Before I share with you the results of this book, let me say very clearly that my intention is not to shame anyone who has been through or is going through a divorce. Life can be very painful. Marriage can become so difficult that one feels the only way out is a divorce. Forgiveness and healing is available to anyone who cries out to the Lord. I am so glad we serve a God who is willing to forgive sin and heal the human heart. “He heals the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18).
At the same time, God says He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and one of the main reasons is because He is “seeking Godly offspring” (Malachi 2:15). When we see how divorce affects the children, we can understand why His seeking Godly offspring is one of the main reasons God hates divorce.
My reason for sharing these findings is to enlighten us all concerning the many negative effects of divorce. It is so important that we count the cost before ever considering divorce. Perhaps this blog will help to save a marriage headed for divorce. Perhaps this blog is for you – to cause you to reconsider divorce. Perhaps this blog will help you in ministering to someone you know who is considering a divorce.
The bottom line is this: divorce brings many hardships on all involved, especially the children. Marriage is worth fighting for. Marriage is worth whatever it takes to stay together. Marriage is for the glory of God. Marriage is designed to be an earthly picture of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:21-33).
I also hope that teenagers and singles will read this blog. Let this study of divorce cause you to be so prayerful and careful about marriage. Be sure you know it is God’s will for you to marry. Be sure you marry the person God wants you to marry. Take it slowly and carefully. I alwayts tell my kids, "You can never go wrong waiting, but you can go wrong rushing." Get the counsel of many Godly people before you even think about marrying someone.
Here are some of the major findings from this book. This 25 year study revealed that divorce often brings about:
1. Decline in the health of the couple.
2. Decrease in the financial stability of all involved.
3. Emotional pain and scars that may never go away.
4. Loss of respect from community, children, and family.
5. Children suffering in the following ways:
a. Tendency toward unhealthy relationships.
b. More prone to pre-marital sex, drug and alcohol use.
c. Tendency to run from conflict in their own life.
d. An unhealthy and excessive fear of marriage.
e. Anger at life, God, and their parents.
f. Faith in God shaken.
f. Increase in loneliness, fear, anxiety, and depression.
i. Loosing significant parts of their childhood because they are forced to grow up too quickly due to the increase in emotional stress and responsibility. One woman named Karen said, “The day my parents divorced is the day my childhood ended” (p. 296).
The authors of the book said their most surprising discover was this: the greatest manifestation of negative impact on the children of divorce does not come until those children are in their adulthood. We often think the greatest negative effect will come when they are children, and that it will get better when they become adults. However, the studies are showing that this is not the case. Here is a quote from the book: “The major contribution of this book has been to recognize, for the first time, that when children of divorce become adults, they are badly frightened that their relationships will fail, just like the most important relationship in their parents’ lives failed. They mature with a keen sense that their growing-up experiences did not prepare them for love, commitment, trust, marriage, or even for the nitty-gritty of handling and resolving conflict” (p. xiii).
So many people often say, “The kids will be better off if we divorce, because at least they don’t have to be in the middle of our fighting/unhappy marriage.” This book says this is not true. This study revealed that children in homes where the marriage is not very good, but where the parents stay together, are better off than those whose parents divorce, because by their parents staying together the kids learn that marriage can be hard but you stick it out.
Finally, the book shows that second marriages are even more likely to fail than first. “First marriages stand a 45% chance of breaking up and second marriages have a 60% chance of ending in divorce” (p. 295). I guess we are not learning from our mistakes.
Of course there are exceptions to all of the above. May we be the exceptions.