Top ten reasons I'm not divorcing my wife
10. I don't want to ever date again!
Dating, for me, is too much like a job interview.
First, there's answering the help-wanted ads: "Hi. Do you come here often?"
Dressing for the interview: I've got to look casual ("I'm not intimidated by some snooty matre' de") and yet stylish ("This date is important to me, so I am looking sharp!").
The actual interview: "Do you like the swordfish here?" "Have you read John Grisham's latest novel?" "Did you hear that Western Widgets was consolidating with Amalgamated Gismos?" "Do you know you have spinach stuck between your teeth?"
And finally waiting for the phone call: If I call her the next day, is that going to look like I'm being pushy or, worse, pathetically desperate?
Plus, while you're looking for work, you don't get paid or receive benefits!
I like the security of twenty-two years (and counting) of pretty good performance reviews. Why should I go looking for another job?!
9. It will really hurt book sales if the author of a book on family values dumps his wife for an exotic dancer.
Can you see the headlines in the grocery store checkout line?
"Jimbo limbos with bimbo"
"Author abducts alien."
"Watkins whacko over wild woman."
Tabloids and investigative TV shows are looking for this kind of stuff. So, I really don't want some camera crew showing up in my driveway as I cover my face and speed away.
And publishers really aren't happy with such lack of credibility, so I'd have to change my name, my writing style, and go back to writing for the weekly shopper in Battle Creek.
Besides, you probably wouldn't take a book about "family values" too seriously (you are taking it seriously, aren't you?) if you knew I had been divorced three times and was living with a stripper twenty years my junior. (I haven't! I'm not!)
8. I like sensational, safe sex.
I have joked that if Lois were a better lover, she'd be a widow. And while I'm willing to risk death-defying sex with my wife, I'm really not that crazy about all the deadly diseases out there.
For instance, according to my doctor, genital warts is the number one sexually-transmitted disease today. And, they can only be removed by burning or cutting. There's no way I want nitric acid or a scalpel anywhere near my y-chromosome!
Of the forty diseases that the Minnesota Health Department has identified as being spread through sexual contact, some of them are fatal (AIDS), others can damage one's sexual equipment (chlamydia and gonorrhea), and at least one (syphilis) if not caught early can cause blindness, heart disease, paralysis, brain damage, and death.
And I'm not impressed with "protected" sex. Besides all the excitement of having sex with latex, condoms fail one out of five times to prevent pregnancy (and child support payments) and one out of three times to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.2
I choose to stay faithful--and healthy. Which brings me to . . .
7. I'm not that crazy about dying prematurely.
I've spent too much time on my mountain bike being chased by dogs and eating fat-free (and taste-free) food, to be killed off prematurely by a divorce.
According to a seventy-year prospective study reported in the American Journal of Public Health and the American Psychologist, divorce is comparable to two packs of cigarettes a day.3 Those divorced had a 40 percent greater risk of "premature death" than those who were steadily married. Men who remained single following a divorce fared even worse with a 120 percent greater chance of dying sooner. Women remaining single after divorce papers increase their risk by 80 percent.
And divorce can increase your chances of terminal cancer!4 That's what Dr. David B. Larson, president of the National Institute for Healthcare Research, claims following "extensive research." Divorced men were also found to be twice as likely to die of cardiovascular disease than their married counter-parts. But wait, there's more. Larson found that three times more divorced people commit suicide than non-divorced.
That's why I'm going to exercise, eat right, and stay married! (And staying married is actually easier than jogging and eating oat bran.)
6. A hit-man is cheaper than a divorce lawyer.
A local yokel recently paid a hit-man five-thousand bucks to have his wife's car blown-up (with the stipulation that she was in it) . A friend recently divorced his wife and will end up paying over five-hundred thousand dollars in costs during his life time.
A hit-man is cheaper than a lawyer.5
Let's begin with the lawyer's retainer. Hourly costs in handling the divorce (from fifty bucks up to two-hundred and fifty per hour) are deducted from the retainer fee, but that's just the beginning.
Then, there's court costs which can include fees for filing the case, transcriptions of the hearing, subpoena fees, photocopying costs, postage, telephone calls, psychiatric exams, and social service reports. (And, if you believe Grisham's The Firm, legal bills include some not-so-legal "secretarial" services.)
Now that your adding machine is warmed up, punch in child support including medical and dental costs, health and life insurance, and even college tuition.
Oh, and don't forget; your spouse is probably not going to want you hanging around the house, so add in your own housing and utility costs.
