Dealing With The Past - Part 2
- Wednesday, February 26, 2003
In this series of articles called "Dealing With The Past" we're looking at the important considerations you should resolve before marrying someone who has previously been divorced. So far, we've touched on several of my 10 preliminary questions.
1 - Why did their marriage not work for them before?
2 - What were their contributions to the breakdown?
3 - Do they seem both truthful and insightful in their analysis?
Now we move on to questions number four, five and six:
4. Is this person regretful?
How much does the other person seem to regret everything that went wrong with the other relationship? I can't tell you how strongly I've come to believe that marital breakdown is messing up our total society today. 70% of all the people who live in America today have experienced a broken home, either the home of their parents or their own home. All that emotional chaos at the center of the nurturing system, my goodness. It is literally wounding persons in our society to the point where their emotional health is severely effected, and when emotional health gets effected, you wonder about the possibility of any relationship continuing.
A person I greatly respect is a man by the name of Charles Colson. Charles Colson said he thinks that, as a society, we have about five years to go. If in five years, he said, we haven't turned this society around in terms of its marital fidelity and marital effectiveness, he wonders if we'll ever be able to turn it around. We can't continue to have marriages breaking down at a 66% clip. We can't continue to have children growing up this way, half of them who haven't seen their father in the previous twelve months. We can't have that continue without creating the conditions that make for more drug and alcohol abuse and more overeating and more undereating and more gambling and more pornography and more numbing of every kind. We can't do it.
5. How much excess baggage will this person bring to the relationship?
For instance, what if on the basis of this other relationship that they had, they've developed a bias, a prejudice, against persons of the opposite sex? What if this woman or this man who is coming into the relationship or you're thinking about bringing her into the relationship with you, what if they had such a bad experience in their first marriage that they just hate men or they hate women? What if they think that all men or all women are selfish? They're carrying that in as a new bias that will inevitably affect you. That is almost surely going to cloud your person in their minds.
Fundamentally, how much excess baggage will this person be bringing in? What if they think that kids are usually bad? That kids just want their way? That kids burn money too fast and aren't worth what they cost? What if they come into the marriage with all that baggage from the first relationship? If they do, that could be really troubling. I want you to consider that.
6. What does the past marital failure say about this person's ability to keep the commitment?
The fact is, the commitment got broken, right? We assume that in order to be married this person and the person to whom they were married before both took vows. These vows involve their promising to do six things. To love, honor, and cherish each other, that's three. To have no other relationships that were competitive, four. To perform unto the other person all the duties that a husband owes to his wife or a wife to her husband, that's five. To do this under every condition for as long as they live, six. Now obviously they broke that commitment.
One or the other of them, maybe both of them, just decided, "Yeah, well we made those promises but the thing hasn't gone very well. This marriage isn't worth keeping." So they broke their promises. So now I'm asking you to consider what that past relationship breaking up says about this person's ability to keep their commitment. Does it say that if things get tough again they'll just walk out? When the ground gets rocky or the places get flat along the way are they just going to say, "Oh that's enough. I've had enough of that. I know I promised to love you and honor you and cherish you, but I've got to tell you it's just not worth it to me anymore." I want you to consider that.
Obviously my point here isn't to scare you. It's to give straight talk that will encourage you to approach this relationship in a cautious and intelligent way. If you aren't willing to ask your potential spouse these hard questions, I think that speaks volumes about the relationship you currently have.
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