Healthy Boundaries: New Partners and Old Ones

Almost three out of four remarriages fail. One of the most common reasons for failure is the lack of healthy boundaries in the remarriage. We see this issue in a majority of the couples we work with. The emotional connection to the former spouse (whether due to death or divorce) can easily sabotage the remarriage. It is possible to demonstrate agape, God’s unconditional love, for the former spouse without remaining emotionally attached. Each spouse in a remarriage must demonstrate their allegiance to one another first, “forsaking all others”, including former spouses. This does not mean to cease communication or to be unkind, as this relationship can be a connection opportunity to glorify God.

In Genesis 21, Abraham sent Hagar and his son, Ishmael, away into the wilderness, at the demand of his wife, Sarah. This is the second time in scripture, that there was conflict between Sarah and Hagar, her maidservant. She had given Hagar to Abraham to conceive a child because she was barren. Though it grieved Abraham to send away his son, he did so out of self-denial and obedience to the Lord, who had told him to honor Sarah’s request. Abraham obeyed and the Lord still blessed Ishmael and made a great nation through him.
One of the principles illustrated here is deny self, be a servant, and obey God through putting the marriage relationship first, before all other earthly relationships, including your own children, just as Abraham did. Abraham set healthy boundaries in obedience to the Lord, denying his own grief to serve his wife, Sarah, and put their marriage relationship first, above his relationship with Hagar and his son, Ishmael. Notice he did not treat them unkindly. The Bible says Abraham was distressed “greatly because it concerned his son”. He provided for them by giving them bread and water, showing his compassionate care for them.


Marriage Myths

Myths about marriage often get perpetuated, leading many to make unwise decisions based on faulty information. In reviewing the latest empirical research on marriage in an article in the  American Journal of Family Therapy, I was a bit surprised by some of the findings. See for yourself how "with it" you are regarding marriage by taking this marriage myths quiz. It's good to know the facts!

True or false: Children are better off with divorced parents than with parents who are unhappily married.

False. The sad reality is that the effects of divorce are pervasive and long-lasting for children. A recent book "Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce" by Elizabeth Marquardt thoroughly illustrates the challenges children of divorce face. Children of divorce experience greater challenges in maintaining their marriages and have an increased risk of divorce.

Even in unhappy marriages parents are able to provide children with benefits that divorced parents cannot, such as greater economic standing, stronger family bonds, stronger connections with the community, more available time for parent-child interaction and better overall emotional health. This is by no means a suggestion that unhappy couples simply stay married, but it is a suggestion that unhappy couples get help and do what is necessary to turn the tide in their marriages.

True or false: Married people have more sex.

True. While singles may talk more about their sexual escapades than married individuals, it's just talk. Married people have sex more often than singles. I'm sure there are many married people out there surprised by this one, but the facts are that it's still better being married.

True or false: Single people have more satisfying sex than married couples.

False. Not only do married people make love more often than their single counterparts, but they also have more physically and emotionally satisfying sexual relationships. Considering the multidimensional nature of truly fulfilling sexual intimacy (mental, emotional, spiritual and physical), it comes as no surprise that the best sex is married sex.


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