Divorce: When To Hold On, When To Move On

Part III in a series on divorce and remarriage.

As I said last week: Life after divorce can be just “existence”—peace and joy have all but left. If this describes you, let me assure you that God desires that peace and joy be restored, but we must realize that only God can bring wholeness and fullness to our lives. Don’t believe the lie that you need someone in order to be complete. We were created as individuals, and God uses our individual qualities to glorify Him, married or single.

Clearly understand that I’m not advocating divorce, nor am I saying that if you are currently separated, that divorce become an option because better opportunities await you. God hates divorce and anyone who has been there knows why.

I believe, first and foremost, in reconciliation and restoration, but these are not always options. That’s why a personal relationship with Jesus and daily guidance is profoundly important. Through that relationship, and only through that relationship, will you be able to make the right decision as you answer the question whether to hold on, or to move on. It won’t be easy because lives have been damaged, dreams destroyed, and promises broken, but God continually redeems us through forgiveness. God desires that we know His will and follow His lead in spite of detours.

As you seek direction, I recommend godly counsel from those you respect, daily Bible reading, prayer, and removing everything that may influence your decision. One of the biggest obstacles when considering restoration, or seeking direction, is becoming involved with someone else soon after you divorce or separate. I believe that this is the number one reason why many marriages are not restored.

Involvement with someone else, sexually or emotionally, severely hinders your chance for reconciliation, as well as your ability to follow God’s lead: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22). Disobedience is never God’s will. We actually deceive ourselves into thinking that we are in the will of God when we are not. I remember an email from a young lady who was leaving her husband. In her words, “I know that biblically it’s not right, but God wants me to be happy.” How sad.
You might feel, like this young girl did, that this new person makes you feel loved and appreciated, and that may be true, but so did your spouse when you first met. Love does not leave people—people leave love, and until you’ve made changes that will change your future, you’re bound to repeat your past.

Every situation is different and some divorces are inevitable, but for the large percentage of those who can re-build and restore their relationship, two choices are available–to face the pain of discipline, or the pain of regret. Disciplining yourself to do the right thing is hard, but living with the pain of regret is much harder.

Although I accepted Christ at an early age, the pull of the world was enticing. I was influenced by how much money I made, what type of vehicle I drove, where I lived, and who I married. There is nothing wrong with having dreams, but there is a difference between having dreams and dreams having you.

As a result of my passion for worldly things, I entered into marriage putting those things first and my marriage second, or third, or fourth. After four years of marriage, we succeeded financially but failed relationally.

In addition to my self-centered behavior, and rebellious, angry attitude, many bad decisions on both our parts caused a separation and ultimately divorce in 1998. Immediately, we sought new relationships. Our focus shifted from a failed marriage to a new relationship. When this occurs, restoration becomes increasingly more difficult.

If you are recently divorced, I encourage you not to move ahead in a new relationship until you have exhausted all avenues of restoration and a significant amount of time has passed. If you left an abusive relationship and have no plans of returning, there still needs to be time for healing, and a new relationship, more often than not, will only mask the pain and hinder the healing process.