Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

Reconciling After Divorce

QUESTION:

I have been divorced for about 2.5 years. I have two wonderful children 9 and 11 years old. I still love my ex-wife, but at the same time she has told me that we would never get back together. We are both believers in Christ and our children go to a private Christian school. My ex left me, not to cheating or abuse, but for not being a good husband. I have started dating this one girl, everything is fine, but she tells me that she loves me, but (I) do not. I still for some reason think that I have a chance of getting back together with my ex. Am I just fooling myself or is it my faith? 

E.

ANSWER: 

E: 

I truly feel for you. Relationships are tough. Let me be frank: I don’t know what God has for you, and the only thing I have to go on is the information as you present it. Let’s look at the information carefully – along with some of my assumptions, which may or may not be accurate.

1. Your divorce is 2.5 years old; consequently, probably the dust up and hostility has quieted down.  Both you and your wife seemingly have adjusted to your new roles. Your children evidently have stabilized reasonably well. They have a good Christian environment. I assume, and hope, that most of the bitterness and fighting has subsided, and your children are not caught up in any retaliating hostility between you and your ex. It appears that the visitation rights are worked out as fair as can be expected. 

2. I am puzzled about why your wife left you. You say there was no cheating or abuse, but that you were not a good husband. I don’t know what not being a “good husband” means – but it seems like she just doesn’t like you. In fact, she actually insists that you are never getting back together. I don’t know if she has a man in her life, but if she does, then she probably means what she says. Frankly, she probably means it anyway – a new man or no man!

3. You are the one left behind, which means it will take you longer to get over the marriage and get on with your life. In your heart, you still don’t want out of the marriage. She decided a long time ago that she wants out of the marriage – and has already moved on.

4. E., you cannot change people, you cannot bring back the past and make things different and undo your mistakes, and you cannot recreate a relationship that once was – or at least as you thought it was. This is a good saying about the hard bumps of life: “It is what it is.” Sometimes we just have to accept things in life as they are – and move on the best we can. If you did get back together, there would always be that doubt of commitment hanging over the marriage, and the threat that if you don’t behave as she wants, then she will leave. If that happens, then there will be a negative element in the marriage, and your children will always be worried and uncertain about their lives.

5. One biblical consideration is that written in the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Jeremiah 3:1). Here the idea is that if a man divorces his wife, and she marries another man who also divorces her, or even dies, then the first husband is forbidden to take the woman back. 

On the other hand, Paul taught, “But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not send his wife away” (1 Corinthians 7:10).  E., according to this, if your wife has remarried, then it is not right to remarry her. However, if she is still single, reconciliation is legitimate.

But, sometimes nasty things happen in life. That is why Paul also wrote, “Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace” (1 Corinthians 7:15).

Always practically minded, Paul went on to say, “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released (divorced). Are you released (divorced) from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you should marry, you have not sinned” (1 Corinthians 7:27, 28).  

6. Based on these observations, it would seem that it is best to leave things as they are now. Don’t disrupt your children’s life any more. If your wife doesn’t want to reconcile, then let her go and get on with your own life the best you can. Cultivate you relationship with Christ, strengthen yourself with the Word, and base your decisions on the Bible and reality – not your feelings of the moment. 

7. This brings up another issue. You say you have another woman in your life who loves you, but that you don’t love her. You need to be fair with her, and not lead her on. Her feelings and future counts as well as yours. Don’t break her heart – because you know how that feels. 

It is good that you are giving the new relationship time to develop. Don’t jump too quickly into a new relationship. Refrain for letting sexual lust lure you into a new relationship that is bad. Wait until you see things clearly, and have decided finally in your heart that your marriage is truly over and finished. By the way, it actually is over. Your ex is long gone. A judge signed the divorce papers. Your marriage is dissolved. It doesn’t exist. 

8. Finally, honestly evaluate your own life. Discern those things that your ex saw in you as being a, “bad husband.” Give attention to, and begin to change those qualities. Otherwise, they will again bring trouble in a new marriage. Become the man and person God meant you to be. Don’t put all the blame on your ex-wife.  Accept responsibility for your behavior and attitudes.

Carefully evaluate any new potential marriage partner. Attend to those “red flags” that are warning signals about another person. Remember, we all act differently after the wedding: our real self comes out. It is always easier to get into a marriage than to get out of one – as you have found out. 

There were things in your ex that should have been warnings to you – before you were married. The common big “red flags” in a marriage relationship are the constant drip of criticism; ridicule, sarcasm and contempt; not accepting responsibility, but blaming and defensive; and stonewalling (or screaming) when disagreeing. 

Make sure that your new potential wife has a strong moral, godly character, is faithful, open, honest, supportive and trustworthy, encouraging, has a sweet spirit, displays respect and love for you, and is a hard worker – among other positive qualities. But, be sure you love and are faithful to her, support and cherish her, encourage and praise her, be sensitive to her needs, and genuinely listen to her. 

E., I hope this is of help to you. As I stated in the beginning, I don’t have all the facts, nor the mind of Solomon; consequently, there is guess work in this evaluation of your issue. Take care, and may God clearly guide you and richly bless you, your children, and even your ex-wife. 

Dr. Newman 

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