No one gets married expecting their union to end in divorce. Sadly, divorce is an extremely likely outcome for many marriages. I wish these stats did not include the church, but among Christians divorce rates are a huge problem as well.
In the Bible, there are only two biblical reasons to get a divorce: adultery (Matthew 19:9) and if an unbelieving spouse wants to leave the believing spouse (1 Corinthians 7:15). In both of these instances, divorce is allowed but not commanded. Reconciliation is always the first option whenever possible in the Bible (Romans 12:18). (For more on divorce and remarriage, see What Does the Bible Say About Divorce and Remarriage?)
So throughout this article, I am in no way saying that these 5 points are justification for divorce. I’m in no way trying to say Christians should get divorces. What I am saying is that people who do these 5 things are often the ones who end up getting divorces in marriage.
To help you avoid divorce, I believe you should pay special attention to these 5 common ways that people unknowingly often lay a foundation for divorce before their marriage even starts.
- Start the Relationship with Lust Rather Than Love
One of the best ways to lay a foundation for divorce is to start your relationship through lust. If a desire for sexual pleasure is the main motivation for being with the person you end up marrying, when your sexual desire for this person lessons your bond with this person will lesson too. If sex is the glue keeping you two together, this bond will quickly fade.
Starting your relationship with lust is also damaging because you are starting out on a foundation rooted in disobedience towards God. When you start a relationship in a way that does not consider what God wants, that mentality will be the guiding principle throughout the relationship unless radical transformation happens. So when the relationship gets hard, this couple will be quick to lash out towards each other and sin because they are the type of people who are quick to follow their most immediate fleshly desire. If your relationship started because you were following your flesh rather than God, your relationship will end because you are still following your flesh rather than God.
Lastly, lust is also such a dangerous foundation to build a relationship on because lust always wants more. If two people get married because of their mutual love for lust rather than their mutual love for each other and God, healthy sex between a husband and wife won’t be enough for this couple. One or both of the spouses will want the thrill of sexual sin again and heavy porn use or an affair will likely occur at some point in the marriage.
- Get Into a Relationship Before Finding Healing to Past Wounds
Another corrupted foundation to build a Christian marriage on is when there are unhealed wounds from past events and relationships. Wounds don’t just go away. If heart wounds are not healed through the powerful grace of Jesus Christ, these wounds will remain and the symptoms of a broken heart will devastate a relationship.
Even if two Christians who really love Jesus and each other have deep wounds from their past, this couple’s good intentions will not be enough to overcome the urges within them. Hurt people hurt people – plain and simple. If you were abandoned as a child, abused in your past, cheated on in your past, or if there are any other deep wounds in your past, these will manifest in unhealthy ways in your dating and marriage.
If you run to a relationship for healing rather than running to Jesus for healing, this relationship will crumble. A marriage will not heal you. God might use a marriage to bring about healing for those who are willing to receive his restoring power; but make no mistake, without Jesus there is no true healing and thus the relationship will never function properly. If you want a healthy Christian relationship, you need two healthy Christians first.
- Live a Life of Unfaithfulness Before Getting Married
One strong ingredient to divorce is unfaithfulness. Obviously, therefore, one core ingredient to a healthy marriage is faithfulness. Faithfulness is not something that someone magically develops once they get married. If someone has a history of unfaithfulness before marriage, it is very likely they will have a history of unfaithfulness after getting married as well.
One of the best indicators of the future is the past. Some people who get married are shocked when their spouses cheats on them. However, many times these relationships were formed through cheating themselves. If you participate in adultery or cheating together and then expect to have a faithful marriage with this person, you are most likely in for a rude awakening. If someone cheated on their former partner to be with you, it is a high probability that they will be willing to cheat on you someday to be with someone else. It is also likely that you yourself might cheat again and sabotage your own marriage.
So if you want to avoid divorce, marry someone who has a history of faithfulness and become a faithful person. The two of you need be faithful in singleness if you hope to remain faithful in marriage.
- Don’t Ever Learn to Fight Fair
One of the things that poisons a marriage is fighting disrespectfully. Disagreeing in marriage and having issues that cause intense emotions is unavoidable. To think that two individuals will always feel the same way about issues and never misunderstand each other is totally unrealistic. What is realistic, however, is for a husband and wife to respect each other always. You may not always speak tender, loving words to each other, but you must always avoid saying hurtful, unfair things to your spouse (Ephesians 4:29).
To have a healthy marriage, you need to learn how to handle conflict well. You need to learn how to fight fair in your Christian marriage. You have to learn how to get through the emotional storms that will occur in the marriage while causing as little damage as possible in moments of intensity. Sometimes you can’t help getting angry, but still you have to make the choice not to sin in anger (Ephesians 4:26).
- Never Learn to Forgive Like Christ Forgives You
Lastly, if you truly want to avoid getting divorced, you have to be a forgiving person. If you do not forgive your spouse, bitterness will grow in your relationship. The more bitterness that comes between a husband and wife, the more tempting divorce will be for that marriage.
Healthy couples are not better people, they are simply people who have learned to deal with their flaws better. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), but only some receive the gift of forgiving others as God has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). When you choose to forgive your spouse, you are blessing yourself too. If you refuse to forgive your spouse, you are laying the foundation for your divorce too.
No Christian marriage will be perfect because no Christian husband and wife will be perfect. But when you learn to forgive and offer the grace God has granted you to your spouse, you can have a thriving Christian marriage even though you and your spouse are both imperfect people.
Christians serve a perfect Savior, and because of him our issues in marriage do not need to lead to divorce. Without Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5).
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