Divorce vexes families and society

Ministers say understanding spouse’s needs a key

This is German-Swiss artist Hans Holbein the Younger’s portrait of King Henry VIII of England, who had six wives during his lifetime. Holbein lived from 1497-1543. (Courtesy Photo)

If everyone agrees that divorce is one of the worst things that can happen in life, then why is it so prevalent?

The Revs. Eddy Elliott and Jesus Gomez cite Malachi 2:16, which says, “For I hate divorce! says the Lord God of Israel,” and Matthew 5:32, where Jesus says, “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

The Rev. Elliott, pastor of the Solid Rock Fellowship Out West, said he often talks with people who are succeeding in their third marriages and tell him, “I had to change my ways in order to get along better and make this one stick.”

“They learn from their mistakes,” he said. “So my philosophy is to make the changes you need to make now. See to your spouse’s heart and let Jesus take care of the rest.”

Elliott said he had learned a lot about counseling couples from a book titled “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, which describes the stages of marriage relationships and says that after the infatuation of the first year couples often start noticing each other’s idiosyncrasies and become less tolerant and more discourteous.

“You need to love each other intentionally, by choice and on purpose,” Elliott said. “Many people want to live in the fairy tale, only life doesn’t work like Hollywood.

“Make the decision to work at loving and see to your spouse’s heart. Chapman says a woman should start with a man’s heart and work down and a man should start with a woman’s heart and work up. It’s a man’s physical needs and a woman’s emotional needs. Tell her how pretty she is.

“The worst thing about divorce is the collateral damage, especially to the kids.”

Asked the secrets of his 48-year marriage to his wife Tina Fay, his high school sweetheart, Elliott said, “Her perseverance and the hand of God.

“Women’s needs are entirely different from men’s.”

The Rev. Gomez, pastor of New Hope Church, said most divorces can be attributed “to the inability to communicate and a loss of connection.

“We can get into the rat race of life and fall into a pit of forgetting about the relationship,” he said. “I tell couples that love is a choice. The emotions we have when we’re first married are not permanent because our emotions fluctuate.

“The question is, where are you in this relationship? What do you love about your spouse, what do you enjoy? God hates divorce. It’s not his plan. God doesn’t make you marry a specific person, but sometimes we try to pass the responsibility on to him and fault him for our decision-making.

“We say, if God didn’t want me to marry this person, he should have removed him or her out of my path, but that’s not the way it works,” Gomez said. “Samson had a choice and he chose the Philistine women who were enemies of his people.”

Gomez, whose wife’s name is Alejandra, said marriage is about the overall relationship.

“It has nothing to do with the sensual or sexual aspect,” he said. “It has to do with wanting to spend time with my wife and have her presence in my life. It’s about partnership, companionship and friendship.”