Category: Divorce

Q+A: Desperate Marriages

Q: Gary, after 15 years of marriage, we are contemplating separation. We have had many battles over the years, one being depression. Walls have been built and the fear is that I can’t break the wall again. I feel I’m done. Is there hope? Is separation just prolonging the inevitable?

Gary: I believe that there is always hope, even when you have lost hope. And I understand how you can get there, because I have been there myself. There are two books I would recommend to you: One is called Desperate Marriages. It specifically deals with the whole depression issue and living with someone who is depressed over a long period of time. The other one is called One More Try: What to do When Your Marriage is Falling Apart. I believe either or both of these books will help you as you struggle to know what to do next.

Q&A: Commitment vs. Love

Q: Gary, my husband says he’s in the marriage now more for the commitment that he made rather than love for me. How can I stay married to him if he’s only committed, but not in love with me?

Gary: Many many people are where your husband is, they’re just not ready to admit it. The reality is that all of us come down off the high of the emotional experience of being in love and if we don’t learn how to speak each other’s love languages, then we may be staying there out of commitment. Thank God for commitment! Because that gives us an opportunity to learn how we can advance our marriage. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to read and discuss a book like the 5 Love Languages and then look over the past and see what happened and how you missed each other. Life can be different, I assure you, if you make changes.

Your Unhappy Marriage May be More Harmful to Your Children than You Realize

We’re often warned about the detrimental effects divorce can have on children: It can make them insecure, worried, or harm their ability to have a successful marriage later on in life. If you find yourself in an unhappy marriage and have decided to stay for the sake of the children, it is vital to realize there are repercussions to that decision. Below are three consequences of maintaining status quo in an unhappy marriage which will hopefully serve as motivation to reignite the process of healing and restoration in your marriage.

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Q&A: Is There Hope for a Divorced Couple?

Q: Gary, I am recently divorced and have just discovered the 5LL. I haven’t been speaking his. We are still in touch. Can I still save something of our marriage?

 

Gary: You know I have many people who share this sentiment: they wish they had discovered their love languages much earlier. But if you have contact, you can still speak his love language with whatever opportunities you have. I would begin with an apology, though. I would say to him, “You know, I was reading a book the other day and I realized that I failed you in terms of loving you. I didn’t even know your love language.” And now you’ve got his attention. You’re apologizing to him for failing to meet his need for love, and when you apologize it opens the door to the possibility of him forgiving you, and then when you ask for another chance he’s far more likely to give you another chance because he sees a change in you.

Q&A: Boundaries for an Ex Spouse

Q: What should be the boundaries for an ex-spouse who is still in the family picture?

Gary: This is one of the difficult things about second marriages. Whenever divorce takes place, that person isn’t dead, they’re still there. Chances are they’ll be at the wedding of the children and they may be there when the children are sick. And just a lot of other interactions that you cannot avoid. We have to accept that as reality, they’re going to be in the picture, they are part of the family even though the divorce is final. They are still the parent of your children and they’re still your ex spouse. As long as it is not destructive behavior when you are together, you need to make the most of it, you need to accept each other where you are, and you need to ask God to help both of you.

Q&A: Can God Bless My New Marriage after a Divorce?

Q: Three years ago I had an affair that broke up my marriage and we’ve both since remarried. Can God still bless my new marriage?

Gary: Let’s face it, all of us are sinners. We may differ in what we do, but we are all sinners. And God is the great forgiver. Now forgiveness does not remove all the consequences. And where there’s been affairs, divorce, and then remarriage; there are consequences to that. And we have to live with those consequences. There’s scars personally in our lives. And the effect of children is also there. So can God bless a second marriage, a third marriage, a fourth marriage? God can bless us wherever we turn to Him. He can give us a good relationship with that person but we must continue to live with the scars of our choices.

Q&A: Divorce and Your Relationship with God

Q: If I get divorced, will it affect my relationship with God?

Gary: Divorce is never God’s intention. Jesus makes that very clear in the New Testament. Marriage is for a lifetime. I know that there are difficult situations. Sometimes separation can be an act of love if the person is being destructive to you or to themselves. You say, “I cannot continue to support you in this behavior.” Then, after healing has occurred, you return. Divorce, however, is a different thing. Divorce is not an act of love; it’s abandonment. I hope that you will sit down with a pastor or Christian counselor and do everything you possibly can to save your marriage. Divorce does not alleviate problems. It only creates a whole new set of problems that you must then deal with.

The Role of the Church with Young Adults and Marriage

In spite of the widespread acceptance of divorce, a recent poll of never-married singles, ages 20-30 found that 87% planned to marry only once.  Many of these young adults have seen their parents divorce and that is not what they want for themselves.  However, most of them have had no training on how to have a life-long marriage.  I believe that one of the best things churches can do for the next generation is to teach relationship skills to young adults before they get married.  Romantic love alone is not enough.  They must learn how to express love, how to resolve conflicts, how to share hurts in a non-condemning way, and how to apologize when they fail.  Who is better equipped to teach these skills than the Christian church?

Why it’s Hard to Forgive

Why is it so hard for us to forgive? I think it is because we are made in God’s image and we have a deep concern for justice. Forgiveness did not come easy with God. That is what the cross of Christ is all about. Because Christ paid the penalty, then God can forgive us and still be just. How do we experience God’s forgiveness? We confess our sins and accept what Christ did for us. So, when others sin against us, forgiveness is not easy. Our sense of justice demands that they pay for their sin. We want to be reconciled, but we do not want to ignore wrongdoing. However, when they confess, we remember that God forgave us when we confessed, and we choose to forgive others. Love is always ready to forgive.

Forgiveness is not Always Acceptance

There is a difference between forgiveness and acceptance. You may accept many things about your spouse that you do not particularly like. In fact, such acceptance is necessary in healthy marriages. But forgiveness presupposes that you have been wronged, treated unfairly. In the Bible, such action is called sin and sin cannot be accepted. There are two responses to sin; we can confess our wrongdoing and seek forgiveness or we can continue in our sin. The one who continues in sin will not be forgiven. In fact, God will bring discipline to the Christian who continues in sin. His desire is that we turn from our sin so that we can experience His forgiveness, and have warm fellowship again. In a healthy marriage, this will also be our desire.

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