Life after marriage breakdown
The Christadephian Support Network promotes marriages that last, but sometimes because of our weaknesses, relationships break down. While certainly not advocating that divorce is all right, we acknowledge that we are human. Most of us know someone who has experienced the pain of a marriage breakdown. How do we navigate spiritually through such a devastating time?
In very honest and moving testimonies, a number of people talked about their experiences of divorce and the way it affects individuals and families, from the couple concerned to the children and grandparents involved.
Some of the main points that emerged were:
- Prayer and reading the Bible.
- Friends dropping in
- Counselling – mixed response. More effective if both partners are participating although individual counselling can restore confidence
- Consistency essential where children are involved. Don’t make negative comments about the other partner
- Tell children’s teachers so they can understand changes in behaviour
- Smaller children often blame themselves for the split – help them realise it is not their fault.
- Loss of trust
- Depression – don’t feel like a failure if you need medication for a time.
- Being the subject of gossip
- Loss of the ideal of a mate for life
- It is the death of a marriage, not of your relationship with God
- As a Christian you can feel a total failure – to your parents, your children, to God.
- You feel guilty: How can I keep my faith and do what is right?
- You don’t just lose your future, you lose your past.
- Often a huge financial burden as one household suddenly has to support two.
- No-one to talk to when things were going wrong
- Violence – not necessarily physical – of divorce.
From a child of divorced parents:
- Didn’t see it coming.
- Had to choose which parent to live with
- Didn’t know anyone else in the Meeting in this situation. Felt guilty.
- Would like to see more understanding and less judgement.
From a grandparent:
- Where remarriage is involved. Having to get to know the new partner while keeping a relationship with the ex-partner of son/daughter.
How can the Christadelphian body help people going through divorce?
“Outsiders” sometimes wonder how a group can treat people so badly in the name of God. Often it is because we don’t know how to react to the situation.
Time and time again, speakers mentioned the fact that no-one came to see them after the divorce, particularly where one party stopped coming to the meeting. The party who stays is usually the one whose side of the story is accepted as the truth. We need to understand there are two sides to a marriage breakdown.
Maintain contact but not to lecture them on sin. Remind them that love never fails (1 Cor 13).
With God’s help we can become loving, forgiving, patient, tolerant and more understanding.
We need to be gentle.
- Don’t try to “save” the marriage
- Don’t judge or take sides
- Don’t “do good”, lecture, or try to convict of sin
- Do be a friend
- Be supportive
- Be a shoulder to lean on
- Take the person out for coffee, particularly if you know the date of their wedding anniversary
- Treat the person normally