Divorce Insurance

  A few years ago a Christian magazine ran a survey of readers' attitudes toward marriage. One of the questions read, "Do you think divorce could ever happen to you?" What a misleading way of stating the question. The wording implies that divorce is something that just "happens" to you—something that hits you from outside, which you cannot control, like a hurricane or a flood. But divorce is not something that broadsides you like a natural disaster. It's a conscious moral decision that a couple makes. A better way to phrase the question would be, "Do you or your spouse consider divorce to be a morally acceptable option?" Couples who don't believe divorce is an option are more motivated to make their marriage succeed. And to help them, there are several good programs that churches can use. One of the best available is Marriage Encounter, an intensive weekend retreat designed by the Catholic church but now available in many denominations. A comprehensive survey by the National Institute of the Family found that nine out of ten couples who attended Marriage Encounter felt it improved their marriage. This is even more impressive when you realize that nearly half started out rating their marriage as average to poor. Amazingly, even couples who attended Marriage Encounter many years ago still rated the weekend as the turning point in their marriage. My friend Jim Dobson attended Marriage Encounter with his wife, Shirley. Dobson is a family psychologist; millions of Christians look to his program "Focus on the Family" for wisdom on family life. So when Dobson decided to look into Marriage Encounter, it was, as he put it, purely" for professional reasons." He never dreamed he would learn anything to help his own marriage. But "I have rarely been more wrong," Dobson writes in his book Love Must Be Tough. "Marriage Encounter gave Shirley and me the opportunity [for] the deepest, most intimate exchange of feelings we had known in 20 years…. It proved to be one of the highlights of my life." If an expert in marriage and family can learn from Marriage Encounter, think what it can do to revive your relationship. And think what it could do to slash America's divorce rate. No other program has such a good track record: a 90-percent success rate in strengthening marriages. For seriously troubled marriages there are other programs, like Retrouvaille, a French word meaning "rediscovery." The heart of the program is personal disclosure by couples who themselves had troubled marriages and worked through their problems. Retrouvaille has an astonishing success rate. Of the couples who have attended, nearly half were already separated or divorced. Yet, 80 percent of them got back together—and are still married years later! Divorce is not a natural disaster that just "happens" to you. You can save your marriage—and then turn around to become a marriage saver for others.


Chuck Colson


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