Challenges, Commitment, Real Couples

3 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Divorced My Wife

silhouette of a man facing the sunset

This isn’t an article by someone who doesn’t understand. I went through with it. I divorced my wife. I filed the papers and walked away from my marriage.

Do you know someone who is thinking about it and feel desperate to understand? Maybe that person is you?

I don’t mean the thought flew by once in a moment of weakness or anger. That’s definitely a red flag, but I’m talking about if divorce comes to mind often or if it seems like it might be a better ending. 

If that’s you, try to remember the day when that thought took root. What was going on? What kind of place were you in mentally and spiritually? Whatever your answer is… go find your calendar or journal and jot down “the beginning of the end.” 

It’s that serious.

Now flip to today’s date and write, “It’s not too late.”

Back then I was unwilling to listen, but here are the things I wish I’d known— or, more realistically, what I wish I’d been willing to hear— before divorcing my wife.

1. Divorce is a car crash

I remember exactly when that word “divorce” got a grip on me. 

I’d been hiding behind lies for as long as I could remember, saying everything was fine, not showing my true self. 

Then, there it was. 

The idea sprung up from the unhealthy ground I’d been tilling in my mind for years. Like most terrible decisions I’ve made, it began with a tiny whisper in my mind. It wasn’t an actual word or phrase but it felt a lot like permission. So, it became my perfect but painful solution.

I love analogies. One of my favorite analogies for divorce is that of a car crash. I recently heard an interviewer ask a very young, successful artist what he planned to do with his new money. Buy houses? Romance women? Collect fast cars? Surprisingly, he responded with a parable about a rich man who pursued happiness and fulfillment through all the worldly things the interviewer had rattled off. The man’s proverbial journey to “true joy” led him, predictably, to always want more. After years of chasing that dangling carrot, he ultimately went too fast and crashed through a guard rail, down a ravine and into a hospital bed. Finally, with a searing clarity that only a near-death experience can bring, the man understood his error. 

The young artist telling the story then explained that he wanted to try to live his life like it was “after the crash.” He didn’t want to chase after what he thought would make him happy only to find himself in the ditch.

That’s how divorce is. It promises happiness, freedom, and relief from the difficulties of marriage— and marriage is hard! But divorce is a car crash. No matter how many stories of successful splits you’ve heard, trust me— it’s violent. 

You can live like it’s after the crash. Because divorce won’t ultimately solve your problem.

2. There’s more going on

I wouldn’t have wanted to read this next paragraph when I was seeking divorce. I had everything packaged neatly and my reasons were very convincing— especially to me. Maybe you’ve thought these same things: “We’ve changed too much. We didn’t know what we were getting into. We married too young. We’d be happier apart.”

Imagine a swan right now. You’re probably picturing an elegant bird effortlessly gliding over still waters and you’d be half right. 

What we don’t often see is the turbulent kicking and thrashing beneath the water that does all the propelling. 

Something is always doing the driving underneath the surface. I don’t know what it is for you, but I wish I would’ve been willing to see that, in my case, it was the idol of freedom and self-pursuit. I needed to believe the narrative I’d created and I wasn’t honest or introspective enough to admit anything different, especially the possibility that I might need to change.

Bold observation: I haven’t met a single couple— where both spouses were committed to God and understood His purpose for marriage— who couldn’t experience restoration. So if you’re floating the idea of anything except a restored marriage, then look beneath the surface to see what’s doing the kicking.

3. Things. Can. Change.

To all those struggling in your marriages right now: Remember that neither you or your spouse are done becoming who you were created to be. 

None of us are. We’re all “gooey in the middle.” Still cooking. Still becoming. 

Things can feel hopeless, I know. The feeling that what you have right now is all there is and all there will be. But where you are right now is not where you will be forever. The things that you think are impossible to reconcile— they aren’t. 

When our 9-month-old wasn’t sleeping through the night, you absolutely could not convince me that he’d grow out of it. My reality was a nightly, never-ending, sleep-deprived Stephen King novel. And yet here I am today with an 11-hour-a-night sleeper.

Similarly, while we were getting divorced, I told my wife that it would never work even if I became a Christian again. And yet, here I am today, re-married to that same woman. Our marriage is so transformed it’s barely recognizable from what it was before. 

So, I ask that you trust me on this. That whispering lie may tell you that you and your spouse are too different… they’ll never make you happy… things will never change. 

But no matter how green the grass looks on the other side, the soil right beneath the broken ground you’re standing on can still grow a garden. Right now it probably just looks like dirt, but a Good Gardener can take that terrible pile and make beautiful things grow.

Have you heard of the The 31-Day Pursuit Challenge?

Every marriage begins with passion, purpose, and pursuit, but few stay that way. That’s why we wrote Husband in Pursuit and Wife in Pursuit Together, they make what we’re calling the 31-Day Pursuit Challenge. Couples are encouraged take the challenge together. We’re already starting to hear stories of transformed marriages! Are you up for the challenge?

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