“Marital restoration is worth the risk of failure.”
As a child who grew up in a conservative Christian home and later attended a conservative Christian university, divorce was taboo. Divorce was not an option for married couples without establishing adultery on the part of the one of the spouses. This view is not uncommon across New Testament adherents who read verses such as Matthew 5:31-32 literally.
What happens when you are such a believer and you find yourself facing imminent divorce from your spouse?
In his book, One More Try, Gary Chapman presents a concise framework for couples working at reconciliation following division, however, he makes clear that there are times when reconciliation is not possible. When best efforts aren’t enough, what do you do when the idea of divorce has been as foreign to you as Antarctica?
You must first understand that you cannot change the heart and mind of another person when it is not willing to change. Man has the freedom to choose their path, and regardless of your prayers for a spouse’s return, the spouse may not come back. This is an easy time to become discouraged, lose faith, and turn away and become hostile and critical toward life and even God.
I have witnessed first hand that marital reconciliation is possible even in the throws of a highly contested and bitter divorce. I’ve seen married couples wake up in the middle of their case and realize being together is better than being apart and they’ve come back together better than they were before. With a contrite heart and a lot of grace, it’s possible for marriages to be stronger following division, even after an affair.
Keep in mind that the blending of two lives always requires the choice of two people. You cannot coerce someone into remaining in a marriage, nor is it likely to result in the marriage you’re looking for.
The process of divorce should not be a punitive weapon against your spouse to get your “pound of flesh.” Punitive attempts through the divorce too often involve the children who need nothing more than the love of both parents during this difficult time in their life. Children will have acute emotional needs during the divorce and they are not immune from the pain that this division can create. Your emotional needs must take a backseat to those of your kids if you’re going to get to the other side of your case in the best manner possible.