Sometimes We Think We Want a Divorce, But What We Really Want Is Our Joy Back

BY: - 11 Dec '12 | Home

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Photo Credit: Pugoodwins

A woman wrote me recently asking for advice about her failing marriage. Life was really taking a toll on her and her husband. They were caring for a terminally ill parent. They were growing apart after 8 ½ years, resulting in a non-existent sex life. When they did speak to each other, well, you can imagine that their words were not always kind. So, they finally had “the talk.”

You know which talk I’m talking about, don’t you? D-I-V-O-R-C-E.The husband was leaving it up to the wife to decide whether to stay or to leave. And the wife was torn. Sort of, but not really. Embedded in her email of all the things that were going wrong within the marriage was one sentence that stood out to me.

“I want my joy back!”

Never once did she say, “I want a divorce.” Not once. So, in my response I pointed out the answer to her question about a possible divorce.

“You don’t want a divorce; you want your joy back.”

This woman’s situation is more common than you think. Sometimes we think we want a divorce but what we really want is our joy. Life and marriage and kids and work and health issues and aging parents and the cost of living and whatever else you can think of will rob you of your joy if you let it. There is no surprise here. But, as I told this sister, she can get her joy back and the marriage too.

Recovering your joy is much easier than going through a divorce. And, it begins with understanding that:

True joy comes from the Lord –not from people or from things but from the Lord.

True joy resides in knowing that no matter what life throws at you, you are more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37)

True joy comes from knowing that although weapons may form against you, they don’t have to prosper. (Isaiah 54:17)

True joy comes from knowing that if you seek God first, everything else will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

True joy comes from knowing that when a husband and a wife are in agreement in Christ whatever they ask of God will be done. (Matthew 18:19)

I can’t think of any better joy than that. And, it’s available right now, even in a troubled marriage. So, when you are going through hard times, ask yourself: do I really want a divorce or do I just want my joy back?

BMWK, how do you protect your joy when life gets overwhelming? 

About the author

Dr. Michelle Johnson wrote 75 articles on this blog.

Dr. Michelle Johnson is the founder of Alabaster Woman Ministries, an online international women's ministry. She is a wife, mother, writer, speaker, teacher. Through her daily blog, online radio show, and video Bible studies, Dr. Michelle encourages women and married couples to make God the center of their lives.

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30 WordPress comments on “Sometimes We Think We Want a Divorce, But What We Really Want Is Our Joy Back

  1. DJ

    Why is black folks answer always “god”? Sounds to me like another way to avoid action or accountability or a way to accept a bad situation. I agree with the premise of “getting ones joy back” but from a mans perspective his wife is his joy but I’m willing to bet the problem is that with all the things going on tthey do not put each other first. One of the vows is “forsaking all others”. Most people can’t do that and over time resentment creeps in. So how does putting another thing in between the marriages help? Just a queston.

    Reply
    1. Sheree

      Hi DJ,
      I will chime in. First of all, we as blacks are historically spiritual people. We had no choice! All we could do when our children were SOLD right before our very eyes… We prayed. When mens’ were being raped by the master… We prayed. When we get married, it’s before GOD and we pray. And by the way, those that know and recognize their purpose and existence guess what?! They pray from Islam (several times a day) to Buddhist to Jehovah’s Witnesses. WE ALL PRAY. Seeking God isn’t a “black thing”, it’s a mature thing and its he right thing. When you are sick, you see a doctor for guidance. Most mature couples seek guidance from the ULTIMATE DOCTOR when their relationship is sick, so that they can take worldly action. I hope that others chime in as well and you get an answer to your question. Take care!

      Reply
    2. Superwife

      The reason black folks answer is always GOD is because if you are a true follower of biblical principles, you will see that putting the spouse first, not being selfish, seeing the glass half full, knowing that everything (including hard times) is temporary and that you can make it through all of it by being grateful not complaining. Even scripture says “faith, without works is dead”. So nobody is saying don’t do anything – but if you cannot get your mind off yourself, you cannot begin to see your way through to the action plan that will change the situation and improve it. That’s why black people always pick the God solution. Peace and blessings.

      Reply
    3. T Ann

      Christians believe that God is the source of all life and direction. If a husband and wife both believe in God then they will have common principles on which to base their way of life, accountability, choices, etc. By focusing on God’s teachings, those who are considering divorce should be reminded that in life, it is best to focus on things that are intangible (faith, love, hope, trust, truth, etc) and that situations are temporary. I believe that Dr. Johnson is showing that if they rely on the love of God and teachings of God they can find joy… people are not perfect so you can’t depend on someone for joy. Once they realize that, they can open up communication and figure out what first brought them together, how they can be a better mate to one another, and how to love one another again. Turning to God is in no way taking the focus off one another, in fact it should be something that unites them.

      Reply
      1. stephanieb

        Great comment T Ann and Superwife, you took the words right out of my mouth. I’m not married, but I agree, when a couple is doing things God’s way, instead of their own way, they will find out that their relationship will go much smoother.

        Reply
    4. Cenia

      God should not only be between the marriage….he should be ahead; beside and behind the marriage. He should be the Glue between the two that holds them together. Dr. Michelle did a wonderful job in directing this woman to God. For once she receives her joy again she can help her husband(as his help meet) find his again. Wonderful article Dr. Michelle. Thank you!

      Reply
  2. Briana Myricks

    Thank you Dr. Michelle for this message! I think we can all relate to this, and this hit home for this time in my life. Finding my joy is my resolution for the new year. I can’t put it on my husband to bring me joy. I must find it in God.

