Wasting the Best Years of My Life
by David J. Stewart
A married man recently wrote me, asking for my advice on divorce and remarriage. He said his wife had a history of violent behaviour, had been to several doctors for mental/emotional problems, had taken multiple prescription drugs; but with no improvement. He said his wife had abandoned him, and that he was the victim in his marriage. He said he had read my article, Divorce is a Sin, and wanted to know if it would be a sin for him to divorce his wife since she abandoned him. I wrote him back, explaining that we never have a right to divorce our spouse, regardless of how bad the conditions may be. Hebrews 13:5 declares that God never forsakes us. We are expected to follow Christ's example.
I stressed to him that marriage was NOT an agreement; but, a lifetime commitment. However, I explained to him that it would not be his fault if his wife filed for divorce, as it would be beyond his control. Although he may have contributed to his wife's decision to divorce, he could not be blamed for the divorce itself (unless he agreed to it). Divorce is a sin, and no one has an excuse to justify it. No one can blame anyone else for their own actions. We are all accountable to God as individuals (Romans 14:12). In a situation where a spouse files for divorce (against the other spouse's will), and the judge grants it anyway--the abandoned spouse will not be held responsible by God for the divorce itself. In such a situation, I believe it would be acceptable for the abandoned spouse to remarry, providing that every attempt was made to reconcile the marriage, and at least five years of time were permitted for the spouse to repent and come back. This is only my opinion (and not something I can backup with Scriptures), and I told the man so. I explained to the man that there are many different situations, and that we must all make our own decisions--realizing that God will hold us accountable for our actions. God knows if an adulterous husband if abusive towards his wife because he wants her to divorce him. In such a case, the man is guilty if he agrees to the divorce, and certainly has no right to divorce; even if his wife divorces him. To remarry for both, he and his wife, would be adultery.
I told him about a married couple I had once known in a church. They were about 40 years old. The husband ran off, without warning, with a younger woman in her twenties. The wife was devastated. She prayed and waited; but her husband never returned. She waited five years for him to return; but, he had already remarried. He was gone forever. She counseled with her pastor, and he advised her he felt it was ok for her to remarry, since she had done all she could do. She married another Christian man, who also had been divorced. Last I heard, they are still happily married. I shared this with the man who sent me the letter.
The man wrote me back, and to my dismay, had twisted my words around in a sinful attempt to justify divorcing his wife. As it turns out, he was the one contemplating a divorce, and not his wife. Following is the man's response to my letter...
Thanks again for your quick response, and you have addressed the issue the
same as everyone else has, regarding the breaking of trust that goes with a
covenant. As you said Christ regards marriage as a commitment and covenant,
not some contract with loopholes. And yes, I have exhausted every possible
attempt over the last few years to give my wife opportunity to stop her
sinful and abusive patterns, and seek counseling for healing. Like one
brilliant biblical teacher said-"wasn't 10 years of marriage to her enough
time to change, maybe she expects you to give her another 10 years to
So often we wait too long to find another mate, and waste the best years of
our lives waiting for someone to stop an addiction or abusive disorder!
I truly thank you for your support.
It is obvious to me that this man is looking for a way out of his marriage. I never said anything to him about the "breaking of trust that goes with a covenant". I told him that marriage was a lifetime commitment! I sincerely doubt if I said the same thing as "everyone else." Most people don't believe the Bible, and the Bible teaches that marriage is a lifetime commitment (100%, not 50%). The man in question thinks marriage is 50/50; but he is wrong. Marriage is supposed to be 100/100. Marriage is NOT 50/50. This man wants to divorce his wife because his marriage is 80/20 or 60/40. I don't care if it's 100/0, you have no right to divorce your spouse. Jesus set the example in Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." When we were giving 0%, Jesus gave 100%.
