‘Is divorce the answer?’, couples ask often during marriage struggles. This question is a very serious question that is at the same level with ‘should we get married?’ Both decisions do not only affect the couples but others as well.
Before saying yes to a divorce, a couple should always take a serious look at critical questions that can help them make sound emotional, psychological and spiritual decisions.
These 15 questions will help you evaluate your marriage and make the right decision.
Question 1: Do you and your spouse communicate in a respectful, affirming way?
If you answered “no,” then it’s time to change how you communicate with your spouse. Many people have difficulty sharing their feelings and needs. Suppose couples “go through the motions” without honest communications. In that case, they turn away from each other, disconnect emotionally, and let negative thoughts and feelings override positive ones.
It can be challenging to move from poor to healthy communication — especially if you’ve never learned how to talk to your spouse. A skilled relationship expert can help you and your spouse learn how to turn toward each other, empathize and understand the others’ feelings and needs.
Question 2: Do you try to resolve every conflict in your marriage?
If you answered “yes,” you have set yourself up to fail.
Nearly 70% of relationship problems are perpetual. They keep coming up! In fact, fighting couples may be looking for a solution that does not exist.
If you and your spouse have the same argument over and over, you may find yourself asking, Is divorce the right answer? Maybe there is a better way to address your struggles. Instead of defaulting to divorce questions, I challenge you to make this statement the new goal of your discussions: I want us to learn to manage issues respectfully. Such a simple declaration can make a profound difference. Couples can learn to talk about conflicts with compassion, acceptance and an understanding that it’s OK to disagree.
Couples should also remember there is usually a significant reason for the disagreement. One spouse (or both) may be dealing with a deeply held position, a dream or other background issues. Uncovering this issue may help a couple reach a healthy compromise.
Question 3: Do you believe your marriage is all that it can become? or are you just tired of trying?
Six years. That’s how long most couples struggle before finally asking a counselor if divorce is the right answer to their situation? Many suffer for decades drowning in poor communication patterns, unhealthy behaviors, and emotional or physical disconnect before seeking help or filing for divorce. They arrive at the counselor’s or attorney’s office exhausted and think they’ve tried everything but feel nothing has worked.
It’s time to take an honest look at your marriage. Do you and your spouse struggle in one (or more) of these areas:
Infidelity — emotional or physical.
Disconnect — emotional or physical.
Thinking negatively about your spouse.
Growing in different directions.
Resentment or bitterness.
If you answered “yes” to any of these issues, consider marriage therapy with a Christian counselor.
Question 4: How have you contributed to the problem and the solution?
Many couples fall into the blame game: pointing fingers at their spouse instead of taking an honest self-inventory. We all have blind spots. And we can only find them if we take time to reflect on the things we’ve done that contribute to our marriage’s unhappiness. In other words, put the blame game in a timeout and do some self-reflection:
Am I struggling with sinful behavior that affects my marriage?
How do I talk to my spouse? Am I critical? Defensive?
How do I handle conflict? Do I attack, avoid or blame?
What does my spouse need from me? How do I know? Is it based on my own opinion or has my spouse told me about his or her needs?
Am I regularly meeting my spouse’s needs? If not, why not?
Am I checking with my spouse regularly to make sure I’m meeting his or her needs?
Am I working on my friendship with my spouse?
How am I showing my spouse love and appreciation?
Question 5: Are issues outside your marriage making you unhappy?
If you of your spouse are wondering whether divorce is the right answer, it may help to first seek medical or psychological assistance. Consider medical aid for:
Mental health issues.
Physical health issues.
Stresses of life.
Question 6: Do you know what makes a healthy marriage?
A healthy marriage is one in which the husband and wife are allies; two individuals working toward a common goal. If you and your spouse are constantly asking if divorce is the right answer, then it becomes essential to stop viewing each other as the enemy and start seeing each other as allies. Often, the realization that you are both working toward a common goal: a relationship, a family; helps renew the friendship that is desperately needed to weather life’s storms.
Question 7: Do you know that the divorce rate isn’t as high as you’ve been told?
There is a belief that 50% of American marriages will end in divorce. Through a rigorous, eight-year study, it has been found that “72% of those who have ever been married are still married to their first spouse.” Based on research, it is believed that the U.S. divorce rate may be as low as 20 to 25%!
A sociology professor at the University of Maryland, analyzed U.S. divorce trends and discovered divorce rates dropped 21% between 2008 and 2017. The decline may be the result of adults choosing to live together rather than marry; however, evidence points toward a continued decline in divorce and a progression toward more stable marriages. So if you’re wondering if divorce is the right answer, social science suggests that it’s possible to save your marriage.
Question 8: Do you and your spouse regularly attend church together?
Research has shown that the risk of divorce is substantially lower for couples who regularly attend church together. The study also finds that “persons who hold conservative theological beliefs about the Bible may be less likely to separate or divorce over time.” The survey results are consistent with the adage, “The family who prays together stays together.”
Question 9: Do you know what the Scriptures say about marriage and divorce?
The Bible is clear that God designed marriage to be a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman. A spiritual union takes place in a marriage. The Apostle Paul describes it as a “profound mystery” (Ephesians 5:31-32).
Are there grounds for leaving a marriage, for divorce? In the Bible, it’s clear God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). It’s important to note that this verse does not say that God hates divorced people. But His heart breaks when He sees the pain caused by divorced. It was never a part of His plan.
