Last month my husband and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. It’s a milestone reached by only about 5% of couples. To attain it, you must marry fairly young, and then survive both death and divorce. If you do, you earn the luxury of looking back on many memories and lots of challenges you’ve navigated together. You’ll learn to lean on God a lot. Staying together isn’t always easy, but in the long run, there is a sense of accomplishment.
This month I’ve found myself reading, ironically, a memoir entitled Heartbreak written by science journalist Florence Williams. In it, she records her experience of divorce after a long marriage (25 years). During the three years after the breakup of her marriage, she traveled across the U.S. and also to England and Croatia to meet with researchers, therapists and others in order to understand the effects of losing a mate. Guess what? The consensus is divorce is bad for your health. It wreaks havoc on brains and bodies. Among the documented effects are poor sleep, increased anxiety, and a weakened immune system. Many people show symptoms similar to PTSD. It can even affect your heart (yes, really!) and cause early death. Of course, these same symptoms may surface upon the death of a mate, but data about the health effects of being single, widowed or divorced, show that the effects of divorce are the most damaging. One health study calls it, “a costly life event.”
On the other hand, scores of studies show that married people live longer, have fewer instances of cancer, strokes and heart attacks, and are less likely to become depressed or overweight.
As Christians, we should not be surprised. After all, in the book of Genesis God says:
“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18
Adam, when presented with Eve, calls her:
“…bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh…” Genesis 2:23
In marriage, according to the Bible, we become “one flesh.” No wonder divorce feels like an amputation — it is!
I know there are reasons that our sinful nature sometimes makes divorce the only option. Addiction or abuse spring to mind. Still, if we know what’s good for us, we should do what we can to stay together.
6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:6
For more posts about marriage see:
The Marriage Challenge – A Book Review