The man is question is implying that since his wife is messed up, he has a right to call it quits and divorce. No he doesn't! What kind of "brilliant" Biblical teacher would condone a divorce if one's spouse doesn't change. Sounds more like an idiot to me. Marriage is " 'til death do us part." I think the most horrible and selfish thing he said in his letter was "So often we wait too long to find another mate, and waste the best years of our lives waiting for someone to stop an addiction or abusive disorder!" What a selfish and carnal attitude!!! He says, "So often we wait too long to find another mate..." It's called adultery! He goes on to say, "...and waste the best years of our lives." NOWHERE in the Word of God does God give anyone permission to divorce and look for a BETTER spouse. It is wicked!!! If you made a foolish decision in marrying someone who you later discover is the WRONG person, it doesn't give you the right to selfishly move on. Folks, we're not talking about a business here...we're talking about a marriage. You don't just move on. If you do--you are a liar, a quitter, a promise breaker, an adulterer, disobedient to God, and a selfish person.
I wrote the following response to the man from my heart...
Let me just add a few more comments for sake of conscience. I do believe it is a sin for anyone to file for divorce.
The context of my letter was simply that, if a man's wife divorces him and doesn't return within a few years, then I believe it is acceptable for him to move on and remarry. If your wife doesn't want a divorce, then I believe it would be wrong to divorce her, no matter how messed up she may be. Many marriages end on a "for worse" note, which is wrong.
I just wanted to make clear that I don't believe it would ever be acceptable for you to file for divorce because of the misery your wife has caused you. BUT, if your wife divorces you, then it is out of your hands. No amount of marital problems justifies anyone filing for divorce. That is my opinion and I won't budge, because I believe that is what the Word of God teaches. Every person who gets divorced thinks it was justified.
So, I believe it is wrong for anyone to file for divorce; but, if you are the victim of a tragic divorce, then I believe you are free to remarry after a few years. Again, this is my opinion.
Many men understand the emotional trauma associated with a problematic wife; but, that's life. Many people have the attitude that they're wasting the best years of their life. Many men have often felt that they would be much happier if they left their wife and married someone else. Many husbands find themselves lonely at times. But, they can't just move on because their not happy...how selfish that would be! Many men aren't "happy" in their marriages, and feel they would be much happier if they remarried; but, that wouldn't be fair to the kids, nor to the wife. God honors faithfulness. Many husbands/ wives are not 100% happy in their marriages. So what? Being happy shouldn't be the main goal in a Christian's life; but, rather, obeying God.
We are living in a selfish generation that only thinks about me, myself, and I. No doubt, many husbands feel that they have wasted the best years of their life, living in hell at times. I'm reminded of a card someone gave me years ago that read, "Any idiot can face a crisis, it's this day-to-day living that wears us out." Such is life.
All I'm saying in a nutshell to you is this. I believe it would be terribly wrong for you to divorce your wife for any reason; but, if she has divorced you and refuses to return, then it is beyond your control and I believe you are free to move on. I felt the need to write you this letter because I don't want you to think for one second that I am condoning you filing for a divorce. I don't believe it is right for you to divorce her. But, if she has divorced you, then you are the victim and not at fault for the divorce itself, you are free to remarry (in my opinion).
Please understand that I in no way want you to perceive my letter as judgmental. It is not my place to judge, nor even to even comment; but, I do appreciate you asking my opinion. Marriage problems are a touchy subject, and there are usually lots of built up emotions. Please keep in mind that I do not know your full situation, so I am just trying to cover all bases. I am responsible to God for the advice I share with others, and I want to make sure it is advice pleasing to God.
May God help you in the days ahead to make your decisions,
Two wrongs never make a right folks, and divorcing your spouse because you believe you made a mistake is sinful. Can you imagine how many divorces there would be, if everyone who thought they were "wasting the best years of their life" divorced? Many do, which is why the present divorce rate is over 50%! We are living in an evil generation of selfish people who do what's only best for them. If you're marriage is on the rocks, keep your mind upon the Word of God. You can make it! It doesn't surprise me in this characterless generation that so many people are quitters. I hear all types of excuses from people who "think" they have a right to divorce. No you don't! If the grass seems greener on the other side of the fence, then plant some greener grass in your own yard.