What changes are taking place in how people of faith are responding to Divorce?

Here are some recent trends to be aware of in understanding how the Christian community is changing to deal with the task of rebuilding life on the other side of divorce. I've noticed these changes over the last fifteen years as a certified family law mediator in Florida as well as over the last twenty years as a professional counselor focused on guiding people on their journey to rebuild their broken world today, while praying for a chance to experience a better world tomorrow.

Does divorce still carry a stigma in Christian circles?
Divorce is still viewed as a failure for believers because it is the very public unraveling of many private sources of pain; however it's dramatically improved over the way it used to be. Thirty years ago the stigma of wearing a scarlet 'D' was like the kiss of death in many Christian circles. Today divorce is more common and accepted as just another sad reality of life. Contrast this against what used to be viewed as a rare occurrence among people who didn't love God enough to work hard enough to keep their marriage together. People seem to have moved past casting harsh judgement against those who have been divorced and come to accept it as a normal stage of life.

Do Christians have enough support from churches in terms of counseling and groups?
Yes, but many people still seem to delay seeking help because they are too embarrassed to talk about the growing distance in the marriage and will try to 'fake it till you make it' until a relationship crisis explodes into pre-divorce litigation. Seems to me that divorce support groups are either underused for post-divorce emotional recovery or overused as a place to avoid feelings and escape loneliness without having to go to a bar. I believe that processing grief and loss are a necessary part of emotional healing and forgiveness to become healthier people on the other side of the divorce and that a counseling or support group environment is an excellent place to start as well as grow stronger in moving from a painful past to a better future.

Is the divorce rate among Christians any higher than people who don't go to church?
Sadly, yes. I've noticed that some people who are extremely involved in church do seem to divorce more often; which I attribute to their fatigue or fears that never get dealt with because they are so busy all the time. I don't think it's about their faith.
Basically the pattern works like this for many couples who believe in God- but get too burned out to take positive action to change...
They wait too long to get professional help, which allows every problem they are facing to get ten times worse.
This allows massive internal 'relationship cancers' to develop...
This eventually 'kills' the marriage... a process called 'divorce' where the 'dead' marriage is laid out to rest and buried legally just like a corpse.

Sometime I'll walk a couple through the top 25 measurable factors that indicate how alive or dead the marriage has become and more importantly, what they can do about it to make a healthier change and it's interesting since they can almost instantly identify the key elements that led to the dysfunction or distance in their marriage, as well as which areas are causing the most pain and need to change the fastest in an attempt to prevent the marriage from failing or ending. I believe that even the most difficult of situations will still have other options to explore directly to help calm a situation down so that both parties can begin to rationally sort through the issues together and come to some healthy conclusions together.

What are the key issues Christians face in the wake of a divorce and how do those differ from non-Christians?
Christians feel massive guilt over having failed at their promises to stay committed 'till death do us part'
Christians have some loss of church supports, since it is highly likely that one or both will leave their life groups or church out of embarrassment or awkwardness with their former married friends or church members.
People in leadership may not only quit church post-divorce, they may quit on their belief system and feel crushing anger or resentment at God
Churched people still have a greater likelihood of not being completely alone through the process, since God always seems to send someone to reach out to encourage or bless them, even when they feel the most alone. I've heard this called being touched by "Jesus with skin on"
It's been my experience that the Christians have a harder time with divorce in the first year, but can rebuild their lives faster over the course of time because of their faith and the connection they have to healthy people in their church who have a caring and positive outlook to come alongside them to give encouragement and support..
Unchurched people may walk through the stages of divorce completely alone, which often sets them up for crushing loneliness, and rapid rebounds into other relationships just to avoid being alone.
Remember the warning that it's always better to be alone with doubts or questions than to be in the wrong relationship with the wrong person for the wrong reasons at the wrong time and knowing that things weren't a good fit, but it beat being alone. This common fear leads many people to avoid facing the real issues that led to their first divorce, which tends to set them up for a string of other setbacks or relationship failures.
You have to take care of you before you can effectively try to reach out and take care of others.
If you are in the midst of rebuilding your life on the other side of divorce, take heart and press on and know that our counseling group in Florida is here for you.
If you are trying to figure out a way to find options for a troubled marriage in great distress that don't include divorce, then be encouraged as you contact our group to help guide you in stabilizing the highly complex or difficult relationship challenges you may be facing right now on your journey to rebuild a healthier and more balanced marriage in the days ahead.

At the LifeWorks Group we are committed to helping you find the most effective course of action to move past the stress as you change to grow stronger on your journey of success. Please access our extensive section of counseling tools and resources to help you and those you care about at www.LifeWorksGroup.org or coaching resources focused on building a balanced life of responsible actions instead of regrets and fear at www.DwightBain.com

You are not alone, and we are here to personally help you grow stronger since we believe that our mission is to 'make life work better for you.'

- Dwight Dwight Bain Bio:Author, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of StormStress.com and trainer for over 1,000 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. Professional member of the National Speakers Association; Corporate client list- Disney, Toyota, AT&T, Harcourt, DuPont & Bank of America. Organizational client list- US Army, Florida Hospital & International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. Quoted in: Investors Business Daily, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Orlando Sentinel & Newsday.Contact Info:Main Office: 407-647-7005 Dedicated FAX: 407.647.8874Mailing: 1850 Lee Road, Suite 250, Winter Park, FL 32789 Counseling resources: www.LifeWorksGroup.org
Coaching resources: www.DwightBain.com

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