This is a fact check of the article “Is Divorce The Right Answer? 15 Questions Couples Should Ask” by Dr. Angela Bisignano on the Focus on the Family website.

WARNING: This article has 5 major factual errors in it. The author is wrong about many of her claims. She misquotes researchers or misrepresents their views. How do I know? I looked up the researchers she mentioned and checked them.


In RED TYPE is a fact-checking critique and analysis of this article. The black type is the original article itself. This article is misleading and inaccurate.  IF YOU ARE AN ABUSE VICTIM, please be warned, this is not a safe article. 

 

See excerpts of the article below. Copyright law in the U.S. permits quotes of articles in order do critiques and fact checks. Here's the LINK to the full blog post on the Focus on the Family website.

 

Here's how the article starts, with a couple, Mike and Sandy, coming to see Dr. Angela Bisignano for marriage counseling because their marriage is in trouble.

IS DIVORCE THE RIGHT ANSWER? 15 QUESTIONS COUPLES SHOULD ASK

  • BY DR. ANGELA BISIGNANO
  • AUGUST 17, 2020

Mike and Sandy* came to see me for marriage therapy. They struggled with one of the most challenging questions a married couple can ask: Is divorce the right answer?  It’s a high-stakes question — on par with the first question a couple must answer: Should we get married? Both issues require life-changing solutions. Like the decision to marry, couples need to realize that others’ lives — especially their children – will be affected. So, before saying yes to a divorce, a couple should always take a serious look at critical questions that can guide them in making sound emotional, psychological and spiritual decisions.

 

According to professional guidelines the first step is to ask basic intake questions. Why? Because according to the Gottman Institute, 50% of the couples who come for marriage counseling have experienced some violence whether they told you or not, and if there's been abuse, it is unethical to do couples counseling with them.   https://www.gottman.com/blog/v-is-for-violence/ A lot of naive, well-meaning therapists forget this.

 

 

The first time I meet couples for a therapy session, I ask them to tell me the story of their relationship and ask questions like, “Where did you meet?” “What attracted you to each other?” and “When did you decide to get married?” Couples usually lean into the questions about their story, relax a little and take a stroll down memory lane.

 

Those aren't the typical first questions therapists ask according to the professional websites. They normally ask, "What brings you here today?" and "Have you ever seen a counselor before?" "What do you expect from the counseling process?" And other questions.  

 

Hearing their story gives the three of us a reference point and a context for their current situation.

 

No, actually telling stories about how they met says nothing about what's happening now in the current situation. For many domestic violence victims, the abuse starts after the wedding, well after they met. 

Conservative pro-family pro-church researchers DeRose, Johnson and Wang, (Johnson is from Baylor University, the largest Baptist university in the world, and Wang is with the pro-family conservative organization Institute for Family Studies) studied intimate partner violence in deeply religious couples in 11 countries, including the U.S. They found that in the U.S. nearly 1 in 4 religious couples reported interpersonal violence in their current relationship (p. 36-37). If nearly 1 in 4 Christian couples have abuse going on in their relationship, shouldn't a good therapist look into that first? 

 

 

I also want the couple to remember that at one time, the relationship was good. Marriage was good. Life was full of hope.

 

Why? Any licensed psychologist must know how much abuse and infidelity and addiction there is. That may be why they came in. No doubt the beginning of the relationship was good and full of hope. That's why they married. Ignoring the presenting problems that brought them might be unethical if there are serious problems in the relationship. Researchers have found that about half of divorces in the U.S. are for very serious things: a pattern of sexual immorality, domestic violence, chronic emotional abuse, life altering addictions, severe indifference or neglect.

Also, those who've dealt with abused spouses a long time, know that abused spouses often don’t realize they are being abused. Those beleaguered people are researching articles like this for help when they are confused and still in that place of trying to placate the abusive spouse and fix their marriage. They might need some testing to see if what they are experiencing is normal or genuinely abuse.

 

Mike and Sandy never thought they would divorce. Now, they found themselves wondering if a divorce would make things better. But Mike couldn’t get away from the question that haunted him: “What does God desire?”

 

We know what God desires: he desires marriages that are loving, caring, undefiled, and faithful. We know  God gave divorce as a way of bringing relief to those who were in a marriage that was not that way.  Jesus said divorce was given due to hardheartedness.  And, God commanded divorce three times in Scripture, and condoned it in several others. God Himself divorced Israel and never took her back (Jeremiah 3:8).

 

Few life experiences are as heart-wrenching as a divorce. So, if you’re wondering if divorce is the right answer, consider these 15 questions.

 

 

Question 1: Do you and your spouse communicate in a respectful, affirming way?

If you answered “no,” then it’s time to change how you communicate with your spouse. Many people have difficulty sharing their feelings and needs. Suppose couples “go through the motions” without honest communications. In that case, they turn away from each other, disconnect emotionally, and let negative thoughts and feelings override positive ones.

But what if being honest isn't safe? What if being honest will get you punished? What if you're disconnecting because your spouse rapes you?

 

It can be challenging to move from poor to healthy communication — especially if you’ve never learned how to talk to your spouse. A skilled relationship expert can help you and your spouse learn how to turn toward each other, empathize and understand the others’ feelings and needs.

 

Yes, if poor communication skills are the biggest problem, then yes, this is a good step. It is really important to teach these basics to couples who never learned that. But let's not think that communication and problem-solving skills will fix the destructive issues.

 

 

Question 2: Do you try to resolve every conflict in your marriage?

If you answered “yes,” you have set yourself up to fail.

 

Dr. John Gottman is one of America’s top researchers on relationships. One of his fundamental discoveries is that nearly 70% of relationship problems are perpetual.

 

That's a misquote. That's not what Gottman's website said. Their article said, "Sixty-nine percent of relationship conflict is about perpetual problems." That's not the same.

 

 

They keep coming up! In fact, fighting couples may be looking for a solution that does not exist.

 

Gottman doesn't say that "a solution does not exist." 

 

 

If you and your spouse have the same argument over and over, you may find yourself asking, Is divorce the right answer? Maybe there is a better way to address your struggles. Instead of defaulting to divorce questions, I challenge you to make this statement the new goal of your discussions: I want us to learn to manage this respectfully. Such a simple declaration can make a profound difference. Couples can learn to talk about conflicts with compassion, acceptance and an understanding that it’s OK to disagree.

