Stay Married. Get Happy. {Part One}

This white screen looks extra large and blank this morning.

Yesterday, I knew it was time to finally write this post that’s been running around my head for many months. I come to this topic with a certain measure of fear and trepidation, knowing toes will be stepped on, and not everyone will be happy with it. Yet the truth begs to be told. And where marriage is concerned, it is vital that we know there *is* a truth to be told.

If you’re married, you should stay that way.

Right now, some of you want to come out of your skin. Rules do that to you, because nothing happens in a vacuum. And I don’t know what you’ve been through. So let me throw the caveat out there: no one should stay in a position where they or their children are in danger of physical or emotional damage. We have a responsibility to protect our children, and it does no one any favors to be allowed to beat up on us with no consequences.

But can I just tell you that we both know that situation is *extremely rare?* None of the divorces I’m personally privy to occured (or are occurring) because someone was in a position of needing to protect themselves or their children from true harm.

Most are occurring because someone is tired of not getting what they want. Because the other person doesn’t pay them enough attention, manage the money well, clean the house correctly, meet their emotional needs, or look the way they’d like.

Most just happen because both people involved are being asked to die.

Because the problem is, we are sinners married to sinners. No one is perfect. We are all in the midst of a lifelong process, and lifelong is a very, very, very long time.

I used to think that people who’d been married a long time must have had perfect lives. I wrote a little about that in Marriage and Fairytales. I looked at my own life, then at theirs, and really believed that they must not have fought, or walked through financial difficulties, or struggled. As time has gone on in my own life, I’ve learned the truth: those 40th anniversary smiles hide secrets of their own. And one of them is the joy that comes from pressing through the hard days/months/years/decades.

When I was a teenager I had a chance to observe a family walking through a divorce. I probably should say I had the unhappy privilege, not just “chance.” Because I learned something watching those parents and children walk through their pain: I learned that it wasn’t worth it. Even then, it looked to me like the “benefits” just weren’t nearly enough to make up for the often unseen negatives that accompanied them.

I’ve been told directly by some that in the divorce, their priority is their children.

That, friend, is a crock.

Because what you’re saying is, “You’re my priority … but I’m choosing to live away from you. You’re my priority … but I won’t be here to tuck you in every night–by choice. You’re my priority … but I’ll probably miss your first dance, first heartbreak, first _________. You’re my priority … but from now on, on every major holiday for the rest of your life, you’ll have to make a choice you don’t want to make–who will you spend it with? You’re my priority … but right now I’m choosing to add pain to your own wedding day, as you try to decide who will come and where they’ll sit. You’re my priority … I’m ignoring all the statistics on how bad divorce is for children. You’re my priority … but I’m tearing apart your home, and from now on you’ll be split between two. You’re my priority … but I’m rejecting the other half of you, your other parent. You’re my priority … but I’ve effectively transferred the responsibility for my care when I’m old from where it should be–with my spouse–to you. You’re my priority … but I’m the most important person in my life.”

These aren’t made up. These are things I have heard from both the children of divorce and adults from divorce-torn homes. I’ve sat with both through their tears as they try to decide whether to call a new parent “mom” or “dad,” try to decide who to stay with, try to figure out how to care for a distant, elderly parent who lives far away, try to figure out where they belong.

Perhaps those are some of the reasons why God hates divorce.

“This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the LORD of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” Malachi 2:13-16

But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband  (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. I Cor. 7:10-11

Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” Matthew 19:3-6

Not much ambiguous there. Of course for some people, not much stock is put in the Word of God. So we could take a look at the statistics and see if we find better news …

Children from fatherless homes are:

  • 4.6 times more likely to commit suicide,
  • 6.6 times to become teenaged mothers (if they are girls, of course),
  • 24.3 times more likely to run away,
  • 15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders,
  • 6.3 times more likely to be in a state-operated institutions,
  • 10.8 times more likely to commit rape,
  • 6.6 times more likely to drop out of school,
  • 15.3 times more likely to end up in prison while a teenager.

(The calculation of the relative risks shown in the preceding list is based on 27% of children being in the care of single mothers.)

and — compared to children who are in the care of two biological, married parents — children who are in the care of single mothers are:

  • 33 times more likely to be seriously abused (so that they will require medical attention), and
  • 73 times more likely to be killed.

 

Those statistics come from http://fathersforlife.org/divorce/chldrndiv.htm. There are more to be found at that page and many others. None of them are good. None say, “Your children will be happier if you get a divorce.” Because that’s not true, no matter how hard you try to convince yourself that it is.

Am I willing to leave *these* children to *those* statistics? Ummmm, no. But the wolf has howled at our door, too.

