Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

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The Number One Cause of Divorce

Search the internet for the top causes of divorce and you will undoubtedly find financial issues in almost every list. It's often stated that financial issues are the number one reason for divorce.

Can I be honest?

I don't think finances are the cause of divorce. I think finances are a symptom of the bigger problems within the marriage. I think disagreements over finances are a symptom of immaturity in individuals.

I know that's a broad, sweeping statement. I know we all have strengths and weaknesses. I know some of us are savers while others are spenders. I know there are as many different ways of handling finances as there are personalities.

And no one way is wrong.

However, the problem comes in when we have emotionally immature individuals who are seeking to live in relationship with one another. When one (or both) individuals is insistent on using money his or her way--whether that means living like a miser or spending into bankruptcy or anywhere in between--the couple risks ongoing disagreements and potentially divorce.

So I really don't think finances are a cause of divorce. It may just be the one issue the two parties can identify as a problem

What's another common reason for divorce? Sadly, most lists include infidelity among the top reasons for divorce.

I definitely see infidelity as a bigger issue than finances. Even with infidelity, you are dealing with an immature individual who is bent on serving his or her own selfish desires. No matter what the situation, the one who wanders from the vows of marriage has made the choice to put self ahead of anyone else.

Many lists include abuse as a top cause of divorce. That's such a sad statement on the site of our emotional and mental well-being. Mental, emotional, and verbal abuse are rampant in our culture. We have not learned to live our lives in a way that values others, that puts the needs of others ahead of our own selfish wants.

What truly is the number one cause of divorce?

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. Galatians 5:19-21

There's no doubt in my mind that living in the flesh rather than by the fruit of the Spirit is the number one cause of divorce. Do you know someone controlled by the flesh? How much time do you want to spend with that person? I'd venture a guess in saying that person is not usually great company.

Contrast that picture with someone who lives by the fruit of the Spirit, someone whose life is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). If your spouse always exhibited these qualities, would you want a divorce? Would you ever get tired of a husband who was always patient and kind? Would you ever despise a faithful and gentle wife? Somehow I sense that if we all lived by the Spirit, our divorce rate would plummet.

So how do we cultivate the fruit of the spirit in our lives? How do we choose to put to death the works of the flesh?

I see it as a process that leads from our heads to our hearts. We start by focusing on the positives.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

Thinking on the positives is an act of the will, a choice each day to put aside the negatives and think on the positives. The more we train our brain to think positively, the easier it becomes.

In the beginning, we may find ourselves going down the negative path. When we find our minds spiraling downward, we must stop, confess our sin, and intentionally choose to refocus. Eventually, we find our minds changing. That's when we realize our minds are being renewed.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

The key to living the Spirit-filled life and living in God's will is the transformation of our minds. It only comes through this intentional decision to think God's way. The more we think God's way, the more we find His truth, His ways traveling to our hearts.

I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

It's not enough for us to simply know God's word intellectually; we must know God's word. The Word of God is living and active and penetrates our hearts, convicting of sin, guiding our steps (Hebrews 4:12). As our inner thoughts are exposed, God draws us nearer to Him, desiring that we are conformed to His image.

As the Word penetrates our hearts, we find that it makes its way out of our hearts and into our lives.

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. Luke 6:45

And when our hearts are filled with good things, our words are characterized by the grace of God. We find ourselves overflowing with the fruit of the Spirit, spewing love, joy, peace on all those around us. Couple who are constantly allowing the Spirit of God to consume their lives find that marriage is a pleasure.

Where is your mind and heart today? Let's commit to the first step of intentionally focusing on the positives.