God, YHVH, divorced His own Bride, Israel (though He also made a way to bring her back). Instead of reiterating the fact in every point of this post, I’ve decided to get it out of the way right now: There are valid reasons for divorce. I’d argue that the following are the invalid ones.
1. You’re tired of being taken for granted.
Feeling unappreciated, whether in big ways or small ways, isn’t fun. It’s easy to imagine a life where your alternate-universe husband comes home from work and sweeps you into his arms. He praises the dinner–whether left-overs, take-out, or gourmet. He marvels over the state of the house–whether immaculate or cluttered. He goes on and on about the cleanliness, and overall cuteness, of your children and the fact that you look even more beautiful than you did the day before. If you work outside the home, he asks you about your job. He remembers the inside-the-home drama and the outside-the-home drama, and he deeply cares about every detail.
Would that be nice? Of course! That would be incredibly nice. It’s not happening in your marriage, so you have to imagine it–leading you to dwell on the fact that all of your Facebook friends are happily married to handsome Prince Charmings while you are stuck with Shrek.
Since you understand the deep, wounding pain of being taken for granted day in and day out, I’m going to assume you greet your husband with the gratitude and understanding you wish he lavished upon you. Being the sainted woman you are, you probably run to the door when you hear his brakes squealing or his car pulling into the garage. After all, who doesn’t love being greeted with a smile? You understand this even if he doesn’t, so you throw your arms around him and tell him how great he smells after a hard day of work. You thank him, every day and profusely, for working so hard to provide for his family. You express your gratitude over the fact that he came home at all, and you applaud his consistent fidelity.
I once sat with my husband in a counselor’s office. While I listened, the counselor explained to my husband the concept of a “love bank.” He said, “A wife expects her husband to come home, to provide, and to be faithful. If you are doing those three things, you can get points for the extra things. If you are not doing those things, you will not get points for anything you do beyond them. You will never actually earn points for doing those three things, however; they are simply what is expected.”
That last part seemed incredibly unfair to me, and I wondered what my three things were. What was I not getting credit for? The housework? Meals? Sex? It seemed to me that since all human beings enjoy getting credit for the expected things that we should give credit for the expected things as well. Makes sense, right? At the very least, it’s worth trying out on the man that you promised to cherish. Sow and reap, baby.
2. You’re tired of feeling like a single parent.
Based on the experiences of about 95% of the husbands I’ve talked to, many men shy away from parenting simply because they’re afraid of doing it wrong. Where does this silly fear come from? Well, it comes from their perfect wives. Moms read parenting books and parenting blogs; we spend twelve hours a day studying the personalities of our young children. Actually, we had a forty-week head start on the whole thing. So, when stranger dad dares to discipline wrong or teach wrong or diaper wrong or feed wrong…basically parent wrong, resident mom has the tendency to let him know it. Now, no, most moms don’t actually say, “You’re wrong, stranger.” But few of us are opposed to a well-placed sigh, a delicate eye-roll, or a feminine smirk. Killing him softly? You betcha. Expecting our husbands to man up may require us to woman down. And since it’s probably going to be at least equally as hard to watch a step-dad doing things wrong, I wouldn’t count on lush pastures in this pursuit of happiness, either.
3. You’re tired of being the spiritual leader.
Maybe it’s the times we live in. For whatever reason, I know quite a few godly women who are living with less than righteous husbands. These are not villainous men, mind you, it’s just that they don’t crack their Bibles. They rarely, if ever, lead their families in prayer. They’re simply not the spiritual leaders of their homes.
At least, that’s what I hear from their tired wives.
In Genesis chapter two, God told Adam that he was in need of a helper. To fulfill this need, God created Chava (whom we call Eve). The word for helper is the Hebrew word ezer (which comes from the root word azar). The word azar has military connotations. It means helper, yes, but more accurately it means protector. It’s a fierce word, and it implies continual, unyielding, encircling protection. I picture a woman dressed for battle. Her sword is drawn, and her countenance is serious as she continually guards her family. She makes a circle around them. Safely inside that circle, her husband is free from the distractions of the enemy and is able to lead his family and his community into relationship with the Creator. In a traditional Hebrew wedding, the bride circles her groom seven times. Perhaps a deeper understanding of the role a wife fills is the real reason behind this ritual.
Is it possible for a wife to be faithful to her post while her husband sits protected–and does nothing? Of course, and this is where wives tend to take over. The problem is, though, that in dropping her sword to pick up his scepter, the family is left vulnerable to attack. So keep (or start) studying the Word, keep (or start) teaching your children, and keep (or start) encircling your family in prayer for their protection. But if you’re tired of leading your husband, maybe it’s because you’re not meant to lead your husband. Your role was forged in the Garden of Eden, and the grass has never been greener.