Q&A: Relationships after a Divorce through God's Eyes
With Pastor, Brad Rhoades and Relationship Expert, Elaine Martin
Q: As a former lawyer and current practicing minister, what do you see after first marriages end? And what does getting involved in a second marriage or serious relationship look like?
A: It's really a crossroads for a lot of individuals. You know, it can send some people into cynicism and make it make it really hard to love because it's hard to open yourself up because you've been through so much difficulty and pain. And for some it's a challenge because it's trauma of going through a divorce.
But in second marriages, I've seen I've seen two things. You see statistics that say second marriages are doomed to fail and the stats are so much worse than second marriages and first marriages. And I don't know that's totally accurate. I think some of those. But in fact, I've seen some second marriages that are just fantastic. Two of the best marriages I know are second marriages. Those marriages that individuals were able to see the things that went wrong in their marriage, their blind spots, relational challenges and to be able to make changes and seek the Lord, start anew with different patterns. Others that didn't take time to reflect and learn, remarried and then had a honeymoon period, then all the relational problems restarted and that second marriage ended as well. So, it takes a lot of intentionality to figure things out, both in choosing a second mate and then also in how you interact with that second marriage.
Q: So if someone is divorced, maybe it starts with self reflection. You said growth and maturity matter. So how do you recommend to self reflect?
The challenge is oftentimes when you're divorced, not everybody, but a lot of folks have frustration toward their ex-spouse and what they did or didn't do during the divorce. All of those things take a lot of time to heal. It's really easy to get dominated by negative feelings and thoughts toward that person. So the big challenge is not to let that person dominate your mental space. And that forgiveness is key because it's really hard to find clarity and define freedom when you haven't forgiven the person that's wronged you. In my in my life when there's somebody that has wronged me that I really haven't forgiven, I still get mad thinking about it's really a barrier to me enjoying life.
It's a barrier to me self reflecting. It's a barrier to me growing. It's a barrier to everything. And I'm still allowing that person to control my life to some degree. So the first key is, forgiveness and grace toward the person that's wronged. You see, "you'll be forgiven to the extent you forgive" Matthew 6:14. And then the self reflection is key because it's rarely a divorce 100 percent one person's fault, zero percent the other.
Q: Are you forgiven from the Lord if you have been divorced?
A: Yes, I say 100 percent on that. Yes, we are all covered in the grace of the Lord. You know that there's nothing that we can do that we cannot be forgiven for. So I hope that is not something that anyone stumbling with. If you're in crisis, and you've accepted Christ as your savior, then I mean, there's no condemnation.
My mentor said "it's like the past can be such a hindrance to the present and the future". We have a Lord of restoration, Lord of grace, a Lord of love, and His love is steadfast and ongoing.
Q: How do you interact with your ex in a faith-based way?
A: How you interact with your ex is just to avoid toxicity. Scripture says "a kind word turns away wrath, a harsh word stirs up anger" Proverbs 15:1. And if one of the two parties is a mature enough to be that kind word that turns away wrath, it avoids that elevator effect in the relationship where the conversation just gets worse and worse. Just tell yourself, I can control how I interact. I can stay gentle, I can stay calm, and I can have self-control. And if that's the case, usually the conversations relationship will settle into a relatively decent spot. It's when neither one has the ability to do that, that communication lacks.
Also when you want to talk the most, don't talk. So don't speak with your ex until the peace of God rules in your heart. So timing is key. I've written two page letters in about two minutes before to reflect my feelings verses saying it directly to the person I am upset with.
Q: How can we protect our children during or after a divorce?
A: It's really important not to talk negatively at all about your ex, to your kids. Just keep them out of those conversations completely. All kids love both of their parents, for better or worse. Kids are so kind and so graceful. And so building up the ex and pointing out all their positives and when the child says something negative about the ex-spouse, because kids love attention, correct the action and tell them positives about that parent.