As I recently sat listening to a couple, I was aware of just how quickly they are headed towards divorce. This is in part because they want all of their problems and conflicts solved immediately – if not sooner. And because of their impatience, they were barreling towards the divorce cliff. Yet – this doesn’t have to happen. We live in a culture that says every issue must be solved immediately or else I need to take drastic action today. But my advice is – delay.
There was a study conducted a number of years ago that examined unhappy couples. The research team studied 5,232 married adults. Of these individuals, 645 reported being unhappily married. Five years later, these same adults were interviewed again. Some had divorced or separated and some had remained married. The results of the interviews were astounding. Among those who initially rated their marriages as “very unhappy” but remained together, nearly 80 percent considered themselves “happily married” and “much happier” five years later. Surprisingly, the opposite is found to be true for those who divorced. Of all the unhappy spouses in the initial survey, only 19 percent of those who got divorced or separated were happy five years later.
What does this say to us? Delay, delay delay! And not just divorce but any destructive behavior. Your partner has been inconsiderate or unkind today and you want to zing him back immediately. Delay. Your spouse has withheld affection or communication and you want to show her how it feels. Delay. Your husband or wife has hurt your deeply for the last time and you want out. Delay.
There is always time to take rash action, and sometimes there is even the need to, but don’t be in a hurry to get there. Delay – because there is no substitute for time. Because of God’s grace, He is patient and often delays in how He deals with us – giving us the time we need to make better choices. How can I extend that same grace and time to my partner today?