 

The fact that they have stayed married and have gone to therapy indicates that divorce was NOT their default. At least one person in this couple has tried hard.

 

Abusive and deceitful people need to work on themselves to have better character and to stop blaming their marriage-destroying sin on their spouse. They aren't ready to be in couple's counseling until they take responsibility for their own destructive actions and entitled attitudes. They must acknowledge publicly the harm they caused.  An abuser does not value their spouse's opinions. For them it's "my way or the highway."

A counselor cannot do couples therapy where there's abuse or cheating. It's unethical. The abuser/cheater/addict likely has contempt for their partner, not respect. They like taking advantage of them. There is no compassion, acceptance, understanding, or feeling OK to disagree.

 

Couples should also remember there is usually a significant reason for the disagreement. One spouse (or both) may be dealing with a deeply held position, a dream (ideal) or other background issues. Uncovering this issue may help a couple reach a healthy compromise.

 

This may be true. But it also may be that the abusive spouse's "deeply held position" is "my way or the highway, I'm right, you're wrong." How do you compromise? Poor therapists just end up pressuring the vulnerable spouse to give in even more.

Most committed Christians who are mature people didn't have unrealistic dreams. They didn't expect champagne and roses. They expected that marriage would involve give and take. They expected ups and downs. They are not merely "disappointed" by their marriage. In destructive marriages, the relationship has started taking a toll on their mental and physical health.

 

Question 3: Do you believe your marriage is all that it can become … or are you just tired of trying?

Six years. That’s how long most couples struggle before finally making an appointment with a counselor to ask if divorce is the right answer to their situation? Many suffer for decades — drowning in poor communication patterns, unhealthy behaviors, and emotional or physical disconnect before seeking help or filing for divorce. They arrive at the counselor’s or attorney’s office exhausted and think they’ve tried everything but feel nothing has worked.

 

It’s time to take an honest look at your marriage. Do you and your spouse struggle in one (or more) of these areas:

 

  • Communication.
  • Infidelity — emotional or physical.
  • Addiction.
  • Disconnect — emotional or physical.
  • Managing conflict.
  • Thinking negatively about your spouse. - This is a symptom, not the problem.
  • Growing in different directions.
  • Resentment or bitterness. - This is a symptom, not the problem.
  • Loneliness. - This is a symptom, not the problem.

If you answered “yes” to any of these issues, consider marriage therapy with a Christian counselor.

 

Where are the other big reasons for divorce in the list?

    • Where is physical violence?
    • Where is emotional abuse?
    • Where is "being a control freak"?
    • Where is "neglect of duty" or "failure to provide?"
    • Where is financial fraud?

It is important to separate out the dangerous situations and recommend individual therapy. That is the ethical thing to do. As mentioned before, researchers have found that about half of divorces in the U.S. are for very serious things: a pattern of sexual immorality, domestic violence, chronic emotional abuse, life altering addictions, severe indifference or neglect.

 

Question 4: How have you contributed to the problem and the solution?

Many couples fall into the blame game: pointing fingers at their spouse instead of taking an honest self-inventory.

 

No, it's abusers and cheaters who do the blame game. And they don't "fall" into it. It's something they do routinely. Don't excuse their behavior by suggesting they passively "fall" into intimidating rage or chronic lying or reckless behavior or serial infidelity or child porn. When you excuse them, you play into their manipulation. They want a therapist who downplays their choices and helps them to transfer the responsibility for their marriage-endangering sin onto their spouse. And that invested spouse is often conscientious. They likely have self-doubt and often take a self-inventory and blame themselves (usually it's a wife, but sometimes a husband). Abusers lack remorse. They aren't up at night feeling guilty before the Lord. 

 

We all have blind spots. And we can only find them if we take time to reflect on the things we’ve done that contribute to our marriage’s unhappiness. In other words, put the blame game in a timeout and do some self-reflection:

 

This would be good advice if it were clear that there was no abuse, cheating, addictions, or negligence of duty going on. But so far, this article doesn't even acknowledge those serious issues exist. By assuming there's nothing major going on, this suggestion is dangerous. It is mutualizing marital abuse and putting equal blame on the possible victim. Abusers abuse because they like to do what they want without much regard for the safety and wellbeing of those around them. Not all marriage problems are 50/50.

 

Question 5: Are issues outside your marriage making you unhappy?

Mike and Sandy’s marriage changed for the better when medical tests showed Sandy had a thyroid condition. Her condition caused irritability, weight gain, frustration and fatigue. Once she started taking thyroid medication, her health improved, and so did her marriage. If you of your spouse are wondering whether divorce is the right answer, it may help to first seek medical or psychological assistance. Consider medical aid for:

 

  • Mental health issues. - we know that trauma victims develop mental and physical health issues, and often these reduce or go away after a life-saving divorce.  A good book is The Body Keeps the Score written by one of the top experts in this field, psychiatrist Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. He was brought up in a devout  Christian home.
  • Physical health issues.
  • Stresses of life.
  • Overwork.
  • Sleep deprivation. - Sleep deprivation due to being awakened by your spouse for no reason is a form of psychological abuse. It's considered torture by the Geneva Convention.

 

This would have been a great place to discuss external stressors (these ones in Question 5) versus character stressors due to the selfish personality traits.

 

Question 6: Do you know what makes a healthy marriage?

For the last 40 years, Gottman has conducted scientific studies of couples to answer the question, “Do healthy marriages share similar characteristics?”

 

We’ve already discussed one similarity: Healthy marriages learn to manage conflict successfully.

 

But according to Gottman, a second — and equally important characteristic — is that friendship and trust are at the heart of healthy marriages.

 

Friendship and trust have eroded in a marriage where one is abusive or sexually immoral. You can't just demand that the betrayed spouse pretend there is friendship and trust when they walk on eggshells and live in anxiety of what their spouse will do next. There is NO BASIS FOR FRIENDSHIP OR TRUST. And no healthy person wants to be close to someone who is not safe. People need to set boundaries to keep safe around destructive people.

 

Gottman’s findings echo another key source of relationship knowledge: The Bible. Theologian Timothy Keller states that the Bible begins with the premise that marriage is friendship.

 

In his book The Meaning of Marriage, Keller explains that when God brought Eve to Adam, He brought him not just a lover, but “the friend his heart had been seeking.” The Bible takes the concept of a husband-wife friendship even deeper. Genesis 2:18 shows God’s design for a woman: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. It’s important to take an in-depth look at the word “helper.”

