You are sitting at home and all of the sudden the phone rings, it’s your closest friend and they have bad news “I WANT OUT OF MY MARRIAGE”, you find yourself sitting there in shock not knowing what to say.
Here are the TOP TEN things NOT to say.
ONE: “You deserve better”
The truth is, we all have horrible moments in our life and our marriages. None of us ‘deserve’ better during the times our spouses are acting terrible any more than we deserve it when our spouses are acting wonderful. That is not a fair card to play.
Yes, during ‘extreme’ circumstances of abuse I agree with the statement “You deserve better”, but 99% of the cases we see are not abuse related. If you were to investigate both of their behavior over the past year, you would find an equal amount of poor treatment going back and forth. I caution you not to jump on their bandwagon.
TWO: Silence (you say nothing)
This is the most common approach. We say nothing. Silence endorses your friend’s choices. Silence propagates their destructive choices. Silence is deadly. The bible says “If you love me, you will confront me. You will warn me. You will show up on my door step in love and shake me to the core. You will love me enough to open my eyes to the truth”. Please don’t be silent. Tell them there is hope, tell them to get help before they get out. Tell them that a lifelong commitment should mean something. Tell them their choices will alter their children’s lives forever. Tell them their next marriage will have it’s own trouble if not more. Tell them to get back in there and display courage, character and love.
THREE: “I will help you find a divorce lawyer”
Let them do their own dirty work. I often find a person creates a posse when wanting a divorce. They find two or three people who are their cheerleaders. It’s because of their cheerleaders (or a lover on the side) they have enough courage to jump out of that marriage and soon to get in another. If they choose to divorce, even against your wishes, still love them. Continue to be in their life as before. Continue to pray for them and include them and their next spouse in your life but by all means don’t make it easy for them to dissolve their family unit. If we fight for nothing, we become aimless with broken relationships and wounded children in our wake. I always consider the innocent when deciding how to respond.
FOUR: “Divorce is better for your kids, they won’t see all the fighting”
This one angers me. It’s like saying “Don’t grow up, don’t learn how to resolve conflict in the family unit you created. Don’t become a great parent and spouse in this house. Divorce them and do them a favor.” The truth is, they are bringing the same horrible conflict resolutions skills into the NEXT family unit they create. Their mess will follow them and it is even greater than the one they abandoned. So, in short, tell them to do their kids a favor. GET HELP. Learn how to resolve their differences in a loving and respectful way. Their kids will learn by watching them. Their kids will face the same trials they are facing and when they do, they will rely on the memory of mom and dad. Show them.
FIVE: “Just get separated for a while”
Separation is a good idea but only for a very extreme condition and for a very limited amount of time. Maybe where there is physical risks, fear of being hurt, extreme drug/alcohol use or habitual liar/cheater. Separation can be an effective tool for the extreme cases but only if both parties are getting help during the separation.
Too many couples get separated over the small stuff. The problems begin to mount beyond a point of return. For every hour you are apart, you are preparing the children and each other for total disintegration of the family unit. Your hearts grow hardened and you enjoy the ‘quiet’. Sure those benefits are real but they are self focused and chip away at the marriage hope. I am constantly hearing stories of men moving out because their wife “asked them to”. REALLY? That’s all it took? If she asks you to move out, SAY NO. Get help, get counseling, work on your issues but by all means stand strong and fight for your marriage. Don’t be weak. Don’t procrastinate. Look in the mirror and be sorry for your part. Know that separation destroys more marriages than it saves. It is often the kiss of death.
SIX: “She is a horrible wife”
Really? Don’t be so quick to jump on his bandwagon of despair. Don’t encourage his anger. I often tell men who are angry to take a time out and look at the last year identifying their horrible behavior. I try to steer them away from being fixated on their spouse’s sins and begin looking at their own.
SEVEN: “He is a terrible husband”
Same as above, ladies, do her a favor and get her to look inward at her own sin. Get her to see where she has failed. Get her to understand the cost of divorce on her and her children. Try to remind her of all the good in her husband and the POTENTIAL to be good. Everyone deserves 2nd chances.
EIGHT: “Divorce them and join our group of singles, were having fun?
This one angers me too. There seems to be a growing community of ‘happily divorced’ people out there propagating divorce. Never let that be you. If you are divorced and single. PLEASE don’t encourage someone to dump their family and be your wingman. Is it fun to be single again? Is if fun to be in the chase again and enjoy the feelings of new romance? Of course it is but it also is short lived and the trail you leave behind often isn’t worth the shallow enjoyments along the way. Please, if you love your friend, fight for their marriage even if yours dissolved.
NINE: “God want’s you to be happy”
This one makes me laugh out loud. I have heard this from men and women wanting divorce, “Doesn’t God want me happy?” NO, he wants you miserable like the rest of us. (just kidding) God wants you to be HOLY far more than He wants you to be happy. True happiness is found at the end of a life of character, sacrifice, humility, serving, giving, loving and forgiving. Bailing out of a covenant you made with the mother of your children (or father) in the name of happiness is asinine. One time a dad told me God wanted him to divorce his wife. I said “Really, please tell me more”. He went on to say that when he was not with her, he was happier and that must be from the Lord. i asked him if his 4 children were also partaking in his supernatural divine happiness. He said no, they were devastated. “Really?”, then we have a very confusing God. If he wants you to divorce over YOUR happiness yet your kids are devastated, the math doesn’t add up.
In short I will say two things, One: That kind of happiness is fleeting and will come and go with the wind. Two: True happiness comes from the Lord and living out His ways.
TEN: “There is no hope, just end it”
That is always a lie from Satan. There is ALWAYS HOPE. I have seen adulterous affairs, alcoholics, drug users, chronic liars and all kinds of other seemingly hopeless situations cross paths with God’s true power. He redeems the un-redeemable. He cleans the filthy. He restores the shattered. He molds the broken pieces. He is the creator, the giver, the healer, the nurturer and the second chance giver times a billion. I have seen miracles happen to the least likely. All he wants you to do is humble yourself, seek him and turn from your own thoughts and flesh, His healing will find you.
2 Chronicles 7:14
Go and be different.