"We have fallen out of love and have irreconcilable differences. We aren't mad at each other, we just aren't the same people we used to be."
In courts of law, there is a box you can check that allows for the dissolution of a marriage because of irreconcilable differences. For many courts, this means you have to wait a longer period of time before your divorce is granted. You have to swear that you were separated with no living together for a certain amount of time. Whereas, addiction, adultery, and abuse allow for a shorter waiting period. For many, that waiting period is excruciating because they have no intention to allow the "law" to do what was intended. The intention of the law is to see if there is hope. These people resist love not willing to allow restoration or reconstruction.
They speak curses as often as they can to solidify what they want to believe. They want to believe there is no hope or love in their marriage. You will hear a wife say things like, "I gave him everything, and what do I have to show for that? Nothing! He got the best of everything; I bore his children and my body will never be the same, but he doesn't recognize my sacrifice."
The husband might shake his head and say, "Nothing I ever do is good enough. Heck, I have to go to work to get a little bit of respect. Does it matter to her that I have a PhD in so-in-so? No! She doesn't care how hard I have worked. She treats me like I am stupid."
You will then hear of specific examples justifying why they should no longer love. What they are doing is murdering their spouse. Sometimes, the actual act of murder occurs when someone decides not to love anymore. Why?
Hate is the opposite of love, and love is an action therefore, hate is also an action.
Action: the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim.
This is why Jesus said, "If you hate your brother, then you have already murdered them in your heart." And Proverbs says, "Out of the heart flows the issues of life."
Our marriages are a direct result of what is in our heart. We are commanded to protect or keep our heart as one would keep a garden or grapevine. When the heart is used in the scripture above it is referring to the inner man and will. The will is the inclinations of the heart, or what it decides to do. Remember, action is the process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim?
Hate aims to bring death and love aims to bring life.
Look at the bible's definition of real love as an action and not a feeling.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
If a decision for divorce has been made based on the other party's lack of love, then you must be certain you are absolutely walking in love towards them.
What are we actually saying or deciding to do when we say,"I don't love you anymore."?
"I will no longer be patient or kind. You can't give me what I want and I deserve it. I am not putting myself on the backburner anymore to make you happy. I am choosing to make me happy. You are the problem not me. You are an obstacle to my happiness and have been for a long time. I can give you a list if you like. I remember all the things you have done that are wrong and I will not give you another chance because I know you will mess it up and fail. We have irreconcilable differences."
Does that sound harsh?
Could Jesus say that to you?
Yes, and despite that, he gave himself as a ransom for us. While we were still in our sin, and while we hated him, he died on the cross for us. He had compassion and asked the Father to forgive us and said, " they don't understand what they are doing."
The God of the Universe, the one that knows our heart and motives said "they don't understand." As mere humans, we will talk about each other as if we hold degrees in psychology and know for a fact the guilty party intended to hurt us. We disregard the ability of sin to deceive, unless we are seeking the grace and forgiveness of God for our self. How often do we go to God with complaints about another person? Did we first go to the throne with a humble heart and ask him to forgive them in sincerity? Doing this guards our heart from becoming hard.
Matthew 19:8 Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning."
What do many say in the beginning of a marriage?
"I take you to be my lawfully wedded(husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life."
If we decide to make an end to a marriage, we have to look at the beginnings.
We have to look at our promises we made to God and our spouse. I think that we often expect the other party to hold up their end of the contract while we make excuses for our lack of effort. We imagine contingencies and amendments in the first contract without reviewing it.
I found a copy of Quaker marriage vows.
"Friends, in the fear of the Lord, and before this assembly, I take my friend to be my wife/husband, promising, through divine assistance, to be unto them a loving and faithful spouse, until it shall please the Lord by death to separate us."
Maybe the reason so many marriages fail is because divine assistance is not sought. If all we do is ask God to change someone else's heart , we run the risk of ours hardening. We cannot be led by the spirit or empowered with divine assistance if we don't allow God access to our heart, will, and emotions. If we allow the Spirit to put our emotions in check, correct selfish thinking and discipline sinful inclinations, we will protect our marriage. But all too often, we start out fueled by loving emotions, foolishly forgetting to do check-ups because our spouse is currently making us "happy." We don't realize we are sick because we never looked at the marriage manual. The word of God is the arrow that hits the bullseye of symptoms in a weak and troubled heart.
Romans 8:14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
When we check the box "irreconcilable" on divorce papers, we are putting an "x" in the boxes beside each ingredient to love.
Irreconcilable : ideas, facts, or statements that cannot be made compatible
A time of separation may be needed to promote healthy growth in a sick marriage. You do not have to concede to abuse or neglect, but reconciliation is possible when love repents and forgives. Love promotes change, and has faith that change is possible. Peter neglected Jesus, and lied to him. Peter denied Jesus existence when he needed him the most. Jesus didn't give up on him. Paul was responsible for the death of many Christians, and while Jesus lovingly called him out on it, he offered peace and reconciliation.
Peter was impulsive and quick to anger before Jesus died for him, but when love came down he preached and was described as "bold." Paul was an abuser and a zealot, before his encounter on the road to Damascus. He became the largest contributor to the New Testament, and wrote some of the sweetest love letters to his brothers and sisters in Christ. If we are asked to lay down our lives for our brother, how can we not endure and persevere through the hard times with someone we held with tender affection in a wedding ceremony? Love might have to knock you off your horse, or tell the truth and risk offense to promote change. Love might churn water to bring cleansing, but it is well worth it.
Pruning does not aim to kill. Pruning promotes life. Admitting your marriage is in need of pruning is not the end of the story. It is a step towards new growth and sweeter fruit. Don't let the adage "happily ever after," destroy a covenant.
There is no law against love. Love makes room for peace and reconciliation. Love is not an emotional mountaintop with steep cliffs. You can't fall out or off of love. It is a sure path with no barriers. Before you decide to not love anymore, make sure it has done it's perfect work inside of your heart.
With love, all things are possible!