Friendship and the Divorced Person

The type of friend you need going through divorce.

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The one constant a divorced person needs is support. Genuine support.

When we go through the process of divorce, it is like a friend filter. You will find out who your real friends are. That couple that you and your spouse used to hang with…they will take sides. If you go to church, church people will take sides. Family members will usually support you, but sometimes extended family members take sides. You may find yourself disappointed that the person you thought was your friend simply isn’t there for you any longer.

Let me tell you a secret. It’s Ok. Truth is you don’t need them.

Chances are those friends were friends by circumstance. Casual friends. Friends because of their relationship with your spouse, or you happen to be in the same proximity with them often: church, PTA, work, or live next door.

Casual friends are not what you need when you go through divorce. So what about casual friends who have chosen to turn their backs while you go through the most difficult time in your life? Wish them well, and move on.

You need close friends. You need people who are solidly in your corner. I call them “fire fighter friends”…they rush in when everyone else is rushing out.

Get about the important task of surrounding yourself with true, close friends.

 

The type of friends you do need:

A friend who will support me mentally. You know what I’m talking about. A friend you can spill your guts too, and you know they will keep it in confidence.  There will be days and nights when your thoughts are getting the best of you… What is my next step? How am I going to handle being a single parent? What about my finances? Am I going to be Ok? Am I ever going to be in a relationship again? Your head is spinning and you just need to talk to a trusted person. This is a person who has the art of listening. They let you ramble on with not much coherency, but they instill in you the confidence that everything is going to work out.

A friend who will support me emotionally. In the Bible, the book of Proverbs says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17 NIV). A true friend sees you through when everybody says you’re through. They can be counted on in crisis.

As you go through divorce, you go through a plethora of emotions. Sadness, hope, grief, relief, despair, joy and hopelessness. One minute you’re up, feeling pretty good, then that song plays on the radio and you are a heap of tears and Kleenex. A true friend is there to support you during your emotional meltdowns. They laugh with you, they cry with you.

A friend who will support me spiritually. We are holistic beings: body, mind and soul. A true friend goes beyond just being there physically, offering a shoulder to cry on. They give you the inspiration and encouragement you need. They pray for us. They love you when you aren’t very lovable. And they model grace. The Bible calls this fellowship. Truly, it is a level of friendship that rises to the spiritual. It is the type of encouragement that nourishes your soul.

Casual friends may stick around when you are going through divorce, then again they may not, please don’t waste a moment’s time lamenting them.

They are more of a hindrance than a help. Go about the important business of surrounding yourself with the true friends who will allow you to be you, and help you get on with the process of healing. They are truly God’s blessing.

And before long, you will find yourself healthy enough to return the favor.

God hates divorce, but He loves divorced people.

bible heart love

Shortly after my divorce, a well-intentioned Christian asked to meet with me personally. He had a heavy heart, and was very sympathetic to what my children and I were going through. He quoted a verse in the Bible found in the book of Malachi 2:16 which states that God hates divorce.

His insinuation was that I was disappointing God, and should have done more to save my marriage.

Christians who use this verse to instill guilt upon divorced people are really missing the point. God does hate divorce.

Why?

Because God himself knows what it is like to be divorced. In Jeremiah chapter 3, God “divorced” Israel because of her continued unfaithfulness worshiping idols. He was so hurt by that unfaithfulness, as you read the passage it is much like a spouse reeling from the death of dreams and a shared future.

Rather than insinuating the “wrongness” of divorce God was declaring the incredible, excruciating pain that divorce imparts. The God of the universe was crying out that his own people whom he had shown love and patience through centuries continued to give their affections to another, and he was devastated.

His heart breaks when he sees us going through a breakup. Because he knows what that is like. And that’s the reason he hates divorce…He hates the consequences.

In the same chapter, God says, “Oh Israel, my faithless people, come home to me again for I am merciful” (Jeremiah 3:12 NLT). God seems like a heart sick husband who longs for his unfaithful wife to return, and gives her the opportunity to do so.

Why would he do that?

Because nothing keeps God from loving. Nothing.

So God hates the pain caused by divorce. But make no mistake…God loves divorced people.

Four Marriage Killers

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When I coach a married couple, most of the time I am very optimistic about the outcome. Most marriages just need both parties to refocus or reprioritize to see positive results. Usually, it is small adjustments that render big results.

However, there are times when the presenting issues makes me cringe. There are simply some problems that wreak havoc on a marriage…so much so that the marriage is on life support.

Here are what I call four marriage killers. I am not saying that a committed couple cannot overcome these four challenges, but in my experience when one of these four challenges happen the marriage has taken a huge hit.

KILLER #1 ADULTERY

A marriage is built upon the values intimacy, honesty, communication and trust. Adultery destroys each of these values in one fell swoop. Maybe that’s why Jesus made adultery a qualifier for divorce in Matthew 19.

Marriages can overcome adultery, however, it takes much work. In addition to complete severance of the adulterous relationship, full disclosure and honesty is a must. Months, even years of trust and intimacy building are required. Many marriages simply do not survive it.

KILLER #2 ADDICTION

Addiction is another killer of marriages because it too destroys the values mentioned above. Addiction is a disease that consumes a person, and there is little left over for anyone or anything else. Many spouses hold on in the hopes that the person they love will change. However, there is a fine line between loving and enabling a person, and that fine line can be blurred.

With proper treatment, prayer and grace, addictions can be overcome. But left unchecked, it will definitely take its toll on a marriage.

KILLER #3 ABUSE

Abusive relationships are wrong, period.

Marriage needs to be a safe place to land. Safety and security in knowing that you are truly known.  Adam and Eve displayed that kind of vulnerability with each other when they were “naked and not ashamed.”  The goal of marriage is to love and be loved, accepting each other for who you are.

Abusive relationships are one sided. One spouse is coddled, or pleased, while the other spouse is subservient. This environment kills vulnerability.  The abused spouse may live in fear, or in denial, but neither provides an atmosphere of growth and respect.

If you are in an abusive marriage, please seek help. Now.

KILLER #4 ABANDONMENT

By abandonment, I mean a spouse who is emotionally detached. You might be thinking, should this even be on a list of “marriage killers?” I would contend that although this killer is subtle, it is just as deadly.

Emotional detachment happens when we stop caring about the condition of our marriage. We don’t seek answers, confront, or challenge our spouses or ourselves to solve issues. Things fester and develop into resentment. And pretty soon we find that we no longer care.

Many who go through divorce realize their spouse has been emotionally detached for months, maybe even years. To the detached spouse, divorce makes sense because they haven’t been “in love” for quite some time, while the other spouse is blindsided. Marital neglect has taken its toll.

Let me end on a note of hope. The Bible says that nothing is impossible with God. I believe that. When a couple meets their biggest challenges with forgiveness, honesty, hard work, and commitment, that which is severely broken can be restored.  They real question is are both spouses willing?

Stressful Event of Divorce

Research shows that divorce is one of the most stressful events a person can experience. Check out this recent article by Reuters:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/14/us-health-divorce-heart-attacks-idUSKBN0N52CX20150414