My wife and I almost divorced multiple times. 5 things to consider before breaking up

The choice to get a divorce can sometimes seem like the easier way out for a struggling couple. My wife Kathy and I have been married for over 40 years but at multiple times during the first 27 years, both Kathy and I wanted to end our marriage. 

Thankfully we never wanted a divorce at the same time. One of us was always ready to fight for our family. 

We were on the brink of divorce not just a few times but too many to count, starting in year two prior to finding out our second child was coming. Had we taken this path, so much of our lives would be different today, especially had we given up in the early years.

For anyone considering a life-altering choice, it’s important to pause and reflect on what really matters in marriage. Here are five key insights I would share with any young couple contemplating that path. 

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The foundation of any successful relationship lies with open, honest communication. When issues arise, it’s crucial to sit down with your life partner and have those difficult conversations.  We failed at this miserably for most of the first 30 years. Partial truths or bringing back up old issues caused terrible isolation on Kathy’s part and kept me in control, nothing I deserved or made me a better leader. Looking back, I was weak.

Avoiding conflicts and sweeping them under the rug only allowed resentment to build up in Kathy. My way of making up was sex. Once that was done, I thought it was over, but it wasn’t for Kath. It was nothing I knew at the time as she wasn’t equipped to dealing with me and my controlling nature, which was really survival for me. 

By sharing your thoughts, feelings and concerns in a loving way like you did while dating, in a calm environment with each other, you can work together to both be heard and find solutions and in that work on strengthening your bond. 

Remember, your spouse is not your enemy. Set your conversations up with that in mind, maybe even start with a little prayer, like “Lord help our hearts be soft for each other and help us understand each other better” in Jesus’ name!

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Remember to not be conflict free but learn how to work through conflict. I’ve heard it said, “If you always agree, one of you is not necessary.”

No couple has all the answers, especially when facing super challenging times. Don’t hesitate to seek support from trusted friends or especially a couple that’s been married longer than you and seem to have it together, meaning what you hoped your marriage could look like someday. Maybe some family members.

Be careful not to engage with people that would take sides as you want people on the side of your marriage. A professional counselor could be an answer as well, but be sure to agree the person is a good fit for both of you. 

Kath and I had both good and bad counseling; a bad one could hurt you more than help. Be sure so ask them some basic questions before any commitment. We talk about the differences quite a bit in our book. Surround yourselves with people who uplift and encourage your relationship, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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When thinking about divorce, it’s important to step back and consider the long-term implications of a decision like this. Not just the impact on you or yourselves, but also your families, children and future generations. 

By shifting your focus from the short-term difficulties to the legacy you want to leave behind, you may become motivated to work through challenges and build a stronger more resilient relationship. Had we divorced in our second year, the impact on our family could have been devastating. Don’t quit!

In times of trouble, it’s easy to lose track of the values and beliefs that brought you together. Take time to re-ignite those connections. Revisit the areas you both hold dear. Find a common ground. Stubborn doesn’t work. Never will! 

For Kath and me, committing our relationship to a higher calling helped us re-align our priorities and find the deeper meaning of our marriage and Its purpose. Whether it’s through spiritual practices, shared interests or common goals, find ways to strengthen your bond and nurture your connections.

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Relationships, like individuals change over time. Embrace the journey together as you both change, recognizing that challenges can be opportunities for learning and transformation.

Instead of viewing difficulties as bad roadblocks, see them as chances to grow closer to each other. By adapting and growing together, if you put your heads and hearts together you can weather any storm and come out stronger by fighting for each other.

The choice to stay married is not always easy. It can be very rewarding when approached with patience, understanding and a willingness to grow. By prioritizing communication, seeking support, focusing on the shared values and embracing growth, most couples can navigate through difficult times and build a lasting, fulfilling relationship. 

Remember that love is a journey and a commitment and with dedication and perseverance, you can create a marriage that can stand the test of time. When I reflect on the beauty of our marriage, I see it came from the strength of a Christ-centered union. Did you forget who created marriage?

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