The Olivers continue their counsel related to divorce.
After 10 years of marriage, my husband just asked for a divorce. We disagree about almost everything we speak about. As a Christian, however, I know divorce is not God’s plan. I’ve asked my husband to join me in counseling to find solutions to our dilemma, but he isn’t interested. We have two children in grade school who I am very concerned will be badly affected if we get divorced. Please help.
Our experience and the marriage and divorce literature are clear that most couples whose marriage ends in divorce have lost hope in the possibility that their marriage can be restored. Of course, we’re not referencing marriages where there’s sustained abuse of all kinds and serial infidelity. We believe, though, that with God’s help all marriages can experience change and transformation—and survive and thrive—if the persons involved are willing to do their part to help repair the relationship with the help of a good Christian marriage therapist/coach.
The apostle Paul encourages every person facing your situation with the message in Romans 15:13: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”*This kind of hope only God can give. And it’s given only to those who come to God—with their spouse—in deep humility, believing in and expecting a miracle.
The truth about marriage is that it takes hard work and sacrifice, regardless of whom you marry. There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage because there are no perfect people. Couples who make it must come to grips with the realization they married a human being. This means—to be sure—that they will need to develop the ability to manage disappointment and cope with frustration.
The biggest challenge in making marriage work and having it go the distance is coming to grips with the fact that the euphoric feelings that led you to say “Yes” are not sustainable—regardless of how madly in love you felt at the beginning of your relationship. Every good marriage—despite how wonderful it feels at first—will inevitably face disenchanting moments when the expectations in each person’s mind fail to materialize as each imagined. In fact, even romantic love, regardless of how blissful it was during your courtship and early marriage, is not enough to sustain a formidable marriage.
“How then can any marriage succeed?”—you and others may be asking. That’s an excellent question! In fact, an important first step is for married couples to grasp that a good marriage is much more than a few moments of romance—as wonderful as that may be. That love—the fuel that makes marriage work—isn’t a feeling, as most people believe. Rather, love is a decision that must be made day after day after day for any marriage to thrive. “What decision?”—you may ask. The answer is to be patient and kind, as the apostle Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13:4; and to be faithful, gentle, and self-controlled, as he offers in Galatians 5:22, 23.
So, we’re praying for God to perform a miracle in your marriage. We hope this will give you and your husband an opportunity to come to grips with the concepts we’ve shared and recognize that your marriage can find success as you trust God to show up and transform your marriage reality every day for the remainder of your lives.
*Bible texts are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Willie Oliver, an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, family sociologist, and certified family life educator, is director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Elaine Oliver, a licensed clinical professional counselor, educational psychologist, and certified family life educator, is associate director for the Department of Family Ministries. You may communicate with them at Family.Adventist.org or at HopeTV.org/RealFamilyTalk.
The original version of this story was published on Adventist World in January 2022.