Common Questions Answered

FAQ

 

My spouse has left me, what do I do now?

The departure of a spouse often leaves us in shock. Regardless of how difficult the relationship has been, we still seem to want to cling desperately to it.
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That’s normal. You might be caught off-guard by the attitudes of false integrity and arrogance on the part of your departed spouse. It’s normal for those departing a marriage to take on these difficult mindsets. Your inclination will often be to try to counsel or argue your departed spouse into submission to Biblical truth.
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This rarely works. Your departed spouse will usually, either deflect the blame for this event back to you, or they will ignore these attempts altogether. These failed attempts to redeem your difficult situation will often leave you further confused, beaten down and angry.
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So, what do I do?
Well, usually the best option is to simply leave your departed spouse alone and pray for them. We suggest that you dive wholeheartedly into the only relationship you will ever have that will truly last forever. Begin to surround yourself with balanced, quality Christians who will pray with you through your emotional ups and downs. Set yourself up for long-term recovery by making quality short-term decisions for your own life.
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Your wayward spouse may decide to come back, or sadly, he or she may not. Regardless of the decisions your spouse makes, you must do your best to be a forgiver. You don’t need to carry around a big load of grudges along with all the other things you’re carrying. You can truly release all of your pain and hurt at the feet of a God who passionately loves you. You can rest in the Biblical fact that God totally has your life and He won’t let you fall.
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You (and your children) will be okay in His capable hands. We have counseled and worked with hundreds of people and we’ve never seen God fail even once. We welcome the opportunity to encourage you further in this difficult time. Our book will be helpful for you, as it has been for a lot of folks. You can contact us, we love to hear from you. You’ll find more helpful insights as you read further into the FAQ’s, the Blog page, and the rest of this site.

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How do I handle separation?

We know your separation from your spouse is an extremely difficult time for you. You are on an emotional roller coaster. We know that if you, “Draw near to God, He will draw near to you.” James 4:8.
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You might be tempted in this time, to do all sorts of things that will not be constructive for your future. You might be inclined to look upon the choices and lifestyle of your departed spouse and think, “I should do those things too”. You will do best, however, to resist those things and draw near to the Lord. (Read Psalms 37)
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Find a way to be in the Word every day. You should try to be in fellowship with other believers as often as you possibly can. Spend lots of time in prayer for your life and that of your departed spouse. Find some strong brothers or sisters (of your own gender) in whom you can confide and trust, to share your emotions and thoughts with, as you work through this difficult season of your life.
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Again, over the long term of separation and beyond, we don’t recommend that you allow yourself to beg or argue with your departed spouse. We suggest you not contact your spouse at all, unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you are still inclined to beg your spouse to act correctly or come back to you, there is a chance that your neediness has been a contributing factor in your current marital plight. Please, just leave your spouse alone.
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The anger/control/begging cycle that needy individuals often exhibit will tend to breed disrespect and burn up relationships. If you find yourself becoming discouraged as you realize your insecurity might have contributed to your plight, don’t go there. No-one does everything right in a marriage, and spouses are required to forgive and forget, for any marriage to survive. You will however, need to allow the Lord to bolster your confidence level in order for you to be successful with any kind of relationship in the future. That will take time. If you want to be respected, you must be respectable. The cycle of fighting/anger/control/begging is not respectable behavior. The time for you to begin making confident decisions is now. Proverbs 14:26 says: “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence.”
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You must know that God is not mad at you and He did not do this to you. You must begin to build a life that is about Jesus Christ and His plan for you. You can pray that, over the course of time, your spouse might do the same. Right now, however, your spouse is like a baby who isn’t hungry. You cannot make a full baby hungry no matter what you do. The only thing you can do is to leave them alone, pray for them and wait to see if they get hungry again. If they never do, and if they file for divorce, or if your marriage becomes a corpse that you must bury, we know it’s a very painful thing, but God is still in control and He still loves both of you.

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Should I be anxious to reconcile my marriage?

Reconciliation is possible, if that is what you want. We have seen the Lord do some awesome things in reconciling broken couples, but the only way reconciliation ever happens successfully is if there is something truly different in both of you, before simply “stuffing” the two of you back together again. It’s possible you’ve tried that kind of reconciliation already. It doesn’t work very well.
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Not every separated or divorced person is in a giant rush to put a bad situation back together again, and that’s okay. Maybe you and your spouse have been married or separated a few times before and there’s not as much hope for change as there once was.
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If you want to reconcile your marriage, we want to be as encouraging as we can be, but we also want to be realistic. We are acutely aware of what the Bible says about reconciliation, and we agree that it is usually God’s will that it should happen. We also agree that it should be easy to accomplish reconciliation with two willing and forgiving hearts; but we are coming up against the will and resolve of another person, and that makes the difference!
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Remember that your spouse is not your project, and they never were. Even if you were to get your spouse into counseling with the best marriage people in the business, no one can force your spouse into doing something he or she doesn’t want to do. Chances are, it has taken you and your spouse several years to get your relationship into the condition it’s in right now.
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In most cases, nothing very positive is going to happen overnight in either of you. In the case of your departed spouse, it may never happen at all. Listen, God is still in control. Plug in to the Lord. Resist the cycle of anger, control, begging and hopelessness. Stay in the Word, pray, and seek some help with the down times. Wait on the Lord and see what He does.

