It is probably not the best to begin this post by claiming that I have no data upon which to base the subject of my writing. With only my own observations of society and personal relationships, I am seeing more married couples separating and divorcing. Especially for adults in their mid-30s to mid-40s, it seems to have become a trend. Often times, it seems the women are the ones uninterested in remaining married (I’ll get to the men later). Besides the obvious sins of selfishness and pride, which are often the root sins causing a marriage crisis, there are other patterns I’ve observed among women who are unsatisfied in marriage.
1. Extended adolescence continues to extend even further.
With late night outings and the ever more trendy “girls’ nights,” it has become increasingly tempting to see home as the place of no fun. I am all for girls’ night and even believe it is healthy, however when a woman consistently wants to be out with friends more than with her husband or at home with her family, do not be surprised when marriage problems occur out of nowhere. Often this happens with no previous warning signs to the husband that something is wrong.
Another example of adolescence extending even beyond our twenties is how the act of “settling down” has become tainted by the new greatest fear in our society–aging. The truth is we are supposed to age. Not just naturally, which is stating the obvious, but spiritually. We were made to grow up. We were made to become husbands, wives, parents, and grandparents, and that is not simply a natural progression, but God’s plan for the human race. While there is nothing wrong with coloring one’s hair, there are issues with coloring one’s mind. The race God has prepared for us is one that progresses through age, life phase, and varying levels of responsibility.
2. An increase of single and recently divorced friends.
The perceived symbol of freedom is standing right next to you, at the bar, on girls night. Your single best friend doesn’t have the kids tonight because they are either at her ex-husband’s house or at the grandparents. Of course you love your children with all your heart, but you have to leave a little earlier than everyone else because you still haven’t packed lunches for school tomorrow, and know your three year old is going to come in at 6:00am and ask to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on TV. All the men around you are paying attention to your group while you are out together, and you can’t really flirt or participate because well, you’re married. Your single friends have regular conversations about how they’ve never felt more free and happy than they are since the divorce. The man bashing ensues and the glaring flaws of your husband pop into your mind. Then the inevitable conclusion is made:
The grass is greener on the other side.
You would be shocked at how often single women push for their married friends to get divorced. “You haven’t seemed yourself in so long, we are just worried about you,” they often say. “We just want you to be happy. You deserve so much more.”
Show me someone considering divorce when there are no glaring issues such as adultery, and I will with certainty show you someone who hangs out with a majority of divorced or single friends. By all means, ladies, keep friendships with people in all kinds of life phases, but having friendships with women who love their husbands and embrace the full responsibility of parenthood is essential for your own healthy marriage. If you are involved in conversations where spouse bashing begins, change the subject or leave. Why? Because your spouse has faults and you are well aware of them. The longer spouse bashing takes place, the more your mind will start swirling and those thoughts will take you to the mythical greener grass.
3. An increased focus on self.
“Becoming a better you,” is growing as a trendy practice in our society. Many of the practices to enhance “wellness” place a significant amount of focus on the individual. Another focus has been one’s personal happiness as the ultimate purpose of life. “Do whatever makes you happy,” has become a moral battle cry of a society. Being” true to yourself” and pursuing the unmet dreams of one’s youth, has labeled the daily monotonous routine of life and responsibility as the enemy. I believe this is an underrated contributor to divorce culture. Gyms and yoga studios are filled with moms in their 30s and 40s. Beyond prioritizing health and fitness (a great thing), this has become more of an obsession of the self. Yet marriage is about the covenant partner. It flips the focus on the self upside down. That can be said of the Christian faith altogether. When self is the primary focus, the Christian is pursuing the flesh, and that does not reflect gospel belief. While caring for one’s self is certainly a Christian practice, anything that leads us to believe one’s perceived personal happiness and well-being is the chief end of existence will lead us away from callings to sacrifice and commitment.
Men are also concerned with this growing trend in middle-age divorce. Here is where they are prone to push women into the realities I listed above:
How often is this scene played out? His wife is exhausted and hasn’t gotten to shower yet today, kids are screaming, and adult interaction has been non-existent. For other women, a long day of work flows directly into a second rush of picking up the kids from school, getting home as soon as possible to start them on homework, dinner, baths, and finally…bed. Her husband walks in the door from work, gives quick hugs, walks to the couch, watches TV, eats his dinner, and then goes into his room to play on his phone for the remainder of the night.
We wonder why the grass seems greener to many wives? Perhaps because they are being led to believe it is, by their own husbands.
Other husbands are not lazy, especially when it comes to their minds and eyes. Flirting with the younger co-worker, or reconnecting with an old high school fling via Facebook, creates a false illusion of the nostalgia of younger days. Memories of when he was “the man,” young and in great shape, when the cheerleaders came calling, can be quite tempting to indulge. For the Christian, this must be battled. There is a reason why the Proverbs clearly warn us of adulterous woman: “Her feet go down to death; her steps head straight for Sheol.”
Based on that truth, the instruction given is to “keep your way far from her. Don’t go near the door of her house.”
When a man’s wife stops becoming the center of his active affections, she will notice, and be tempted to find it somewhere else. The Proverbs point to the significance of this, instructing the believer to “drink water from your own cistern, water flowing from your own well,” with the context being to “take pleasure in the wife of your youth.”
Our enemy hates marriage. He roams as a roaring lion, seeking to devour daily what God has brought together. Internal battles for men and women in marriage can only be conquered by believing that Jesus is the greener grass, the eternal joy, and chief receiver of our affections. There is a marriage crisis bigger than what takes place at the Supreme Court. The greatest battle for marriage is in our hearts