It is no secret that tens of thousands of Native couples are married more than once. But divorce is not an unpardonable sin. While it is true that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), He loves divorced persons. After my Cherokee grandma died at age 30, my grandpa married five more times. He died an unhappy man at 85 years of age. However, it is not God’s will that remarried couples be miserable. Problems in a new marriage surface if problems in the previous marriage were not addressed. One must face questions honestly concerning what really went wrong in the first marriage.
There are several key issues that most remarried Natives face. The first is forgiving the ex-spouse. This is vital, because blended families are often plagued by someone’s bitterness. Since First Nations people tend to have large extended families, any root of bitterness will inevitably affect many people (Hebrews 12:15). One tends to take out frustrations on a new mate if a former mate remains unforgiven. Anyone who has been hurt is commanded by Jesus to seek reconciliation (Matt. 5:14-15). Unforgiveness breeds daily torment. One way to know that you have truly forgiven your ex is having the freedom to pray for them daily.
A common mistake is having sex with a potential new spouse, hoping this will ensure a strong bond before matrimony. This sin leads to distrust and infidelity later in the marriage. The Bible is crystal clear on this subject: fornicators will not inherit the Kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9). Although common-law marriages are the norm on many reservations, they are not sanctioned by God’s Word.
Another important issue in new marriages is unrealistic expectations. Those who remarry often expect the new spouse to make up for all the pain of the former marriage. Those in second or third marriages often are intolerant of any bad characteristic in their new mate reminiscent of a previous mate. One’s first marriage is usually filled with optimism, but later marriages can put one on guard against character defects. The trust that a person freely gave to the first spouse must often be earned the hard way by the new one. Statistics prove that the trust factor actually lowers with each new marriage. Every time a person remarries, their chance of divorce increases. No one wants to be hurt again. Divorce is simply too painful. Learning good marital communication skills is always a smart choice.
Only marriages built around Jesus can thrive. The woman at the well had been married five times, yet Jesus ministered to her with compassion and understanding. She responded by running into town to testify of His wisdom (John 4:6-26).
If you are now wearing a different wedding band, things have changed. As you honor God, He will honor your current marriage. With Jesus guiding your home, you are not bound to repeat the mistakes of a previous marriage. Winners in marriage are not those who never fail, but those who never quit.
Printed in Indian Life, Jul/Aug, 2007