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Should I agree to a divorce, or make a Biblical stand for my marriage?

You can certainly try to make a stand for your marriage, but I don’t believe it’s profitable spiritually, emotionally or financially to stand (legally or otherwise) in the face of someone who is determined to end a marriage with you. The Bible says that we are to, “Let the unbeliever go, for God has called us to peace.” 1 Cor 7:15.
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Now, before I’m accused of using scripture incorrectly, please let me say… Your former spouse may indeed have a vital relationship with Christ, but if he or she is determined to divorce you, whatever else they might believe, they are not believing for the marriage at this time. And sadly, there is usually nothing you can do now, or possibly ever, that will change his or her mind.
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Painful as it may be, I believe your only choice is to let your wayward spouse go. Release this person to a God who loves them. You may find yourself releasing this person every hour of every day (do this as necessary). We encourage you to play the hand you were dealt the best way you can. Surround yourself with encouraging and positive people, and concentrate on the only relationship that will last forever. Regardless of how it looks, God is totally in the midst of your circumstance.

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What makes a person act like this?

There is no easy answer to this question. Briefly, separation and divorce are caused by immaturity and selfishness. The root of all ungodly behavior is sin and rebellion. We often wish we could fix the bad behavior of another person, but we can’t. When the impossible behavior of a spouse brings down a marriage, the only thing we can do is refer to the Bible, to figure out what happened…
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Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” This simply means that all of the different kinds of sin that people can dream up have been around for centuries. Paul said, “This I say and the Lord also, that you no longer walk as the unbelievers do, in the futility of their minds and the blindness of their hearts. Being alienated from God because of their ignorance. Having once been feeling, they have given themselves over to all uncleanness with selfishness.” Ephesians 4:17-19
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The human mind is like a fishbowl, if it’s not refreshed and renewed on a regular basis, it will become rancid and rotten. The good, honorable and useful things that used to live in the fishbowl will die, and the bacteria of sin and rebellion will take over. Paul goes on to say, in verses 22 & 23 of Ephesians 4, “[You must] put off your former conduct which grows corrupt according to deceitful lusts, and be renewed in your spirit according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
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So, given enough time and lack of renewal, any one of us is capable of allowing our minds to get into a condition, in which we simply allow a lie to become truth to us. In other words, when we allow ourselves to decline into in sin and rebellion, we “Give ourselves over to all uncleanness with selfishness.” You are dealing with an overdose of that uncleanness and selfishness in your spouse. It’s very sad indeed, but you must remember it was his or her choice to go there, and you won’t be able to fix it for them.

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I feel like a failure, like my life has been stolen by an evil person. I feel like I have been beaten and thrown away like garbage. How do I forgive and move on from that?

You alone simply cannot forgive and move on from that. But you are not alone; you have Jesus Christ as your example and your eternal hope. It will be helpful for you to remember this verse, “For He made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
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That means that Jesus, the Perfect One, took the eternal fall for your sin. You might have fallen from the place you were in this life for a period of time, but you didn’t fall all the way to the bottom (and you won’t) because Jesus took the hit for you 2000 years ago, and He caught you this time as well.
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Jesus left heaven, where He was the true Royal King of all of creation and He came to earth to show us how to live this life. Then when the time came, He was betrayed, beaten, killed and thrown away (by evil people) into a stone cave He didn’t even own. (He owned absolutely nothing).
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Then, three days later, He came back and said,“Nothing, including death can keep me down, because this is not my home.”
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This is not your home either, and nothing that anyone does to you on this planet will make any eternal difference to your life whatsoever. Everything about you, your life, your identity and your future, lies squarely in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the lover of your very soul, and He does not compare you to anyone, so now you are free to stop comparing yourself to others.
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With all of that in mind, here’s how you forgive and move on. You forgive out of obedience. You forgive by looking beyond the ones who’ve hurt you, into the eyes of Jesus standing behind them. You simply choose to set it all aside because that is what Jesus did with the ones who humiliated, beat and killed Him. You forgive, knowing that God will discipline prideful, rebellious and impossible people. God will do that in his way, in his timeline, but I guarantee that He will do it. “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.” Mark 9:49
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You can trust God with your life, and you can trust Him with the lives of those who’ve hurt you. You really must forgive others, because carrying this stuff around is killing you. There is an old worship song which says, “Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe, sin has left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” I believe one of the ways that you can envision forgiveness, is by driving a stake in the ground and determining to “Remember not the past.” Every one of us falls under the same set of rules and we all have to find a way to forgive.

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My estranged/former spouse still blames and intimidates me in every way, how do I deal with them?

