“Moreover, if your brother commits a sin against you, go and show him his fault — but privately, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. 16 If he doesn’t listen, take one or two others with you so that every accusation can be supported by the testimony of two or three witnesses.[b] 17 If he refuses to hear them, tell the congregation; and if he refuses to listen even to the congregation, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax-collector. [Mattityahu (Matthew) 18: 15-17
In my reading about successful marriage restoration after divorce the reunited say, especially the one who remained faithful to their vows (even after the divorce) the one thing that precipitated the restoration was when they started to pray for self-improvement. I don’t mean lose weight kind of improvement, but spiritual improvement. The “G-d make me the person you want me to be,” improvement.
Part of this was they stopped praying for G-d to change their missing spouse. You know? Stopped asking G-d to convict them of whatever sin they were in (adultery, alcoholism, drugs) and so on. When their focus became their relationship with G-d THEN the marriage was restored. In other words, they were praying for the good for both of them.
What does this mean? Does it mean amnesia about the missing spouse? Does it mean stop hurting when a thought of them comes up? If it does, how does one continue to pray for them without missing them? It means to pray for self and to trust that G-d is working in their spouse’s life to draw them to Himself before restoration.
Larry Crabb (2008) holds that;
… there is no incompatibility between our unquenchable longing for happiness and the command to worship God. But if God becomes the means and our happiness becomes the point, then we are self-obsessed pragmatists, not worshipers. When God is the point and obedience designed to bring him pleasure becomes the focus, then there will eventually be a fullness of joy that makes sin unthinkable and unappealing, thoroughly repulsive .
….if we’re living for the maximum sense of pleasurable satisfaction now, we will obey God only if he provides blessings that obedience allows us to continue enjoying. Take away the blessings and live life to gain satisfaction of even the noblest human desires and eventually you’ll find yourself moving away from God.
When a marriage gets hard, when the other person is grumpy, disagreeable or, when that other person is angry and bitter, or if one spouse has a mental incapacity of some type, or if one’s sense of happiness and fulfillment no longer comes from a difficult spouse or marriage — it is easy to blame G-d, or blame the other person for a lack of happiness, or fulfillment. If this is true, then it may explain the walk away spouse: One who lives life not for the L-rd, but for the happiness that comes through someone else, or through life’s experiences. When their life gets rough, or there are problems in marriage, then obedience becomes too difficult a task for the reward. Crabb (2008) writes about a time when those blessings seem far away saying,
…let just enough go wrong to reduce the pleasure you feel in them to a lesser intensity than the pleasure that comes from bagging Christian standards and doing whatever makes you feel alive, and doing wrong will seem justified, necessary, legitimate, reasonable. The wrong way will seem right. That scenario has led to countless divorces.
My heart tells me this is what happened in my former marriage to a wife whose life history had history mental instability (familial). Did I experience this? YES! Emphatically yes, but what saved me (so to speak) was a stubborn streak that said no matter what I wanted or felt I wanted or desired, I MUST OBEY. I must live by faith and believe even when there are no tangible rewards for obedience.
The real battle in the human soul that knows Yeshua is not to find a way to feel now what we long to feel in our inmost being, whether it’s love, meaning, or the satisfaction of living an other-centered life in the service of a cause greater than oneself. The real battle is to continue on in faithfulness even when faithfulness brings no immediate experience of joy, even when it brings no prospect of felt joy until heaven. That’s what it means to live by faith. That’s the message of Hebrews 11. That’s the cornerstone of the gospel, first declared by Habakkuk when he quoted G-d saying, “The just shall live by faith” (Hab. 2:4), then established by Rav Shaul as the core of the spiritual journey. (Emphasis added.)
Dr. Ramón de Torres
Edited: June 28, 2020