People seem to think they can just cut off one bad relationship and walk into another one with someone else, and things will be better. Here’s the problem with that … Wherever you go, there you are. And you, sir or ma’am, are at least 50% of the problem in your marriage. If you trade one spouse for another, you just have to start all over learning *their* issues, and you still haven’t overcome your own! What’s more, the other parent of your children isn’t going to just disappear. Don’t like the way they manage the children? Welcome to the world of “Now you have absolutely zero control–less than you have now, and there’s nothing to be done about it.” When the other parent brings another person into the mix–as they most likely will–even more fun ensues. Ready for your child to start calling someone else mom or dad? Because it could happen. That’s the door you’re choosing to open.

If you have stood before God and your friends with your husband or wife and made vows to keep covenant with them, and now think you’ve got a reason to break those vows, how on earth do you justify your next car loan? Or apartment lease? Our society makes it more difficult to get out of a business agreement than a relational vow. And kids know it. When you walk away, you leave your child with a very powerful statement: Marriage doesn’t work. True love isn’t possible. Nothing is stable.

Will you stand with your child on their wedding day and have to say, “Well, good luck; hope it ends up better for you than me … “?

My heart breaks for my friends who live these ugly truths through no choice of their own. For some of you, the decision was made and you had no way of changing the tide. God’s grace is enough. He will cover, and He will heal, and He will help. I know, because you’ve told me, and I’ve watched. But that in no way negates the pain of those decisions, nor the repercussions that are inescapable.

Might we not hope for–strive for–work toward–something better??? Because please hear me: pain in marriage is real and it needs to be dealt with. No one should just say “Oh well, this is my lot, my feelings don’t matter.” We all need the supernatural grace of God to help us overcome the biggest problem involved when living life day in and day out with a sinner: our own selfishness. Outside of that, it certainly looks like there’s no hope. 

Okay, I’m tired now, and the kiddos are ready for breakfast. Tomorrow … Get Happy.

Click here to read it: Stay Married. Get Happy. {Part Two} 

Read the other 31 Days of Encouragement!

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17 Responses to Stay Married. Get Happy. {Part One}

  1. Jeanine Tobolski says:

    So, so true, and it needed to be said. 

    Almost 38 years, and smiling that secret smile…    :)

  2. Donita says:

    Words of Truth, words of wisdom..

  3. Deanna says:

    This was great, Misty.  I shared with my sister who is contemplating divorce from her husband.  You make some fantastic points.  She seems to think her children are unaffected with the whole process and will be just fine.  I think happiness has to come from within…then you can deal with the rest.

    • Misty Krasawski says:

      Hi, Deanna! I just feel like there are way too many things people don’t or won’t think about when they decide to back out of their marriage commitments. The kids suffer terribly. These things aren’t always “out there” clearly, so I thought maybe it would benefit *someone* to see them in black and white. I pray your sister hears the truth in these words, and that she finds help! :-)

  4. Belinda says:

    Misty, that was great, so needed in this world today. I have been married 35 years and have had to walk through the fire a few times. We have made it through because that is what God would have us do and for our family. I fear for the people getting married today and two of them happen to be my daughters for next year. I would love to see you mentor some young ladies who are headed in that direction as you are such a awesome lady. We will pray for your family and asked prayer for our family. Thanks for your example. Belinda

  5. Chelsea says:

    Great read today Misty…much truth in this!

  6. I loved this Misty…both parts 1 & 2…
    And there’s so much hope.
    We have a God who redeems.
    Who can bring to life that which is dead…

  7. Jonda says:

    Thankyou Misty, I said “wow’ over and over. I have friends too who are ignoring these issues and do not want to listen to Truth.
    Thankyou for giving me a reference to send others to.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi, Jonda! I understand why people don’t want to acknowledge these truths, you know? Marriage is so difficult, and we get so hurt that the enemy convinces us that we *have to* have a way out. But then of course he makes life even more painful for those who take the bait. I pray these words speak to someone and prevent pain somewhere out there! Thank you for your kind words.

  8. Pingback: Stay Married. Get Happy. {Part Two} | | Encouraging Hearts at HomeEncouraging Hearts at Home

  9. Pingback: What Happens if you Stay Married and Get Happy | | Encouraging Hearts at HomeEncouraging Hearts at Home

  10. Hodges5010 says:

    I think your post is very timely. My husband and I just celebrated our 14th anniversary. We have had challenging times, but when we married we made the commitment that staying together was our only option. God has blessed us richly with an amazing marriage. I can’t imagine ever sharing all that i’ve shared with my man with someone else. It seems as if we are at such a sweet spot. We are best friends and intimate lovers. God’s plan for marriage is perfect.I wish more people could see that. Thx for a good post. I blog at http://www.reflectinghisglory.com if you ever wantnto check it out.

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