-- Victor Marie Hugo
If there's one thing I've learned by doing what I do for a living it's this: Bitterness is a marriage killer.
Last week while typing my 600th divorce transcript, listening intently on the words of a woman scorned, it was yet again confirmed to me that our thoughts and feelings END marriages. They end love. They end friendships. They end hopes, dreams, thousands of intimate moments shared. They end what God honored. They end the idyllic childhoods of many innocent children. Shattered by our thoughts. Thoughts that turn into feelings that turn into actions that turn into a hardened heart.
I'm truly grateful that I do what I do, because I think more than once it has saved my own marriage. Listening to angry, angry, hurting people in the lowest point of their lives helps me to remember how easily the cords of marriage can be cut. Snapped by too much strain. Unravelled by carelessness.
My job is a constant reminder to me to keep myself in check. Too often I find myself harboring bitterness towards my dear husband. I get angry at him for not doing this or because he did this or. . .
But bitterness isn't alone in her devastation, no, she has a friend who goes by the name of selfishness. Oh, selfishness, how I love to love you. How many times have I thought to myself, "I deserve better." "He doesn't know how LUCKY he is." And on and on and on she roars in my ears. Why do we convince ourselves that we're entitled to be number one? Why do we believe that our wants, desires, needs should be placed above anothers?
But what is the tap root of the weed of bitterness? I believe it's hurt. We've somehow been failed by another human, the one person on this Earth who should never fail us. I hear this over and over again in the transcripts I've done. Underneath the bitterness I truly think lies a beaten up and battered and weathered love. I think sometimes the people themselves don't even realize it. They've declared war and to wave a white flag means that yet again they've been kicked in the gut.
But in world filled with divorce, how do we protect our own marriage? The odds are against us, that's for certain. In my county alone the divorce rate is 73 percent. 73. Do the math on that one, kids, and you'll find that there are more divorces taking place then there are marriages. So how will you guard against the cancer of bitterness? It takes a concerted effort, I believe, to keep from going down the one-way, wrong-way street of having a bare third finger. It takes a game plan. Guarding your heart against the evils of bitterness, selfishness, narcissism. Admitting when you're wrong. Confessing those feelings to the good Lord above. But more importantly, having grace with our spouse. Never taking for granted the things they do. Embracing the way they choose to love us, even if it's not exactly what we had in mind. Choosing to dwell on the positives, not the negatives. Praying for your spouse daily. Momma always said it's hard to hate the ones you're praying for. And maybe biting your tongue when you don't want to.
Listen, I don't proclaim to be an expert on marriage, and I've never suffered the loss of my own divorce, although I have suffered the loss of my dear family and friends' marriages. Love hurts, I know. And I know that there ARE times when things happen that are outside of your control. But after ten years of marriage, after two years as marriage leadership in our church, after 600 divorce transcripts typed I do know that I've learned a few things.
One of the most important things I've learned is this: Standing and proclaiming to your spouse and the world around you: "DIVORCE IS NOT AN OPTION."
Not for my marriage. And hopefully, not for yours either.
2 years ago