5 Steps to Putting the Brakes on Divorce…

Maybe you’re thinking about it.

Maybe the dreaded, “D-word” has popped out of your mouth in a sentence.

Maybe you find yourself thinking, “I can’t keep living like this. I need to get away from this pain.”

Or… “I hate him/her.”

Or even worse, “I feel nothing towards him/her anymore. Why am I even bothering?”


I find it interesting that of the many people blogging out there, a number of them take issue with speaking about gender issues. Enough already. The research is in – actually, it has been in for a while, and it proves what God’s been saying for decades.

Truth is – women participate in criticism more often than men. Men participate in something called, “stonewalling,” more often than women.

It’s the classic pursue-withdraw cycle some of us are all too familiar with.

ALL relationships have some elements of criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

If you have a LOT of those 3, however, you need to know you may be in some serious trouble.

And if you have one more thing… well, if you don’t DO something about it, someone’s going to tear your family in half, break your vow to God, and shred your kids’ hearts. And whether you escape the pain you are in by divorcing, or not, this one more thing absolutely has to GO.

It’s at the heart of our selfish nature.

It’s at the core of thinking we are better than someone else.

Someone that we have forgotten is also precious to God, and deeply loved by our kids.

And that ugly thing at the core?


And it’s really judgment.

Which is sin.

Catch this, however, and this is from the researcher (Gottman) who can predict with a 96% accuracy rating whether or not a couple will divorce after watching them interact for 3 minutes…if you have contempt in your relationship, it’s not a happy one. And it’s a pretty healthy predictor of divorce.

Literally NONE of the relationships they studied that rated themselves as “happy” had ANY evidence of contempt.

And what is contempt?

It is the opposite of RESPECT.

And it is universally known – meaning a very specific facial expression communicates clearly that is how you feel about the person you’re interacting with.

Bet you know what it looks like.

I know I do.

Here’s how the folks from Merriam-Webster.com define it:


noun \kən-ˈtem(p)t\

: a feeling that someone or something is not worthy of any respect or approval

: a lack of respect for or fear of something that is usually respected or feared

law : speech or behavior that does not show proper respect to a court or judge

Here’s a question for you today… Might be a tough one.

Do you view others with contempt?

Do you ever purse your lips, scowl, frown and shake your head at someone while thinking he or she is an idiot or hopeless?

Know this attitude is destroying you and your relationships.

Proverbs 14:1 reads, The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

Check these verses about what God has to say about how we treat others. My personal favorite (1 John 4:20) essentially sums it up – if you don’t love others, you don’t love God.

And Jesus told us to love our enemies, even.

So there’s that.

Got Contempt?

How bad is it?

I need to confess to you that I was just excited about this information today… then I remembered that God wrote The Respect Dare… and then I remembered that there are a number of psychological things in the book that I couldn’t have possibly known myself – I’m a communication coach by profession, not a psychologist. And then I wept, because the math became clear to me…

If you subtract CONTEMPT and add RESPECT

– you can save your marriage.

He’s so good… all the time…

Dare you to TAKE ACTION on this today:

      1. Confess your unloving, sinful behavior to God and those who have been injured by it. This includes your kids.
      2. Beg God, on-your-face-style to change you.
      3. Remember what attracted you to your mate in the beginning. Know those qualities are still there – you just can’t see them any longer. God still does. Ask Him to help you SEE the way He does. Philippians 4:8 will help.
      4. CHANGE your environment – the opposite of contempt is RESPECT. This means, actively ask God to reveal opportunities to point out strengths and communicate admiration. DAILY.
      5. Create opportunities to communicate strengths and admiration. Daily.

Remember, you need to be creating 5 positive interactions for each negative one in a relationship for it to be considered “happy” or at least, “healthy.” 

If you are on the receiving end of contempt, might I suggest creating opportunities (like doing something for him or her) where your spouse could easily see a strength of yours, and let him or her know you did it.

create positive interactions today

After several months of this, if you have done a good job diminishing the amount of criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling you’ve been contributing to (I know, easier said than done) you may be able to actually facilitate an environment where your spouse provides you with the positive feedback you need.

But that’s another blog post.