Yikes! Five thousand dollars for a good hit-man doesn't sound like a bad deal compared to a divorce. But a well-qualified marriage counselor is even cheaper--even at seventy-five bucks per one hour session for a year, that's less than four thousand! (And you don't have to spend the rest of your life making license plates.)
Lois and I chose a year of marriage counseling!
5. Like it or not, I am a "role model."
Professional athletes who snort coke, kick cameramen in the crotch, and let their hormones determine their game plan with the opposite sex claim, "Hey, I'm not a role model."
As an author and speaker, as well as simply a guy who shows up at Little League games and my local church, I don't have that luxury. Not that I want to snort coke, kick cameramen in the crotch, and let my hormones determine my game plan with the opposite sex. But like it or not, I am a role model.
"Well, if Watkins can do it--with half the Laker Girls--then so can I!" (Re-read the last sentence in Number 9!)
"Wow, if somebody who writes books about the importance of marrying gets a divorce, what chance does my marriage have?"
So, while I'm really not that crazy about carrying that much responsibility, my actions do have an effect on my readers, my family, and the local Little League team.
4. I've invested too much time, money, and effort into this relationship.
In twenty-two years of marriage, I've logged 192,720 hours with Lois. And, when I figure that, together, we've made and spent nearly a million bucks keeping each other and two kids housed, clothed, fed, and watered, that's a major investment!
I wouldn't walk away from a million-dollar business. So, it makes sense to keep the assets I've accrued.
3. I've messed up Faith and Paul's lives well enough.
The American Journal of Public Health also revealed that a parent's divorce also decreases the children's life expectancy! The chance of premature death increases 44 percent for children under twenty-one whose parents divorced. And if Lois and I break up, Faith and Paul are more likely to divorce from their spouses.6
Plus, David Popenoe in Life Without Father claims that 70 percent of long-term prison inmates grew up in fatherless homes, as did 60 percent of rapists and 72 percent of teenaged killers.7 Yikes!
Maybe staying together "for the children's sake" is not a bad idea.
2. I vowed I wouldn't.
Twenty-two years ago I stood in front of a packed church of friends and relatives and promised to "love, honor, and cherish" Lois "till death do us part."
This wasn't a "cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye" playground promise. There was no "stack of Bibles." There wasn't even any "collateral."
This was a once-in-a-life-time promise pledged to my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grand-parents, future in-laws, former baby-sitters and school teachers, life-long friends, business partners, three members of the clergy, and a church full of well-wishers.
If I don't keep my promises to the bank or utility company, they simply repossess my Honda or turn off the electricity. But if I divorce Lois, I've broken faith with not only my wife, but with a whole sanctuary of witnesses.
Sure, my brother may still trust me to watch his cat when he's out of town and I can probably still borrow ten bucks from my friends, but I'll have broken the biggest promise of my life. I want to be someone who can keep a promise.
Cross my heart--and hope not to die prematurely.
1. I really do love Lois.
I think we have a pretty good "love triangle" of eros, phileo, and agape' (Read my chapter on love).
Marriage, however, is sort of like a roller-coaster ride. There are the highs and lows of "sickness and health," "richer and poorer," and "better and worse." But if you keep your arms and legs (and other body parts) inside the car at all times, you'll remain safe through the ups and downs, turns and spirals.
For instance, Lois and I have been through some white-knuckle rides: my four surgeries in three hospitals in two months; her struggles with the "glass ceiling" as well as clinical depression and chronic fatigue syndrome; a junior high daughter who thought we had the collective I.Q. of a kiwi; a dangerously creative son with attention deficit disorder; plus all the typical in-law, financial, and child-rearing struggles.
But the "highs" have made the "lows" worth it!
That's why I'm not divorcing my wife.
(c) Copyright 1996 James N. Watkins
I just found your column on-line and read your response to the man whose marriage, from his perspective, was no marriage at all. You told him he had to stay: that the Lord had sent him this cross to bear and all he could do was to use the situation to make himself a more spiritually mature person.
I can?t help thinking that that?s all very well for you to say: if you and your wife are still married, it?s safe to assume that each of you loves the other and each of you has been equally committed to working out the problems you?ve had. Some of us just aren?t that lucky. My husband recently announced that he intends to transition from male to female. According to the healthy professionals involved, this is not a self-indulgent whim: he genuinely believes himself a woman. I have sought support through what is a very difficult time for both of us, and the responses are almost invariably some version of the ?cross to bear? theory: in short, my husband should lie to himself and everyone around him because ?God doesn?t make mistakes?, and because, after all, his pain and suffering will be rewarded in the next life. I agree that God doesn?t make mistakes, but Mother Nature certainly does, as witness children born with cleft palates. Are their parents supposed to deny them corrective surgery because ?God doesn?t make mistakes?? As to rewards in the next life, I don?t recall Jesus ever saying that self-imposed martyrdom was pleasing to God, much less would be rewarded in the next life.