    Reply
  3. Ouida Perkins

    Excellent!!! true inner desire..joy..unspeakable Joy, God’s great Love with one another ..Love you Babe, one touch – TY God.

    Reply
  4. Tina

    I have to say my initial thoughts were along the same lines as DJ. I think the post is insightful, but still leaves me, as a Black woman wondering when the seemingly never-ending narratives of God is with you and joy comes in the morning will dissipate, and instead be replaced by concrete examples of practical resources for those in need. How do we find the people and support to help in a crisis, how do those of us not in crisis make ourselves available to support those of us who are? What ministries, community groups, govt. prog., etc. exist to support struggling couples?

    Reply
    1. Zhodges

      Tina,
      I appreciate your honesty. It sounds to me that you may need to be in a church. I say that because church isn’t just a place to go on Sunday mornings, it’s a place where you grow together with other sisters in Christ. As you are doing that, you develop another “family”. Women who know about your struggles and will walk with you. A pastor who knows as well who will give you direction and wisdom with your situation. What happens is that most of the time, some folks don’t join a church or they aren’t involved meaning, beyond just being on the choir but is investing in others lives, etc. That’s where I’d start with you is wondering if you are a believer and is apart and growing in a church body?

      Reply
  5. Kevyn

    Even when God is present, this does not mean joy will automatically return. I feel that far too often people sit back and wait for God to fix everything instead of using the God giving abilities they have to fix their issues. “God helps those who help themselves”, I know the saying is not really in the Bible, but its one I feel people need to adhere to much more often. Sitting back & saying that your “putting it in Gods hands” has been used as a crutch for far too long. When you have a strong mind, body, & soul, God has already given you all that is required to find a solution to all your issues. It takes BOTH people involved in the marriage to do what needs to be done to make it work, not depending on others, including our Lord & Savior! Cause he has already did his part, now it’s time for US to step up & take responsibility!

    Reply
    1. stephanieb

      I can’t say that I completely agree with your comment, but you do have a point. For instance, I have seen ministers who are supposed to be teaching others the Word and how to have a successful marriage, but their own marriages are in trouble, they are never home, spouse is straying, and kids are doing all kinds of things. I think that the problem is, like the Word says, we have to be not only hearers, but also doers of the Word. Far too many people hear the Word and read the Word (and some don’t even do that), but that’s as far as it goes. They fail to put it into action and then wonder why their life and their relationships are messed up and in the end all they are is a hypocrite.

      Reply
      1. Kevyn

        Very true. I’ve just seen far too many people sitting back & waiting for others, (including God) to fix their problems instead of taking responsibility & doing what needs to be done. Nothing wrong seeking guidance, but just like anything that needs to be fix, you have to get in & get your hands dirty & not leave it to someone else.

        Reply
  6. Rena

    Wow.. This also hit HOME for me. I have been holding on to my marriage for 10 yrs. Its seems as though going to marriage counseling and communicating more that things are working out. Thanks for sharing. AWESOME!!!

    Reply
  7. Val Fleming

    The answer of whether you should stay or not is for you to decide. The bible is there to give instruction on marriage but if two people can’t even read the bible without disagreement, then there is a big problem. If you are finding that your wants and needs are not being met, there is a problem. When you are being lied to and things are done behind your back, then there is a problem. When your sexual relationship with the person is not the same as it use to be, then there is a problem. When you see that you are willing to do everything to fix the issues while the other keeps making promises to work them out, then there is a problem. Some may disagree with this but if your relationship falls under all or any of these issues, it is obvious that there is in fact, a problem in your marriage. No counselor can truly fix these kinds of marital issues if only one person is present to make changes.
    My mom stayed in a marriage for a long time unhappy and what happened, she started to take it out on her children, and what happened, her husband had enough, and what happened he was unfaithful and then what, they separated, and now what, she is alone but guess what, she is more happier now than ever before. I am not saying that this should be your first option but being in an unhealthy marriage for years benefits no one and yes your children will not benefit either. What your children will see is that you barely communicated with your spouse, showed little love toward them, argued a lot, maybe even fought, and even though you read the bible, it is not fully applied to your life. What does this do for them?

    Reply
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  10. Gizzle

    As a non expert on anything, I’m going to address what the letter said.
    1) It doesn’t sound like the husband wants a divorce, but he’s willing to let you go if you want it. Sounds like everyone is emotionally drained because of . . .
    2) Dealing with a terminally ill parent/relative : Just did this in my family. Not fun, for anyone. There will always be ONE person (most responsible/financially stable/oldest child or sibling or relative) who shoulders the Lion’s Share of the burden–this will be annoying and upsetting for all involved when other family members don’t step up and step in to help, or only show up to cause trouble, fyi. There are support groups for this for people who look for them (just google “disease support groups”): Alzeimer’s, cancer support groups, even ones for grief and end-of-life. There are usually locally chapters all over most major cities.There are also resources for choosing Palliative care, and “relief teams” for in home care when the caretaker needs to take a weekend or day to recharge etc. Hospitals and nursing homes have resources if you ask them, but definitely do an online search on your own.

    It is hard to get your joy back when your parent or the parent of someone you love is dying right before your eyes . . . death is not pretty or neat or convenient. I don’t think that means you should give up or feel hopeless, but I agree in thinking you don’t “want a divorce”. Just know that death, just like other things, is a normal part of life. Therefore you and your hubby (and rest of family) need to find support/counseling/outlets that helps you manage this difficulty and come out intact. I think that a church could be a supplement to other targeted secular support groups that focus on your particular issue: terminal illness of a loved one. (There are also religious based for those who want them).

    Reply
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