 

In the English language, “helper” often implies someone with a lack of skill or strength. In the Hebrew language (the original text), the word “helper” means just the opposite. The Hebrew text says God made an ezer kenegdo — a helpmeet. The term ezer is used roughly 20 times in the Bible. It often refers to God as our “helper.” Psalm 121:1-2 says this: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” Seen in this context, the word “helper,” takes on a new meaning. God is not unskilled, nor is He weak. God did not make the woman as a “helper” in the English sense of the word. He made her an ally. Someone with equal strength manifested in different ways than in the man.

 

A healthy marriage then is one in which the husband and wife are allies — two individuals working toward a common goal.

 

Here's what the author doesn't seems to understand: with an abuser, they do want you to work toward one common goal. THE GOAL OF CONTROLLING YOU.

 

If you and your spouse are constantly asking if divorce is the right answer, then it becomes essential to stop viewing each other as the enemy and start seeing each other as allies.

 

Many homes are not safe. If a spouse decided to treat you as an enemy, and looks for excuses to be mean or neglectful to you, it's game over. It's very likely that your spouse treats everyone else, at work, the neighborhood, and at church, quite well.

 

Often, the realization that you are both working toward a common goal — a relationship, a family — helps renew the friendship that is desperately needed to weather life’s storms.

 

Yes, it should work that way but in about half of the marriages that ended in divorce, it didn't.

 

Question 7: Do you know that the divorce rate isn’t as high as you’ve been told?

Social researcher Shaunti Feldhahn challenges the conventional wisdom that 50% of American marriages will end in divorce. Through a rigorous, eight-year study, Feldhahn found “72% of those who have ever been married are still married to their first spouse.” Based on her research, Feldhahn believes the U.S. divorce rate may be as low as 20 to 25%!

 

I think the author is using these figures to suggest that most marriages will eventually get better if you stay, or that marriages today are better than we were told, or they have gotten better and no one is admitting this.

By the way, the pro-marriage conservative research organization Institute for Family Studies did an article on this topic, suggesting that the rate is about 42%. They mentioned Shaunti Feldhahn in their article, and said she's not a social scientist and they don't believe her figures.

 

Much like Feldhahn, Philip Cohen, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, analyzed U.S. divorce trends and discovered divorce rates dropped 21% between 2008 and 2017.

 

Angela doesn't know much about Cohen. Cohen doesn't agree with Feldhahn or practically anything in this article. He is one of the top family demographers in the U.S. He watches domestic violence trends, and his findings show that marriages can be very dangerous.  He doesn't think the divorce rate is 20-25%  He says it's 47%. He's even tweeted about it. 

 

U.S. Divorce Rate is 47% per demographer Philiip N. Cohen, University of Maryland

Those who are familiar with Philip N. Cohen's work know that the divorce decline has nothing to do with marriages in America becoming stable by merely staying and trying harder.  Here's are the THREE factors Cohen attributes the divorce decline to:

“The overall drop has been driven entirely by younger women,” Cohen writes. The study points out that just-married women are now 'more likely to be in their first marriages, more likely to have B.A. degrees or higher education, less likely to be under age 25, and less likely to have [their] own children in the household',all factors Cohen suggests might affect the risk of divorce."

So Philip N. Cohen says the reason divorce rates are going down is because the young women who are marrying today (Millennials, for example) are waiting longer to marry: they are older and often have more education and later childbearing. Those are "protective characteristics," he says. See page 5, first paragraph, of the paper Bisignano linked above.

But the author just keeps digging herself into a hole...

 

The decline may be the result of adults choosing to live together rather than marry; however, Cohen suggests that the evidence points toward a continued decline in divorce and a progression toward more stable marriages. So if you’re wondering if divorce is the right answer, social science suggests that it’s possible to save your marriage.

Angela is misleading. I'm not sure about the logic she's using but I think she's trying to argue that marriages magically get more stable if you are patient and stay. That's not true in 1 in 3 miserable long-term marriages, according to the conservative pro-family researcher, Dr. Linda Waite. 

In fact, if Angela really were up to date on pro-family research, she'd know that the marriages of low-income and low-education people are LESS STABLE. Their divorce rate has gone up. Even conservative pro-marriage research organizations, such as Institute for Family Studies and National Marriage Project, discuss this. It's a major problem in the U.S. for those of us who value marriage.

 

Question 8: Do you and your spouse regularly attend church together?

In their publication “Religious Influences on the Risk of Marital Dissolution,” researchers from the University of Texas found church attendance lowers the risk of divorce.

 

Angela is confusing causation and correlation. That's not what the researchers from University of Texas, Austin, found. Below in red is the genuine quote from those researchers.

 

Margaret Vaaler, Christopher Ellison and Daniel Powers examined characteristics of nearly 3,000 first-time married couples. Their findings showed the risk of divorce is substantially lower for couples who regularly attend church together.

 

It's a bit more complex that that. For example, Vaaler, Ellison, and Powers found that those husbands who attended church more than their wives, had a HIGHER divorce rate. And wives who were more theologically conservative than their husbands had a HIGHER divorce rate too. p. 917 (emphasis mine)

"Results indicated that although each partner’s religious attendance bore a modest relationship to marital dissolution, the risk of divorce was lower if husbands had conservative theological beliefs and when both partners belonged to mainline Protestant denominations. Conversely, the risk of divorce was elevated if husbands attended services more frequently than their wives and if wives were more theologically conservative than their husbands."

The study also finds that “persons who hold conservative theological beliefs about the Bible may be less likely to separate or divorce over time.” The survey results are consistent with the adage, “The family who prays together stays together.”

 

Yes, Vaaler, Ellison, and Powers did indeed say that. (Notice they used the phrase "may be less likely") But if Angela had read that whole paragraph not just that sentence on p. 930, she would see that the authors also said that the reduced divorce rate is not necessarily due to their religious beliefs. It may just be the effect of two people being similar and having the same friends and getting support through congregational resources. Here's the line Angela missed.

