The first cause of divorce
Search the Internet for the main causes of divorce and you will undoubtedly find financial problems in almost every list. It is often said that financial problems are the number one cause of divorce.
Can I be honest?
I don’t think finances are the cause of the divorce. I think finances are a symptom of larger issues within the marriage. I think disagreements over finances are a symptom of immaturity in people.
I know that is a broad and sweeping statement. I know we all have strengths and weaknesses. I know that some of us are savers while others are spenders. I know there are as many different ways of managing finances as there are personalities.
And no path is wrong.
However, the problem arises when we have emotionally immature individuals who seek to live in relationship with each other. When one person (or both) insists on using the money as they please – whether that means living like a miser or spending money in bankruptcy or anywhere in between – the couple risks lingering disagreements and potentially divorce.
So I really don’t think finances are a cause for divorce. This may just be the only issue that both parties can identify as a problem.
What is another common reason for divorce? Unfortunately, most lists include infidelity among the main grounds for divorce.
I definitely see infidelity as a bigger issue than finances. Even with infidelity, you are dealing with an immature individual who is determined to serve his own selfish desires. Whatever the situation, the one who deviates from the wedding vows has made the choice to put themselves before everyone else.
Many lists include abuse as the main reason for divorce. This is such a sad statement on the site of our emotional and mental well-being. Mental, emotional and verbal abuse is endemic in our culture. We haven’t learned to live our lives in a way that values others, that puts the needs of others before our own selfish desires.
What is really the first cause of divorce?
It’s obvious what kind of life thrives on constantly trying to get what he wants: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinky buildup of mental and emotional waste; frenzied and joyless grasps for happiness; trinket gods; show magic religion; paranoid loneliness; fierce competition; devouring but never satisfied desires; a brutal temper; an inability to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; petty and unbalanced pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. Galatians 5:19-21
There’s no doubt in my mind that living in the flesh rather than by the fruit of the Spirit is the primary cause of divorce. Do you know anyone controlled by the flesh? How long do you want to spend with this person? I would venture a guess by saying that this person is generally not good company.
Compare this picture with someone who lives by the fruit of the Spirit, someone whose life is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:22-23). If your spouse still had these qualities, would you want a divorce? Would you ever get tired of an always patient and kind husband? Would you ever despise a faithful and gentle woman? Somehow, I feel like if we all lived by the Spirit, our divorce rate would go down.
So how do we cultivate the fruit of the spirit in our lives? How do we choose to put to death the works of the flesh?
I see it as a process that leads from our heads to our hearts. Let’s start by focusing on the positives.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one last thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, just, pure, beautiful and admirable. Think of things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8
Thinking about the positive is an act of will, a choice every day to put aside the negative and think about the positive. The more we train our brain to think positively, the easier it becomes.
At first, we may find ourselves on the negative path. When we find our mind spiraling downward, we need to stop, confess our sin, and intentionally choose to center ourselves. Eventually, we find that our minds change. It is then that we realize that our minds are renewed.
Do not copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing your way of thinking. Then you will come to know God’s will for you, which is good, pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2
The key to living the Spirit-filled life and living in God’s will is the transformation of our minds. It only comes through that intentional decision to think God’s way. The more we think about God’s way, the more we discover his truth, his ways traveling to our hearts.
I hid your word in my heart, that I do not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
It is not enough for us to simply know intellectually the word of God; we must to know Sword of God. The Word of God is alive and active and penetrates our hearts, convicting of sin, guiding our steps (Hebrews 4:12). As our inner thoughts are exposed, God draws us closer to himself, desiring us to be conformed to his image.
As the Word enters our hearts, we find it working its way out of our hearts and into our lives.
A good person produces good things from the treasure of a good heart, and a bad person produces bad things from the treasure of an evil heart. What you say stems from what’s in your heart. Luke 6:45
And when our hearts are filled with good things, our words are characterized by the grace of God. We find ourselves overflowing with the fruit of the Spirit, spouting love, joy, peace upon all those around us. Couples who constantly allow the Spirit of God to consume their lives find marriage to be a pleasure.
Where is your mind and heart today? Let’s take the first step of intentionally focusing on the positives.