(This is written to be posted on UPCI – www.ladiesministries.org – HOPE section for divorce recovery).
When a couple gets married, it is usually with the dream of love and romance forever. So when the marriage starts falling apart, emotional pain runs rampant. Statistics say that 50% of first time marriages fail in today’s world – 67% of second marriages and 73% of third marriages. I’m writing this from the perspective learning from the past divorce and not repeating the dysfunctions of the first marriage. Hang in here with me and allow me to explain.
In my 22 years of counseling, my counselees have taught me through their life’s experiences. When I counsel a troubled marriage or counsel those who have been divorced, I ask questions: What did you do in your dating relationship before marriage? How would you describe your parents’ marriage? Did you have in depth pre-marital counseling? Did you educate yourselves by reading God-based books on marriage or God’s gift of sex? If a divorce was because of adultery, there are many factors within a marriage that leads to a spouse’s choice to commit adultery. The first choice is turning away from God!
I’m praying this article will help the divorced person to be willing to do the work that is needed for a healthy marriage before you would decide to pursue dating and marriage again. One of the first things you need to do when recovering from divorce is slow down and not be in a hurry to find another spouse. If you don’t slow down, you will find yourself repeating the same pattern as the first marriage.
If you are divorced with younger children, take time to grieve the brokenness of the family and allow healing. Focus on raising your children in the fear and the admonition of the Lord. I pray that your family and church family will be there in emotional and spiritual support. Your children will have the same feelings you do of being abandoned, fearful, angry and many more distraught emotions. They will struggle with the love/hate emotion toward both of the parents for not working on the marriage and keeping the family together. These emotions have been shared with me from adults who were children of divorce. They struggle with trusting authority figures and transfer this distrust to their relationship with God – a distorted God concept. If we cannot trust a parent, how can we trust God? There needs to be a time of emotional and spiritual healing for the custodial parent and children.
If you are divorced with no children in the home, you still need to take time for your emotional healing before you start dating or thinking of a future marriage. No matter how alone you may feel, you must realize that your relationship with God needs to be the source of your internal joy. God is the only constant for your inner joy – no other person can become your joy. A spouse can share in your joy, but not become your joy. Everyone is imperfect. So when considering marriage, understand that it is two imperfect people agreeing to share their life together. What can be done to deter a second divorce?
Make God the center of your life. (My book: God’s Design for Marriage available at: www.carolclemans.org or eBook on www.amazon.com – will explain). Focus on being holy as He is holy. Study God’s character – Galatians 5 – Fruit of the Spirit and I Corinthians 13 – defining love – God is love. A future spouse must have these godly characteristics before you consider marriage. If it is God’s will for you to be married again, pray for a spouse that is following God in every area of life. You can tell what is in the heart of a person by their speech. From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. If God is the center of the life, speech will reveal the heart.
Another truth is that you are complete in Him! I teach on this subject. If you feel only ‘half a person’ because you do not have a spouse, there is still some spiritual and emotional healing that needs to take place. We all are complete in Him! That’s why I say God must be the center of our life. God wants us to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength – then – love others as we love self. If we do not love who we are in Him, we have more spiritual/emotional healing to do.
Dating at an older age is different than as a youth and yet can be similar. In my counseling people at this age, I find that sexual purity can be a challenge even by someone who goes to church just as it is with youth. Warning – if sexual talk or attempts happen in the beginning of a relationship, RUN AWAY!!!!!! That proves that this person is only interested in what they can get from you for selfish reasons. Please do not feel desperate. You should be treated with godly respect through entire dating, engagement and until marriage. Engagement does not allow sexual fulfillment before marriage with ‘outer or inner’ sex. Allow God to unfold your future in His timing.
When you are considering a new marriage, be willing to do the work that needs to be done before marriage. Seek in depth pre-marital counseling (I provide nationwide counseling if not available where you live). Challenge yourselves as a couple to reading about God’s design for marriage. In counseling, you need to review both of your lives from childhood. How we function as adults is greatly affected by how we were raised. If there was any type of abuse in your life, emotional healing is necessary. Your parent’s marriage will affect how you function in your marriage. That’s why processing your life up to the point of marriage must be examined in counseling. Now we have to ask the question, “Has pornography ever been a part of your life?” Many people I counsel now have been users of porn and it definitely destroys a person and a marriage. There can be healing and deliverance, but it’s a lifetime of submission to God in every thought. I have an article on my website: “Pornography: Destroys Families, Marriages & Ministries.” You do not want the dysfunctions of the past to flow into your future.
Since you have gone through divorce, all of those issues must be faced so they do not get repeated. We must understand that God has to be first in our individual lives and then in the middle of the marriage. God is first, spouse is second – family, ministry, job is 3rd, etc. If any married couple will keep that order in the marriage, it will be successful. That is setting a hedge of protection around the marriage. It’s putting God the center of all actions and decisions. There will be love, joy, peace, trust, honor and respect. Marriage is no place for hidden activities or secrets.
Submission is mandated in Ephesians 5:21 – “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of the Lord!” When both husband and wife submit to God – submission in marriage is never to be demanded because the husband is to become the pastor/shepherd of the home and be Christ-like. A godly wife will willingly follow a husband who says, “Follow me as I follow Christ!” God gave His life for His Bride and He tells husbands, “Love your wife sacrificially as I have loved you!”
If a prospective new spouse does not want to gain God’s wisdom by reading, receiving counseling, praying and worshiping with you before marriage, that negative mode will not change after marriage. Please do not think that you can change someone after marriage – it does not work!!!
Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. If marriage were the utopia of life, there would be no divorces. This one fact tells you that marriage is work, work, work – being willing to be on God’s potter’s wheel from now till Jesus comes. Marriage is 100% giving from both spouses – the willingness to live sacrificially one for another.
In all marriages there is usually a space of time of euphoria. But after a few days, weeks, or months the euphoria can fade and that is when the commitment to love must take over. Romance must be nourished – it just doesn’t happen. Enter into a second marriage with God’s wisdom wrapped around both of your hearts. Love is a decision. We must choose to serve God and choose to love our spouses. Love is in the action of our decision. The greatest commandment is Love God, Love Self, and Love Others. What you are in the home is what you really are!! The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. We must love one another to fulfill the royal law of God.
© Carol Clemans – March 2014
Carol Clemans is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, anointed Bible teacher for churches & conferences, Christian Life Coach. She provides counseling nationwide by phone/Skype (636) 448-0121. Go to: www.carolclemans.org for bio, over 50 articles, teaching CD’s & DVD’s, book: God’s Design for Marriage.