I had a call last week from a dear person that is struggling in their marriage. My heart broke for them and their family as I remembered those same emotions curdling in my gut every day as my own marriage suffered. The pain of realizing your spouse may not love you anymore. The hurt when you look at your kids and feel like you are letting them down or failing them somehow. The hopelessness you feel when you realize it’s over. All of it is horrible and much of it, sadly, is preventable. How many separations and divorces have taken place because two people can’t communicate well with each other? How often has one party walked away too fast and not given things time to heal before signing divorce papers?
I wonder how many divorced couples look back and wonder “what if” and wish they had done things differently. My guess is that many have done just that. Even if they moved on to happy marriages, there may be a part of them that feels that perhaps they didn’t do enough to save and heal their marriage the first time. Did they try counseling? Did they truly devote themselves to their spouse and marriage? Were they as open as they could have been? So many “what ifs” that are heartbreaking to consider after the damage has been done.
I invite you to read this short blog post from MarriedPeople – http://marriedpeople.org/couples/2013/01/finish-this-story/
How would you finish this story? I would have them talk . . . TRULY talk. This means putting resentment aside for the sake of honest and non-defensive conversation. Maybe they would each answer the question, “what would make this marriage work for you?” Or, perhaps they take one small step and just share how they are both brokenhearted and be truthful about their doubts regarding the divorce. Either way, the hope would be that they would explore this gut feeling they have that their separation is not right. For both of them, it seems that something is breaking, not healing.
This is why our church has placed marriage ministry at the top of our list of priorities. Marriage is the most important relationship you can have in your life – aside from your relationship with God. This covenant is so very precious and deserves our love and care in all that we do – and that goes for the church’s care of marriages as well. I know that all church’s don’t have a marriage ministry, but my prayer is that this will become a priority for all churches. It is so important to nourish the second most important relationship in people’s lives just as much as we nourish the most important one!
One final note: If you are facing separation or having difficulties in your marriage, please consider counseling before you decide to dissolve your marriage. There are very few obstacles that two people who love each other can’t overcome – especially with the help of a trained counselor. Trust me – as a person who saw a counselor for several years I can attest to its importance and value. Even if you do decide that divorce is the best option, having a trained counselor to help you navigate those emotional waters can be very helpful. I know that not all marriages need to remain in tact and some are quite unhealthy and need to end, but counseling is a good way to figure all of that out. It can only benefit your marriage so please try!