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Women Who Win

The Demon called Divorce

What was only whispered in our neighbourhood or read in books twenty years ago is now happening all around us, in Christian families, or may be in our own extended family. Made in heaven, broken in court? It looks like a demon called Divorce is released into our planet. The nuptial knot is becoming looser everyday. It used to be “three knots,” signifying the indissolubility. But when gold chains came into vogue, the knots were replaced by a hook and loop, ironically with a decadence in the tenacity of the scared bond. Now even that wedding chain (or ring) which was once a symbol of holy matrimony seems to be out of step with current fashion. People don’t prefer a church wedding anymore. They want to have an union as loose as possible as if it is a game for husband and wife to leave and return at whim. Wedlock is a lock without a key making you a ‘Prem Qaidi.’ You are a prisoner of love till death releases you. Today many insolently break the lock and flee.
That was the first century Pharisaic policy too. They wanted to know if a man could divorce his wife for “every” cause. Jesus applied the law of first occurence and went back to the genesis of the subject. He said, “From the beginning it was not so” (Mt 19:3,8). That drives home the truth. It is never the perfect will of God for a man and his wife to be separated. They become one flesh and is like cutting a person asunder. Jesus did not command men and women to put away their spouses for fornication; rather permitted it if they so desired.

A quarter century ago it was men who were putting away their wives. But today tables are turning. We read of such a woman in Proverbs 2:17. “She forsakes the companion of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God.”
In her we see the image of a mod girl who entered marriage with false fantasies. But soon her dream turned sour. All was well till honeymoon. But then little problems started piling one on top of the other, till one day she felt she could take it no more and decided to part with her husband. When she forsook the companion of her youth she never realised she was breaking the covenant of her God.
God calls a wife as “the wife of covenant” (Mal 2:14). The man and the woman enter a covenant relationship in the presence of a holy God. He is a witness of the testament. That’s why, “The Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce” (Mal 2:16). It is in this context that the Bible calls the Lord a Lover of Holiness (2:11). Women who break wedlock are equated with women who shed blood (Ezek 16:38).
A girl who is married should not always be chasing moon beams and roses. It is good for her to remember: Where there are roses there are always thorns. Did she not promise, “for better or for worse?” She must face reality in the face. There are moments in a woman’s life when she feels like an orphan and longs for her parents—more often with no place to weep alone or aloud! Her father takes her to the altar and “gives her away.” This is where the Lord takes over saying, “Though your father and mother forsake you, yet will I not leave you.” Running away from a situation never helps. It is her responsibility to hold the family together. Marriages may be made in heaven; but they must be maintained on earth.
A girl cannot expect to marry a person whom she knows cent percent. In fact the joy, novelty and challenge are lost when she marries such an one. In India girls sometimes marry total strangers. After marriage she discovers the person who she took into her life. Some good qualities come up and some unseemly characters also show up. Shocking facts may reveal themselves as days go by. The husband may be a drunkard, chain-smoker, lazy, greedy, etc. A dominant mother-in-law or a jealous sister-in-law may add to the strain in a joint family.
Usually the woman fails to see herself through her husband’s eye. Often as much as the man is at fault, the woman is at fault too; or in some cases the blame may be entirely on the woman. She thinks she is a saint. But it is the contradictory temperaments that collide, creating sparks that set the marriage aflame. Someone rightly said, “Marriage involves three rings: the engagement ring, wedding ring and suffering!”
It helps to sit and reflect how it would feel like to be married to a person like you. Would you like your wife to do it to you if you were in your husband’s shoes? Jesus said it in different words: Do to your husband what you would like him do to you. Treat him as you would have him treat you. Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t like him do to you.
I believe it is the woman who has a greater responsibility in holding a marriage together. Because divorce hits her the hardest. Often the man marries again and settles back in his seat. Whereas (more often) the woman is left with the kids to care. She may not be qualified for a job. Even with a job she may be a burden on her ageing parents. The hassles of a court procedure take their toll. Living alone is a problem and she is viewed with suspicion. The children may blame her for their situation and still more miseries trail her.
