Monday, November 23, 2009

Miss Lonelyhearts and the Three Dealbreakers

I was reading the Winnipeg Free Press yesterday and happened upon a column called "Miss Lonelyhearts." It's basically an advice column, one which usually leans to the seedier aspects of relationships but as a relationship counselors I'm often a sucker for reading these kind of things. Anyway, in one of Miss Lonelyhearts' answers to her readers she mentioned something called the three relationship dealbreakers:

1. Infidelity.
2. Addiction.
3. Abuse.

What do you think of this list? Basically I think she was saying that any of these things warrants a person choosing to end a relationship - faith has been broken. Do I agree? Yes and no. From a Biblical perspective I would say that only one of these is mentioned within a marriage context (infidelity). Even then many spouses choose to forgive and their marriages eventually recover (and many are even better then they were before). I would argue that all of them are justification for separation (depending on the severity and circumstances). Although God's heart is for marriage I don't believe He feels that people should remain in the same home under any circumstances - separating with the intention of reuniting is occasionally a necessary and wise way to work for your marriage. There have to be boundaries and consequences for relationship destroying behavior, correct? Separation should truly be a last resort (as it is risky), but is sometimes what is needed to help a spouse "wake up" to how much of a deal breaker their behavior is.

If you are simply dating someone (even long term) breaking up would certainly be warranted over these three dealbreakers. For engaged persons this list is also good - getting married with any of these hanging over your head and undealt with (again depending on the circumstances) is just asking for trouble.

So what do you think? Is this list fair? Would you add or subtract anything?


Jay Boaz said...

Sarah and I were just discussing this issue the other day (don't worry, we're not contemplating divorce nor partaking in any activities on your list!).

I think that is a fair list, though I think the addiction category might need a * next to it; it may depend on the type of addiction, whether help is being sought or not, etc.

While separation should be a last resort as you say, I do cringe at the thought of women who remain in physically abusive relationships; if there is repeated physical violence, I think that the person being abused should get the heck out of that house sooner rather than later. It can still be possible to reconcile the relationship, but the person being abused should not have to live in that situation while it is being dealt with.

Along this topic, we discussed whether or not it was okay to remarry after getting a divorce for one of the reasons you listed (we didn't discuss addiction though). I fully believe that if somebody gets divorced because their spouse is being abusive they can certainly remarry; to say they will not get married again allows the abuser to permanently affect their life and take their own power away. I see no reason to ruin your own life because of an abusive spouse's actions.

Sorry, I got a bit into this subject; the topic of abuse just gets me worked up, I can't stand it.

Coach Dueck said...

Jay just wondering what you base that belief on as far as remarrying?

After reading this post and comment, i started to comment myself, but decided to check out what the Bible said about it first. Mat. 19 says that if a man divorces his wife for any reason except for unfaithfulness, AND remarries, he commits adultery against his spouse. If the woman remarries, the she becomes an adulterer.

The sin seems to be in the remarrying, not necessarily the divorcing. Doesn't seem fair in a case of abuse, but so far i haven't found an 'out'!

I agree with what mark said about separation, though, as well as reconciliation.


Jay Boaz said...

I want to make sure I understand this correctly.

If a woman is unfaithful and the man divorces her, he is able to remarry without becoming an adulterer. If the man is unfaithful and the woman divorces him, she then cannot remarry without becoming an adulterer?

Is that what it says?

Jay Boaz said...

Okay, I've done some reading on lunch break here, and as I understand it, if the reason for divorce is infidelity, remarrying is allowed. Any other reason means it is adultery. The way you had stated it Eric I thought there was a double-standard at work, but I went and read the actual passage to clarify what you meant, so you can ignore my previous post.

I have to wonder how much the culture of the time comes into play here. The Bible was written a loooong time ago, and it was written by men, who by definition are imperfect. This was a time when women were barely second-class citizens. Are we to believe that the world view of the men who wrote the books of the Bible were not influenced at all by the society they lived in? I find that hard to believe.

I struggle to believe that God, who loves everyone as a father, would choose to punish a woman who is being physically abused by declaring she would be an adulteress by leaving the situation and eventually remarrying. It not only punishes the woman, but if there are children involved, it punishes the children as well by depriving them of a strong male role model and a more stable home life. It just doesn't make sense to me.

Don't get me wrong, I think divorce should be an absolute last resort, I think in today's society people are too quick to just give up and get a divorce because it's more convenient. Even in an abusive situation it may be possible to reconcile, but I certainly would support the person being abused leaving the shared dwelling until the situation can be resolved through counseling or whatever method they choose to employ. I can't see how God would want an abused woman to stay in an unsafe situation like that.

Stacey said...

Jay, if God thinks it's OK to remarry, He would have made sure that we got that message in the Bible. God is unchanging. Sometimes the consequences of another person's sin can affect others too, even though it isn't fair. Life sometimes just sucks. That's part of living in a fallen world. Not everything will always work out to be fair.

Jay Boaz said...

Rather than type another lengthy reply, this article sums up my thoughts and reasons on the subject of remarrying after spousal abuse.

Jay Boaz said...

Stacey said...

In the first article (haven't looked at the second link yet) I find the theology pretty flawed. I know what I believe, and I'm pretty sure it's very biblical and solid, but I don't like fighting about it. It isn't something that determines salvation, and people are always going to disagree :)

Jay Boaz said...

I'm fine with agreeing to disagree, I don't want to fight either, just wanted to try back up what I was saying.

The second link is to a Facebook album of images from I just discovered the site and I want to check it out further later; basically they break down and discuss different biblical things using pictures taken of Playmobile figures. Seems like a fun way to make a presentation.

Stacey said...

It was cute, but seemed a little fishy to me. I don't know. I would need to study it more.