How a committed Christian survived divorce “guilt-free”
All my life I just knew I would never get a divorce. As a single Christian (saved at 19), I felt a misleading sense of pride in this self assurance. Keeping this inner vow nearly cost me my life. My motivation in writing this post is to paint a clear picture for anyone trapping themselves in a horrific marriage because, like I was, they are so ashamed of the word “divorce” that they are staying in their marriage well beyond what is safe for them mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
I was married in 2010. Right from my wedding day I knew something was terribly wrong. As a Christian woman I believed I was called biblically to honor my husband. I prayed for him, pleaded with him, and did anything and everything I could to get to the bottom of what was wrong and fix it. And all the while I held my tongue around my church, friends, and family to protect my husband. I did my very best to speak only positively about him with others. I was not perfect but believe me, I tried. Only my closest inner circle had a clue what was going on, and none knew the full detail of my horrific marriage. This is actually still true today.
I will share that the marriage was defiled by infidelity more times than I will ever know. Discovering the facts was a dizzying, winding journey that would take me an agonizingly long time, and in pursuit of the truth my husband would try to convince me that I was crazy, jealous, and overbearing. Over the course of the 4 year marriage, I would be contacted, publicly and privately, on social media by women that slept with my husband and were not only warning me about him, they were afraid of him.
As the picture of his sins increasingly came in to focus, I realized that it was increasingly possible that my marriage would end in divorce (not by my choice).
This is how I prepared, in advance, to honor God and my Christian beliefs as my entire world collapsed. It was extremely difficult to do at times, but entirely worth it.
- I vowed to do every single thing within my power to save the marriage.
This was my “mic drop”. This is how I defeated any accusation from within myself or from anyone else. I am now able to look back on the last six years with zero regrets. I have never once had a burden on my conscience that if only I had tried ____ or if only I had been more/less _____ the marriage would have been saved. I know there is not a single thing I could have done to change the outcome of my marriage.Living this out meant loving my spouse through my actions when his actions made me literally sick. Through this inner vow I truly learned what Andy Stanley meant when he taught that love is a verb. I forgave, and forgave, and forgave far beyond the comfort level of my friends and family, and his friends and family (those that knew). I learned how painful it could be to extend grace and mercy to others, and I learned that the more I extended grace and mercy the easier it became. I would go along with every pastoral and professional approach to fixing my marriage.There wasn’t an option I didn’t agree to or even improvise on my own.The freedom from guilt that this vow gave me is absolutely priceless.
- I vowed to stay above reproach until my divorce was final.
By above reproach I mean that I did not ever betray my husband or my marriage bed. I must admit, this vow was made easier by the trauma of the marriage. When you’re married to a serial adulterer, your self image and sense of worth takes a beating with their every indiscretion.This was a vow that I made once my husband filed for divorce. Many people (even Christians) whose marriages end because of infidelity by their spouse feel free to date once the divorce papers are filed and the decision has been made that the marriage is over.I had a deep need to live in stark contrast to the choices of my husband, and to clearly avoid taking my own relationship revenge. So I did not date, or anything close, while my divorce proceeded. This decision saved me from some pretty bad choices I could have easily made based on the temporary emotions I felt during that time.
I hope that if you’re in a situation like I was that you:
- Tell someone that you trust
- Pray about it more than you talk about it
- Renew your mind and turn off any negative thoughts and lies
- Take care of yourself
- Don’t resign yourself to a life of shame if your marriage ends.