So, what is God’s plan for marriage? In Matthew 19:1-9, Jesus talks to religious leaders about marriage and divorce.
The Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He [Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast 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 not man separate.” They [the Pharisees] said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
1 Corinthians 7:15 gives one additional reason for divorce. The apostle Paul cites willful desertion or abandonment. In such a case, the wronged spouse “is not enslaved.” However, Paul’s exception applies only to an unbeliever leaving or abandoning a believing spouse, not to a believer’s actions.
Choosing to divorce should never be easy or considered without input from wise counsel and a spiritual community. If an unfaithful spouse shows no prospect of repentance or refuses offers of help and restoration, divorce is permissible. However, God never intended divorce to be the answer.
Question 10: Are you safe in your marriage?
The Bible releases a spouse from the marriage bond under limited circumstances: sexual immorality and abandonment. But what about spouses who suffer abuse? What does the Bible say to a woman married to a physically abusive man? Or the husband of an out-of-control substance abuser? Or worse, a spouse married to someone with violent or criminal intentions? Does the Bible say that spouses must stay in an abusive marriage?
Physical abuse is unacceptable. If you or your children suffer physical abuse, get to safety.
God intended marriage to be a blessing. His design never included abuse, violence or physical pain. Even emotional abuse can bruise a person’s heart, mind and soul. Victims often feel helpless, hopeless, depressed or suicidal. If you’re in an abusive relationship, get help right away. In such a case, the purpose of separation is for safety. The intent should be that the wayward spouse seeks help and repents so that the relationship is healed and the marriage made pleasing to God. But if the abusive spouse is unrepentant and the other spouse remains in danger, reconciliation may never be possible.
Question 11: Do you understand the impact divorce will make on your children and grandchildren?
Anyone who has experienced a divorce knows that its effects continue for decades. Divorce hits like a tornado and leaves a trail of devastation and heartache. Among the victims are innocent children who must deal with the destruction for years to come.
With the exception of parents faced with unresolvable marital violence, children fare better when parents work at maintaining the marriage.
While divorce is painful for adults, it affects children more, especially in the post-divorce years. Children may be at risk of displaying emotional, psychological and behavioral problems. Children of divorce may also suffer attachment issues. Resiliency and protective factors can influence outcomes following the divorce. Still, we cannot predict which children will fare better than others.
Because a child’s future is at stake, spouses must ask and answer the question: Are you willing to take the chance with your child? No matter how parents attempt to “spin” the issue, divorce is devastating for many children and leaves life-long emotional, psychological and spiritual scars.
Question 12: Are you ready for the long-term financial challenges caused by divorce?
Couples can work together to build wealth, but after a divorce, there is no mutual support. For example, two households cost more to run. Even if finances are distributed evenly, the standard of living almost always drops.
The challenge becomes even more complicated when children are involved. Child support orders are often not enough to cover all expenses. The result is a new set of challenges. Housewives may need to find work outside the home. Parents in the workforce may need to take on second jobs to make ends meet. More hours of work mean less time for childcare, teaching and activities.
Question 13: Have you tried marriage therapy?
If you and your spouse are struggling, seek help. Connect with a trusted group of mature Christians or a pastor who can provide wise counsel. You can also seek advice from a marriage therapist. When looking for a marriage counselor, consider the following qualifications: If you want to talk to a therapist, look for someone who is licensed and has advanced training in the areas of marriage and relationships. Consider these points when searching for a qualified marriage therapist:
Is the therapist licensed?
Does the therapist have advanced training in marriage and relationships?
What is the therapist’s stance on marriage?
Does the therapist believe in God’s design for marriage?
Interview at least two therapists who specialize in marriage and, if possible, consider attending a marriage intensive, retreat or seminar.
Question 14: Are you prepared for the mental and physical stress of a divorce?
Many marriages fall apart for one heartbreaking reason: Spouses forget the value of the relationship. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 is a reminder that relationships are worth the struggle. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”
It is in each person’s own best interest to establish and maintain a durable relationship with an emotionally supportive spouse. The lack of this resource is a mental health deficit.
Based on research, married people are:
Less likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
Less likely to suffer from depression.
More likely to have a longer life than an unmarried person.
More likely to survive a major operation.
It should come as no surprise that sound scientific research confirms God’s original plan for marriage; that a spouse provides companionship and psychological support.
Question 15: Will a divorce really make you happy?
According to a research, the answer is no. The study found that divorce did not offer an unhappy spouse relief from depression, nor was it associated with increases in psychological well-being or personal happiness. The only exception to the rule involved spouses who had experienced a violent marriage.
Is divorce the right answer? Will it make you happy? This research debunks the myth of the happy divorcee. It shows that divorce led to a reduction in happiness and an increase in depression.
Is divorce the right answer? Or is there hope?
Those who faced their challenges and managed conflicts reported a healthy marriage and a happy spouse. The social sciences have revealed that change is possible.
Asides science, The Creator of marriage is on your side. “God is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
God can change hearts. He can bring healing even when there has been an emotional or sexual betrayal. He offers hope. So, before considering divorce, speak to God and ask him to work on your marriage and let His will be done. He’ll be sure to answer all your questions. Love and light, Wonder.