Creating Relational Security
Through an Anti-Divorce Contract
Greg Smalley, M.A.
Even if marriages are made in heaven, man has to be responsible for the
- Kroehler News
"...'til death do us part." I can still remember saying those words to my
wife on our wedding day. However, I don't know if I'd thought about the exact
way to keep that commitment. With so many books, videos, marriage conferences
and counselors, there's plenty of help available. But, important as these things
are, marital researchers are finding that emotional security is essential for
preserving a relationship. One woman realized this as she complained to a
marriage counselor. "When my husband won a trip for two to Hawaii, he went
twice!" Sadly, this wife is probably not secure that her marriage will last
forever. As the divorce rate continues to clime, how can we provide relational
peace of mind?
I recently saw video of a family placing sandbags and
boarding up their house that illustrates what we can do to provide emotional
security. The family's home was situated on the Florida coast. Although the
forecast called for mild rain, the family was not taking any chances. I'm sure
neighbors called them paranoid or laughed at them for worrying about a simple
monsoon shower. Later that night, however, the town was hit by a massive
hurricane-like storm. Pictures the next morning revealed mass destruction.
Interesting was the news footage of that family's house. Although badly damaged,
their home was saved because they'd taken the necessary precautions.
many ways, marriage can be like a storm. Most of the time, couples experience
small rain showers. But sometimes, marital problems can feel like a hurricane.
When this happens, unless the appropriate precautions have been made, thoughts
of divorce might surface. In other words, when we're deeply offended, the last
thing on our mind is finding the right help to resolve the problem. Therefore,
having specific steps in place before the storm hits can make the difference
between broken windows and losing your home. So how can we take measures to
protect our marriages from the destructive storms of life? One way is to create
a anti-divorce contract.
Developing An Anti-Divorce Contract
The goal when creating this contract is to establish several mutually agreed
upon steps to undertake before seeking a divorce. For example, agree on the
minimum number of marital sessions, which friends could serve as a support and
prayer group, which marriage books or videos need to be read, a commitment not
to be romantically involved with anyone during this period, the specific number
of months to wait before a divorce, whether to get a legal separation first,
voiding the contract for physical abuse, and so forth. These are a few possible
questions to consider. The key is to brainstorm every possible step to take
before seeking a divorce. You might even have several other couples who would be
willing to make the same commitment to brainstorm with you. Several heads are
better than one!
The final point is to determine the consequences if the
contract is not honored. Usually, financial ramifications work the best. I
encourage you to get your pastor, friend, or lawyer's signature on the finished
You may be thinking, "Divorce...that will never happen to us!"
I know how you feel. My wife and I made a commitment that divorce will never be
an option. However, feelings change. There will be times that you will not feel
"in love" with your mate. For whatever reason, you may even consider separation
or divorce. Therefore, as Christian couples, we need to do everything within our
power to guard against making decisions based on fluctuating emotions. Having a
written contract can help you make the right choices to strengthen your
relationship and to keep your promise "'til death do us part."
© 2002 Smally Online. Used by permission.