Typically, when a marriage is on the rocks, especially ones where a spouse has drifted from Christian values through addictions or an affair, the faithful spouse does everything in his or her power to hold things together for the sake of the kids. The “good guy/girl” seeks to keep the schedule and traditions normal, handling all the homework, school, church and community activities. The “good spouse” will try his/her best to be a good role model while the drifting spouse indulges in partying, sexual extravagances, vacations or shopping sprees not in the budget and other irresponsible behaviors.
As pastors, we have stood beside the “good spouse” by offering encouragement as he or she dutifully trudges forward under a heavy weight of emotional pain coupled with work, family and financial pressures. We have admired the strength and stamina exhibited, and we have rallied the church body on his or her behalf. That is why we were surprised at the number of times we had to throw out a second lifeline to these same good Christian warriors who let up their guard and tumbled right into some of the same sins he or she were so wounded by! Satan is sneaky, especially at the vulnerable moment when the turbulence and intensity of divorce concludes. The Bible puts it this way:
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
If you or someone you know has experienced heartbreak, be aware of your vulnerability to three dangers:
1. The Danger Of “I Deserve Fun, Too.”
This danger may begin with friends saying things like, “Come out and party! You deserve some fun, too. Get back in the saddle! Get back on the market!” A glass of wine can soon become the whole bottle, and the good guy/girl can find themselves addicted or placing themselves in compromising places with people who do not share their core values.
2. The Danger Of “I Can Let Up.”
The good spouse who was intensely walking with Jesus during the marriage, breakup and divorce finds themselves exhausted and depressed. He or she may start sleeping in on Sundays rather than going to church. Their former social circle of Christian couples feels awkward to be around, while a new social circle of Christian singles has not yet formed, so encouraging fellowship slips away. Depression can drive away good habits of Bible study, prayer and worship.
3. The Danger If “I Can Handle It.” ‘
This time can be accompanied by a wave of loneliness so strong that even a devout Christian can be swept away. Those who would have never entertained thoughts of dating an unbeliever or having sex outside of marriage can drift into unequally yoked relationships and unhealthy dating behaviors. They believe that they’re strong enough to deal with these situations without losing faith. However, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Cor 15:33)
So what are some simple solutions to this complex issue?
- Stay aware: If you start drifting from the person you have always been and the values you have always held, that is your flashing yellow light to get help.
- Stay close to Jesus: Maintain all the routines and rituals that have strengthened your faith in past years and look for new ways to connect to God.
- Stay near your kids: Look for ways to establish new family traditions while enjoying familiar ones, too.
- Stay in fellowship with strong friends: Ask your friends, both married and single, to invite you out to healthy, safe places while you heal.
- Stay in safe social settings: Make a list of safe places far from influences of drugs, alcohol or risky behaviors.
- Stay in counseling: Seek out Christian counselors, mentors, books, seminars and Bible studies that build you up.
- Stay accountable: Look for role models who have been victorious and ask these people to hold you accountable for wise choices.
If you stay aware of your vulnerabilities and take steps to shore up your life, one day you will wake up and feel like yourself again – this time even stronger than before!