"Such a result may reflect the long-term benefits of ideological and lifestyle similarity among partners or the consistency and homogeneity of their social networks or their access to congregational resources that could bolster marital bonds, for example, specific support programs or pastoral counseling. It is conceivable that these couples could also incur higher social costs (e.g., stigma, social awkwardness) that could deter or delay marital dissolution." p. 930

In other words, the researchers suggest that the stigma of divorce in our churches may dissuade abused wives (or husbands) from getting the divorce they needed to save their life and sanity. The fear of being judged and gossiped about keep people in dangerous marriages.

 

 

 

Question 9: Do you know what the Scriptures say about marriage and divorce?

The Bible is clear that God designed marriage to be a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman. A spiritual union takes place in a marriage. The Apostle Paul describes it as a “profound mystery” (Ephesians 5:31-32). Timothy Keller explains it as an example of God’s relationship with His people and Christ’s love for the church.

 

Angela is misquoting what Paul said. Paul did not say human marriage was a profound mystery. Rather he said, the relationship between Christ and the church is a profound mystery. The exact quote of verse 32 (NASB) reads: "This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church."

 

Are there grounds for leaving a marriage, for divorce? In the Bible, it’s clear God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).

 

There's no doubt that God isn't a big fan of divorce, but he hates treachery and abuse and unfaithfulness more. He allowed the hapless spouses to escape from their shamelessly abusive spouses so they and their children could finally find peace and safety. And he commanded divorce three times in the Bible.

 

It’s important to note that this verse does not say that God hates divorced people. But His heart breaks when He sees the pain caused by divorced. It was never a part of His plan.

 

Malachi 2:16 was interpreted as "God hates divorce" for only 385 years. Prior to that period, it was interpreted as an anti-abuse verse. For example, the translators Jerome and John Wycliffe, and Reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin all viewed it as an anti-abuse verse. None of them translated it as "God hates divorce." And no new major Bible translation since 1996 does either. Not the NIV 2011 update, not the ESV, not the CSB.

 

 

So, what is God’s plan for marriage? In Matthew 19:1-9, Jesus talks to religious leaders about marriage and divorce.

 

The Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He [Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let not man separate.” They [the Pharisees] said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

 

Jesus explicitly said adultery was grounds for divorce when the religious leaders were testing him. And he never retracted Exodus 21:10-11 saying that abuse and neglect are grounds. And he never told his followers to stop giving wives "certificates of divorce" that allowed them to remarry. There's an excellent 7-minute video that explains this story of  Jesus and the Pharisees who were trying to trap him.

 

1 Corinthians 7:15 gives one additional reason for divorce. The apostle Paul cites willful desertion or abandonment. In such a case, the wronged spouse “is not enslaved.” However, Paul’s exception applies only to an unbeliever leaving or abandoning a believing spouse, not to a believer’s actions.

 

Well, no, abandonment by a believer was also valid grounds for divorce too. Abandonment and neglect have always had been valid reasons for divorce in the Bible. 2 Timothy 5:8 tells us that a believer who doesn't care for his family is worse than an unbeliever.

 

Choosing to divorce should never be easy or considered without input from wise counsel and a spiritual community. If an unfaithful spouse shows no prospect of repentance or refuses offers of help and restoration, divorce is permissible. However, God never intended divorce to be the answer.

 

God did intend divorce to be the answer! Jesus said it was given for the hardness of people's hearts. Divorce is precisely God's answer to abusive one-sided covenants. It is the answer he, Himself, chose in His covenant with faithless Israel, as he says in Jeremiah 3:8.  God absolutely intended divorce to be the answer to these situations.

 

God gave divorce and even commanded it in three cases in the Bible. Jesus said divorce was given exactly for this reason, due to the hardness of a person's heart. They no longer care how they treat you.

 

Abuse and addictions are valid biblical grounds for divorce as these Bible passages show. And we are not to associate with abusers or addicts, not even eat with them. For example:

"But actually, I wrote you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister and is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person." — 1 Corinthians 5:11 CSB

Also, as a man in my private Facebook group for divorced Christians said,

I really dislike the term "permissible." Permissible sounds as though it is grudgingly permitted but never the best choice. However, that does not align with what the Bible says... and that wording often keeps abused spouses needlessly enslaved in toxic marriages. Instead, let's say, "... divorce may be the best and most godly choice."

 

Question 10: Are you safe in your marriage?

The Bible releases a spouse from the marriage bond under limited circumstances: sexual immorality and abandonment. (No, sorry, Ex 21:10-11 commands divorce for physical and emotional neglect.) But what about spouses who suffer abuse? What does the Bible say to a woman married to a physically abusive man? Or the husband of an out-of-control substance abuser? Or worse, a spouse married to someone with violent or criminal intentions? Does the Bible say that spouses must stay in an abusive marriage?

 

Physical abuse is unacceptable. If you — or your children — suffer physical abuse, get to safety.

 

Well, I'm glad the author, Bisignano, finally said that.

But it's not just physical abuse that destroys lives. Emotionally manipulated, coerced, and  tormented spouses often wish their spouse would just hit them so there was proof to the world of what is going on behind closed doors. ... horrifying as that is. Sometimes they wish for death because they read articles like this and feel they are trapped forever. They are driven into despair, depression and suicidal ideation.  Divorce saves lives in these instances.

The Harvard Quarterly Journal of Economics 2006 shows evidence that divorce saves lives:

When “no fault” divorce laws started passing one state at a time, starting with Governor Ronald Reagan in California in 1969, researchers wanted to see the effect. In states that passed unilateral no-fault divorce, they observed the suicide rate for wives drop 8-16%. The domestic violence rate by and against both men and women dropped 30%. The homicide rate of women murdered by an intimate dropped 10%. —Stevenson and Wolfers, “Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics (Feb. 2006): 267, 286.

Jesus healed on the Sabbath and made the religious leaders angry. He was saving lives.

God intended marriage to be a blessing. His design never included abuse, violence or physical pain. Even emotional abuse — while it does not leave external marks — can bruise a person’s heart, mind and soul. Victims often feel helpless, hopeless, depressed or suicidal.

 

This is the first time in the article that the author has shown any empathy.

 

If you’re in an abusive relationship, get help right away. Proverbs 22:3 tells us that “the prudent sees danger and hides himself.” In such a case, the purpose of separation is for safety. The intent should be that the wayward spouse seeks help and repents so that the relationship is healed and the marriage made pleasing to God. But if the abusive spouse is unrepentant and the other spouse remains in danger, reconciliation may never be possible.