This occurs in nearly every situation we deal with. The most important thing to understand is that a controlling person has a need to control. More than likely, this person has had an ability to throw you around mentally, spiritually and emotionally for a long time. Most likely, they won’t want to give up this privilege on their own, even after the marriage has ended. That leaves us with the responsibility to begin to take this privilege away from them, by learning to set up healthy boundaries.
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That may sound harsh, but learning this skill will be a necessary process for you to move past this experience and become the man or woman that God has designed you to be for the long term.
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In the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, God appointed Nehemiah to accomplish a HUGE task, to rebuild the walls around the city of Jerusalem. Nehemiah set himself to the task, and Sanballat and Tobiah came along. These guys took it upon themselves to yell, to threaten, to intimidate, to throw rocks, etc. These guys had a mindset (much like your former spouse) to do anything they could to discourage and stop the work that God wanted to accomplish.
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At first, Nehemiah took this intimidation and discouragement to heart and he was afraid, but the Lord used Sanballat and Tobiah to build genuine spiritual muscle in Nehemiah until eventually (in Nehemiah 6), Nehemiah says: “You know what, guys; I really don’t have time for you; I have a job to do, please leave me alone.” Nehemiah 6:3 (Loosely quoted)
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Now Sanballat and Tobiah didn’t change or go away after that discourse, they were still around and they were just as mean-spirited as ever. Nehemiah’s Godly confidence simply took away the stick they were using to beat him down. You will probably never change your former spouse, so the only thing you can do, is to grab the stick they are using to beat you, and take it away from them.
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Psalms 37 says: (Loosely quoted) “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of those who prosper in iniquity. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. For in a little while you will look carefully for the disobedient ones, and they will not be there.”
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In other words, your former spouse will simply become part of your former life. Dealing with your divorce is very probably the biggest, most long-term challenge you will ever face in your life, but you are out of choices. You MUST face this challenge.
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It may be hard for you to believe, but as you grow into your new life in the Lord, you will find yourself becoming thankful for the adversity you have faced, because it has forced you to grow into a true man or woman of God, with a true, eternal mindset. I believe that, as you work through your experience in the confidence of the Lord, you will find yourself able to withstand virtually anything that the enemy might throw at you in the future.

Divorce is expensive. But eternal growth and understanding is priceless.

I know this is hard for you and I wish it hadn’t happened to you, but if you will be faithful and deal with it correctly; you will see God do something in your life that He does not have the opportunity to do in everyone. This may not be what you had planned for your life, but trust me; God is in control.

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The unfairness and hurt of this situation fills me with anger and rage, what can I do about it?

I know all about anger and rage, and I’ve learned a few things from the “College of hard knocks.” I believe that a certain amount of anger is normal and it can be useful when it produces a determination for quality in our relationships and our pursuit of the things of God. The Bible says, “Be angry, but do not sin.” Romans 12:19.
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When anger turns to rage, it becomes sin and it must be dealt with effectively. It’s very easy to say “I have the right to vent my rage, look what he or she is doing to me!” But, in Christ, we have given up our rights. We must lay these destructive emotions at the feet of a loving God, and we must do our best to leave them there. 1 Corinthians 13:7 says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Love never fails.”
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It seems there are two kinds of Christians in this world. There are those who have grown to understand “Real world forgiveness” and “Extending grace to a fallen world”, and there are those who simply refuse to buy into the concept.
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Christians who understand these things tend to do well. Christians who cannot or will not give in to these basic truths are usually those who tend to get stuck in a pit of anger and rage. I spent a lot of wasted time stuck in that pit after my own divorce, and I’ve come to realize that if I have a problem with another person, my problem is really in my relationship with God.
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Anger and rage seems to stem from two root feelings:
1. A belief that something irreplaceable has been stolen from you.
2. A refusal to acknowledge that everyone, including those in whom you have invested, has the unfortunate freedom to live in sin and rebellion and to treat you badly.
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Your freedom from rage might lie, in part, with your acceptance of these basic Christian, cultural, and human truths:
1. No one can take anything from you that God cannot replace…
You will have a new life and that life can be very good if you will tuck yourself into the Lord for the long term.
2. A marriage license is not an ownership certificate…
While we agree that God’s design is for couples and families to stay together, we know that divorce is sin, and sin is very ugly Sin grieves the heart of God and sin grieves our hearts as well.
3.Religious pressure does not keep couples together anymore…
A person will generally stay with another person only because they want to; not because the Church or the Bible says they have to. When a person quits wanting to stay, they will generally leave, and they will usually be very hateful in the process of leaving.
4. Your former spouse isn’t your project, and they never were your project…
All people are God’s property. He manages them according to His purposes with His infinite knowledge and His matchless love and grace. When people go haywire, God is acutely aware of it and He will deal with it in His time, in His way.
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God is totally capable, by His Holy Spirit, of addressing the issues (and false integrity) of rebellious people. He may not do it in your timetable, but, trust me, He is on the job. This person will probably never be your husband or wife again; in fact, this person may spend many months or years making your life completely miserable.
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This is sometimes the price we are forced to pay when we take on another person as a project, and possibly have children with them. Please know, in these impossible times, that God is working in your life as well. He is humbling you. He is teaching you patience and grace; and He is possibly preparing you for ministry to the mountain of people following behind you in this difficult process of divorce.
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If considering all of these things still finds you filled with anger and rage, you might want to consider the fruitfulness of your determination to continue to fight a war that has already been decided by someone else.
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It won’t be easy to make the transition into grace and acceptance of your difficult circumstance, but you will do so much better when you can quit fighting and accept the outcome of this battle with grace and peace. Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble, but be of good cheer because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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My ex and my parents are making me crazy, what can I do about it?

