Today’s guest post is from Laura Petherbridge. Laura is a 2012 Hearts at Home workshop speaker whose speaking topics include relationships, divorce prevention, singleness, and divorce recovery. She is the author of When ‘I Do’ Becomes ‘I Don’t’—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce. Her newest book, The Smart Stepmom, is coauthored with Ron Deal. You can find Laura online at www.Laurapetherbridge.com
“Why is the divorce rate so high in the church?” the radio host mundanely asked.
“Because the church is not addressing the root reasons why marriages are failing,” I responded.
His voice revealed a tone of surprise. I’m certain he expected me to say, “Stress over money.”
Now curious, he probed, “What do you mean?
“The church is doing an excellent job of teaching couples about communication, intimacy, how to respect each other, and gender differences. However, those are not the root reasons why people are divorcing.”
I had his full attention.
“In my 20 plus years in divorce recovery ministry I’ve discovered that the root reasons why people divorce are rarely uncovered. And this is why the problem persists.”
“Imagine a man having a heart attack and experiencing pain in his left arm. If his doctor treats his symptom—the arm pain—this man will die. The arm pain is merely a symptom of a much deeper problem. In the church we are treating the symptoms—the arm pain—not the cause of death.”
I shared a recent conversation to illustrate my point.
“I think my marriage is over,” the woman lamented.
“My husband owns a very successful business, and we fight about money. He is tired of the battles and has filed for divorce. We are Christians, and I hate divorce, but I don’t know what else to do,” she continued.
“Usually the battles are about bills. I grew up poor, so sometimes I go overboard buying stuff for the kids. When he gets mad he punches holes in the walls, throws things and calls me horrible names. It’s been 16 years like this, I can’t take it anymore. ”
“We have been to three different counselors over the last two years. The first few sessions go fairly well. The counselor assesses the situation, but then around the third session my husband refuses to continue.”
“That’s usually when the counselor wants to address my husband’s childhood, and his abusive father. At which point my husband abruptly stands up, signals ‘stop’ with his hand and says, ‘I came here to discuss the problems in our marriage, and how my wife disrespects me—not my father. He has nothing to do with my marriage.’
“And then he storms out of the room, refusing to return.” She cried.
When I questioned the woman as to why she believes her marriage is failing she responded, “Stress over money.”
I wholeheartedly disagree.
Money is the symptom—the left arm pain—in the heart attack that is killing her marriage, not the cause. It’s where the pain is showing up. However, the demise is due to a MUCH deeper issue.
This husband endured horrible physical and verbal abuse as a child, mostly at the hand of his father. His mother did protest, but she did nothing to stop it. The cruelty assaulted this little boy’s soul, heart, mind, and self-worth.
Unless this husband decides to let Jesus, the Great Physician, heal him the pain and anger from those wounds will continue to reside and fester.
Hurt People—Hurt People.
To complicate the situation further, his wife grew up in an alcoholic home. She learned a “peace at all costs” mentality as the way to handle conflict. So for 16 years she tolerated her husband’s rants, and made excuses for his behavior.
“The “root” pain each spouse brought into the marriage created a toxic formula which brewed beneath the surface,” I shared with the radio host. “Money became the outward sign of an inward poison.”
“Wow! I never thought of it that way,” He declared.
What about you? Have you ever dug into the root issues your marriage challenges? What have you discovered?
Jill’s note: In Laura Petherbridge’s DVD The Pursuit for Happily Ever After she works to shine a bright light into Satan’s dark secrets. Her years in divorce recovery ministry have revealed the enemy’s plot of destruction. As Laura says, “I‘m tired of it. My prayer is that the church is too.”