Friday, September 2, 2011

When It's Cold Outside

The unemployment rate is at about 20% among African Americans today (that's for real with reported and unreported). Money is one of the biggest contributing reasons for divorce. Theoretically, this means more African Americans should be experiencing divorce than ever in our society.

This statistic is strange to me, because it seems that when things are at there very worse, you should want someone to hold on to and encourage you when it's cold outside. The reality is that many men feel pressure and shame when they are unable to find "suitable" employment in an economy like this to take care of their family, whether their spouse is working or not. Tension can build incredibly with the pressure either spouse may feel from the mounting bills, unkind economy, stress, and pent up frustrations.  The truth is, everything doesn't work out like a Tyler Perry play with a couple good gospel songs and an apology.

If I were to counsel anybody who had an ear to hear who was on the verge of divorce right now, I would tell them these things:

Remember your first love. Think about how you first loved each other. When you commit to be married to another person, it is not always about the pictured romance of movie and book fables. It is about the ability to support each other when the facade of greatness is gone; when the outside appearance of grandeur has been stripped away and you can only see each others weaknesses. Then let love abide.

Fight for your marriage. Remember the sanctity of the union. You may believe you have outgrown each other, but you have not outgrown God or the promises you made before Him. If there is any way to do it without denigrating or belittling each other, honor the vows you made. Agree to both be in the fight. Everybody's situation is different. Only you know why your marriage may end in divorce; but it doesn't have to be that way. Not everybody has irreconcilable differences.

Pray earnestly, and together. Pray for each other and for your marriage. Admit your fears and shortcomings one to another and pray without ceasing. Find a group of prayer partners who will pray you through. Be ready for change, because if you  want your marriage to survive and thrive, you are going to have to embrace a new way of living and loving. What you were doing before was not working - that is how you ended up where you are now.

Communication - Keep communicating with your spouse. Remember that you do not hate this person. There may be times during this experience when you cannot, realistically, speak to them at all. Accept those emotions for what they are, but don't let them turn into hatred. Forgiveness is for you, not for them.

Can a divorced woman give advice to married folks? Yes, I can, because I walked through a valley you don't know anything about yet. I walked through it with grace abounding, and two things got me through it with victory: obedience and forgiveness. I definitely fought the good fight of faith before I became a black, divorced and virtuous.

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