Tag Archives: divorce

Marital Meltdowns: How to Overcome Marriage Problems and Prevent Divorce

It’s not often that my wife joins me on stage but this past Sunday I invited her to help me talk about how to prevent marital meltdowns. We had a doozy of a meltdown a few years back and thankfully we found our way to overcome it and other marriage problems we had. Below is the video of our talk along with the outline and a few notes.

I hope you find some help from our experiences. As I said in the video below, this is our story. It’s not THE STANDARD that all people should follow. So take it for what it’s worth and apply to your relationships what makes sense for you.

Jesus and the apostles call us to healthy relationships.

There was often disunity in the early church. The New Testament writers constantly called believers to love and unity. This was a sign of true faith. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians dealt with the problem of disunity and called them to “make every effort” to restore the unity of the Spirit.

Aha moments that helped us overcome our marriage problems:

We learned:

    • it was okay, and even good, to be different from each other. (Not wrong, just different). We found that we different in these four area:
      • Gender: Lisa is more relational and I’m more oriented toward achievement.
      • Love Language: Lisa needs touch and I need quality time.
      • Family experience: Lisa came from a laid back team oriented fun household. Me, not so much.
      • Personality: I am a BIG picture person (spare me the details) while Lisa is a small picture person who LOVES details.
    • to not assume the worst intentions and get defensive before we understand one another. We learned that we would often read too much into words and facial expressions.
    • that we had different ideas of a successful marriage and needed to agree on a common goal. My achievement orientation left Lisa feeling emotionally abandoned. This caused a huge meltdown in our marriage that took hard work to recover from.

Divorce-Proofing Our Marriage

We committed to:

    1. never divorce but always find a way back to unity. This commitment put Lisa’s feet to the fire when she lost trust in me. It forced her to trust God to work a miracle.
    2. keep God first in our personal lives as well as in marriage. To give up on marriage meant being hypocrites as believers. Putting God first forced us to deal with our stuff until we could find unity.
    3. work on the marriage.
    4. work on personal growth.
    5. create touchpoints that would bring us together. Touch points are the daily, weekly, and annual things we do to make sure we are spending quality time together.

If you know someone who might find help with their marriage problems from our video, please share it with them or through social media. My book STUCK also deals with many of the issues that we touched on in our talk, looking at anger and how to forgive what feels unforgivable.

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Divorce, Remarriage, and Grace

Some people have found it hard to find any grace in Jesus’ words about divorce and remarriage. But if you understand the context of what Jesus was saying, you will see more grace than you might first think.divorce-remarriage

I’ve been teaching my way through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount at Cedarbrook. In my younger years I’d often get hung up on each sentence. But by seeing the Sermon as a whole, the individual sentences make so much more sense to me now.

In regard to divorce and remarriage, it seems that the range of interpretation is to either take Jesus so literally that you must divorce your second spouse to return to your first, or hyper-spiritualize the text to an unattainable ideal that Jesus never meant for us to tackle.

But I think there is a reasonable third way that views the issue through a grid of grace. I’ll give you a snapshot of my thinking here and let you read or listen to my message if you want to hear more on this.

Religious Loophole for Divorce?

In approaching divorce and remarriage it’s important to remember the thrust of Jesus’ teaching. He wasn’t out to shame sinners. He was out to teach his disciples that an acceptable religion practice of the day was unacceptable to Jesus. Namely, using religious loopholes to hide their sin.

In that day, a man could essentially “annul” his wedding without cause with a certificate of divorce. So, in theory, you could get married many times and never have to admit to a divorce if you gave your wife a certificate. Sweet deal. (Meanwhile subjecting your ex-wife to shame and poverty).

But Jesus said: not so fast. God’s not fooled by your religious “work-around.” Call it what it is: adultery.You’ve broken the unity bond of marriage. This bond represents who God is. To break this bond undermines one of the ways we reflect God in this world. Don’t think your “certificate” gives you a free pass on sin.God knows the truth even if you fool others.

There is Grace for You

Jesus was speaking against hypocrites who wanted to hide their sin, not people who regretfully failed in marriage. To them he would say: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Jesus was warning his disciples of what NOT to do when they follow him.

Jesus wants to help you start over. He is the God of second chances. He’s not out to shame broken people. He just doesn’t want us to play religious games. Call your sin what it is (in this case:adultery) find forgiveness, and then move on. God will work with you to make your second marriage a success if you let him.

Too often people elevate divorce and remarriage to be worse than other sins and let it taint their second marriage, always doubting its validity before God. It’s good to admit and own your failure. Make the amends you can. But then move forward. Life is too short to let regrets rob from you every day.

You can read or listen to the message here.

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