My marriage of five years is over. There is no love remaining in our relationship. We disagree about everything and every conversation is tension-filled. I am thinking about getting a divorce soon and probably marrying my old boyfriend from high school, who has been talking to me lately. He has always been a very kind and sweet guy, we’ve always had fun together and he still makes me laugh. As a Christian, I am wondering if it is alright to move forward with this relationship that has so much promise. I know marriage is important to God, but I also feel like God would want me to be happy. Your thoughts?
We are very sad to hear your marriage has not lived up to your expectations and you are ready to leave it behind. Marriage is probably one of the most challenging relationships on earth, even when the husband and wife are believers. So, unless you go into marriage with your eyes wide open, invest in a rigorous process of premarital counseling/education, and make Jesus the center of your marriage, it is easy to become frustrated and give up on your marriage prematurely.
Marriage was the first institution established by God at Creation as referenced in Genesis 2:18, 24: “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him…’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
Later on, in the New Testament, the Pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason. Jesus responds in Matthew 19:4-6: “And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
As you can see by what Jesus said to the Pharisees, marriage was meant to be a life-long commitment between a man and a woman. This means, deciding to get married also includes approaching it with an attitude of permanence. And, of course, as a believer, you would want your marriage to be filled with God’s presence and power so you will both be patient and kind (1 Cor. 13:4) with each other and set the appropriate boundaries in your marriage to protect it from being infiltrated by a past relationship.
Beyond God’s intention for marriage as a lifetime commitment, are there specific directives for husbands on this matter? Ephesians 5:25 answers this question by declaring: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” This passage of Scripture tasks husbands with the responsibility of being to their wives what Christ has been to the church; loving, kind, forgiving, patient, and faithful.
While you didn’t elaborate on what might be happening in your marriage, we would hope you can both take stock of how you are measuring up on your mutual responsibility to your marriage relationship. This is the time, to be sure, to get your marriage back on track and safeguard your relationship from anything that would diminish its viability.
Jesus makes clear the acceptable parameters for divorce in Matthew 19:9: “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
We hope you desire to do what God wants for every marriage—to honor Him by being faithful to Him and your marriage, and trust God to help you regain the love you once had for each other. We pray this is an effort both you and your husband are willing to make.
Willie Oliver, Ph.D., CFLE an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, family sociologist, and certified family life educator, is director of the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Elaine Oliver, PhDc, LCPC, CFLE a licensed clinical professional counselor, educational psychologist, and certified family life educator, is associate director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.