The Los Angeles
Conciliation Court publishes statistics showing that each year
over a million American couples divorce. Another similar group
separate without divorce; and a third group become
"psychologically" divorced while trying to exist under
the same roof.
Millions of helpless children are the flotsam and jetsam washed
up by the tide after these marriages have foundered. Each of these
kids bereft of a natural parent will almost inevitably have
problems succeeding in his own marriage. The record states that
the present generation of children from broken homes are a social
time bomb waiting to explode.
When love dies and divorce follows, the result is too often the
most wrenching bitterness that humans can experience.
It is phenomenal how people can change! Watching them as they
court, youíd think they are the sweetest couple you ever saw.
Both families and friends rejoice at the "perfect"
match. Then something mysteriously dries up by the root. Neither
spouse can put a finger on what has caused the difference.
Somehow a serpent lurked under the flowers in this Garden of
Eden. Each spouse began rubbing the other like sandpaper.
Conversation grew strained, words became tart and sometimes cruel.
Embraces became difficult. One or the other started coming home
late. Anniversaries were forgotten, in-laws neglected or shunned.
Wild winds of passion blew like sand-storms in arguments and
quarrels. Being together was no longer fun. Each began to dread
coming home to face the other. In such a strained atmosphere,
every innocent word or act took on a sinister hue, and accusations
and counter-accusations flew. By this time sour love began to
curdle into bitter animosity and jealousy At last the marital
voyage passes the point of no return, and divorce looms as the
only way to terminate the mutual misery.
The aftermath of the wreckage can be worse than the original
storm. No one wins except the lawyers. Whether the problem is
dividing up the property, alimony payments, child support, custody
of the children, or visiting privileges, courts are forced to
wrestle with the wreckage for years to come.
There are indeed cases where all else fails and divorce or
separation is the only solution. The New Testament recognizes that
such situations exist. See Matthew 19:3-12; 1 Corinthians 7:10-15.
But in some, yes many, cases there is a better solution: itís
learning to live with an ornery spouse and learning how to make an
unhappy marriage become a happy one.
Barbara Russell Chesser in a Readerís Digest article says
that in a study of 60 divorced couples, researchers found years
afterward "many unresolved issues." But this isnít
all. Part of the trauma comes from thinking that the breakup will
solve problems only to find that frequently they become worse
after divorce. Studies show that proportionally, second marriages
more often end in divorce than first ones.
There are few marriages where no trace of orneriness ever
intrudes. Human beings are imperfect and are bound to rub each
other the wrong way at least sometimes. A divorce is a violent
tearing asunder, but it always begins with the faintest little
crack. Alfred (Lord) Tennyson expressed this well:
It is the little rift within the lute,
That by and by will make the music
And ever widening slowly silence
The little rift within the loversí lute,
Or little pitted speck in garneríd
That rotting inward slowly moulders
óTennyson, "Merlin and Vivien"
Little rifts in lutes can be repaired. You donít throw a
cracked Stradivarius violin away; you send it to expert restorers,
for such instruments are worth a fortune. Your marriage may be
even more priceless.
There is a Master Repairman who loves to heal the rift within
the lute. Wise marriage counselors are His servants; but He is the
true source of their wisdom. The first step is believing that this
Master Repairman is both willing and capable of undertaking your
case. Our great Repairer of "rifts within the lute" of
marriage would love to do something infinitely more valuable than
repairing a music box.
Perhaps the first problem to resolve is that the Master does
not upbraid us for getting ourselves into the troubles we know we
deserve. Guilt for oneís own contributions to marital discord
often looms so large in our conscience that we hesitate to believe
God will do anything for us. The devil has a way of making us
think we deserve the misery that comes our way. Let our first
lesson be this confidence in Him: "if any of you falls short
in wisdom, he should ask God for it and it will be given him, for
God is a generous giver who neither refuses nor reproaches anyone.
But he must ask in faith, without a doubt in his mind; for the
doubter is like a heaving sea ruffled by the wind." James
1:5, 6, NEB. Yes, we are looking for Good News to believe. Begin
by believing the grace of GodóHis kindness and generosity in
forgiving us and saving us from the evil that we deserve. Stop
blaming yourself or your spouse or your in-laws, and start
accepting that forgiveness. Nothing heals so sweetly as it does.
We might get all kinds of good advice, but we are unable to put
any of it into practice if we are paralyzed by the idea that God
reproaches us for our past mistakes. But His Word has good news
for the one who sincerely seeks help.