Please rethink your approach to divorce. There are cases in which a true state of marriage either never existed, or has ceased to exist. In such cases, a divorce only acknowledges that reality. If the only way to please God in this situation is for my husband to try to lie to himself and for me to try to believe that lie, I?m afraid I?m going to have to opt out. I simply can?t believe God would want or be pleased by a life of dishonesty or self-delusion. [Name witheld] (December 2008)
Thank you for your email. And my apologies if my article caused you additional pain from what you are already dealing.
God perfect will is no divorce. We see this throughout Scripture.
But God's permissive will does allow for divorce for a limited number of reasons.
Jesus teaches: ?And I say to you,whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality (porneia), and marries another woman commits adultery (moichao)."
Many commentators define porneia as ?any type of sexual impropreity either before or after marriage.? Others describe porneia as ?unlawful marraige? such as Antipas to Herodias (his niece and cousin). Still other claim pornos means "male prostitute," and porne means "female prostitute," so porneia is linked to prostitution.
If your husband is indeed a woman in a man's body (and that is a whole other issue), then this would certainly fit under the "unlawful marriage" definition.
I would suggest professional counseling for both of you before you persue a divorce.
The important thing to remember is that God loves both of you unconditionally and wants what best for each of you: "His good, perfect and pleasing will" (Romans 12:2). Through counseling with both therapists and clergy, I pray you discover that.
I'm sure you get about a 100 of these a day, but I really liked your site. Nice work.
You may find it useful that I found it on blogpatrol.com. I saw about a 100 porn sites at the top of the list,
so it is very refreshing to see something like your site actually in the top.
I'm just now getting warmed up with my own www.glassgloves.com,
but if you get some time you might have a look. It is mainly about preventing divorce and turning to Christ.
I'll be reviewing your site particularly for the marriage concepts and linking to things as they make sense.
I hope this is okay with you. email@example.com December 2006
Nice site! I've included the link above. And, yes, anyone is more than welcomed to link to my site.
Hi, I just wanted to give a comment regarding your article and ask you some questions.
Like one of your other readers, It makes a huge difference if over 22 years of turmoil in your home, sometimes "love" turns into habit or obligation and one is extremely miserable. Also, in your article, it appears that you had a good relationship with your wife, including sexually. What if your wife is on drugs and goes to sleep every evening (or afternoon) because of her (medications) and never ever has a desire to be intimate? What if for 20 years you have had to do without or with yourself? What if your entire life could only be viewed as, I made the commitment, I should stay, no matter what, and I will be dead one day anyway so I may as well just live with it? What if you are a man of God and was so overwhelmed by how everyone else would view you that you stayed in this marriage for that reason only? What if you couldn't take it anymore and finally decided that to get any intimate release what so ever, you would have to find others, in other towns, or pay people just so that you can be touched. What if, in doing this, you met the woman you have always dreamed of?
I find it hard to find anyone to talk to because in the Christian Realm no one will even come close to try to understand. And I know that many who preach marriage really do understand where I am coming from, but cannot tell me what is truly on their heart, because of "right from wrong".
Is it right, to stay in a marriage where the family is miserable? Is it right to HAVE to stay when you get NOTHING from the relationship because the spouse is drugged up (like her mother was) day in and day out? Does God REALLY expect us to live that way?
It is easy to stay when you love your wife. It is easy to stay when you actually HAVE a relationship. It is easy to stay when you have a sexual and intimate relationship with your wife. Is it better to stay and ALWAYS feel on edge because your needs are never met and never have been?
[name withheld] August 2006
First, I can personally empathize with your struggle. Second, I'm trying to live outrather imperfectlyJesus' teaching, so I've got to go by what He says concerning divorce.
So, I want to say this as compassionately as I can, but I'm afraid I don't see any exceptions in Jesus' teachings for "turmoil in your home," being "extremely miserable," or "your needs are never met and never have been." In fact, Lois and I went through several years of just those situations. (Lois still suffers with depression and fibromyalgia, and she often spends the majority of the day in bed. I suffer with clinic depression.)
His words, not mine . . .
"It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery (Matthew 5:31-32).
When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"
"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"
Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery" (Matthew 19:1-9).
