WHAT IS DIVORCE?

People have many questions about divorce, what it involves, how to proceed with a divorce and so on. Therefore, I will try to answer some of the most common questions people seem to have when faced with divorce.
A divorce is a legal action between married people to terminate their marriage relationship. It can be referred to as dissolution of marriage.

 

Couple yelling at each other
Couple yelling at each other

CAUSES OF DIVORCE

The causes of divorce are different for every marriage. If you feel you simply must leave your marriage that is a decision that you and no one else can make. At the same time, take a look at the top most common causes of divorce below and see which issues seem most like your marriage. This report is from a 2003 study of the most commonly reported causes of divorce among American couples.

1. Infidelity

It can feel like it’s the end of the world if your spouse cheats on you. While repeated infidelity is definitely a reason to leave a marriage, you can recover from a solitary indiscretion. It requires clear communication about how the incident happened, and steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Cheating is a sign that there are serious underlying marriage issues that need to be addressed. It’s not necessarily one of the causes for divorce on it’s own.

2. Incompatibility

You must have been compatible at some point to decide to get married. Everybody grows and changes on their own personal journey through life. It’s true, your spouse and you will be a different person than who you married at almost every point in your marriage. As long as you still have love and affection for each other, a happy marriage is completely possible even if you are very different.

3. Drinking or Drug use

Any sort of addiction or substance abuse is a clear sign to get out of a marriage. Because you care for you spouse, it can be hard to know when to leave. If you choose to work together to beat the drinking or drug use, make sure you can see tangible changes and improvement in his/her behavior. If the problems continue, no matter how well meaning you spouse may be, it’s time to leave.

4. He/she is not the same person I married

Growing apart, personality problems and lack of communication are all issues that can be addressed with skills-based marriage counseling. You can learn relationship skills to improve communication, deal with differences and grow closer.

5. Physical and mental abuse

These are the biggest “get out now” danger signs in a relationship. Unfortunately, it is twice a common among women as men to be reported among causes of divorce. If you or your children are being abused, physically or emotionally, leave immediately.

PSYCHOLOGICAL AND EMOTIONAL ASPECTS OF DIVORCE
This article summarizes many of the common psychological and emotional effects divorce has on men, women and children. The divorce rate in the United States is the highest in the world. Over fifty percent of marriages end in divorce.
A. Divorce Effects and Prevalence
B. Effects of Divorce on Children
C. Emotional Stages of Divorce
D. Typical Reactions of Children to Divorce
E. Signs of Stress in Children.

DIVORCE EFFECTS AND PREVALENCE
It may be helpful to understand a little about divorce and the typical effects it has on men, women and children. The divorce rate in the United States is the highest in the world. Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. Sixty-seven percent of all second marriages end in divorce. As high as these figures are, what is also true is that the divorce rate appears to be dropping. The reasons for this change are not clear. Many people cannot afford to divorce, many people cannot afford to marry. Another reason is that “baby boomers,” who account for a large proportion of our population are no longer in their 20s and 30s, the ages when divorce is most prevalent. The societal expectation is that divorced life is less satisfying than married life. Divorce is associated with an increase in depression–people experience loss of partner, hopes and dreams, and lifestyle. The financial reality of divorce is often hard to comprehend: the same resources must now support almost twice the expenses.
Fifty percent of all children are children of divorce. Twenty-eight percent of all children are born of never married parents. Divorce is expensive. Aid for Dependent Children (AFDC) resources are drained by the needs of divorced and single parent families; including the cost of collecting child support.
Here are some of the experiences of men and women in divorce.

For women:
1. Women initiate divorce twice as often as men
2. 90% of divorced mothers have custody of their children (even if they did not receive it in court)
3. 60% of people under poverty guidelines are divorced women and children
4. Single mothers support up to four children on an average after-tax annual income of $12,200
5. 65% divorced mothers receive no child support (figure based on all children who could be eligible, including never-married parents, when fathers have custody, and parents without court orders); 75% receive court-ordered child support (and rising since inception of uniform child support guidelines, mandatory garnishment and license renewal suspension)

6. After divorce, women experience less stress and better adjustment in general than do men. The reasons for this are that (1) women are more likely to notice marital problems and to feel relief when such problems end, (2) women are more likely than men to rely on social support systems and help from others, and (3) women are more likely to experience an increase in self-esteem when they divorce and add new roles to their lives.
7. Women who work and place their children in child care experience a greater stigma than men in the same position. Men in the same position often attract support and compassion.

