I’m guessing this will be a series, stemming in part from the angst in my heart, over casualties witnessed first-hand in the realm of Christian marriage and family. The deepest ache has been over those couples whose wedding I officiated, parted not by death as they vowed before me, but by what is known as “irreconcilable differences.” Not unrelated, people have turned away from following Christ for the same perceived reason.
Growing a friendship on the front end is exhilarating. When I knew that Anne was the one I wanted to marry, the celebration in my heart was a catalyst to know her on a deeper level. It was like swimming downstream with the current. We both were committed Christ followers and bringing glory to His name was our utmost priority. I felt immovable, unshakable, in my focus.
Our personalities complemented one another, the ways we differed being kind of cute and humorous. Once married, living together put lots more on our plates, opportunities to grow in understanding and acceptance. You may have heard it said, “Before marriage, opposites attract; after marriage, opposites attack.” In all fairness, it is a giant leap, going from dating, to living together in a covenant bond.
Times apart, to prepare for the next time together (dating) recede like the sandcastle on the beach at high tide. It’s pretty much “game on” all the time. Keeping the heart in a state of readiness, one that will respond with grace and patience, must be established in the secret place with God and refreshed time and again. This is every person’s mandate for walking in love, single or married.
In reality, that which enables “irreconcilable differences” to live up to it’s name and reputation in our culture, is the failure to reconcile something within one’s own self. The majority of Christian couples that call it quits, only to move on in search of someone else, carry within them an estranged heart. Not only is there a divorcing of the spouse, but a breach God-ward as well.
In our first book, Longing for Eden, I discuss the challenges of remarriage after divorce. In the chapter entitled “Unequally Yoked”, I cite three points to consider. (paraphrased for our context)
Hidden issues in your own heart, have likely burrowed deeper and grown even stronger, going underground in the divorce battle. They will surface with a vengeance when triggered. Seemingly heavenly at first, the “spots” will begin to show in the new relationship. Jesus is unrelenting in His desire to transform us. You WILL be presented with your stuff AGAIN.
Christ’s desire for you in the first marriage carries over into the next – i.e. changing your heart. Transformation can be intense and the new spouse has signed on, to play a role in the purifying. The double portion will be: what arises in the new marriage, plus the unresolved issues from the ex.
In throwing off the marriage yoke, certain aspects of Christ’s yoke were also removed. Many will compromise in their assignment from God while navigating the chaos of the marriage break-up. God is unrelenting to reclaim His portion; His gifts and callings on one’s life being irrevocable. Your new spouse will need much grace to understand this process. Your “realignment” with God might make you a different person, one that he or she didn’t anticipate.
Deepening your marriage friendship requires a forward focus that will never entertain options of separation or divorce. We must remain immune to the enemy’s propaganda, running rampant in our culture. The deception is, “You always have options if this doesn’t work out.”
It’s a slippery slope to a shallow friendship.
To be continued…
(A balancing point here: There are divorce situations where a spouse has no choice but to leave, due to cruelty, abuse, or desertion. If that’s you, and you have sought to carry your heart before God to the best of your ability, with accountable relationships as a healthy boundary, I commend you.)