 

I'm glad Angela realizes this. Notice how she stops short of saying in this situation divorce may be the best answer. Why? Clearly that is the logical conclusion. So, why is it so hard for her to say so? Maybe because she believes her previous statement, that "God never intended divorce to be the answer"... which is a patently false statement.

And, let's talk about repentance. What if the abuser claims to be repentant and puts on a good tearful show in front of others, but never changes his attitude of entitlement and just gets better at hiding it? This happens a lot.

 

Question 11: Do you understand the impact divorce will make on your children and grandchildren?

Anyone who has experienced a divorce knows that its effects continue for decades. Divorce hits like a tornado and leaves a trail of devastation and heartache. Among the victims are innocent children who must deal with the destruction for years to come.

 

Angela is giving a half-truth. There is not one top family researcher who will claim that divorce is universally detrimental to children. See below for dozens of quotes from the top researchers. 

 

Jane Anderson is a retired clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. Anderson spent nearly 30 years studying the connection between family structure and children’s health. Her findings show that “with the exception of parents faced with unresolvable marital violence, children fare better when parents work at maintaining the marriage.”

 

 

Even Jane Anderson admitted on the second page of her policy paper, "Children who are removed from the most dysfunctional environments are more likely to do better after the divorce" (p. 379).

It doesn't appear that many pro-marriage research organizations endorse (or even mention) Jane Anderson or her policy paper.  Not the Institute for Family Studies, not National Marriage Project, not any of the big pro-family organizations. Focus on the Family doesn't quote Anderson in any of their hundreds of webpages. Conservative pro-marriage policy organization Family Research Council and Heritage Foundation and Institute for Family Values don't mention her or her paper. I found only one mention of her, and that was by a group that's listed as a hate group. So...she's probably not a good choice as a source.

 

The late psychologist Mavis Hetherington also studied the effect of divorce on children. While divorce is painful for adults, it affects children more, especially in the post-divorce years. Children may be at risk of displaying emotional, psychological and behavioral problems.

 

I have that study, and I don't see that claim. Maybe I missed it. What is the exact quote and page? 

Dr. E. Mavis Hetherington found that about 2-in-10 kids from divorced homes (and 1-in-10 kids from two-parent married homes) had serious longterm emotional, psychological, or social problems. The late Dr. Mavis Hetherington studied 1,400 families and followed them for 30 years. No one can claim that two-parent married homes guarantee one's children will be free from serious problems.

Here's what Hetherington said: (Emphasis mine.)

“In the short run, divorce is brutally painful to a child. But its negative long-term effects have been exaggerated…“ "Twenty-five percent of youths from divorced families in comparison to 10 percent from non-divorced families did have serious social, emotional, or psychological problems. But most of the young men and women from [the study] looked a lot like their contemporaries from non-divorced homes. Although they looked back on their parents’ breakup as a painful experience, most were successfully going about the chief tasks of young adulthood: establishing careers, creating intimate relationships, building meaningful lives for themselves.” —E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly, For Better or For Worse (New York: WW Norton & Company, 2002), p. 7

"...the big headline in my data is that 80 percent of children from divorced homes eventually are able to adapt to their new life and become reasonably well adjusted.... However coming from a non-divorced family did not always protect against growing into a troubled young adult. Ten percent of youths from non-divorced families, compared to 20 percent in divorce and remarried families were troubled." —E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly, For Better or For Worse (New York: WW Norton & Company, 2002), p. 228   

On the next page of her book (p. 229), she went on to talk about the 20 percent who were troubled, writing: "A piece of good news about our youths was that their antisocial behavior declined as they matured."

 

 

Children of divorce may also suffer attachment issues. Resiliency and protective factors can influence outcomes following the divorce. Still, we cannot predict which children will fare better than others. Because a child’s future is at stake, spouses must ask — and answer — the question: Are you willing to take the chance with your child? No matter how parents attempt to “spin” the issue, divorce is devastating for many children and leaves life-long emotional, psychological and spiritual scars.

 

Bisignano is giving another half-truth. Thanks to the past 30 years of research we have evidence that kids likely will be better off after divorce if the home was highly toxic.  

These are the major family researchers quoted by Focus on the Family: Dr. Paul Amato, Dr. Alan Booth, Dr. Andrew Cherlin, Dr. Laura Spencer Loomis, Dr. Sara McLanahan, and Dr. Mavis Hetherington. But these researchers don't suggest all divorce is tragic for kids, at least not when the home has high conflict. Here are their conclusions.

Quote A: Amato, Loomis and Booth

“Our results show that if conflict between parents is relatively high, offspring are better off in early adulthood if their parents divorced than if they remained married.” — Paul Amato, Laura Spencer Loomis, Alan Booth, "Parental Divorce, Marital Conflict, and Offspring Well-being during Early Adulthood, 1995p. 895

Quote B: Amato, Loomis and Booth

"This result is consistent with the notion, advanced by a number of observers, that children are better off in divorced single-parent families than in two-parent families marked by high levels of discord..." — Paul Amato, Laura Spencer Loomis, Alan Booth, "Parental Divorce, Marital Conflict, and Offspring Well-being during Early Adulthood, 1995, p. 911

Quote C: Sara McLanahan  McLanahan is known for her book in 1997 about the poor outcomes of kids brought up by single parents. But 15 years later she concluded this:

"We have long known that while the average effect of divorce is negative, for some families it may actually improve family functioning and child well-being. Work by Amato (1993), for example, shows that in families with high levels of conflict, divorce improves child outcomes. More recently, Jaffee et al. (2003) have found that children are better off not seeing their fathers in cases where these men are violent or antisocial." — Sara McLanahan and Elizabeth Thomson, Reflections on “Family Structure and Child Well-Being: Economic Resources vs. Parental Socialization,” Social Forces 91(1) 45–53, September 2012

Quote D: Dr. Andrew Cherlin  who is often quoted in Focus on the Family articles. But he says that many kids develop behavior problems from the toxic home, long before the divorce. Their issues can't be blamed 100% on the divorce itself.

"...part of the seeming effect of parental divorce on adults is a result of factors that were present before the parents’ marriages dissolved."  (p. 2)

"It is likely that, in many cases, elevated behavior problems at [age] 7 were a reaction to other sources of stress in the family such as continual marital conflict, substance abuse, or violence..." (p. 28)

—Andrew Cherlin, Johns Hopkins

Cherlin, Chase-Lansdale, McRae, Effects of Divorce on Mental Health Through the Life Course, 1997, p. 2, 28

 

In addition to the findings by Anderson and Hetherington, researcher Judith Wallerstein also studied the long-term effects of divorce. Wallerstein studied families over 25 years and determined that divorce may leave lasting effects from which children may never fully recover.