“My spouse doesn’t deserve to have visitation rights to our children. My anger consumes me when I think about it, but all I can do to show my disgust and displeasure is to glare at my ex from a distance and think hateful thoughts when I see him or her. I know I need to be nice, but I cannot seem to do it.”
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“My parents have decided to be nice to my ex and to include him or her into their lives, even though it makes me crazy. It’s so hard for me to be nice to my parents now, I just want to act sullen around them and hate them from a distance. I know I need to be nice, but I cannot seem to do it.”
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We hear these questions quite often, so I wanted to answer them here in one place. If you are facing either one of these situations, you can see the similarities. Each of these situations work to combine so many complex feelings within us; of mixed loyalties; of guilt and fear; of anger and hatred; of rejection and betrayal. We know that none of these feelings are very healthy to have around us one at a time, but combined together they a toxic mixture indeed.
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So what do we do about these feelings? – Well, in each of these situations, I think the answer lies in keeping the main thing, the main thing. In each of these situations we have to decide what the main focus is, and we have to concentrate all of our attention upon that main focus.
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When a farmer wants to plow a straight line, he has to focus and fix all of his attention upon a fixed object off in the distance, and maintain his course upon that object. If the farmer gets distracted by every other thing around him, he will end up plowing in a circle. Plowing in a straight line creates a furrow that water can flow in, to grow a good harvest of useful things. Plowing in a circle however, creates a hole that’s no good to anyone.
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Have you ever been stuck in a hole? – Are you in a hole right now? – The farmer knows, the only way out of a hole is to redirect his focus back on the main thing he was supposed to be looking at in the first place, and to move in that direction in a determined way.
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We know the only true direction for our lives has to come from the Bible, and the Bible says, regarding most things about our children, “Parents love your children and don’t provoke them to wrath.” In other words, parents should love their children and not make their lives unnecessarily hard. What does the Bible say then, about most things regarding our parents? Well, it says, “Children, honor your parents.” So that means we should honor our parents, even if we wish they would act the way we want them to.
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After reading all of this, you might ask, “What about my feelings and what about everything that everyone has done to me?” When you concentrate and act upon those feelings; you will feel yourself spinning into a hole. And you are spinning into that hole because you’ve lost your main focus upon the main thing. In these cases of conflicting emotions, your main focus has to remain upon loving your children and making their lives easier, not harder to figure out; and you also have to concentrate on honoring your parents and blotting out all the feelings that make loving and honoring them so complicated.
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When we keep the main thing the main thing, we can keep our emotions within a constructive range. We can continue moving toward a good harvest of quality relationships that matter to us, and we can place our former relationships that no longer matter so much, in a better perspective. Of course we have to do something with all the anger and bitterness we’re carrying around, because concentrating on those feelings of hatred, rejection and betrayal that we have so constantly around us will simply plow us into a hole.
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If you’ve gotten yourself into a hole with relationships that matter to you, either with your parents or your children, over your residual feelings surrounding your former relationships, either with in-laws, outlaws, or exes… I encourage you to turn it around and start making the main thing, the main thing.

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Are there Biblical grounds to divorce an abusive spouse?

We face this question quite often; and here is our view on the subject.
We believe the Bible clearly states that Christian husbands and wives are NOT to divorce one another, even if the other spouse is an unbeliever… (Read 1 Corinthians 7:10-13).
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When there is genuine physical abuse. Specifically, when the safety of one of the partners or children in the marriage is genuinely threatened, i.e. hitting, knife-play, throwing of objects, improper contact, etc. Trust me, no pastor in the world (ourselves included) would direct a person to stay in a home and/or tolerate that behavior. “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence.” Proverbs 14:26.
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We are to fear the Lord, not our spouse. Sometimes the confidence required is the confidence to leave a dangerous situation. Calvary Chapel Boise works with Safe Place Ministries to provide help for those in this kind of situation. Whether divorce, legal separation or simply removing oneself from the situation is the most beneficial and compassionate solution for both parties over the long term is usually decided through counseling on an individual basis.
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If an abusive and controlling spouse chooses to file for divorce in the interim of a separation, we certainly wouldn’t suggest fighting him or her for the continuation of the marriage… (Read 1Corinthians 7:15)
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Now let’s move to the subject of mental abuse.
We hear this term used more and more often in the Church, as Christians become more oriented to the empowerment philosophy of the world and less oriented to the obedience principle of the Bible.
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Before you tune me out as someone who “just doesn’t understand”, I hope you’ll let me finish. Christian wives and husbands are absolutely not required in Scripture to be doormats for demeaning or controlling spouses. The person who holds the position of wife or husband absolutely deserves to be treated with the respect due that position.
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Many times however, the person who is accused of being mentally or psychologically abusive, is really just acting like an unbeliever (whether he or she might be a Christian or not). The Bible is extremely specific that even if a spouse is an unbeliever, we are to stay with them, pray for them, and be obedient to the Lord in these difficult situations…
(Please read again 1 Corinthians 7:13)
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Only you know your heart, and only you truly know your situation. If the obedient thing to do is to stay, then stay and pray. If you choose, or have chosen to leave your marriage, you might seek some peace in the knowledge that divorce is not the unforgivable sin. But I hope you also know that divorcing your spouse will likely not make your life easier, it will probably make your life more difficult. And the clear Biblical mandate is that, after divorcing your spouse, you are to remain single or make every sincere attempt to be reconciled to your previous marriage before you remarry. (Read 1 Corinthians 7:11)
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My thoughts on emotionally abusive relationships have changed as I’ve become more experienced in ministry to those who are single and divorced. Where I once thought the term was often contrived and used by someone who might be seeking a certain justification for leaving his or her marriage, I now realize I was wrong. It’s important for us to discuss the subject of emotional abuse, because those who have experienced it need to know that it is real, and that it produces genuine long-term brokenness in it’s victims.
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Emotionally abusive relationships are usually marked by significant and prolonged outbursts of immaturity, jealousy and control.  Those of us who grew up in these kinds of dysfunctional homes often believe these types of relationships are normal, but they are not. Emotionally abusive relationships are characterized by elements of blatant disrespect and they usually end badly. I will characterize four common traits of emotionally abusive relationships and you may recognize these behaviors from your past relationship(s). If you do, you must give yourself plenty of time to get healthy before you select another person to partner with, otherwise you are likely to choose another immature and controlling individual, therefore setting yourself up for another emotional and cathartic failure.
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Possessiveness
Emotionally abusive spouses usually want you all to themselves and they will make an effort to have it that way. They do not understand that you have a life outside of your relationship with them – one that includes family and friends. It is healthy and normal for you to hang out with other people, so if your partner prevents you from doing so, this may be a sign of an emotionally abusive relationship.
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Threats, name-calling or punishment
If you are with someone who has a need to manipulate you, threaten you, blame you, punish you or call you names, and you see that this behavior is usually rooted in jealousy or possessiveness; even if this person says they were “just joking”- they mean to hurt you and keep you in line.  Abusers often cover themselves by blaming you for the consequences of their outbursts, saying that you need to lighten up or that you are too sensitive. You are not too sensitive; you are feeling in your gut that you are not being treated well. Emotional abusers have a way of making you believe their behavior is normal and that it’s you who has the problem.
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Drug or alcohol use
Not all abusers use drugs or drink excessive alcohol, but many do. An addiction can lead to erratic and inappropriate behavior. Substance abuse can be a gateway to emotional abuse and an unhealthy relationship.
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Conclusion
If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship that is characterized by a combination of these traits, there is a good chance that the abusive nature of your relationship may eventually get physical.  At first, the abuser might grab you, push you, or pull your hair. These are usually warning signs that things can and will escalate further. A disrespectful partner who has reacted violently before, (breaking things, punching the wall, etc) may be likely to physically abuse you. It is important to remember that while emotional abuse is often considered to be committed by a man against a woman, women are very capable of emotionally abusing men. You must settle the issue within yourself, that emotional abuse is never acceptable at any time, in any relationship.