Somewhere Christians have gotten the mistaken notion that they deserve happiness. Jesus never promises that. He promises a "cross" and living with a spouse who doesn't meet our needs often constitutes just that. But the Apostle Paul writes:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us (Romans 5:1-5).
I've never witnessed a divorce that solved problemsit simply created a whole host of new problems. I think that's why Malachi 2:16 records "God hates divorce."
What I have seenin my own marriage and othersis that God's gives grace for difficult relationships and that if you stay with it, oftenwith prayer and professional counselingthe problems are resolved or at least successfully coped with. And, if not a better marriagea better person (Romans 5:5). (Thankfully, our marriage has survived the struggles and is now very good in its thirty-second year.)
I draw my strength from Romans 8:28 and 29:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose . . . to be conformed to the likeness of his Son. . . .
I do think I've become a bit more like Jesus after going through some very difficult times in our marriage. And that's the whole "purpose" of the Christian life. (Click here for a helpful article on this purpose.)
I pray that God will give you love, strength and wisdom as you deal with this very difficult situation.
Jim, I just read your article on Top 10 reasons you are not divorcing
your wife and they were all good reasons until I got to the #1 reason.
Perhaps it should have been worded differently. Many divorces happen
and the reason given is, "I don't love you anymore".
You're number one reason gives other people justification for divorce.
Yep, you read that right. They read it and say, well he's not getting
divorced because he is in love with his wife. Well, I'm no longer in
love with my wife, so that makes it ok for me to get a divorce. You
left them a way out by the way you described your choice to love your
Perhaps you should have worded it something like this: I choose to love
my wife like God chooses to love me.
Too many people wrap feelings around what we call love, when, in fact,
loving someone has little to do with your feelings. It's a verb. It's
a choice to love someone. Love is what God is all about. Love doesn't
come and go. Love is enduring and strong. Love doesn't leave. People
who think so don't know what love is. Brian
Thanks for allowing me to clarify my number one reason. As you wisely noted, there are a multitude of definitions of love; God's love is "enduring and strong." That's precisely the kind of love I had in mind. You can read my article on love which uses the four Greek words for "love," eros (sensual love), phileo (friendship love), storge (family love), and agape (that willful, deliberate, I-choose-to-love-you love). And I do agape my wife.
I read your article on line and found it very interesting. I have a problem and hope that you can help. My husband of 20 years asked for a divorce last August. He moved out in October, 2004 but has yet to file for divorce. He is living with his 78 year old aunt in another city. When he moved out, he said that "he fell out of love with me" and that there was no other woman in his life. Since then, I have found out that he was "friends" with a woman that he works with. She is older and also divorced. My husband said that she reminds him of me - she is outgoing, personable, smart and generous. He refuses to talk to me, acknowledge me, look at me or even come into the house to see the children if I am there. He just keeps telling the kids that he is not returning and has told me to my face "I don't love you". I pray every day that God will open his mind, eyes, ears and heart. I love him and yes, we both have said things that we should never have said. I want him back and I want to work on our marriage but how? He won't talk to me. He won't talk to the kids if they bring the subject up of him returning. I have tried talking to his "girlfriend" but she said that he is a "very, very, very good friend". Please Jim, help me. Guide me. [name withheld]
My heart goes out to you. I can't imagine how difficult and devastating this must be. I know words can't change the situation, but here's a resource that you may find helpful:
You're in my thoughts and prayers.
Jim, recently I've decided to get divorced. I thought about it many times, but I did't want to be a failure at a marriage. I've given our relationship many chances and I don't like to be taken for granted. A marriage is based on two people not one. There are many things that have happened throughout the years. I have always said make the best of what you have and don't wonder about what you don't have. As I was reading your ten reasons for not divorcing your wife I felt so sad. I'm probably going to die prematurely, get sick, my child will probably be divorced too. I'm already sad, empty, lonely as it is. It looks like I'm going to go through a depression for the rest of my life. Your wife is so lucky! [Name witheld] (February 2004)
Thanks for writing!
I am so sorry that my article had that effect. That certainly wasn't my intention. But divorce does not solve problems, it simply creates a different set of problemsand as the research shows, serious consequences.
Unless you are in a physically dangerous situation (if that's the case go to a shelter immediately), I would urge you to get professional help in keeping your marriage together. If your husband won't go with you, go alone. But get resources to work on your marriage.
As my wife and I found out, counseling is much cheaper than a divorce. With professional help, we've been able to restore and reinvigorate a very unhappy marriage. So from personal experience, I can assure you that there is help and there is hope. And I'm the lucky one!
You're in my thoughts and prayers.
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