The point is, don’t give up. Don’t quit.

And allow God to use your current circumstances to teach you how to be more like His Son.

And it’s not just about these things, but there are financial reasons for avoiding divorce – convenient for God, but make the most of the opportunity – reconcile, get this stuff figured out! Yes, according to Bloomberg, the US divorce rate is worsening. A sign of economic improvement, apparently.

There are other options, especially given that 2nd and 3rd marriages fail at even higher rates progressively, so don’t be so quick to jump to divorce as the answer.

Because everywhere you go, there you are. If you don’t learn how to do marriage well now, what makes you think you’ll have the skills to do it well with someone else? The divorce statistics suggest that’s a foolish notion, with 2nd marriages failing at 60% and 3rd marriages failing at over 75%.

And know that if you are one of my many readers who is already divorced, please don’t take offense, and know my words are NOT directed at you today – unless you are bringing contempt into this marriage.  It might have been present in your other one. YOU, above all know how painful divorce is for everyone. Know I’m so sorry – I know you are still dealing with the pain of this, and so are your kids if you have them, even if you are remarried.

Know I don’t judge you, either.

You may have noticed that I didn’t speak to only women today. I know I usually do, because I feel mostly called to be a Titus 2 woman, encouraging other women. But I also know that the bible tells both genders to RESPECT each other in marriage. And husbands, God’s not even interested in your prayers if you aren’t living with your wife in an understanding and respectful way (1 Peter 3:7). Ladies, we know we’re called in Ephesians 5:33 to respect our husbands.

So let’s ALL become more respectful.

Because contempt is corrosive to all relationships, while RESPECT is the salve that brings health and healing to relationships and glorifies God.

And let’s model this for our kids, so they can have better relationships, too.

So glad you are on the journey with us today! I’m interested in hearing what God is doing in your life on this topic.

Dare you to ask Him to teach you, and know I’m joining you daily in that!

And know you’re not alone…I hope you’ll subscribe to the blog in the sidebar. Know we don’t give out your email to anyone for any reason. But we’d love to have you in our community and join us on this journey.

And if you are parenting little people, you should totally follow Leah and Debbie if you have tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings. Like us on Facebook so you can know when Daughters of Sarah becomes available in video format this year, or schedule one of our weekend retreats. 2014 is nearly full, but 2015 might be an option. I’m also active on Twitter as @NinaRoesner.  Come join the discussions! :)

Love to you,


titus 2 women leadership

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

9 thoughts on “5 Steps to Putting the Brakes on Divorce…

  1. I read this and am weeping. My husband of nearly 30 years (and 35 of relationship) has treated me with contempt and disrespect since well before we were married. He broke through every boundary I tried to set, such as physical boundaries. (Yes, I know, I didn’t listen to advice of family and friends.) Moreover, for the 30 years we have been married, he has insisted that I had contempt of him, his job, his abilities, when there was no truth in that. He used pornography nearly every day of our marriage, and insists he does not have a problem. He ended up 5 years ago having an “affair of the heart”–if not a physical one (and I’m not even sure of that–his Viagra “got lost” at the same time). He has always had an anger problem and it only got worse. He treated my teenage daughter and me as if we were small children (in terms of rules, not in terms of love), often berating us angrily for no reason and being verbally and emotionally abusive, controlling, and manipulative. I left him two years ago, and tried so hard to get help for him. He insists he has changed, but what he says, even after two years, shows he still has no respect for me, but thinks of me rather as property that he must get back. I believe you, that respect is needed on both sides. I really tried. He was hurt so badly during his childhood, that nothing I did seemed to help. I feel only compassion for him, and sorrow that it cannot work out. I know God loves him. I know God loves me. Thanks for letting me say this.

    • Lisa –
      I’m so sorry you are in this place. It’s awful.

      I’m blogging on Matthew 18 this week, not sure if this will help you, but it might. Praying for you.