 

 

Angela didn't read Dr. Judith Wallerstein's books very carefully. Wallerstein found that 7 in 10 kids of divorce turned out fine.

 

Wallerstein found that 7 in 10 children of divorce in her study turned out average, very well, or outstanding. Far from concluding that children are "destroyed by divorce," Wallerstein found that most were doing well in life.

“At the twenty-five-year follow-up we found that 30 percent of the participants in our study were doing poorly, with functioning significantly impaired and below average. Thirty-four percent were in the average range, and 36 percent were doing very well to outstanding in all areas of their life tasks." —Judith S. Wallerstein, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce (New York: Hyperion, 2000), p. 333

Quote 1: Wallerstein

“I am not against divorce. How could I be? I’ve seen more examples of wretched, demeaning, and abusive marriage than most of my colleagues. I’m keenly aware of the suffering… I’m also aware that for many parents the decision to divorce is the most difficult decision in their lives; they cry many a night before taking such a drastic step. —Judith S. Wallerstein, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce (New York: Hyperion, 2000), p. xxxix

Quote 2: Wallerstein

“Children raised in extremely unhappy or violent intact homes face misery in childhood and tragic challenges in adulthood.” —Judith S. Wallerstein, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce (New York: Hyperion, 2000), p. 300.

Quote 3: Wallerstein

“And I am, of course, aware of the many voices on the radio, on television, and in certain… religious circles that say divorce is sinful… But I don’t know of any research, mine included, that says divorce is universally detrimental to children.” —Judith S. Wallerstein, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce (New York: Hyperion, 2000), p. xxxix

Quote 4: Wallerstein

“Many judges who deal with such families do not understand that merely witnessing violence is harmful to children; the images are forever etched into their brains. Even a single episode of violence is long remembered in detail. In fact there is accumulating scientific evidence that witnessing violence or being abused physically or verbally literally alters brain development resulting in a hyperactive emotional system.” —Judith S. Wallerstein, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce (New York: Hyperion, 2000), p. 90

Quote 5: Wallerstein   On the first page of Judith Wallerstein’s book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, she writes,

“On the positive side, many young adults who weather their parents' divorce are extremely successful in their own careers, having learned how to be independent, resourceful, and flexible…. they are decent, caring adults who manage to build good marriages in spite of their fears.” p. xiii

Quote 6: Wallerstein   In fact, by 1989, Wallerstein was already saying that divorce was a rational solution to a bad marriage. And notice that she doesn't limit it to physical abuse. (Emphasis mine.)

Although our overall findings are troubling and serious, we should not point the finger of blame at divorce per se. Indeed divorce is often the only rational solution to a bad marriage. When people ask if they should stay for the sake of the children, I have to say, “Of course not." All our evidence shows that children turn out less well-adjusted when exposed to open conflict, where parents terrorize or strike one another, than do children from divorced families.” —Dr. Judith Wallerstein, Second Chances: Men, Women and Children, A Decade after Divorce, p. 321-322  (Originally published 1989. Referenced Kindle edition, 2018)

Quote 7: Wallerstein Wallerstein didn't want people to stay in a cruel, demeaning, or intensely lonely marriage "just for the kids":

But for many other people, divorce is the best solution, and staying married "for the sake of the children" (as it is so often stated) is not the wiser path. When a marriage is cruel, demeaning, or intensely lonely, divorce opens new opportunities to build a better life. The details of such unhappy marriages are often shocking. I met one couple who had not talked to each other in three years; they just passed notes back and forth. One man went to bed fully clothed every night for years, sending a not so subtle message to his wife beside him in the bed. Others brought lovers into the home when the spouse was away. In some marriages, in-laws invaded the home at all hours, leading one man to say, “She was never mine!" —Dr. Judith Wallerstein, Second Chances: Men, Women and Children, A Decade after Divorce, p. xxxiv (Originally published 1989. Referenced Kindle edition, 2018)

Quote 8: Wallerstein   In 1989, Wallerstein mentioned the lack of comparison studies between unhappy families and divorced families. But in the 1990s, such studies became available and the gave evidence of the damage done to kids who are brought up in these distressed homes. She felt divorce was better for kids in these cases.

“And while we lack systematic studies comparing unhappily married families and divorced families, I do know that it is not useful to provide children with a model of adult behavior that avoids problem solving and that stresses martyrdom, violence, or apathyA divorce undertaken thoughtfully and realistically can teach children how to confront serious life problems with compassion, wisdom, and appropriate action." —Dr. Judith Wallerstein, Second Chances: Men, Women and Children, A Decade after Divorce, p. 322 (Originally published 1989. Referenced Kindle edition, 2018)

Quote 9: Wallerstein  In a PBS interview in 2000, Judith Wallerstein admitted to being shocked by the percentage of horrible U.S. marriages. But by then we already knew that about half of divorces are for very serious reasons.

“In a PBS interview in 2000, [Wallerstein] said, “It’s hard for me to believe that 45 percent of marriages are so bad that they really need to divorce, and that’s what’s happening in this country.”  —Concerned Women for America, June 22, 2012, retrieved 10/29/2020 https://concernedwomen.org/judith-s-wallerstein-divorce-analyst-dies-at-age-90/

Quote 10: Wallerstein In 2003, Judith Wallerstein authored another book on kids and divorce. When asked when is the “best” time to divorce, she wrote (emphasis mine):

“The trouble is, there’s no simple answer… If there’s chronic violence at home, the answer is ‘the sooner the better,’ unrelated to the age of your child. By violence I mean physical attack—hitting, kicking, throwing objects—or chronic threats of physical violence. Exposure to violence has serious consequences for a child’s development that may last well into adulthood. They fear for your safety. They fear for themselves and their siblings. If there’s repeated high conflict in your marriage, accompanied by yelling, screaming, and pounding the table, then I’d also say the sooner the better... In some high-conflict homes, serious differences between the partners are a recurrent theme in everyday life.”—Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee, What About the Kids? (New York: Hachette Books, 2010), pp. 127-128.

