There are many things that can come between you and your spouse, which is why it is so important to guard your heart – and the heart of your marriage. Stress can cause fractures in any marriage relationship, but a first-responder is likely to bring a higher about of stress home. According to a report on Emergency Responder Exhaustion Syndrome, divorce rates among emergency responders range from 35% to 75%. The report states that is likely due to job stress that is taken home. (source: Emergency Responder Exhaustion Syndrome (ERES): A perspective on stress, coping and treatment in the emergency responder milieu. Fay, J. PsyD, Kamena, M. D PhD, Benner, A. PhD, Buscho, A. PhD & Nagle, D)
So what are some ways you can protect your marriage against the threat of separation or divorce?
The very survival of your marriage depends on your recognizing the scope of the covenant you made on your wedding day. You must say with absolute conviction, “Divorce is not an option. We are married for life.” Without this firm pledge to God and to each other, your marriage is vulnerable to defeat from every angle. But when you take a stand on your lifetime promise, your marriage can survive anything. Banish the idea of divorce from your thinking. Your marriage is only safely divorce-proofed when you commit to never using the “D word.” Before you can ever know the deep security and confidence God intends for you to enjoy as a couple, you need to be certain that your relationship is rooted in a love that will never give up.
Why is that so important? Listen to Malachi 2:16 where God says, “I hate divorce!” If God hates something, wouldn’t it be wise to put it on your hate list, too? God is very serious about the covenant you made with him and with your spouse on your wedding day. He is unequivocal on this topic: Marriage is to be a lifelong commitment—period. Divorce should not even be considered an option.
Notice that God does not say, “I hate divorced people.” On the contrary, he loves all people, including divorced people. That’s precisely why he is so vehement on the divorce issue—he knows the pain it brings to the people he loves. It’s as if he pleads with us, “Divorce deeply wounds everyone involved. I don’t want to see you hurt. Do yourself a favor: Avoid the hurt by honoring your lifetime commitment.”
In the same breath as his denouncement of divorce in Malachi 2:16, God provides a two-pronged antidote to divorce. As you apply these commands to your relationship, you take major steps toward divorce-proofing your marriage.
First, he says, “Guard your heart.” This command suggests that there is something threatening marriage and you need to keep up your guard. Our culture openly condones and facilitates divorce. A person can get a divorce for practically no reason at all. It’s an easy out for anyone who doesn’t want to deal with even the normal conflicts and adjustments of married life. Our culture seems to say, “If your marriage isn’t working out the way you like, just divorce your spouse and look for one you like better.” The “wisdom” of the world, disseminated through such dubious channels as tabloids and talk shows, says, “Divorce is the solution to your marriage problems.” But God says, “I hate divorce,” and he warns us to avoid this casual attitude toward the solemn vows we recited before him.
God’s second antidote for divorce in Malachi 2:16 is, “Do not be unfaithful.” You promised to love, honor, and cherish your spouse. He or she is counting on you to keep your word. Don’t break faith by going back on your vow. Pour your energies into unqualified love and faithfulness in marriage instead of making excuses and looking for loopholes. Continually ask yourself, “How can I help make our relationship richer, deeper, and more fulfilling despite our conflicts and struggles?”
*For more about how to unlock the biblical secrets to a marriage that stays vibrant and strong for a lifetime check out our book 6 Secrets to a Lasting Love in our online bookstore!