The conversations end the same way. “I’ve had enough.”
Hearts chewed up, spit out, and stomped on by their spouses, their pain lying raw on the cold hard cement of public judgment and well-intentioned sympathy, the tears flow and anger seethes as the circle of “those who know” widens.
And the enemy smiles.
The wives cry bitterly, loosening the reins on their tongues, swaying children to “their side,” damaging relationships throughout the family.
The husbands crush their pain with work, weight-lifting, alcohol, isolation, and creating fear and further distance between them and those they live with.
And the enemy smiles.
But there is HOPE. I have, in the last several weeks, also encountered a number of women who all have one thing in common – they divorced their husbands, and then remarried them – and all have better marriages now. Amazing. You can meet a few of them here in the comment section.
You might want to stop reading… I’m sure to ruffle some feathers this morning…
The Top 10 Lies Christians Believe that Destroy Relationships:
- Marriage is supposed to make me happy. (read Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas – it’s supposed to make you HOLY)
- I can have everything I want. (Sorry, no, that’s called, “being selfish.” Marriage is about learning to give, not take.)
- It’s his/her fault. (Sorry, no, again. It’s always both people’s fault. And you are in the relationship to grow, and yes, it will eventually evolve into something beautiful that glorifies God – but only if you obey Him.)
- God wants me to be happy. (God wants you to grow. He wants you to reflect His character. He wants you to have peace and joy and His comfort regardless of what is going on around you. Whether you are happy or not isn’t part of this equation. That’s a LIE from the culture. The media. It means being humble enough to know you aren’t right as often as you think you are and you need to apologize and change your behavior – and if you go through a whole day without having to apologize for something to the people you live with, you are probably blinded by the enemy. Reality check on faith: the closer you get to God, the more you realize the depravity of your spirit without Him. The MORE you apologize! If you think that’s not true, well, I hate to tell you this, but that’s pride. That’s sin. And just so you know, I understand these things. I used to buy the lies, too – and I’m still prideful, and I hate that, but His Spirit in me is working and I’m trying to stay out of the way.)
- If my marriage is painful, I should leave. (God hates divorce. Check Malachi – and Jesus reinforced this in the NT. Instead, realize that if your marriage is painful, you need to 1) admit you don’t know what you don’t know, 2) ask God for wisdom, 3) get in community with other wives or husbands who are doing well to get help and Biblical advice, 4) OBEY His Word – He won’t help you or grow you until you do this, 5) TRUST Him that it will take a while – if you expect things to change overnight, they won’t, but if you leave, you’ll have an even greater statistical chance of failing in your next relationship – even though people mature as they age, if you leave a relationship, the same lack of relationship skills will be carried on to the next relationship. Oh, and for a taste of what REAL faith in the midst of pain is… check this video – we in the West have no idea what suffering even looks like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDHWYK_HtRg
- The fighting and arguing is damaging my kids. (This is true, and yes, you have modeled for them how not to do marriage. But if you divorce, they don’t learn how to healthfully resolve conflict, and are further damaged in deeper and long-lasting ways. And you will STILL have a huge gap in your conflict resolution abilities…so your next relationships and your current ones won’t benefit from learning.)
- My kids will be happier if I divorce. (In an effort to escape the pain of today, we forget that we’ll be dealing with our former spouse primarily about issues around our children. Most people have difficulties doing this. The fighting and negative interactions typically don’t stop, and frequently, the parents talk about each other in negative ways, which causes the children to feel guilt for loving the other parent. I read a study a while back about the effects of divorce on people who had grown up and were now in their 40’s, I can’t find it right now, but suffice it to say the results were not good.)
- God doesn’t want me to be this unhappy. (God wants you to glorify Him. The amount of pain we end up in is usually grounded in how stubborn, hard-hearted, and prideful we are. God wants us to have His peace, joy, and comfort. But that only comes from obedience to His Word. Will you learn His Truth the easy way with a teachable spirit, or do you think you know it all already? Honestly ask yourself if you are obeying Him. Do you know His Word well enough to say that you are? If you are really honest, perhaps you’ll come to the realization that you can’t do this on your own. If you are blaming your spouse for your unhappiness, you are committing the sins of judgment and pride, and the evidence of that is the condescending attitude you convey to others, or the “poor me” attitude – regardless, these things are sin.)
- I’ve tried everything. (I’ll bet you’ve tried a lot. Maybe you’ve even done counseling (which works less than 25% of the time, btw), maybe you’ve gone to seminars, maybe you’ve done formal mentoring… many of you haven’t asked for honest feedback from others. Sometimes when you do, if others are hesitant about giving it, it’s because they’ve already done so and you won’t listen. You think you know better. Has that worked for you thus far? Have you apologized for the hurts you’ve caused? If you are hurting, know your spouse is also hurting… Or do you think you are perfect and she or he is crazy for feeling bad?
I’ll bet you have NOT done ALL of Matthew 18. If you haven’t done all the above over the course of about ten solid years of hard work, then start now. At least your kids will learn that families matter enough to be fought for. AND… if you haven’t tried this, you haven’t tried everything. It’s the best thing I’ve seen out there. YES, it’s expensive. YES, it’s worth it. Here it is: http://smalleycenter.com/ . I can’t recommend this program enough.
I don’t need to take action now… or, I’m just waiting for xyz, then I’m leaving… (Well, while you are filling your head with your self-righteous thoughts and defending your position, nurturing an attitude of continued resentfulness, bitterness, judgment, unforgiveness, all while withholding grace and love and being disobedient, know that God is watching, knows that you are also as wrong as your spouse is, and has this to say:
Matthew 5:21 You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca, ‘ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.23″Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
So you could choose to keep blaming others for your hurting. Stay in your anger. That is definitely easier.
But know you are also probably wrong.
And possibly blind.
God has a better way in store for you, if you are listening.
It involves recognizing what Jesus did for us. For YOU, personally. It involves coming face to face with the sin you are in right now.
There is no such thing as, “I’m a good person.” None of us is righteous, not one.
This is all really heavy today. My heart is burdened for those who are blind and deaf. I know from my own experience, that sometimes it takes a hard smack upside the head with a 2X4 to get my attention when I’m hard-hearted and stubborn, blind and bereft.
For those of you who love Him and are gently led, I’m really sorry for the verbal assault this morning. Understand that the God I know is full of love, kindness, gentleness, and pursues us because of His great love for us – His grace is sufficient for us all. I love to speak of these aspects of His character, because that’s Who He is…
And I’ve also been blind and deaf, and am now thankful for those who have loved me enough to tell me the Truth. My marriage and my family, as imperfect as we are, might shine a little light of Christ these days as a result…and I’m fully aware that it’s not ME, but Him they see if there’s anything good visible.
Dare you to pray for those who needed this message this morning. And please, know I’m sorry for being heavy this morning. Please forgive me for the harsh message. I’d much rather spend time dwelling on His great love for us…
Double dog dare you, if your marriage is in trouble, to book a weekend at a Smalley Marriage Intensive.
SPEND THE MONEY. 85% of their couples are still going. Those are great odds!
Triple dog dare you to apologize to your God and your spouse. Don’t know how? Try this.
Thank you for the grace this morning.
How about you? What lies did I miss? What would you add? Have YOU bought any of these lies?
Love to you,