Fight Divorce

May 30, 2016

in Uncategorized

My posts for today and Wednesday are a bit outside of what I usually do here, but very much in line with my passion for seeing marriages become strong and healthy.

We know divorce is rampant in our society. Social scientists have show divorce is contagious: if a friend or a friend of a friend gets divorced, your odds of divorce increase. The more divorce in your circle of acquaintances, the more you’re in danger. This is particularly true for your place of worship. 

I’m not suggesting we avoid, shun, or excommunicate anyone who divorces. Sometimes divorce is biblically allowed and sometimes it’s the only safe choice. Even when a divorce “shouldn’t” have happened, we are called to extend love and grace. 

That said, we can and should fight divorce in every way we can. Fighting divorce among those you know isn’t just good for them, it’s good for your marriage too.

Should I get a divorce? © |

One big issue, and I think it’s even more difficult for women, is the reality we may be putting our friendship on the line when we try to help a friend avoid divorce. The desire to affirm a friend in her struggles can easily become or come across as agreeing her husband is horrible and she would be better off single. This can happen even if it’s not what you think. Challenging a friend to work on a difficult marriage isn’t fun for either of you. Trying to balance her view of her husband may cause a friend to distance herself from you. It’s hard to say, “I know you can work it out” or even “you need to find a way to work it out” when it’s not what your friend wants to hear.


Divorce is a very painful and destructive thing. Even when it’s biblically allowed, it’s horrible. Even when it’s necessary for the safety of the wife and/or kids, divorce leaves life long scars. Divorce for anything less than no other choice is like getting a leg amputated for a stubbed toe! None of us would “stand by and support” a friend looking to get their leg cut off when there were other options. Let’s see divorce as just a drastic and act accordingly. 

Some good news you can share: studies* find the majority of those unhappy with their marriages feel happier in a few years if they stick it out. On the other hand, most who divorce feel less happy in a few years, regardless of if they remarry. If happiness is the goal, then the odds say stay married.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and my wife’s second husband. While I think she made the right choice, I’ve seen how much it hurt her and her daughter. 

* Does divorce help adults become happier? from Should I Keep Trying to Work it Out? by Dr. Alan J. Hawkins, Ph.D

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

John May 30, 2016 at 9:19 pm

I think most of the time that probably is the case. In my situation I was driven to the point of filing a few years ago. She begged me for another chance which I gave. I’m getting back to that same point, only it’s worse this time, not better. A lot of pain/trauma from her past which she’s unable or unwilling to face, which then gets taken out at time on myself and my young son. I’ve done everything I possibly can, met countless counselors, a few she’s even been to, fasted/prayed, and still I find myself having to make this difficult choice I didn’t even want to make years ago. The situation is abusive (primarily verbal though physical on occasion), emotionally/physically disconnected (never on the same page, and physically non-existent 9 months). I have to take care of my son. And me too. My counselor had me read The Emotionally Destructive Marriage (Vernick). I read Instone-Brewer’s Divorce & Remarriage in the Church. Neither of them encourage you to run out and finish it. Brewer said in his experience, most who came to him asking for one really didn’t want to do it. He encourages you to exhaust every other option, which I’m quite certain I’ve done.

Maybe your wife would be willing to share her story someday?


Amy May 31, 2016 at 7:53 am

While I agree with the message of your post I think we need to be careful in how we help someone considering a divorce.
Unless it’s very obvious someone is only wanting out of a marriage because they are not happy and you know absolutely without a doubt there is no abuse or infidelity going on, then it may be okay to say to them, “You need to work this out” or “I know you can work this out”.

BUT, and here’s where that big but comes in — there can be more going on in a marriage that no one really understands and to say something like that to a spouse who has tried and sees no repentance or true change in a spouse who is *abusive or cheating or whatever, is like pouring salt in an already festering wound. Those words feel like another link in an already tightening chain on them to stay in a marriage that is destructive and places this burden on their shoulders that if only they did better things would change.