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If I, or my Church had been more disciplinary or assertive; could we have prevented this separation or divorce?

No, but, to be honest, I felt these things regarding my own divorce.
This thought pattern is essentially incorrect because it assumes that either you or your Church has the power or authority to force your spouse to act correctly. And the truth is, they do not.
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The only weapon the church has at its disposal, is excommunication or withholding privileges, and those remedies or punishments usually don’t have a big effect on someone who has developed a mindset and made a decision to end a marriage, whether that decision is right or wrong.
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Homes or churches have not been equipped with dungeons or chains for a very long time, and whether those things should be put back in place, is a question for another website.
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I truly don’t mean to be curt or insensitive, but the truth is we are living in the “Biblical age of grace”, and that simply means that God is choosing to be a “nice guy” for now. So, once a spouse has allowed him or herself to become rebellious, unforgiving, dissatisfied or unhappy; that marriage is basically headed for the hopper because of those choices. Painful as it may be for everyone to watch, the only one who can reverse his or her slide into rebellion and failure, is the one who started sliding in the first place.
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Sadly but justly; God has created a system where those who continue in disobedience and rebellion tend to not do well in life. The only real recourse an abandoned spouse has, is to move forward and live a life of humility, obedience and grace. He or she is now free to begin a life that the Lord can bless. In this way, you are choosing to allow the Lord to handle the long-term discipline of your former spouse.

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How come I got nailed by church discipline because of our divorce; and my spouse got off so easy?

I’m not a real big fan of corporate church discipline in cases of divorce, but the real truth is that no-one is a bigger sinner than you, or me, or your former spouse. It is futile to argue or wrestle in your mind about who is the biggest sinner or who did what to whom.
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The truth is; we all deserve to die for our own sin. But simply through the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ; we don’t have to. Sin, in its entirety grieves the heart of a holy God, and it should grieve our hearts as well. Paul says: “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23.
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It took a LOT of sinning on the parts of both of you to get you into a divorce, and both of you could probably stand to repent and grieve over that sin.
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If your former spouse isn’t repentant over his or her sin, then you might grieve for both of you for a season, until you can put this unfortunate event in the past. Then you must find a way to leave it there.
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I would like to address church discipline again briefly. I believe the problem with church discipline in the area of divorce is that; it is not often meted out in compassion, therefore it is rarely redemptive, but often divisive. (And your divorce is dividing your family in the first place). My personal belief is that churches would do much better with divorcing and divorced spouses if they would allow the inevitable reign of Godly discipline that consists of grace and consequences; to run its course through the lives of those involved in family breakups. Again, as quality people rebuild their lives, they usually do well. As impossible people hit the world on their own, they usually do poorly.
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If you are feeling rejected because of church discipline, you’ll do best to take the high road and forgive those involved, and find a new church if necessary. If you feel that God is disciplining you through Godly consequences, then do your best to embrace that discipline in love and try to be thankful for it. “For whom the Lord loves He disciplines.” Hebrews 12:6. The discipline of the Lord is based upon His total knowledge and love for you, and His complete devotion to your future.
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God’s discipline is never meted out in anger or malice…
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord; plans of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11.
God knows everything about you…
“Lord, You understand my thoughts before I have them.” Ps 139:2
God’s discipline strikes at the true root of the problem, not at the surface…
God’s discipline is always loving and kind, and it never goes over the top…
God’s discipline never lasts a moment longer than it absolutely has to…
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So, if people you love (or loved) have treated you badly; be a forgiver. If you are feeling the discipline of the Lord, try to embrace the loving hand of God and allow Him to expose and remove the sin. In this way, you will allow this season of discipline to pass through your life as quickly as possible. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You;
because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3
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I believe every church should provide ministry for its broken ones, because I believe the church is a hospital… Maybe our program would work at your church…