 

Spouses asking if divorce is the answer should consider: Do we fully understand — and take responsibility for — the lasting damage divorce causes our children and grandchildren?

 

Angela Bisignano is using manipulation, fear, guilt, and obligation here. The reality is, for more than 20 years, researchers have found that on average it was better for the children when their parents divorced rather than staying in a highly toxic home.

Is Angela's advice here safe?

Will Dr. Angela Bisignano pay for your kids' therapy, or will she offer you free sessions herself, if you follow her advice and experience injury? Will she ever take responsibility for writing this misleading article?

No doubt thousands of abused spouses have read this article and have been driven into despair and depression and possibly a few even to suicide. Some may have been murdered due to articles like this that tell them they cannot leave without disappointing God and destroying their kids. That's what happens when you misquote researchers and tell people they are trapped in bondage for the rest of their lives.

 

Question 12: Are you ready for the long-term financial challenges caused by divorce?

Linda Waite, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago, has studied the financial consequences of divorce. In her book, The Case for Marriage, Waite shows that couples can work together to build wealth, but after a divorce, there is no mutual support. For example, two households cost more to run. Even if finances are distributed evenly, the standard of living almost always drops.

 

Waite's book came out in 2000, and it suggested that women would struggle financially after divorce. But as education levels have risen, and women's "social capital" has increased, women don't fair as poorly as they used to.  See McKeever and Wolfinger, SHIFTING FORTUNES IN A CHANGING ECONOMY: Trends in the Economic Well-Being of Divorced Women. For many abuse victims, they'd rather be a little poorer than to live in a war zone.

 

Question 13: Have you tried marriage therapy?

If you and your spouse are struggling, seek help. Connect with a trusted group of mature Christians or a pastor who can provide wise counsel. You can also seek advice from a marriage therapist. When looking for a marriage counselor, consider the following qualifications: If you want to talk to a therapist, look for someone who is licensed and has advanced training in the areas of marriage and relationships. Consider these points when searching for a qualified marriage therapist:

 

  • Is the therapist licensed?
  • Does the therapist have advanced training in marriage and relationships?
  • What is the therapist’s stance on marriage?
  • Does the therapist believe in God’s design for marriage? - Sometimes this is code for "Will your therapist pressure you to stay together using false claims and spiritual threats about God's condemnation?"

Interview at least two therapists who specialize in marriage and, if possible, consider attending a marriage intensive, retreat or seminar. Sorry, marriage intensives and retreats are unethical where there is abuse.

 

Question 14: Are you prepared for the mental and physical stress of a divorce?

Many marriages fall apart for one heartbreaking reason: Spouses forget the value of the relationship. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 is a reminder that relationships are worth the struggle. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”

 

The late UCLA professor Dr. Robert H. Coombs reviewed more than 130 studies of married couples. He concluded that “it is in each person’s own best interest to establish and maintain a durable relationship with an emotionally supportive spouse. The lack of this resource is a mental health deficit.”

Wow, Jesus and the apostle Paul are going to be so bummed that they were single and must have had a "mental health deficit."

Furthermore, on the first page of his study, Dr. Robert H. Coombs  says that marriage is a benefit when "a marital partner who provides companionship and psychic aid buffers individuals against physical and emotional pathology." p. 97.

So Coombs is not talking about all marriages being beneficial, he's talking about supportive marriages that have companionship. Toxic marriages don't have that.

Additional research cited by Harvard Health Publishing suggests married people are:

 

  • Less likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
  • Less likely to suffer from depression.
  • More likely to have a longer life than an unmarried person.
  • More likely to survive a major operation.

 

Angela leaves out the very next line in that article. It says that people in unhappy stressful marriages might be worse off than many singles are.  Here is the very next line:

"This doesn’t mean that just being married automatically provides these health benefits. People in stressful, unhappy marriages may be worse off than a single person who is surrounded by supportive and caring friends, family, and loved ones. Interestingly, many of these health benefits are more pronounced for married men than for married women."

 

It should come as no surprise that sound scientific research confirms God’s original plan for marriage — that a spouse provides companionship and psychological support.

 

Angela's article is hypocritical. It shows she doesn't care all that much about scientific research. She misquoted the top researchers and has misled readers all through the article. She quotes Harvard and then leaves out their conclusion that singles with warm family and friendships have better support than married people with stressful unhappy marriages.  

After a life-saving divorce to find relief from a destructive marriage, the majority of people report better health. The same Jesus who heals on the Sabbath and mades the religious leaders angry, also condoned divorce. And Baylor's Religion Survey 2014 indicated that 7 in 10 Christians who divorced were "somewhat happy" or "very happy."

Stories of improved health after a life-saving divorce are common, as leading researcher Dr. Mavis Hetherington notes:

“The one striking exception to the otherwise general rule about postdivorce decline in health were women who had been in distant or hostile marriages.”— Dr. E. Mavis Hetherington, For Better or For Worse, p. 59

 

Question 15: Will a divorce really make you happy?

In addition to her book The Case for Marriage, professor Waite researched whether divorce makes unhappily married people happy. Surprisingly, the answer, according to this research, is no. Waite’s study found that divorce did not offer an unhappy spouse relief from depression, nor was it associated with increases in psychological well-being or personal happiness. The only exception to the rule involved spouses who had experienced a violent marriage.

 

On p. 11-12 of Waite's paper the year before, she also said this applied to "high conflict" -- as in the kind of fights you would have if you found your spouse cheating or addicted.

And even very conservative pro-family researchers such as Waite and Gallagher agree that 3 in 10 divorces in the U.S. are beneficial to children (p. 147, A Case for Marriage). And that suggests about 210,000 of the 700,000+ divorces every year in the U.S. fall into that category.

 

Is divorce the right answer? Will it make you happy? Waite’s research debunks the myth of the happy divorcee. It shows that divorce led to a reduction in happiness and an increase in depression.

 

The author is misleading people about Dr. Linda Waite's real conclusions.

The Waite study actually found the opposite in some cases. That people in destructive marriages are better off by divorcing, and that 81% of those individuals who remarried were happier in the next marriage! The main quote you'll hear from Dr. Linda Waite's study is this: "Almost two-thirds of unhappy spouses who stuck with the marriage forged happy marriages down the road" (emphasis mine, and notice that there is no mention of "violence").