      Love to you,

  2. Hmmmm, how then do you react to learning your husband’s best friend is having an affair and that he has covered for him. Or that the person his friend is having an affair with is also a “Christian” and married with two children…and was using myself as a “friend” just to get closer to her lover, because he is close to my husband. At the moment, I fear that I have contempt for all three of them and sincere sorrow for his friend’s wife. How do you continue to have respect for those who refuse to be respectful of others and responsible for their own actions. Perhaps the best question is whether or not to tell his wife…who I have met on a few occasions, but wouldn’t consider a close friend…her husband, however, passes by almost daily….

    I love my husband and pray that God would soften his heart and help him take a stand against adultery. I haven’t forbidden his friend from being in our home, but whenever he hints at the other person I simply have to leave the room…or go all Jesus in the temple him 😉 Any thoughts??? This is really beginning to take a toll on our relationship and has caused more than one dispute.

    • GREAT question, Samantha! We’re going to be talking more about this in an upcoming post, hopefully this week. “Contempt” is the sin of judgment in action. Yes, we are to confront those who sin against us, but with hearts of love – because not even Christ came to judge the world. Matthew deals with this topic pretty significantly in his gospel, as do the others, but I prefer his because it also contains the verses about confronting another’s sin.

      Am SO glad you are here! Stay tuned… these are difficult things indeed!

      Love to you,

  3. You are right on once again. For more years than I would like to admit I kept wanting my husband to change. Recognize all the contributions and sacrifices I was making to be with him. I was at the end of my rope with no where to turn for help because he was one of those stone wallers you talk about. I was the closest I had ever been to divorce when I found The Respect Dare and I KNOW God put it in my path because no one I knew had ever heard of it. I started reading and then got into my Bible on a daily basis and what God revealed to me not only saved my marriage it made it better than it has ever been. Submitting to God and then respecting my husband has transformed my entire life. It isn’t about me; what a weight to have lifted off my shoulders! All I have to do (I KNOW IT SOUNDS LIKE A LOT) is respect my husband. I find that respecting my husband makes him a new man. He does and says things to me that I NEVER thought I would ever hear come out of his mouth. He wants to please me! What? God where is my husband what have you done with him? I used to think respecting my husband was letting him walk all over me and telling me what to do. What I found was that respecting him actually makes him feel better about himself, more confident, and in turn that makes him want to support me, encourage me, and love me in a way I never imagined was possible. I encourage every wife to stop thinking about yourself and think how can I honor God? and respect my husband? You will be giving yourself the best gift ever. It didn’t happen overnight because, if you’re like me and have been married for several years, your husband may have difficulty trusting that it will continue; but I can tell you I saw signs of change very early on as if he was just as desperate for change as I was. I would encourage EVERY WIFE to respect her husband without expecting anything in return. Give it a few months and then see what happens. I bet it will be the best decision of your life and you will be happy beyond your wildest dreams. I AM!!

    • Nena –
      It IS a lot, but you are RIGHT. It is the beginning of everything. I am praising God with you! Some women spend years respecting and doing everything that God asks them to do, and yet, no response from their husbands – you are very blessed indeed. I love how you said, “Submitting to God and then respecting my husband has transformed my entire life.” We have to start with the Lord, first – and then things start to fall into place.

      Thank you so much for sharing what God has done! I hope you will stick around – there are so many women who need this type of encouragement. I join you in praising Him today! 🙂

      Love to you,

  4. Nina,

    I so love reading your blog! Contempt is what lead me down my bad path..I held resentment for things that were really not my husband’s fault or doing and allowed them to seep into my heart until I didn’t care if I hurt his feelings or disrespect him.. until he followed suit when he got tired of my disrespect! WOW does it hurt when someone does to you what you have been doing to them! I admire my husband’s strength for putting up with me for SOOO long!
    Today, while we still have a hard road back to rebuilding, I know God is in our midst and he will help me remember my commitments and convictions.. AND my husband is back to the loving spouse I so cherish!
    Praying it is forever for real this time!

    • Tiff –
      Any good is all Him, baby! 🙂 And can I just point out how wise you are in recognizing what was happening when your husband started treating you likewise? SO MANY (too many) women miss the nudge from the Holy Spirit when this begins – and they exacerbate the problem – and the marriage continues to spiral. THANK YOU for sharing your testimony – am praising God with you for the work He is doing in your life! SO thankful you are here – hope you’ll stick around, too! 🙂

      Love to you,

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