Doing Life Together

As a marital therapist for the past 30 years, I have seen too many couples divorce over fixable problems. When I talk about fixable problems I am referring to couples who stop liking each other, grow apart and refuse to work on their marriages. Today, Christian couples have allowed their unhappiness to become an acceptable reason for divorce.

I can’t deny the growing numbers of people dissatisfied with their relationships and even hostile towards their once chosen mates. Relationship pain is real and hurts. However, an escape plan is not always the answer. Couple unhappiness can be remedied. But, it takes work, counseling and a return to the covenant vows for people divorcing over fixable issues.

The Bible clearly establishes God in covenant with His people. He then uses this covenant as a model for marriage. Both are defined as an unbreakable promise. The Bible is full of difficult covenant relationships in need of reconciliation. In fact, the most unusual is Hosea and Gomer. God instructs His prophet, Hosea to marry Gomer, “a wife of harlotry” (Hosea 1:2). During this period in history, God is disgusted with His people for their unfaithfulness and idolatry. The marriage of Gomer and Hosea, a symbolic and real act, deals with broken covenant and God’s desire to restore.  Hosea endures the emotional pain of spouse betrayal, works through the restoration process and redeems the woman who has wronged him.

More couples could learn from the Hosea story. Sin is acknowledged, repentance happens, emotional pain is embraced and the couple eventually transformed. The power of God’s redemption is once again revealed.

One application of this powerful story is that healing is possible even when couples have a “biblical out.” Restoration and reconciliation are repeated biblical themes. Through out history God goes to extreme measures to woo his chosen and win back their hearts.

Sadly God’s covenant, whether in relationship with Him or marriage, is constantly challenged by our idolatry, adultery and rejection. We easily complain, feel abandoned when prayer isn’t immediately answered and become distracted by things that pull us away from intimacy. Then, like in our marriages, we stare into space, feeling numb and wonder, “What happened? I don’t feel intimate or connected.” Emotional distance ensues, a predictor of relationship breakup.

So could we learn something from the marriage of Hosea and Gomer, especially when marital problems are fixable? Think about it, you serve a God who wants to restore you to covenant with Him when you wander away. Maybe we need to be more restoring of our marital covenants as well.


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