriage is not 50/50, but rather both parties giving 100 percent all of the time. If more people understood this kind of selfless love, and the happiness that it brings, marriages could transform from crumbling to thriving.
Divorce rips apart houses, families, and lives. Hearts are broken and children are often left abandoned as the “adults” battle for condos, cars, and couches. God holds marriage in such high esteem that He speaks directly against divorce.
Matthew 19:6 says, “What God has joined together, let not man separate.” Divorce should not be an option when loving each other is the only choice.
Christians should cling to the foundational truths of the Bible: love your neighbor and above all else, love God with all of your heart.
PHOTOS: marriage1 and marriage 2
Marriage 1: Frank and Betty Harrelson on their wedding day in 1950.
Marriage 2: Joy and Robbie Smith on their wedding day in 1979.
Joy said she has permission to use both photographs; this is the only information she gave me.