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I wanted my divorce, now I’m feeling lost and empty. What do I do?

Divorce is sin, and sin has consequences. The Church doesn’t always speak with a unified voice on the subject of divorce and divorced people, but we do. We love divorced people. We know that God loves them too. Here’s why:
1. We know that God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), and that He dispenses absolute forgiveness and grace to anyone who asks for it with a pure heart.
2. We know that your identity and future lies in your relationship with Jesus Christ, not in your marriage history.

Divorce is not the unforgivable sin, nor does it render your life unusable forever. But hardness, anger, bitterness and willfulness do render your life unusable for as long as you harbor them. That’s the real point here.
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When Jesus was talking to the woman at the well, in John:4, He said “Go and get your husband.” And the woman said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said, “I know you don’t have a husband, you’ve had five husbands, and the guy you’re with now is not your husband at all.” Now, this person had not made the best choices in life, by anyone’s standards; but still Jesus said to her; “If you would ask me, I would give you Living Water, and you would never thirst again.”
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We have seen lots of people who have gotten through the guilt and grief of ending their marriages, and the Lord is using them in awesome ways. But, it’s possible that you won’t be able to truly move beyond your past until you have done what you can to clean up the mess you’ve left behind you. And that might include finding a way to genuinely ask the forgiveness of those who were hurt in the process of your divorce. (Maybe your former spouse, children, friends, in-laws, etc..)
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I encourage you to do this in humility, regardless of the complicity of the others in the process. And I also encourage you to be open to whatever the Lord might want to do beyond that initial contact with regards to healing. If you truly can’t bring yourself to ever consider this option; then maybe your pride might be a factor in keeping you stuck in the past…

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What about Internet dating?

I know that singleness is lonely and connecting on the internet is tempting. But courtship and dating in the Church works best when it is paced very slowly and bathed in holiness, and that requires some accountability. Regardless of who runs the site you might be dealing with, you are fishing in a very deep dark pit when you mess with the Internet. As we continue to operate within this ministry, I continue to see the emotional wreckage that Internet dating has brought to the church and I continue to recommend that people stay away from it. Difficult relationships will consume your life and you were bought with a price… “For you were bought at a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which belong to God.” 1 Corinthians 6:20.
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You were called to much greater things than just finding relationships. I believe it would be better for you to allow the Lord to build you up and place you on the highest ground. Once you get there, your relationships will be in the correct perspective. You can look around at who is up there with you and decide if you want to interact with them.
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You don’t find a real prince (Or princess) by kissing frogs. You will find a real prince by serving in the palace of the King and allowing Him to give you the desire of your heart. (Psalms 37:4)

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How important is sexual purity as a single adult?

Nowhere is there more room for compromise than in the area of sexual purity. It is in this area that it certainly appears the Church is not influencing the world as much as the world is influencing the Church. “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one
will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:4
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Holiness is a tall order and it precludes not only the most obvious examples of sexual sin, i.e. adultery in all of its forms, if we would be perfectly honest, we would acknowledge that it also precludes some of the so called “Gray areas” of sexual sin as well. We are sometimes called upon to answer such questions as:
… My spouse and I are separated or divorced because we can’t get along well enough to live together, but we’re still married in the eyes of the Lord so we can still have sex, right? …
… Total abstinence from sex is too much to ask of me; what about self-pleasure? …

Here’s my answer. All of these arguments mostly come from a position of Biblical silence, and if it weren’t for the consequences these kinds of behaviors bring with them; we would probably say, yes; go ahead and participate in these things if you want to.
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But the sexual experience was designed to be the physical expression of all of the other good and pure things that are going on in a marriage relationship. Sex is part of the benefits package when you take on the “Job” of marriage… And when it is a product of anything short of that, it is a mixture of truth and fiction and it will create confusion and difficulty in the lives of those who continue to do it. “Fire inside the fireplace will warm the room, fire outside the fireplace will burn the house down!”

Practicing absolute sexual purity will build you up. Making allowances for your flesh or letting your desires place you in a gray area of sexual impurity will tear you down and keep you stuck…

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I am not sure I understand dating or what a successful courtship even looks like. Can you help?