For men:
1. Men are usually confronted with greater emotional adjustment problems than women. The reasons for this are related to the loss of intimacy, the loss of social connection, reduced finances, and the common interruption of the parental role.
2. Men remarry more quickly than women.
3. As compared to “deadbeat dads,” men who have shared parenting (joint legal custody), ample time with their children, and an understanding of and direct responsibility for activities and expenses of children stay involved in their children’s lives and are in greater compliance with child support obligations. There is also a greater satisfaction with child support amount when negotiated in mediation. Budgets are prepared, and responsibility divided in a way that parents understand.
4. Men are initially more negative about divorce than women and devote more energy in attempting to salvage the marriage.

EFFECTS OF DIVORCE ON CHILDREN
In the last few years, higher-quality research which has allowed the “meta-analysis” of previously published research has shown the negative effects of divorce on children have been greatly exaggerated. In the past we read that children of divorce suffered from depression, failed in school, and got in trouble with the law. Children with depression and conduct disorders showed indications of those problems predivorce because there was parental conflict predivorce. Researchers now view conflict, rather than the divorce or residential schedule, as the single most critical determining factor in children’s post-divorce adjustment. The children, who succeed after divorce, have parents who can communicate effectively and work together as parents.

Actually, children’s psychological reactions to their parents’ divorce vary in degree dependent on three factors:
(1) The quality of their relationship with each of their parents before the separation.
(2) The intensity and duration of the parental conflict, and
(3) The parents’ ability to focus on the needs of children in their divorce.
Older studies showed boys had greater social and academic adjustment problems than girls. New evidence indicates that when children have a hard time, boys and girls suffer equally; they just differ in how they suffer. Boys are more externally symptomatic than girls, they act out their anger, frustration and hurt. They may get into trouble in school, fight more with peers and parents. Girls tend to internalize their distress. They may become depressed, develop headaches or stomach aches, and have changes in their eating and sleeping patterns.

A drop in parents’ income often caused by the same income now supporting two households directly affects children over time in terms of proper nutrition, involvement in extracurricular activities, clothing (no more designer jeans and fancy shoes), and school choices. Sometimes a parent who had stayed home with the children is forced into the workplace and the children experience an increase in time in child care.

A child’s continued involvement with both of his or her parents allows for realistic and better balanced future relationships. Children learn how to be in relationship by their relationship with their parents. If they are secure in their relationship with their parents, chances are they will adapt well to various time-sharing schedules and experience security and fulfillment in their intimate relationships in adulthood. In the typical situation where mothers have custody of the children, fathers who are involved in their children’s lives are also the fathers whose child support is paid and who contribute to extraordinary expenses for a child: things like soccer, music lessons, the prom dress, or a special class trip. One important factor which contributes to the quality and quantity of the involvement of a father in a child’s life is mother’s attitude toward the child’s relationship with father. When fathers leave the marriage and withdraw from their parenting role as well, they report conflicts with the mother as the major reason.

The impact of father or mother loss is not likely to be diminished by the introduction of stepparents. No one can replace Mom or Dad. And no one can take away the pain that a child feels when a parent decides to withdraw from their lives. Before embarking on a new family, encourage clients to do some reading on the common myths of step families. Often parents assume that after the remarriage “we will all live as one big happy family.” Step family relationships need to be negotiated, expectations need to be expressed, roles need to be defined, realistic goals need to be set.

Most teenagers (and their parents) eventually adjust to divorce and regard it as having been a constructive action, but one-third do not. In those instances, the turbulence of the divorce phase (how adversarial a battle it is), has been shown to play a crucial role in creating unhealthy reactions in affected teenagers.

Joan Kelly, PhD, former president of the Academy of Family Mediators and prominent divorce researcher from California reports that, depending on the strength of the parent-child bond at the time of divorce, the parent-child relationship diminishes over time for children who see their fathers less than 35% of the time. Court-ordered “standard visitation” patterns typically provide less.

“WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE?”

First of all, no matter what view one takes on the issue of divorce, it is important to remember Malachi 2:16: “I hate divorce, says the LORD God of Israel.” According to the Bible, marriage is a lifetime commitment. “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). God realizes, though, that, since marriages involve two sinful human beings, divorces are going to occur. In the Old Testament, He laid down some laws in order to protect the rights of divorcées, especially women (Deuteronomy 24:1–4). Jesus pointed out that these laws were given because of the hardness of people’s hearts, not because such laws were God’s desire (Matthew 19:8).

