Based on 1 Peter 3:8-12
If you are in the process of breaking your marriage bond, please consider coming to an agreement on three things. It may be difficult to stay true to this commitment, but as you allow God to enable you, it will help you avoid years of regret and unresolved guilt.
- Refuse the human inclination to return evil for evil, insult for insult. That’s playground behavior; it may be expected in school-aged kids, but it has no business occurring in an adult plan of action. If you must have arguments, refuse to enter into these in the presence of your kids, even in a place where they may not discern the words, but can hear the tone of your voices. Make a pact that you will not do this or that you will stop if you have already made this a way of behaving.
Refuse to speak ill of your partner in your children’s presence. You do not bless a child by undermining his esteem for his other parent no matter how flawed that parent may be. Silence, refusing to give undeserved praise may be appropriate, but, please, no badmouthing.
Guard against using bribery that aims at giving yourself an unfair but favorable position for your children’s allegiance/affection. Meeting basic needs aside, the better parent for guiding children through the rough waters of divorce may not be the one with the biggest bankroll. Children, however, when trying to deal with loss of the stable home life they once knew, may choose the easy option of taking things to replace uncertain relationships.
- Acknowledge your own faults and weaknesses, first to yourself and then to your partner. Your partner’s bad behavior, whatever it may be, does not excuse yours. Stop the blame and shame game. This may be extraordinarily difficult, but it is absolutely crucial.
Can’t do it alone? Of course not, but you can ask for trusted friends to pray about this aspect specifically, and you can sit humbly before your Heavenly Father and accept His help. Replace temptations to be spiteful, mean, and bad tempered with words and actions that bless. Punishing your partner is not your responsibility; righteous judgment is God’s business and He often withholds this while we are trying to do His work for Him.
- Seek peace even if you have to pursue it. Usually in conflict or competition we are pursuing victory over someone or something. And, this pursuing indicates strong effort. Many have won in a divorce proceeding and lost dearly in relationships over the following years. Remember that the absence of peace sometimes indicates an attack of our Enemy. True, the Holy Spirit’s work is to convict of sin and that may disturb our peace,also. The peace Peter refers to here is the natural good-will, give-and-take relationship God wants us to have with one another.
Of course, distrust, betrayal, selfishness, anger, and the like may have already driven a wedge in your relationship, destroying peace, so Peter’s advice comes: take the time and effort needed to find restoration. Almost always, a relationship began on a positive note. Work together so that the peace once known can be restored or gained, even when the household must be taken apart.
It takes effort – it takes two – it takes patience and perseverance – it takes forgiveness – it takes opening your lives to God’s abundant grace and His willingness for two lives to have unity of purpose. I find it very difficult to believe that ‘irreconcilable differences’ exist in God’s plan book. He took care of His irreconcilable differences with us on the cross – and at great cost to Himself. Can we do less?
Refuse to retaliate – acknowledge my shortcomings – pursue peace.
If you can’t manage this on your own, ask God to provide someone to help you. If not for your own well-being then, please, for the sake of the children.