Category: Divorce

Love is Patient

Some people find it strange when I suggest that the greatest thing you can do for an estranged spouse is to love him or to love her. Yet, this is exactly what Jesus taught. We are to love even our enemies and we are to return good for evil. One of the ways in which you express love to a spouse who has walked out on you is by being patient.

The scriptures say, “love is patient”. Your marriage did not fall apart overnight and it will not be rebuilt today. Don’t set time limits for yourself or your spouse. Be patient with your spouse’s ambivalence. During separation people are often pulled in two directions:  On the one hand is the desire for reconciliation, on the other, there is the pain and hurt that says, ‘give up’. Patience is the first step toward love.

Love Our Enemies

Can you really love a spouse who has been unfaithful to you? One lady who was reading my book Hope for the Separated, told me that when she came to the chapter on “long distance love” that she threw the book on the floor and said to herself, “I’ll never love him again after all he’s done to me.”

“A few days later”, she said, “ I  picked up the book and continued reading. I discovered that Jesus said that we were to ‘love our enemies’. Well my husband certainly qualified. It took a few weeks, but I remember the day I baked him a pie and took it to his apartment. It was the beginning of our process of reconciliation.” Yes, with the help of God we can love those who hurt us deeply.

Getting Rid of Bitterness

Have you ever heard the expression don’t get angry get even? Well, there may be a better way to deal with that unexpressed anger than vengeance. Let’s look at two negative ways and one positive way of responding to anger and bitterness.

hopeForSeperatedFirst, there is unexpressed anger; holding it inside and letting it smolder. When we do this, the bitterness becomes like a malignant cancer slowly destroying the fiber of life. Then, there is uncontrolled expression of anger. Like an explosion it destroys everything in its range. Such an outburst is like an emotional heart attack and may produce permanent damage.

There is a better way. It begins by saying to yourself, “I’m extremely angry and bitter about what my spouse has done. But I will not allow their wrong to destroy me and I will not attempt to destroy them. I will turn my spouse over to God who is just, and I will release my anger and bitterness to God.” The Biblical challenge is “get rid of anger and bitterness” (Col. 3:8).

Confess to God that you have held your anger inside and that you are bitter. Ask His forgiveness for handling your anger in a sinful way. Then confess your bitterness to your spouse and ask forgiveness. Find a counselor or trusted friend who can help you release your spouse and your anger to God, in order to live a constructive life in the future. Let me admit that a one time confession of bitterness may not eliminate all hostile feelings. If the bitterness has been there a long time, the hostile feelings may die slowly.

Paul said, “Never pay back evil for evil… Never take your own revenge, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:17,19). You may have been greatly wronged by your spouse, but it is not your responsibility to punish them for their sin. They must face God with their sin, and God is a just judge. Verbal retaliation accomplishes no constructive purpose. Seeking the good of your mate, which the Bible calls love, has much potential for good.

The Stand-off

hopeForSeperated

It only takes one person to break the silence. Have you been standing off, refusing to give in and call, waiting for your spouse to make the first move? Why wait? An effort to communicate that you care, that you are open to working on the relationship may be all that it takes to get the process going.

“He failed me. Why should I try to reconcile with him?” That line of reasoning is perfectly normal, but not biblical. In Matthew chapter 18 Jesus instructs us to reach out to those who have sinned against us and seek reconcile. If they won’t turn from their sin, then we take someone with us and lovingly confront them again. If they still refuse to talk with us, then we turn them over to God. We pray for them. We seek to win them by the love of Christ in us.

Reconciliation is hard in any relationship, and it’s even harder in marriage. But God is good. He offers healing. If you and your spouse have been separated in the past but are now reconciled, share an encouraging story for others who may be in that situation right now.

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