When people ask me about the causes of divorce, one of the things I always mention is ignorance–otherwise known as a lack of pre-marriage preparation. Ignorance doesn’t just lead to divorce; it increases your chances of failure in anything you do. Karen and I discovered this pretty quickly after we got married.
We were only nineteen years old at the time, and neither of us had any pre-marriage counseling. The only counseling I got was from my friends, and their counsel wasn’t exactly helpful. All they were telling me was that I was making a big mistake!
We didn’t meet the preacher who married us until the morning of the ceremony. Our first conversation with him was right before we got married. Needless to say, neither of us was very prepared.
That’s not the best way to begin a lifetime commitment.
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). As Proverbs makes clear, getting good advice and diligently preparing are keys to building a strong foundation for your marriage. But what if it’s too late? What if you’re in the position we were in, already married but ignorant and unprepared?
If that’s you, then my suggestion is to make a personal commitment to searching out and receiving counsel. Keep learning. Listen to experts. Sit with godly teachers. Read books or magazine articles about marriage. I challenge married couples that participate in our seminars to read at least one book a year…together.
Let me ask you this question: What is the weakest part of your marriage? The Apostle Paul wrote often of his weaknesses (see 2 Corinthians 12:9-10) because he knew those were not only the parts of his life that needed to change, but that in those places God could best display His power. This applies to marriages, too.
I’m sure you’ve heard this cliché: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In the same way, marriages become stronger when both partners focus on their weaknesses with a teachable spirit, then work to overcome those weaknesses. Is your weakest area understanding each other? Are you weak when it comes to communication or in the area of finances? If so, seek godly counsel. Listen to marriage-related teaching. Read books on the subject.
In business or sports–in fact, in most of life–the most successful people are the most teachable people. The most successful marriages aren’t necessarily the ones that started out with intense pre-marital preparation (though certainly, that’s a great start). The most successful marriages are the ones made up of two teachable individuals working together to strengthen their weak spots.
If you want to divorce-proof your marriage, making a commitment to growth through godly counsel is a great start. With “many advisers” and with a teachable spirit, your marriage can succeed.