Woman Alive deputy editor, Jemimah Wright, says Christmas can often be a stressful time for relationships, and divorce amongst Christians is more and more common, so how can we protect our marriages this festive season?
Celebrities getting divorced seems a sadly constant news item in today’s world. Just this year ‘Wolverine’ Hugh Jackman, 55 and Deborra Lee Furness, 68, announced they were getting divorced after 27 years of marriage. Oasis band member Noel Gallagher, 56, and his wife Sara MacDonald, 52 are splitting after twelve years of marriage. And then Loose Woman’s Linda Robson, 65 and her husband Mark Dunford, 63 have decided to call it quits after 33 years of marriage.
As far as I know, none of these celebrities are Christians, but being a Christian does not protect you from divorce. According to the Office of National Statistics, 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce, and there will be many Christians in that number.
So if divorce is so prevalent, how do we, as Christians, protect our marriages so we don’t become part of the statistic?
So if divorce is so prevalent, how do we, as Christians, protect our marriages so we don’t become part of the statistic? I am, obviously, no expert, but here are some thoughts:
1. Be aware that your marriage is something to work on. If we took the same care and attention that we pay to our career, to our marriage, our relationship may well be in a much better state. 1 Peter 5:8 says: Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.’ He hates marriage and family, so don’t let him have a foothold in yours.
Marriage is a gift from God, but we are humans, and humans let each other down.
2. Communicate. Ok, that seems obvious, but it is amazing how communication can break down when we are hurt, offended and disappointed in our partner. Thankfully there are tools to help us communicate frustrations in a way that means we don’t become enemies shouting at each other. For example, when something has come up as an issue – perhaps that your husband never does the washing up, and you are slaving away in the kitchen making Christmas lunch. Instead of shuting in exasperation, ‘Why don’t you ever help?!’ look at communicating with these words: ‘I feel’ ‘When’ ‘Because’. So ‘I feel let down and unloved when the washing up isn’t done because it seems I am being taken for granted and I am exhausted.’ That way of communicating is putting the emphasis on you and your feelings, and the other person is in a better position to respond.
3. Stay connected. In the busyness of Christmas holidays with potentially stressful family encounters, children to entertain, shopping to be done, prioritise connecting with your partner at the beginning and end of the day. This helps remind you both that you are on the same team, and not just too stressed out adults trying to get through the holiday period. Praying together is also a great thing to do.
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Marriage is a gift from God, but we are humans, and humans let each other down. If you know your marriage is in need of some TLC this Christmas, this is your encouragement to invest in it. That could mean marriage counselling, or just making sure you have a designated date night each week. It could mean being brave and having some honest communication, instead of brushing things under the carpet. Remember that God is for you and for your marriage, and there is no hopeless situation. As you pray for help, the Holy Spirit, the Helper, will come.
I read once that the main reason for divorce is contempt. We don’t know the reason for Hugh Jackman and Deborra Lee Furniss’s divorce, or the other celebrities, but how easy it is for resentment to grow when we don’t deal with it. So I pray for our marriages this Christmas time with the words from 1 Thessalonians 3:12: May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other…’