I’ll try…
First of all, I believe the 21st century definition of the term “dating” carries some difficult connotations for Biblical Christians. “Dating” is a term that Christians have very willingly borrowed from the culture of the world, and I don’t think it fit’s into the church very well… And I find it hard to believe that God smiles on the process of His people toying, or playing around with the hearts and feelings of their brothers and sisters. I believe that obedient single Christians must surround EVERYTHING they do (Particularly with regard to the opposite sex) with an absolute “Cloud” of holiness and purity. I believe that is the standard that God set for ALL of us…
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So, when it comes to interacting with the opposite sex in a continued one-on-one manner; the operative term is not “dating” within the broad term the world uses; but COURTSHIP within the relatively narrow confines of Biblical holiness and purity… I know that many of you have tried to “Date” in the church and have found nothing but hurt, discouragement and failure…
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So, with that in mind, we’ve created some questions and answers which will create some general guidelines for courtship in the church. We hope you’ll find them helpful…

How is courtship different from dating?
…Dating stems from the selfish “me” culture of the world; e.g. “What do I want from you?”, or “What can you do for me?”… Dating seems to have a connotation that we are going to, “Try several people out. We will sow our oats and see if we find someone we like”. Dating multiple people at one time, or dating and moving on to someone else, is selfish behavior, and selfish people tend to make lousy marriage partners. I hope that serial daters get the message somehow, that they are messing around with their family members and they are also messing around with God’s children. Frankly, I believe that He takes that stuff pretty seriously.
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…But courtship stems from the surrendered and eternal mindset of a genuine believer in Jesus Christ; e.g. “What suits God’s eternal purpose for both of us?”… We were called by Christ to “Come out of the world”, so I believe that most of our actions should look completely and radically different from the way that the world operates.
…Courtship is a process of decision by two servants who are equally surrendered to the Lord, regarding whether they could serve God and one another better as husband and wife, or not. So in spending continuing time with a person of the opposite sex, we should have the long-term goal of marriage. If marriage becomes an inadvisable future goal for the relationship, then I believe the relationship should end as quickly as possible, in order to spare both parties any further grief.

Before I can have a courtship, someone has to make a first “move” and there also has to be a first date. In light of Biblical purity; what might that look like?
…Well, I believe the man should make the first move…
…Ladies, if you ask a man out; if you make yourself too available and too easy for a man to have; that man will simply never place a large amount of value in you, because it never cost him anything to get you. If you set your price at a level any man can afford, any man will have you.
…Men, I cannot say this strongly enough. You will never know what God has for you, until you learn what He doesn’t have for you. When a woman approaches you to initiate a relationship, it is a bold move. If you truly desire to love and serve a woman in holiness and purity for a lifetime; that woman must be a devoted servant as well. Pure, devoted, demure and Godly servants are very rare indeed, and these individuals have usually learned to wait upon the Lord. And they usually don’t approach men to initiate a relationship.

Now that a guy has mustered the courage to ask a woman for a date; what happens next?
…Well, I believe that a first date should be innocent, inexpensive and independent. For example; this might be a meeting for ice cream or coffee; with a maximum outlay of around five dollars (You should have your own five bucks, by the way). This should be a meeting in a public place for a planned amount of time, and it should be a meeting that allows you to arrive (and leave) in separate cars… The reasons for this are simple, but they are profoundly important…
…An innocent first date sends a message of purity.
…An inexpensive first date creates no future obligations.
…An independent first date allows either of you to terminate the meeting if necessary, without too much awkwardness.

What qualities am I looking for, before the two of us decide to move beyond a friendship into a courtship?
…We cover this subject in greater depth in our books. We even include a chart in our workbook to help the two of you navigate this emotional decision. Briefly, you are looking for, in your partner, a verifiable history of quality, purity and devotion to the Lord Jesus, and your partner should be looking for the same things in you.
…The general rule is that, “You must become the right person before you look for the right person.” Immature people often make excuses for bad behavior in other immature people. We must never do that again. So I believe, the decision to become a “Courting couple” should be fun; it should be serious; and it should be mutual. And it should usually happen within several months of your meeting…
…If it sounds like I’m suggesting that you cause your courtship to move very slowly, please read further…

So, again, what does a successful courtship look like?
…Well, in my opinion:
1. A successful courtship should last a substantial amount of time;
it should be fruitful; and it should make genuine progress as it continues.
2. A successful courtship should be held loosely, like all of your possessions.
3. A successful courtship should be selective.
4. A successful courtship should be fun.
5. A successful courtship must be sexually pure.

Now that I have made these points, let me try to explain them:
A successful courtship should be long, fruitful, and progressive.
…In terms of length, we recommend two years. Joanne and I had a two-year courtship; and we didn’t just pull that figure out of our two hats. Dr. Dobson, Gary Smalley; and lots of others agree with us.

…The biggest reason for a two-year courtship is, that it will take time for a couple to walk and talk through the various issues; and to form a bond with one another… It takes time for the major things you will face in your marriage to be exposed in you, and in your Mr. or Ms. Wonderful. You must allow enough time for the normal period of infatuation to wear off (usually six months to a year), so you can see the real person…

…In the process of this long courtship, you should be hitting some defined progress points in your relationship… These are points where you are becoming closer and more committed to one another… If these points are not being met, you must not allow an under-committed; or an overly timid individual; drag your heart around forever… Therefore:

A successful Courtship should be held loosely.
…The goal for Christian marriage is for two mostly-confident, committed, servant believers to come together to create a union that makes each of the parties more effective for the Lord than either of them would be on their own. The Bible says: “For I have learned to be content in whatever condition I find myself.” (Philippians 4:11) It also says, “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence.” (Proverbs 14:26).

