Category: Divorce

Q&A: How do I learn to deal with my fiancé’s first marriage?

Question: I’m engaged to someone who has a child from a former marriage. It bothers me. Will I ever get over the mistakes he made when he was younger?

Answer: Probably not. This is one reason why second marriages are so difficult. I don’t mean you can’t learn to deal with it, but it will always be a factor. Until the child becomes an adult, your fiancé will likely have some contact with the mother of the child. This creates all kinds of emotions in you, him, and the child. It is a reality with which you must live. I’m not saying you should not marry him. I’m just saying you need to be realistic and decide how you are going to deal with this reality.

Holidays, recitals, sporting events, graduations and weddings are always more complicated in a second marriage. I suggest you talk with some of your friends who are in such marriages and ask how they have handled these issues. Also, pre-marital counseling would be a wise investment. Don’t ignore your concerns. They will not go away with time. Finding answers to these issues is one of the purposes of engagement.

Separation Does Not Necessarily Lead to Divorce

It’s my conviction that separation does not necessarily lead to divorce.

Separation forces us to admit that we have serious problems. When we examine divorce, we realize that divorce doesn’t solve anything. In fact, it creates more problems. The best of our options is to seek reconciliation.

The Christian who makes this choice has all the help of God. God instituted marriage. He knows that marriage is not easy, but He also knows that He wants to use the pains of marriage to build us into more Christ-like people. When this happens, then the potential for a renewed marriage becomes real.  Are you asking God to use your present pain to make you more like Christ? As you grow in your own intimacy with Him, you will have His wisdom in what you should do in relating to your spouse. Your actions cannot control your spouse, but your actions will influence your spouse, for better or for worse.

Q&A: Are there any books for couples who both have divorced parents?

Question: Do you have any book recommendations for Christian couples who are both products of divorce? We want to create a family life that we were not given.

Answer: Thank God for the thousands of couples who have this desire. Their parents divorced, and they don’t want their children to go through the pain that they experienced when they were children. I do believe that God can help you accomplish this goal. The key is to get a clear picture of what a healthy family looks like.

I spell this out in my book: The Family You’ve Always Wanted. I give the five fundamentals of a healthy family: An attitude of service, intimacy in the marriage, p[arents who teach and train, children who obey and honor parents, and husbands who are loving leaders. The book is filled with practical ideas on how to build such a family.

With God’s help you don’t have to repeat the pattern of your parents.

Q&A: Are there any books for couples who both have divorced parents?

Question: Do you have any book recommendations for Christian couples who are both products of divorce? We want to create a family life that we were not given.

Answer: Thank God for the thousands of couples who have this desire. Their parents divorced, and they don’t want their children to go through the pain that they experienced when they were children. I do believe that God can help you accomplish this goal. The key is to get a clear picture of what a healthy family looks like.

I spell this out in my book: The Family You’ve Always Wanted. I give the five fundamentals of a healthy family: An attitude of service, intimacy in the marriage, p[arents who teach and train, children who obey and honor parents, and husbands who are loving leaders. The book is filled with practical ideas on how to build such a family.

With God’s help you don’t have to repeat the pattern of your parents.

Q&A: Contemplating separation

Question: After 15 years of marriage, we are contemplating separation. We are both Christians but have had many battles, one being depression. I feel I’m done. Is there hope?

Answer: I understand how you might feel like giving up. Depression that extends over a period of time can be difficult to deal with for both of you. However, there is help for those who are depressed. The most successful treatment involves both counseling and medication. I know that some Christians want to stay away from medication, but the reality is that often there is a chemical basis for the depression. Successful treatment then requires medication.

I also know that you may have tried medication and it has not helped, but don’t give up. Different medications help different people. Talk with your doctor and try another medication. However, don’t omit the counseling. Many times the depression is fed by relational issues. This is where a counselor can be very helpful.

Q&A: Contemplating separation

Question: After 15 years of marriage, we are contemplating separation. We are both Christians but have had many battles, one being depression. I feel I’m done. Is there hope?

Answer: I understand how you might feel like giving up. Depression that extends over a period of time can be difficult to deal with for both of you. However, there is help for those who are depressed. The most successful treatment involves both counseling and medication. I know that some Christians want to stay away from medication, but the reality is that often there is a chemical basis for the depression. Successful treatment then requires medication.

I also know that you may have tried medication and it has not helped, but don’t give up. Different medications help different people. Talk with your doctor and try another medication. However, don’t omit the counseling. Many times the depression is fed by relational issues. This is where a counselor can be very helpful.

Seeds We Plant

Over the past thirty years, I have counseled many couples who were contemplating divorce. The one scripture that always comes to my mind is Gal. 6:7. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” God gives us real freedom, but we are never free from the seeds we plant. The pain and brokenness of divorce follows us and our children for a lifetime.

When the Bible says that “God hates divorce,” it’s because He knows the pain that divorce causes. I know that you cannot make your spouse reconcile. But you can reach out for help. Call a pastor, a counselor, a friend; read a book. Discover your options and don’t forget that God is the God of miracles.

Renewed Determination

Marital separation sometimes brings a temporary sense of ‘peace’. One husband said, “This is the first week of peace I’ve had for years.” Of course he felt peace; he had left the battlefield. However, retreat is not the road to victory. You must come from that retreat with a renewed determination to defeat the enemy of your marriage.

If you are separated, use this time to examine the biblical principles for building a marriage. Discover where you went wrong and how to correct it. Reach out for God’s help. I wrote the book Hope for the Separated to help you do this. Separation is not necessarily the end. It may be the beginning of rediscovering the dream you shared when you were first married.

Clearest Voice

When marriages fall apart, where do we go for help? The Christian turns to God because we know that He cares. The Bible is God’s clearest voice for guidance. And the Bible calls us to repentance and reconciliation. Notice I said repentance. There can be no reconciliation without repentance. In marriage, this calls for mutual repentance, for almost always the failure has involved both parties.

I do not wish to minimize the hurt, pain, frustration, anger, resentment, loneliness, and disappointment you may feel. Nor do I take lightly your past efforts at marital adjustment. But this is a new day and calls for new choices. Deal with your own failures and ask God to help you do something positive today. Reconciliation comes one step at a time.

Living Again

You dreamed of a marriage where each made the other supremely happy. Now one of you has walked out. Separation is not the time to capitulate. Your dream can live again. But not without work – work that will demand listening, understanding, discipline and change. That work will likely involve the help of an outside counselor; someone who can help you think, evaluate, and reach out for God’s help.

I know you’ve tried before, but sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. One of God’s great gifts is the gift of choice. It is extremely important that you make the right choices. Don’t go it alone. Reach out to a pastor, a counselor, or a friend. There is hope for the separated.

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