Recently I’ve learned of several strong Christian marriages that are facing divorce or are dealing with separation.
The news has been shocking because these are Christian leaders. These are couples who have long championed strong marriages and families.
As I’ve been processing the heartbreaking news, my heart has been burdened with these questions: What happened to these couples? What were the signs that these marriages were in trouble? And what can we learn in order to protect our marriages and avoid divorce in a Christian marriage?
Every couple needs to read this because, after hearing these tragic stories, I’m convinced more than ever than no Christian couple is immune from divorce. We must all stay vigilant and accountable.
Here’s what we can learn from broken marriages in order to better protect our own Christian marriages from divorce.
What Lessons Can We Learn from Marriages that End in Divorce?
P.S. No matter the situation, it's important that we respond gently to couples going through a divorce with both biblical truth and love. Learn more about a Christian response to divorce here.
It would be impossible to say that we understand the intimate details of how a specific divorce or separation comes to be since there are many complicated factors. Divorce becomes even more complicated when the couple are well-known Christian leaders.
However, there are a few generalizations we can make that can help all of us keep our marriages strong and perhaps even save our own Christian marriages from divorce.
One of the most important? We must recognize that the road to highly destructive sins in marriage that lead to divorce (such as adultery or abuse) is built a little at a time.
Everyday choices can either build or destroy a marriage.
Are you building or destroying your marriage with your little everyday choices? I share more about that here.
WATCH THE VIDEO:
Mighty Christian husbands and wives don’t fall into a huge sin that destroys their family—and perhaps even their career—because they one day decided to commit this sin. No, quite often these types of sins are brought on slowly, one millimeter of a step at a time.
The path starts with tiny choices of the heart:
- To choose to become Facebook friends with that old boyfriend from high school;
- To choose to not bounce the eyes when seeing something sexually provocative, but to take a second, long glance;
- To decide to develop a closer relationship with a friend’s husband because he understands a problem at home you’re going through; or
- To allow thoughts of marital discontent regularly inhabit the mind, recalling repeatedly all those things that a spouse “does” or “does not” do but “should” do instead.
These situations seem innocent enough, don't they? But they can be destructive since they offer opportunities for the seeds of sin to grow.
While it’s true that the devil has a plan to destroy our marriage (John 10:10) and we must be aware of his schemes, James 1:14-15 explains that temptation comes from our own sinful desires.
These verses share how the slow decent into spiritual death happens a little at a time:
“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15)
The song “Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns also reminds me of this step-by-step fall into temptation’s trap.
Sin that the Bible justifies as grounds for divorce (namely, adultery and abuse) doesn’t simply suddenly materialize overnight in a mature Christian’s heart. It starts innocently enough with tiny little choices.
That’s why the first step in preventing divorce in Christian marriage is to admit that we’re all capable of making bad choices. We must recognize the warning signs of a troubled marriage, especially those warning signs of an emotional affair.
4 Other Important Ways to Protect Our Marriages from Divorce
It is tragic to hear about stories of Christian marriages ending in divorce. And it's especially sobering to discover that we're all one choice away from this destructive path.
However, there are still four proactive strategies we can take to protect our Christian marriages from divorce:
- We must stay humble;
- We must stay accountable;
- We must stay teachable; and
- We must have a growing relationship with God.
1. We must stay humble in how we treat our spouse.
Staying humble requires that we continually serve our spouse in love, considering their needs as more important than our own. Despite our busy schedules, we must choose to invest in our marriage relationships and to discover how our spouse best needs to be loved.
Here are some simple ideas:
“Strengthening Your Marriage” Resources, which includes:
- The Rekindling Romance eKit,
- 90 Date Night Questions printables,
- How to Plan a Marriage Retreat for Two; and
- 30 Days of Loving Your Husband
5 Love Languages book by Gary Chapman
2. We must stay accountable to others and to God for our thoughts and actions.
The Bible says that no man is above reproach and that we are all capable of falling into sin. This has been the biggest lesson for me as I hear of these tragic stories of Christian leaders facing divorce.
Get a mentor. Find a prayer partner. Tell someone if you're struggling with temptation. Maintain regular accountability with at least one other person (of the same sex). It's a critical part of protecting your marriage from divorce (and staying faithful to God's plan for you)!
3. We must stay teachable so that we don't develop a hardened heart toward our spouse.
Our spirits need to be willing to accept the fact that we don't know everything about marriage or about our spouse. We need to continually learn how our marriage can grow despite the challenges, and be willing to fight fair to protect our spouse's feelings.
Here are some helpful posts:
4. We must have a growing relationship with God in order to stay faithful through marriage challenges.
Most of all, we must make a thriving, honest relationship with God the number one priority in our lives.
Daily time in God's word, along with regular prayer, is the best way to grow deeply with God. These daily times alone with Him are the times when God can speak clearly and deeply to our hearts, offering encouragement during marriage's tough seasons and conviction when we're headed down the wrong path.
Helpful posts about growing close to God:
Excellent Movie About a Marriage Saved from Divorce
The movie Fireproof excellently tells the story of a couple who makes little choices that put their marriage on the path to divorce.
Ultimately the marriage is restored when one spouse decides to choose humility, get accountability, develop a teachable spirit and to choose to wholeheartedly follow God.
It's a wonderful movie to watch with your spouse as you both seek to build a strong marriage and protect your marriage from divorce.
P.S. In the movie, the husband completes a “love dare” for his wife as part of his choice to save his marriage from divorce. Why not couples complete your own “love dare” (a great way to strengthen a marriage!) with these resources based on the movie?
Additional Posts that Can Help Save Marriages from Divorce
Practical Resource for Couples Facing Divorce or Who Need Healing
Know a Christian marriage that is considering divorce, or want to help other Christian couples save their marriage from divorce?
Or maybe your own marriage is struggling and divorce is something that's been running through your thoughts.
What are some practical things we can do to make our marriages stronger? I believe we must first come to grips with the truth that change takes time, and that it can be a slow process.
If we are serious about avoiding divorce and finding healing in marriage, we have to be real about the big issues we're facing. Talking to a pastor or a wise friend can be a great step.
But when you're ready to implement that advice and set goals to improve your marriage, you need more than just words–you need a concrete step by step plan for healing.
That's why learning how to better communicate with your spouse (and learning how to bring God into that connection) is a powerful solution for couples who are struggling and considering divorce.
If you're serious about creating powerful change in marriage, I highly recommend you pick up a great marriage devotional (here's my favorite, Consecrated Conversations, written by my dear friends, Mike and Carlie Kercheval).
Marriage devotionals give us great insight, perspective and wisdom. Best of all, reading couples devotions together get us in God's word together (which always changes us for the better!).
Maybe you need a little extra help in determining which marriage goals are important to focus on.
Or maybe you need proven strategies to follow through with your marriage goals to make these changes in your marriage last for the long term.
Either way, if you're serious about creating powerful marriage goals that transform your marriage, I highly recommend you check out Consecrated Conversations. It's a wonderful resource to help you explore some of the areas of your marriage that God may want you to address.