Marriage: Preventing Your Own Divorce
Preventing Your Own Divorce: The Soft Heart Approach
“I have yet to see a marriage fall apart where both hearts are soft toward God.”
Let it sink in. Then, read it again. The message is so true. You can bet your life and future on it. In over four decades of marriage and family coaching and counselling, I have yet to see this happen. I doubt if I ever will.
Simply—marriages don’t break up when both husband and wife have soft hearts toward God. Choosing this soft heart approach is a gigantic step toward divorce prevention.
Having a soft heart towards God makes all the difference in the world in relationships. The Lord has a redeeming way of changing the total person—seriously like a caterpillar into a butterfly—an incomprehensible metamorphosis takes place from the inside out. You see, when a person becomes a Christian, they become a new person inside. They are not the same anymore—a new life has begun (2 Corinthians 5:17). As they grow, and over time, they get a new heart, a new mind, a new life pattern, new priorities, a new moral standard, a new conscience, new lips, a new love and a new strength. Believe me, the change God brings still doesn’t end there. But then again, that’s God’s intention—a complete transformation of your life. That’s what soft hearts to Him can do.
We shouldn’t be surprized then, that soft hearts toward God change the marriage relationship as well, even through tough times. God can transform everything He touches. We just have to let Him.
I have had the honour of performing over 275 weddings to date. That’s a few “knots” I’ve tied. And I seriously give really solid and straight-shooting advice to the couple especially on the day of the wedding. I love declaring God’s truth on life’s most important relationships! This one truth has been part of every single wedding talk I have given – at least as far back as I can recall. Based on what I have observed in countless marital journeys – good and bad – here it is! I tell all couples at the altar, “The greatest gift you can give your spouse is to keep a soft heart toward God. If you do, you will become the person, the partner and down the road, the parent (as God blesses) that He wants you to be.”
That’s how to prevent your own divorce. You commit – out of love to your spouse – to keep your heart soft toward God.
What’s the nature of a soft heart toward God? It’s a heart that is sensitive. You are open to learn and willing to be taught. You are understanding, soft and pliable. A soft heart is also a sincere heart. You are authentic and real. You are open, heartfelt and truthful. And finally, a soft heart towards God is a surrendered heart. You listen to one voice – HIS! You obey His spirit’s prompting. You do what His Word says. He is Lord and He calls the shots. It’s living by what I like to call “Stubborn Obedience” – just shut up and do it God’s way!
Beyond these core traits, a soft heart toward God is seen in various other dispositions. A soft heart is a listening heart – you are open to the guidance and scrutiny of others. A soft heart is a humble heart – you acknowledge your shortcomings and admit your mistakes. A soft heart is a forgiving heart – you seek to reconcile willing to both forgive and apologize as needed. A soft heart is a selfless heart – it seeks to put the other person first— its self-sacrificing and paying the price of lasting love.
What’s the opposite of a soft heart toward God? Try these characteristics: unteachable and defensive, stubborn and proud, bitter and resentful, and selfish and uncaring. These are what we could call a “hard heart.” Is there any wonder why people with hard hearts blow up their marriages? That is the beauty of a soft heart toward God. He changes you over time, refining you into a more caring and selfless human being. How do you do that? How can you better prevent your own divorce?
Developing a Soft Heart toward God:
Focus on making the needed changes in you.
You will soon learn if you haven’t already that you can’t change your spouse. Stop trying. Commit your spouse to God. Let Him change them. Besides, you’ll have a hard enough time changing you even with God’s help.
Seek the Lord in prayer regularly—more than daily.
Ask for His peace and His perspective on any marital challenges. Ask for the miracle of softness in your stubborn heart. Ask for patience and perseverance when it feels like you are ready to reconcile but your spouse hasn’t got there yet.
Absorb the truth in the Bible daily as much as possible.
Let God’s Word shape your mind and adjust your behaviour. Study it. Dissect it. Mark it up. Memorize it. Digest it. But most of all —apply it. Wear your Bible out by reading it daily. A Bible that is falling apart belongs to someone who isn’t.
Get under some solid Bible-centered teaching.
Attend a Church that preaches from God’s Word. Attends Sunday school classes, Bible studies and seminars or conferences for soul development. Listen to spiritual growth podcasts or videoed sermons and read devotional books. Keep growing!
Surround yourself with a caring support team.
You want Godly people backing you who want your best. Never doubt that you become like those you hang around with. Let them into your struggles. Allow them to care for you during your hard times. Listen to their guidance and encouragement.
Get the right kind of professional help.
Ask around. Talk to your pastor. Ask God to guide you to the right fit for your situation. You want a Christian counsellor who integrates relevant counselling theory into a solid Biblical foundation. Choose one who is pro-marriage and pro-reconciliation.
Recommit your life to God regularly.
Remember, a soft heart is a surrendered heart. At least every three months, allow God to show you things in your life that need to be addressed. Confess any known sin. Recommit your life to Him in prayer, giving Him control over all you do.
Why not do your own unofficial research on whether you can find a marriage that has ended in divorce where both hearts are soft toward God. I’d also love to hear from you on either any steps you have taken to prevent your own divorce or what you are doing to keep that heart of yours soft toward God.
© Dr. Dave Currie – August 2019
Feature image used with permission by unsplash.com