We are excited to be a part of For God’s Glory Alone Ministries! We are grateful to Dewey for inviting us to become a regular writer for the website! We are also looking forward to sharing more of our story of how God miraculously saved our marriage. However for today, we wanted to give a few practical steps that anyone can use in helping to heal a marriage.
Most people know that the divorce rate is between 50 and 60 percent. Incredibly, Christian marriages end at about the same rate as non-Christian marriages, and there is now even some evidence that divorce rates within the church are exceeding the rates of non-church attendees. If we factor in the couples who will never divorce, but are suffering in unhappy, unhealthy marriages, the impact is overwhelming. Consider with us for just a minute, a few of the costs of divorce to our society:
- In 1960, 97% of children lived with their biological parents. Today, only 37% do. We are losing the models of healthy marriage for future generations.
- Children from divorced homes are 70% more likely to be expelled or suspended from school.
- 86% of children from divorced homes score lower on measures of academic achievement than children from intact families.
- Children who experience a parental divorce have their life expectancy shorted by an average of 4 years, according to a 50 year study….effects comparable to cigarette smoking.
- Divorce costs the taxpayers of New Mexico over $230 million per year through lost wages, accessing social services, court costs, and falling into poverty.
- American Businesses lose between $4 and $6 Billion per year due to lost wages, productivity and other factors due to divorcing employees.
- While we haven’t yet found a study that documents the economic impact of divorce to a church, we do know that there is a 50% greater chance of a family falling into poverty during the year following a divorce. This certainly impacts a church’s income due to reduced tithes and offerings.
Clearly, divorce and family breakups not only hurt our pocket books, but also affect the mental, emotional and spiritual health of our communities.
The sad thing? There have never been more resources available to help hurting couples to heal their wounds and reconnect. There are workshops to attend, books on marriage by Christian authors abound, and it doesn’t appear that these are making a significant impact to lower the divorce rate. However, at The Family Lifeline we believe that there are steps that can be taken to lower the divorce rate. Incredibly, we have seen 88% of the distressed couples who were on the edge of divorce save their marriages by following some of the steps we counsel them to take. Over the coming weeks, we will be writing about some of the practical things that can be done to help a man and wife to overcome hurts, heal, and experience marriage as God intended it to be. We will also address what the local church can do to help stem the tide of divorce.
For a marriage to be what God intended, the partners must be willing to devote themselves, and part of their day to the Lord. We have seen that when a couple is willing to devote even a few minutes a day to connect with each other around God and His Word, they can experience healing and restoration in a way that they didn’t think was possible. The Center for Bible Engagement has shown that when a marriage partner reads the Bible for at least four days out of seven, it lowers their chances of infidelity by 59%, and lowers rates of verbally striking out in anger by 39% and helps from keeping resentments hidden that can damage the marriage. One study even showed that for couples who read their Bible and pray together, the divorce rate is an astounding 1 in 10,000 marriages! Clearly this shows that God’s Word changes character and through the work of the Holy Spirit transforms the souls of the husband and wife who spend time in God’s Word and prayer with each other.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 we read that two people are better than one, but that three are even better because a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. When couples find themselves in distress, it is because the third cord is not prayer and time in God’s Word, but rather a damaging third cord. It might be him, her, and pornography. Another example could be him, her and her co-workers. Or, it might be him, her and overspending and debt. There could be a very long list indeed of the third cord that can be harmful to a marriage. God’s desire and plan is to be that third cord. God will become just that when couples take the time to reconnect with each other, with God, and with His Word.
When a couple takes the time to read God’s Word, and to apply the truths of His Word to their marriage, they often find something very amazing happen. They begin to clear out the hurts and petty irritations and they begin to rebuild the relationship on a foundation that cannot be obtained from any source but God and His Word. We find that couple after couple is amazed by what happens as they make God and His Word the third cord in their “triple-braided” cord.
We encourage couples to follow the “STOP ONE, ADD ONE” plan to transform their marriage. They agree to STOP ONE behavior that is damaging to the marriage. For example they might agree to stop focusing on each other’s past mistakes. Then, they agree to ADD ONE behavior that is healthy for their marriage. We would suggest they begin by simply praying together for 5 minutes a day if they are not currently praying together. Once they have mastered the first STOP ONE, ADD ONE, they can then choose something else to stop, and something else to add. It’s simple, it works, and begins to help couples to remember that ultimately, we need grace and strength to make changes in our relationships, and that grace and strength come from God and His Word.
Michael and Rebecca Holland are the directors at The Family Lifeline. The Family Lifeline is a ministry dedicated to strengthening marriages and families through its various programs. Currently in its 11th year of operation, The Family Lifeline has served over 35,000 clients. Michael and Rebecca bring their personal passion and professional backgrounds to serve the community, believing that “with God NOTHING shall be impossible.” Contact The Family Lifeline at 505-891-1846 or at their website: www.thefamilylifeline.net to find out how The Family Lifeline can help you and your church. Be sure to watch our video with participants and pastors speaking about our programs!