When walking with women devastated by marital betrayal, the question of whether to divorce inevitably comes up. Outside of our Healing Hope groups, I am often asked, “What percentage of marriages does Hope After Betrayal Ministries save?” The weight of these questions is not lost on me. In fact, it is too great for me to carry. I know the will and heart of God would be that every marriage be whole and healed, a living example of Christ’s love for the church. That is my prayer as well.
The challenge comes, however, when our right to choose is factored in. Much pain and suffering arise from our human desire to be lord of our own life. Having personally teetered for a time between whether to “D” or not to “D,” I understand the challenge. At first, walking away felt like the most logical way to end the excruciating pain. But what about the impact on our two daughters? And ultimately—what did God have to say?
When my husband and I finally sat down with our girls to tell them generally what had happened, their first wide-eyed question was, “Are you getting a divorce?” My heart ached, seeing the fear behind the deeper question, “Are you going to blow my world apart?” I couldn’t lie to them. I said, “Divorce is not our goal, and we are committed to working on our marriage, but I can’t make any guarantees right now. The best thing to do is to pray for us.”
Thankfully, I knew I had to hear from the Lord first. In my case, He asked me to wait and see if my husband was serious about getting better. I’m glad I waited. However, our story is only one example. Having walked with hundreds of women (many married to men who refuse to get help or make any changes), I know each outcome is very different. Some women have clearly heard from the Lord that it’s time to divorce. This is usually the point when some well-meaning person interjects, “But Malachi 2:16 says, ‘God hates divorce.’” To which my heart cries, God also hates sin; however, He loves the sinner.
God gave us situations where divorce is acceptable and understandable. Only the Lord knows what lies in every heart. He is the only Judge. Our flesh often cries out for less than what is best. In my situation, my first reaction was not the best, but I have seen the other side of the coin as well. Women who want to remain married at any cost may be blind to the truth. The covenant has already been broken if a man has chosen himself and his addiction over his wife and family and refuses to change. So the real question is, Can the marriage be repaired? And the answer is, Only if both are willing to do the work. One person can’t repair a relationship alone.
How does a woman know whether to “D” or not to “D”? She must go to the only One who sees the future and has the strength to carry the weight of the choice—Jesus Christ. She must lay down her desire for His. Once a woman has heard from God, she no longer carries the weight of the decision (or any fallout) alone. Sadly, there are too many ready to give their opinions on her choice. We forget another key verse, Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (NIV). I pray the next time someone you know shares their decision to divorce, this is the verse you emulate.
So what percentage of marriages are saved when a woman comes to a Healing Hope group? We don’t track recovered marriages as a measure of success. However, I can confidently say that more marriages are saved than would have been without the committed participation in the group. The greater statistic is that 100 percent of women who reach out for hope and healing in Christ will find it! To help a woman restore her marriage is excellent, but to keep her from losing her faith in God is eternal.