“He Walked Out” {And Why Divorce is Too Easy}

hands held

Standing in the aisles of Target, I was sorting through purchases.  Sufficiently distracted enough to nearly miss an old friend, standing just a few yards away.

We greeted one another, and with that keen fondness of a few shared memories, began to sort through the past handful of years.  Kids, jobs, life.  Noticing she had not mentioned her husband, I inquired.

How is Jay?

And without missing a beat,  Oh, he walked out on us last Christmas.

Heart sunk and confused, I remembered Jay as a great Dad and a sensitive husband. 

Oh no!  What happened?

Well, my friend replied,  I still don’t really know.  He hasn’t said. 

But I think it is just too easy to be divorced these days, and he chose the easy way.

 

Unhooked

My friend at Target made a keen observation that day.

Divorce is easy these days.  Too easy.  Whereas a century ago there was tremendous stigma associated with the notion of breaking a married commitment, to post-moderns adults, divorce is easily explained.

Be Happy is the cry of our entitled hearts, and marriage not-withstanding, we will attain it.  In the world of 21st -century singles, self-fulfillment trumps even promises.

be happy

Lauri Sessions Stepp, author of Unhooked, has written a fascinating book on the problem with marriage in the 21-century.

And one of the most discerning observations Strauss has made upon speaking with many now-singles, is that the partner who splits and runs often places blame on “the marriage”.

The marriage was not connected. 

The marriage was difficult. 

The marriage was stifling. We just could not make the marriage work.

To many, The Marriage is handled as an impersonal object, devoid of singular responsibility.

On Forgiveness

Dave Harvey, author of When Sinners Say I Do, challenges this laissez-faire approach to commitment.

People do not fall out of love, Dave reminds.  They fall out of repentance.

Married love is a climb.  And due to life’s obstructions, one requiring enormous perseverance.

roots

Alistair Begg preached a sermon a while back, and in it he noted:

Many find that when they cannot reach the summit with all that they hold in their hands, they let go of the summit and pitch their tent in the plain. And the plain is so very full of tents.

Often, marriages stop flourishing when both partners stop climbing up in accountability to God, and fall out of fellowship with those who will hold them to His high standards.

In turning our backs on who and what builds up, we easily turn our attention toward things that slowly undermine us.  Without intending to, we find a home in the plains.

And statistically speaking, over 52% of married couples are now pitching their tents there.

Two Good Forgivers

Ruth Bell Graham likes to say that a happy married relationship is a bond of “two good forgivers”.

forgivers

Don’t you agree?

It is not so much the commonalities shared, mutual agreement, or even perfect sexual connectivity that makes a union “work”.  Good marriage is built upon layers and layers of forgiving the un-forgiveable.  And this theology of forgiveness links right back to our understanding of God.

Because His grace covers all, our grace needs to do the same.

A marriage grounded in humble repentance can scale the highest mountains of anger and disappointment and still find someone to love at the top.

As Alistair Begg reminds, it IS easier to pitch our tents in the plain.  Avoiding the last great haul toward the summit, with all of our baggage strapped on our backs.

But it’s the view from the top we miss if we give up.

And the sun doesn’t shine as bright in the plain, either.

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7 thoughts on ““He Walked Out” {And Why Divorce is Too Easy}

  1. This is excellent! We’ve had two dear couple friends (one a pastor) who have divorced in the past few years. I have cried buckets over the end of these marriages-and shared friendships. We are studying “The Sacred Marriage” in our small group right now-and I am reminded daily of Gary Thomas’ assertion that perhaps marriage was never meant to make us happy but to make us holy.
    My husband and I were chatting last week that so often these days, so many couples are given pre-marital counseling (which is very important) but, I think post-marital follow up is almost more important. Some sort of mentoring with these young couples, who get past the big day and the stars leave their eyes and they realize marriage is HARD STUFF. And they are too embarrassed or confused to ask for help. My heart is burdened for mentors for these couples.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Jen, I so enjoyed reading the “Sacred Marriage”. In fact, your comment reminds me to go back and read it again- has been years. I agree completely with your assessment of marital counseling. Couples need to know how to work through “real” marriage when it becomes real. And pre-marital counseling is mostly theoretical.

  2. I am at the age now where people are starting to divorce. It’s always such a shock to me because it seems so easy (As your friend said) and there are so many options…plus it’s no longer taboo so, why not? I always say to Justin that surely people don’t get married with the intention to divorce (or why even bother?) so why are so many couples getting divorced so young? I think you are right in saying it’s because we are such a me centered culture. Whatever makes or doesn’t make “me” feel good or feel happy.
    grace recently posted…Where I thought I Would beMy Profile

    • Same here, Grace. Have already seen several marriages fall apart. And in every case, it is the husband leaving. Makes me so sad for my friends, who are left with the children, bills, finding jobs, futures wiped out.

  3. Before I had the chance to sign in to Facebook and let my heart be swept away in staring at other people’s babies :), typing “f” took me to “foryourtomorrow.com” (yea…i come here a bunch) and I went with it. So glad I did. Thank you for the refreshing reminder of the preciousness of marriage and the importance of repentance and forgiveness. These pilgrim days are hard sometimes but God is good and carries us along through plains and mountains. Praise be to God. Thanks for writing this one, Maryanne.

    • Danelle, thank you for following the “f” to the site:)! I agree that the days can be so, so hard. And there are so many ways that Satan is wanting to destroy. Thinking of you, and hoping you are feeling encouraged today!

  4. A thought, a question really. When we get married, don’t we make our vows not only before God but before witnesses also? Why don’t the witnesses hold the couple accountable more often? Is it something we don’t really think about?
    Also, I remember once doing some research and finding that divorce, legally speaking, used to be much more difficult before the 70’s (at least in America). People had to have much more “solid” reasons for divorce like adultery, abuse, not just “irreconcilable differences.” Might this have some connection with the culture shift, either that the law changes made it easier culture-wise or that the changes in culture made it easier legally?
    And I agree with Jen – marital follow up counseling is much needed! There is so much baggage we find out or things we haven’t been honest about that needs to be dealt with, with help.

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