…These verses prove that it is possible to be a content and spiritually confident single adult. But, if  we won’t allow ourselves to be content in our current circumstance; chances are, we will be “needy” in pursuing relationships…

…Needy people tend to cling to romantic relationships. Needy people tend to become “Too close, too soon.” And a needy person will often give his or her heart away too quickly. When you give your heart away too soon, you won’t really see or you will refuse to acknowledge even the most obvious bad behavior patterns in your chosen individual…

…Confident people are capable of loosely holding a relationship. By maintaining a loose grip, we can maintain some emotional control. That emotional control will allow us to either, “have the difficult conversation” with our chosen one, or possibly to end the relationship if an impossible behavior comes up in the process of a courtship…

…Most every divorce is the result of behavior patterns that were clearly present in individuals before and during the courtship phase. So we must allow enough time in courtship for these behaviors to come out and we must be willing to address these behaviors correctly…

A successful courtship should be selective.
…A courtship means that both of you are choosing someone to bond with and to make a lifetime commitment to. But most of the people you will meet (and some you might fall for); will simply not be a candidate for marriage… All of us have flaws and deficits; and you might make allowance for a few minor flaws; but if you blow past a major deficit to get into marriage with someone; you will pay the price for that decision for a very long time…
So, we encourage you to be very choosy.

A successful courtship should be fun.
…Your courtship should be the most fun you have ever had with ALL of your clothes on! If your courtship is a bunch of work; or a load of problems and interpersonal issues; you should run like the wind!

…Your courtship will paint the outline of what your marriage will look like, so you should pay close attention to the ways the two of you interact with one another in various stressful situations… An occasional “kerfuffle” is normal as the two of you bond together; but if you are fighting in courtship; you will probably be at war in marriage…

A successful courtship must be sexually pure.
…Bonding a couple together so they can stick forever; is a lot like gluing any other project. It happens over a period of time, often using some heat and pressure. The heat and pressure in a courtship will come from your obedience to your commitments to sexual purity and denying your flesh…

…I truly don’t mean to be harsh or dogmatic about this; but building a long-term foundation of purity for a vow that lasts a lifetime is a worthy investment to make. Making the investment in a pure, bonding courtship will pay awesome dividends for your future. Not doing so will cloud your vision and it will create disrespect in your marriage, which will be very hard for you to overcome…

You must ask questions to discover who you have
Many of you recognize that you have gotten to this place of separation and divorce because you have made a poor choice in marriage. You have seen that your feelings, emotions and appetites have driven the bus and decided the direction of your life and they have sadly brought you to grief.

Now that you realize the sad consequences of those decisions, the most important thing you can learn is that you cannot follow your heart, you must learn to take control and lead your heart. You must not allow your feelings to drive your purpose in life. From now on you must place your feelings, emotions and appetites in the back seat of the bus and you must forcefully tell them where you are going.

For many of you, taking control of your heart will require a dynamic change in the way you make decisions.   Taking control of your heart will also require you to take the ultimate responsibility for the way you direct your life.

We know that romance requires a certain amount of giving yourself over to another person, and people do not come with a guarantee, but if you are to seek a new relationship and remarriage, we want to help you prepare for and make the best decision you can, and you must not allow yourself to be blindsided by someone simply because you:
A. Were not prepared within your heart to make a good decision.
B. Did not have a complete list of things to look for.
C. Did not ask probing questions and follow-up with observation.

We’ve designed some interview questions to help you learn many of the innate and unchangeable traits, quirks and attributes of your potential new mate. The goal here is not to judge, and you should not ask every question in sequence on your first coffee date, but you should ask these questions (and more like them) relatively soon.

If you continue to pursue this relationship, you must quietly observe your person to see if his or her lifestyle bears out their responses to your questions. You must also be prepared to answer the questions for yourself, because your new person has the right to know these things about you as well.

Questions to determine his or her Biblical commitment
Are you a Christian?
What is your church history?
Where are you serving?
Do you tithe?

Questions to determine his or her relationship commitment
Have you ever cheated in a relationship or marriage?
Have your parents and siblings been faithful in marriage?
Have your exes cheated on you?

Questions to determine his or her financial commitment
What is your work history?
What are your financial and retirement plans?
Do you know your credit score?
Do you have a savings account?
Would we have a joint checking account?

Questions to determine his or her family commitment

Tell me about your relationship with your children?
Tell me about your in-laws, outlaws and exes?
Tell me about your parents and siblings?
Can I meet these people?

Questions to determine his or her personality type
(Note: Folks smarter than me have determined these four personality types and we have found them to be reliable and predictable. The four types are: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholy and Phlegmatic. Everyone seems to incorporate a combination of two of these types with one being primary. [So a hot tempered, driven achiever who is friendly enough to sell ice to eskimoes would probably be a Choleric/Sanguine] The list of questions below are very brief so we encourage you to do more research on the subject
…)  

Are you innately happy, or are you prone to sadness?
(Melancholies are deep and dark, sometimes moody)

Are you the life of the party or are you reticent in a crowd?
(Sanguines are chatty and popular, sometimes unfaithful)

Do you like to be in control, or go along with the program?
(Cholerics are dominant and opinionated, maybe abusive)

Do you have a need to work, or a need to rest and think?
(Phlegmatics are slow and thoughtful, often boring but loyal)

Questions to determine his or her propensity for a secret life
Are you a morning lark or a night owl?
(Night owls tend to be secretive, morning larks are more open)

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