Clinical psychologists estimate that 80 percent of those who encounter divorce also experience severe emotional trauma as part of the marital divide. The first couple of years following a divorce, therefore, are an especially important time frame to find healing and support. Unfortunately, it’s a natural tendency for many during this tender transition period immediately to seek out unhealthy romantic relationships that end up compounding the hurt and pain instead of approaching it as a season of recuperation and spiritual strengthening.
Dr. Harold Ivan Smith, a pioneer in the divorce recovery and single adult ministry movement, has experienced divorce himself first-hand and offers some valuable advice about the readjustment period accompanying the end of a marriage. The following is excerpted from Dr. Smith’s book “Singles Ask: Answers to Questions about Relationships and Sexuality” (Augsburg, 1998):
“As a divorced single adult, I know some of the struggles of readjustment. Here are my suggestions for successfully readjusting:
I enjoy running. When it’s sunny and hot. Not warm, but hot. 95 degrees not 65. But recently in North Carolina, it seems as if we’ve inherited Florida’s weather flow. With humidity prevailing and storms emerging almost every evening. Which doesn’t bode well for someone who likes to run of the late afternoon, when it’s still sunny and hot. Exceedingly hot.
And so what that means for me is that when I’ve been out running recently. I’ve suddenly been caught in the middle of a rainstorm. Or two. Not according to plan. But that’s what happens when the weatherman can no longer predict raindrops any better than you can. You get caught. In the middle of unexpected storms.
Interestingly enough, unplanned downpours have taught me something. I’ve discovered that it’s really not that bad running in the rain. As long as it’s not thundering. Or lightning. That running in the rain can actually be refreshing. Not that I prefer it. But given the alternative of not running at all (or even worse, having to settle for a treadmill!). It’s really not that bad. In fact, it can surprisingly be quite nice. If you can get past the stares of those who drive by in dryness. Windshield wipers on. Avoiding the rain. That I’m enjoying. But looking at me. As if I’m running from something. Or as if I’ve lost something. Like my mind maybe.
Working with single adults over the past few years. I’ve found that when you’re single, it can feel a lot like being caught in the rain. Unanticipated. Misunderstood. Not the norm.
Not all singles have a problem being single. But some, perhaps many, do. They’d rather not be caught out in the rain. Alone. At all. They’d much rather be behind the windshield. And the wipers. With someone in the passenger seat. Sitting next to them. Together. Safety in numbers. No strange stares.
Relationship red flags wave everywhere. You’d think we’d learn to see them. And to heed them. But if it’s the right person who captures our attention. At just the right time. In just the right way. Then all the relationship advice about red flags that we’ve been doling out to our friends. Seems to fly out the window. As if we’re not susceptible. As if red flags don’t apply to us. At least not this time around!
Sitting across the counseling table from a married couple. Well on their way to taking the rings off. For good. After years of being together. And two beautiful kids in the mix. But something happened in recent months. Something neither one ever expected. Something he had done. With a co-worker. Female even. In secret.
That experience. His experience. That became his wife’s experience. Once she found out. Taught me something. Actually it reinforced something. That I had already learned to take to heart throughout two decades of pastoral ministry.
It’s really a simple principle. That we probably all know. But seeing it first hand. Again. Really left no doubt. At least in my mind. That it’s a principle we can’t ignore. Though we often do.
So here goes: “Broken trust is hard to rebuild.” Not impossible. But terribly hard. Maybe more difficult than anything else in life. Especially when it comes to the physical side of things. Meaning sexual intimacy. With someone other than your wife.
Nothing hurts more. Nothing strikes to the core more. Nothing sticks with you more. Than broken trust. Broken physical trust. With someone other than your wife.
May very well be true. But what does this have to do with sex and the single guy?
What one thing can we summarily say that men do NOT find attractive? In Beth Moore’s insightful book entitled “So Long Insecurity” (Tyndale, 2010), she confronts insecurity in her own life and reveals results from an extensive survey of men further dealing with the subject of insecurity. And in the process she stumbles across the “one thing” that men do NOT find attractive. Read on!
“Men are not our problem; it’s what we are trying to get from them that messes us up. Nothing is more baffling than our attempt to derive our womanhood from our men.
Sunday, June 23, 2013 – “Starved for Love” (Dr. Stanley, “In Touch” Broadcast)
NOTE: The following is a partial transcription of the “Starved for Love” message delivered by Charles Stanley as part of the “In Touch” telecast on June 23. You can watch/listen to the message at the following link, which was active at the time of posting: http://www.intouch.org/broadcast/this-week-on-tv
What statements by Dr. Stanley stand out the most to you? Feel free to comment.
SUMMARY: “Have you tried to fulfill that empty place in your life with things, but continue to be unsatisfied? Perhaps you feel starved for love. It’s not the will of God for His children to feel empty, alone and without love. He has made provision for you to be fulfilled and live with joy.”
TRANSCRIPTION: Sometimes we try to fulfill the empty place in our lives caused by lack of love by accumulating things or through repeated relationships that didn’t work out. Continue reading
“Trusting God’s goodness can be difficult. Surely if He knew me, we say, He would know I don’t want to stay single the rest of my life. If He were as loving and concerned as He says He is, He would guide us to the person we want to be with. . .
The issue of singleness and marriage is big enough to make or break our faith. We find it difficult to accept that we’re precious to God when He doesn’t give us what we think we need. We find that our will collides with God’s. But God has planned our lives carefully and intimately. Are we willing to surrender our will to His? Even though we wrestle, it’s possible to come to appreciate God’s will and presence in our lives, and to find that Abba knows best.”
– Skip McDonald in “And She Lived Happily Ever After: Finding Fulfillment as a Single Woman” (InterVarsity Press, 2005)
“Some of our deepest hurts are incurred within the context of our most intimate relationships. When we give ourselves completely to another and that person loves us back, we experience bliss. But what if we give ourselves completely and meet with rejection? Or what if we are loved for a time and then abandoned? How do we deal with the memory of such rejection? How do we deal with the wounds we incur? Continue reading
“Given the fact that 46 percent of the United States population over the age of fifteen was single at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the neglect and distortion of the state of singleness by the Western church is anything but justified. Although most will eventually marry, statistics indicate that a growing number will never do so, and many who do will find themselves single once again because of divorce or the death of a spouse. For these reasons, and in light of the fact that many of the heroes of the Christian faith have been single (including Jesus) — not to mention the scriptural teaching that singleness can be a gracious gift of God (Matt. 19:11-12; 1 Cor. 7:7) — the contemporary church stands in urgent need of reappraising its stance on the issues of singleness.”
– Dr. Andreas Kostenberger (Professor of New Testament, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) in “Marriage and the Family: Biblical Essentials” (Crossway, 2012)
“Let’s be honest. Many of us at some time in our lives have felt as though something is missing. All of us have struggled with loneliness. We’ve all felt detached, unaccepted, separated from the group we’d like to be part of. And when we find ourselves in this empty space, we typically search outside ourselves — often compulsively — for something or someone to fill it. We shop, we drink, we eat, we do anything and everything to distract ourselves from the pain of feeling alone. Most of all, we tell ourselves, If I find the right person, my life will be complete. Too bad it’s not that simple. If it were, we’d have friends that never failed us and marriages that never fractured. The truth is, the cause of our emptiness is not a case of missing persons in our lives, but a case of incompletion in our soul.
I order to build healthy relationships, you must be well on your way to becoming whole or complete. You must be establishing wholeness, a sense of self-worth, and a healthy self-concept.”
– Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott in “Relationships: An Open & Honest Guide to Making Bad Relationships Better & Good Relationships Great” (Zondervan, 1998)