The worst is loneliness both inside and out. You have no one to share your joys and sorrows. No protecting arms. Not even just the presence of a man at home. Now you do not know why you hate the man you love. After divorce you wouldn’t know why you love the man you hate. In your loneliness you may reach out to someone for relief and that turns on an affair (Prov 2:16). Then follows guilt. The fact is you become more vulnerable to temptations. A lonely life is not as easy as you may think. Divorce spawns far more problems than it solves.
It all starts with a small seed, the size of a mustard seed, that the devil sows in your heart. “Have I married the wrong person?” If you do not wake up to it and stamp it out, the devil waters it. Secretly it grows under surface. One day in an eruption you blurt out, “I have made a mistake in marrying you” or “I should have married so and so.” The poisonous seed has become a seedling now, wriggling out of the heart. If you are still careless, it grows and it grows till it strangles your marriage. You spell divorce, at first hesistantly and then boldly. Then comes the dead end. Too soon it’s all over. The temporary hilariousness of having your own way starts waning as the days go by and loneliness creeps in. You think of what you have done and wish you hadn’t done it. But it is too late now. You have doused your entire family with petrol and struck a match.
Let me first assure you that you have not married the wrong person. Let not the devil cheat you. Every couple has problems. Marriage is built not on a single pillar called love. It has another stronger and steadier pillar called commitment. Couples divorce for as trivial a reason as ‘lack of romance.’ Life is not always filled with romance. In fact it rarely is. If romance is the factor then all love marriages should flourish. On the other hand if an element called commitment is there then the marriage survives all odds. Why did in earlier days couples rarely divorce? Did they learn more principles than us or read more books on successful marriages than us? Or did they have less problems? No. The secret is this: They never thought about divorce.
I like Isaac for what he did. “He took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her” (Gen 24:67). It is not ‘He loved Rebekah and took her to be his wife.’ Learn to love the person you have taken to be your husband.
It is not uncommon for a steady ongoing relationship to spin out of control. Instead of immeadiately planning to flee from the situation, cool down. Calm yourself and your emotions. Commit the matter to the Lord in prayer. Then proceed to take control of the situation. Use your commonsense and do what you should do. Exercise godly patience. Lift up your eyes from where comes your help. History abounds with testimonies of women who perservered in prayer for their husbands and finally won them back. Once you decide to hold the fort you find yourself stronger to deal with the situation. Often problems take care of themselves if you stick a little longer.
Think of the foolish woman who came back to her parents because of a mother-in-law who was commander-in-cheif at home and a demanding sister-in-law and added financial pinch. After a few years her sister-in-law was married away, the mother dear died and her husband got a promotion. But unfortunately her husband had remarried by then. Problems are bound to arise. But as you and your husband grow together and mature in family life, these wither away.
It is surprising that many parents encourage their daughters by accomodating them as long as they like. They should be the first to counsel her and take her back to her husband—unless it is a life-threatening situation.
In the Indian context parents shoulder a greater responsibility as they choose the partner for the girl. They should take to heart never to force her into an undesirable marriage. They should not give much weightage to caste or cash. Rather they should find out the heart’s desire of the girl and wait till she wholeheartedly and happily agrees to the proposal. Countless marriages fall apart because the girl is forced to marry the young man whom her grandmother has fallen in love with!
Once married, you should never work back. It is not just finding the right husband. It is being the right wife too. You must stick on and help your mate stick on. You should neither leave nor let your husband leave (if at all possible). Your marriage can end over nothing or survive awesome explosions. It is in your hands.
If love is as strong as death then it should be as long as life. If love never fails, then many waters cannot quench it, neither can the floods of problems drown it (SS 8:6,7; 1Cor 13:8).
Divorce is a country of loneliness, where pain is your only companion and all the lessons are hard to learn.
It is not enough to think twice before you divorce. Think thrice!


   Address for Correspondence & Contributions:

Lilian Stanley
13 Church Colony
Vellore 632006, India
Tel: +91 9843511943
Email: lilianstanley@gmail.com