*Now I know you’re not talking about abusive marriages per se, but do you truly know what abuse looks like? It isn’t only about bruises, broken bones or black eyes, it can be much much more covert. I had so many from my former church trying to convince me to work harder on a very destructive marriage and all I could ever think is how they had no idea what hell I lived with. Their words of “work harder”, “respect him more”, “submit more”, “be a better loving spouse” etc just pulled me further down. But the reality is that many of those people, even though my ex and I had been going to church there for years, had no idea what was truly going on behind closed doors, and some people have told me in the past few years they didn’t realize at the time what was truly happening. Why? Because on the outside at church we looked like any other couple. We put on our masks and I never said a word because after all as a wife I was not supposed to say anything bad about my then-husband, and he of course put on a different front in public than at home.

So yes, divorce is rampant in our society and in the church and while I do not deny it causes immeasurable damage to all involved, no matter the circumstances for it, it is not some unpardonable sin where God can no longer love that person.
God hates divorce because of what causes it, not because of divorce itself.

So please be very careful in counseling anyone considering a divorce unless you know exactly what is happening within that marriage. What we say and how we act towards someone considering divorce when we don’t know the whole picture, can do a lot of damage too.
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Paul Byerly June 1, 2016 at 5:53 am

@Amy – I understand the difficulties here. I would draw the line a bit differently. My Wednesday post addressed this in more detail.
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Jolie June 1, 2016 at 9:46 am

Personally, I refuse to try and counsel any friend considering divorce. I am painfully aware of the fact that I have no idea (no matter how close I am to the person) what goes on behind closed doors. Divorce is a very hard decision that needs to be made by the person living the situation. They are the one’s who will be bear the consequences of their actions. I will stand by any friend no matter what decision they make.

My parents divorced when I was 9. The years leading up to their divorce were painful. My mother was pretty nasty to my father. It was hard to hear him cry himself to sleep every night.
It was my mother who filed for divorce.
My mother ended up raising two children on her own.
My father ended up in a sexless marriage with another nasty woman and raising her two kids.
The wicked step-mother is the only one still living.
The divorce ended the nightly screaming, crying, and pans flying but it also created a whole host of new problems. Did anyone end up happier? Could they have worked things out? I will never be able to answer those questions.

My Dad always wanted to write me a letter expressing how wonderful the first years of his marriage to my Mother were. He never got around to writing that letter before he died. I would have loved to have read it.


Alicia June 1, 2016 at 1:53 pm

I agree with Amy and Jolie here. I said it on another post, and I’ll say it here. I understand the harm divorce does. My own parents divorced, and it was very hard on us kids. But the destructiveness of their marriage prior to the divorce was actually harder on us than the divorce itself or the years following it. I have seen the flak my now husband has taken from other Christians because I am his second wife, when his first marriage was verbaly and emotionally abusive. As others have said, no one knew what went on behind closed doors, and how hard they worked for 13 years to try to save a destructive marriage. While I am not glad for what they went through, I can’t deny that I am glad I have my husband. I am sure you are glad you have Lori, (hope I spelled her name right), but if her first marriage had not ended, you wouldn’t have her. I hope sometime she will share her story. all that to say that divorce is between a couple and God, and if someone tells me that’s what they and their partner are thinking about, I will pray for/with them, and leave it there. I’m not privy to what goes on behind those closed doors and would not pretend to be.


Paul Byerly July 14, 2016 at 2:11 pm

@Alicia – Sometimes divorce is the end of an ugly, painful marriage. Keeping such a marriage together just to avoid a divorce is not a good plan. The real goal should be keeping marriages from becoming ugly and painful.
That said, divorce for no good reason is increasingly common in our world – and our churches. Too many people think divorce is a good way to end some minor pain and frustration, and that’s not the case. Divorce should be amputating a leg with gangrene – not a good thing, but sometimes necessary. Too many folks today are amputating a leg because of a broken ankle or an ingrown toenail!
Yes, I’m glad to be married to Lori. But I’d certainly be happy if both she and her daughter could have avoided the pain and fallout of the divorce. Some of that is still in their lives today, and I hate it. I love both of them enough I wish Lori’s first marriage could have been healed.
We don’t talk much about her first marriage because of her daughter. She deserves to not have that posted for the world to read.
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Anonymous July 14, 2016 at 9:25 am

You can be legally married but emotionally and spiritually divorced. You can go on like this for years. We can easily separate “what God has joined together” without getting the courts involved. It’s no less painful than actually divorcing, just more economical. And your friends and family may not even know about it. By the time you finally decide to get the courts involved, and your family and friends find out, you may have already been divorced for years.


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