The controversy over whether divorce and remarriage is allowed according to the Bible revolves primarily around Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. The phrase “except for marital unfaithfulness” is the only thing in Scripture that possibly gives God’s permission for divorce and remarriage. Many interpreters understand this “exception clause” as referring to “marital unfaithfulness” during the “betrothal” period. In Jewish custom, a man and a woman were considered married even while they were still engaged or “betrothed.” According to this view, immorality during this “betrothal” period would then be the only valid reason for a divorce.

However, the Greek word translated “marital unfaithfulness” is a word which can mean any form of sexual immorality. It can mean fornication, prostitution, adultery, etc. Jesus is possibly saying that divorce is permissible if sexual immorality is committed. Sexual relations are an integral part of the marital bond: “the two will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31). Therefore, any breaking of that bond by sexual relations outside of marriage might be a permissible reason for divorce. If so, Jesus also has remarriage in mind in this passage. The phrase “and marries another” (Matthew 19:9) indicates that divorce and remarriage are allowed in an instance of the exception clause, whatever it is interpreted to be. It is important to note that only the innocent party is allowed to remarry. Although not stated in the text, it would seem the allowance for remarriage after divorce is God’s mercy for the one who was sinned against, not for the one who committed the sexual immorality. There may be instances where the “guilty party” is allowed to remarry, but they are not evident in this text.

Some understand 1 Corinthians 7:15 as another “exception,” allowing remarriage if an unbelieving spouse divorces a believer. However, the context does not mention remarriage but only says a believer is not bound to continue a marriage if an unbelieving spouse wants to leave. Others claim that abuse (spousal or child) is a valid reason for divorce even though it is not listed as such in the Bible. While this may very well be the case, it is never wise to presume upon the Word of God.

Sometimes lost in the debate over the exception clause is the fact that, whatever “marital unfaithfulness” means, it is an allowance for divorce, not a requirement for it. Even when adultery is committed, a couple can, through God’s grace, learn to forgive and begin rebuilding their marriage. God has forgiven us of so much more. Surely we can follow His example and even forgive the sin of adultery (Ephesians 4:32). However, in many instances a spouse is unrepentant and continues in sexual immorality. That is where Matthew 19:9 can possibly be applied. Many also look to quickly remarry after a divorce when God might desire them to remain single. God sometimes calls people to be single so that their attention is not divided (1 Corinthians 7:32–35). Remarriage after a divorce may be an option in some circumstances, but that does not mean it is the only option.

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and that reconciliation and forgiveness should mark a believer’s life (Luke 11:4; Ephesians 4:32). However, God recognizes that divorce will occur, even among His children. A divorced and/or remarried believer should not feel any less loved by God, even if the divorce and/or remarriage is not covered under the possible exception clause of Matthew 19:9.

BIBLE VERSES ABOUT DIVORCE

Luke 16:18 – Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from [her] husband committeth adultery.

1 Corinthians 7:10-11 – And unto the married I command, [yet] not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from [her] husband:   (Read More…)

1 Corinthians 7:15 – But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such [cases]: but God hath called us to peace.

Matthew 5:32 – But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

Matthew 19:6 – Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Matthew 19:9 – And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except [it be] for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Romans 7:2 – For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to [her] husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of [her] husband.

Mark 10:12 – And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

1 John 2:3-4 – And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.   (Read More…)

Matthew 19:3-9 – The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?   (Read More…)

Matthew 19:8 – He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

1 Corinthians 7:10-17 – And unto the married I command, [yet] not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from [her] husband:   (Read More…)

1 Corinthians 7:1-40 – Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: [It is] good for a man not to touch a woman.   (Read More…)

Deuteronomy 24:1-22 – When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give [it] in her hand, and send her out of his house.   (Read More…)

1 Corinthians 7:10 – And unto the married I command, [yet] not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from [her] husband:

Genesis 2:24 – Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Matthew 19:4-6 – And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made [them] at the beginning made them male and female,   (Read More…)

Matthew 5:31-32 – It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:   (Read More…)

Exodus 14:14 – The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

Malachi 2:16 – For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for [one] covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

 

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