Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Divorce is NOT an Option

When my wife and I got married, we decided up front that divorce was simply not an option.  Now to some of you this may seem strange. No one goes into a marriage thinking divorce will happen shortly.  Not even infamous celebrity marriages that last weeks.  We’re all optimists at heart when it comes to relationships.
But it seems that in the back of many people’s minds, that at some point, divorce might be acceptable if… (and of course that “if” can cover a lot of ground.)
If that’s you, or if you’ve ever been divorced, we’re not here to judge you.  In fact, this has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with a strong marriage.
Having a child with any kind of medical condition is a strain on marriage.  Heck, who are we kidding?!  Having any kid is a strain on marriage!
But when we decided that divorce was not an option it meant several things:
1. We removed the word “divorce” from our vocabulary.  We don’t joke about it.  We don’t threaten it.  And we most certainly don’t think about it.  We treat it a lot like Kevin Costner’s movie Water World.
2. I simply can’t do the things I used to.   I have to remove myself from situations that may tempt me. Is this because I think I might fail?   No.  Is it because my wife isn’t good enough or I’m not strong enough?   No.  It’s because I don’t want to put myself into a situation where one bad choice ruins my life, my wife’s life, and my kids lives.   It’s not worth the risk.
3. I have to sacrifice like Jesus. In a practical sense that means giving up my obsession of football.  Football used to influence my mood for weeks at a time.   If the Steelers were winning I was in a great mood. If they were losing, I was devastated and depressed.  When I started dating my wife, she would fear a Steelers loss because she knew I’d be in a bad mood.   This is not a way to show someone you love them!   So I had to give up watching Steelers games, not all of them, just some of them, so that our marriage remained the central thing in our lives.  Although I believe if she hadn’t been raised as a Bengals fan, this wouldn’t really have been an issue.  Just sayin’
4. God’s the boss.  It’s plain and simple. He’s the one whom we follow.  He’s the one who sets the agenda. And if Heather and I disagree, he’s the tiebreaker.  So whomever is closest to doing what God wants (another post) they “win.”
5. Whoever is the most mature, moves first.   This is the one I hate.  Because it means the moment I start thinking things like, “why can’t she get her act together?!  She’s so immature!”  It means it’s time for me to suck it up and move.   If I’m judging her behavior then it means I think I’m superior.  And if I’m superior, then I’m the one who has to move first.  There’s nothing like a dose of humility to end an argument, especially when you know you’re the one who has to take the hit.
There are likely other ways that we make sure divorce is not an option.  But these are the top 5 for us.
How about you?  How do you keep your marriage strong through the trials of a sick kid?  (Or a healthy kid.  Or a kid who’s potty training.  Or well, you get the idea.)
image by Kables


  1. I loved this very honest post - and love the sentiments and advice you offer. I'm not sure that I've figured out any specific suggestions for a strong marriage besides being grounded in friendship and God first and foremost. But what you said is exactly what we told the lawyer when signing our pre-nup (for family estate/trust purposes, not as a backup plan). We told him "divorce is not an option," and he kept telling us not to say that. But I think never letting it be on the table is wise. (And btw, I happen to like Water world!)

    1. Victoria - Thanks for the kind words. We both take this no-divorce very seriously because I think there's a lot to be said to giving even a little ground to the idea. Once it becomes an option it seems you always end up there one way or another.

      As for Water World, I told Heather that line was one of my favorite jokes I've ever written. I didn't expect to immediately find a fan! LOL!

  2. Your wording on number 5 prompts me to wonder whether you've read "Love & Respect"? We're reading it in our small group right now and I'm really struggling to embrace the concepts. My critical spirit is in overdrive, and I would love to talk to someone else about it.

    1. Beth - I've read Love and Respect, and I really liked it. It really made me re-think how men and women interact, and what men and women (typically) want from a relationship. While I think it simplifies things, sometimes, in the heat of the moment, simplified is what you need.

      Feel free to e-mail me if you want more info.