But that means that one-in-three did not ever become happy.  Here is in the last sentence of Waite's report:

"Both people and marriages are likely to be happier in communities with a strong commitment to marital permanence. While some marriages are so destructive that divorce or separation is the best outcome, marriages are more likely to be both happy and stable when marriage is highly valued — a key relation in whose success family, friends, faith communities, counselors, family-law attorneys, and the wider society have an important stake."  — Linda J. Waite, Don Browning, William J. Doherty, Maggie Gallagher, Ye Luo, and Scott M. Stanley, Does Divorce Make People Happy, Institute for Family Values, 2002, p. 34.   

Stating the obvious! 

Here are 6 more quotes where Dr. Waite claims that marriages with high-conflict or domestic violence are unlikely to become happy. (Emphasis in these quotes is mine.)

Quote 1: Waite

"Among those unhappily married spouses who stayed married, what factors predicted happier marriages down the road? Marriages with high conflict and domestic violence were less likely to become happy five years later." p. 11-12  (Editor: She's saying that you can tell in advance which marriages are likely to become happy, and it's not the destructive ones.)

Quote 2: Waite

"If the problem is marital violence, divorce appears to offer significant relief."  p. 12   (Editor: So, I guess we can say people who escaped unhappy marriages are often happier, can't we?)

Quote 3: Waite

"When an unhappily married adult experiences violence, divorce and remarriage significantly reduce the likelihood he or she will experience domestic violence (at least from spouses)." p. 12

Quote 4: Waite

"...24 percent of those unhappy spouses who divorced or separated ended up in a second marriage within five years. Eighty-one percent of those second marriages were happy." p. 12  (Editor: So the vast majority of unhappily married spouses found better partners the second time.)

Quote 5: Waite

"Does divorce make unhappily married people happy? The answer, surprisingly, in this research, seems to be no....With the important exception of reducing the incidence of marital violence for unhappy spouses (in violent marriages), divorce failed, on average, to result in improvements in psychological well-being for unhappy spouses." p. 13-14  (Editor: So divorce makes you unhappy if your marriage was okay or even so-so, but when it was toxic, divorce made people happy.)

Quote 6: Waite   What kinds of marriages improved? The marriages whose problems were "outside stressors" that did not involve the bad behavior of their partner.

"Many spouses we interviewed who survived marital unhappiness did not see problems within the relationship as the cause. Instead they blamed outside forces for causing both unhappiness and relationship stress: Spouses became ill, lost jobs, got depressed, children got into trouble or created marital stresses by their financial and emotional demands." p. 15

 

Quote 7: Waite  Is divorce ever good for kids? Yes, in approximately 3 in 10 cases.

“What proportion of divorces are preceded by a long period of overt interparental conflict, and hence, are beneficial to children?”
asked Amato and Booth. “From our own data we estimate that less than a third of parental divorces involve highly conflicted marriages.”
Just 30 percent of divorcing spouses reported more than two serious quarrels in the past month, and less than a quarter said they disagreed “often” or “very often” with their spouses. This bears repeating: Less than a third of divorces are ending angry high-conflict marriages.

—Waite, Linda J.; Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage, 2000, p. 147  (Notice that Waite is writing to people who think that divorce never hurts children.)

 

Angela asks, "Will a divorce really make you happy?" Well, it appears that research says "yes" in some cases. But her question alone promotes an unrealistic view of the realities that drive many Christians to divorce. Most Christians who come to my divorce recovery groups did not divorce because they thought it would "make them happy." They divorced because they believed they had no other choice. They had already exhausted every other option and concluded divorce was the only option left. They divorced to find relief from a situation that was destroying their health and wellbeing and that of their children.

Is divorce the right answer? Or is there hope?

Is divorce the right answer? In her book, The Case for Marriage, Waite followed couples for five years to check in on their marriages. She found that those who faced their challenges and managed conflicts reported a healthy marriage and a happy spouse. The social sciences indicate that change is possible.

 

See above for real quotes from Dr. Linda Waite. She never said that all couples would become happy if they just try harder or learned problem-solving techniques. She found improvement in couples who were experiencing outside stressors like illness and job loss, on average, but not in couples with problems within the relationship, such as  high conflict or domestic violence.

"Among those unhappily married spouses who stayed married, what factors predicted happier marriages down the road? Marriages with high conflict and domestic violence were less likely to become happy five years later." p. 11-12

If there's high conflict and marriage-destroying behavior in the marriage, it's not likely to improve. As Waite wrote:

"Does divorce make unhappily married people happy? The answer, surprisingly, in this research, seems to be no....With the important exception of reducing the incidence of marital violence for unhappy spouses (in violent marriages),...." p. 13-14 —— Linda J. Waite, Don Browning, William J. Doherty, Maggie Gallagher, Ye Luo, and Scott M. Stanley, Does Divorce Make People Happy, Institute for Family Values, 2002

 

 

But you have more — much more — than science on your side. The One who created marriage is on your side. “God is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

 

God can change hearts. He can bring healing even when there has been an emotional or sexual betrayal. He offers hope. So, before you ask if divorce is the right answer, ask God to work in your heart and in your spouse’s heart. Invite Him to guide you as you seek answers. He is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think.

God can indeed change hearts, but he never promises to make every marriage good. And he doesn't seem to force bad people to become good.

The Bible does however teach us not to stay in danger and demand a miracle. That's called "testing the Lord your God," and is prohibited by Jesus Christ.

*Names have been changed.

 

© 2020 Angela Bisignano, M.Min., Ph.D. All rights reserved. Originally published on FocusOnTheFamily.com.

 

Let's go back to the beginning: A couple came to Angela asking her, "Is divorce the right answer?" and not one single time did she even consider that it might be. A couple in need of help came asking a serious question and she never once took their question seriously. Instead, apparently she devoted all her time to trying to convince them divorce is not the right answer.... without first even taking the time to hear why they believed divorce might be necessary. This is immoral and unethical!

By the way, if Angela Bisignano or Focus on the Family correct this article and this other article, I'm happy to acknowledge them for it and give them a big shout-out, just like I did for David E. Clarke.

 


Are you going through a life-saving divorce? I’d like to invite you to my private Facebook group, "Life-Saving Divorce for Separated or Divorced Christians." Just click the link and ANSWER the 3 QUESTIONS. This is a group for women and men of faith who have walked this path, or are considering it.  Also, sign up for my email list below.


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