“DIVORCE IS OKAY.
Breaking up is okay.
Starting over is okay.
What is not okay is staying somewhere you’re not valued and appreciated.”
While scrolling my newsfeed recently, I stumbled upon those words, written in those two DIFFERENT “tones”. I shook my head.
✅ Breaking up is okay.
You’re dating. You’re discovering if you’re right for one another. You’re flirting with the person’s PR department while trying to learn if you can live together for the rest of your lives. Not all dating relationships work out. You may have made a commitment to date one another exclusively, but you didn’t yet make a commitment before God to love one another for better or for worse. Breaking up IS okay.
✅ Starting over is okay.
We all start over from time to time. I have a friend who went back to medical school in her mid-40s to become a doctor. I know people who have lost it all in failed business adventures who are now millionaires. In my own marriage we have our wedding anniversary date and the day we recommitted eight years later to falling in love with one another again after realizing we had let life get between us and had become roommates more than soulmates. Starting over IS okay.
✅ What is not okay is staying somewhere you’re not valued and appreciated.
I know plenty of people who have left careers behind because they didn’t feel valued or appreciated. Hundreds of books and conferences are dedicated to creating workplaces where employees experience both emotions on a regular basis. Studies abound on how appreciation in the workplace increases productivity. And social media posts fill my newsfeed about how providing healthcare employees pizza does not make them feel valued or appreciated.
I would say not staying somewhere you don’t feel valued or as though your skills, ideas, or contributions are appreciated is understandable.
BUT … then there’s the way the quote started and ended.
While everything else was written in lowercase, the uppercase letters screaming to the reader from the beginning read “DIVORCE IS OKAY” before ending with it “is not okay (to stay) somewhere you’re not valued and appreciated.”
The reality is, you probably wouldn’t break up with someone if you always felt valued and appreciated by them. You probably wouldn’t start over at anything in life if you always felt valued and appreciated. But life is tough. That’s why marriage was designed as a covenant. That’s why the words “For better or for worse” are in wedding vows. There are days, months, entire seasons where marriage is hard.
🛑 DIVORCE IS OKAY … (if) you’re not valued and appreciated.
Abuse, adultery, and abandonment are grounds for divorce (though I know many marriages who have survived and found reconciliation even after adultery and abandonment and are better today than they were during the honeymoon phase).
Not feeling valued and appreciated doesn’t make divorce okay. It means you need to work on communication in your marriage. It means somewhere you’ve not explained to your spouse what you need. It means you haven’t set the right boundaries. It means you may need marriage counseling or help to find reconciliation, restoration, and happiness again. It means there’s a sin or hardness of heart somewhere that needs to be overcome. It means there’s work to be done.
If you’re considering throwing in the towel on your marriage because you no longer feel valued or appreciated, I encourage you to pick the towel back up and fix the situation instead.
One of the best things I have ever heard about marriage is that we all go into it blind. We stand before God and say vows we don’t really mean and around eight years later (average length of a marriage today), we break the vows and file for divorce.
Instead of saying, “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law, in the presence of God I make this vow” we should say “…until adultery, anger issues, money issues, a better opportunity, bitterness, frustration, a sexier person, lack of feeling valued and appreciated, (insert your own justification) do us part” in our vows. Say what you mean, but don’t lie to God.
The reality is, the only person who can make you fell valued and appreciated is you. It’s not your spouse’s job to make you happy. It’s not their job to provide you the life you always dreamed about living. The peace that comes with each of those things is a peace that can only come through a strong relationship with Christ. Pinning it on anyone else is pinning a burden on them they cannot carry.
Marriage wasn’t designed by God to make you happy. It was designed to make you holy. The strongest marriages I know are strong because the they have God at the center of them. They’re anchored in solid Christian values that help the couple survive the storms of life. If you’re married long enough, I promise you, there will be times you don’t feel valued or appreciated by your spouse. But if that’s going to be your excuse for getting a divorce, don’t get married in the first place.
PS: If you find yourself sitting in a spot where you think divorce is the only option, I encourage you to join us in January 2024 for the next ReEngage Class at Trinity Baptist Church. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. It’s amazing the marriages I have seen restored and the ones I have seen go from strong to stronger because of that class (my marriage included).