“Cars. Dishwashers. Houses. Televisions. Phones. These eventually beg the question, “Should I fix the one I’ve got or get a new one?” It’s not always clear, and often we make more of an emotional decision than a rational decision. If we really want something new, we can always find the rationale for it. “There’s too many miles on this one.” “It doesn’t clean like it used to.” “It doesn’t have all the features I want.” “It’s not as sharp as it used to be.” “It doesn’t respond like it used to.”
I’ve watched many spouses wrestle with this decision in marriage. “Should I fix the one I’ve got or get a new one?” It’s an emotional decision, often using the same type of rationale: “There’s too many miles on this one.” “It doesn’t clean like it used to.” “It doesn’t have the features I want.” “It’s not as sharp as it used to be.” “It doesn’t respond like it use to.”
Ending a marriage typically leads to replacing a marriage, and marriage is not meant to be replaced like cars or dishwashers. I know that people ending a marriage will usually say they’re not going to get into another relationship, but they almost always do.
It may be hard to believe, but rarely is there anything big enough to warrant ending a marriage. Even when there’s infidelity and abuse, a marriage can overcome and be stronger…as long as the guilty party is repentant and the offense does not continue. I know this to be true, because I have helped many couples work through such things and come out better for it.
If it’s possible, it’s always better to work on the marriage you’ve got, than to replace it.
- You already have history together, and it’s not all bad. You have some good memories and experiences to build on. Building a new foundation from scratch with someone else will have added problems and require a lot more time and effort. Then there’s no guarantee that the next marriage will be better.
- You already know the problems in this marriage. You don’t know the problems in the next…and trust me, there will be problems there too. I believe the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. No surprises.
- It’s easier for you to repair your marriage than for your kids to recover from your divorce. Whether four, twenty-four, or thirty-four, your kids will be affected by your divorce. The probability of their marriage ending in divorcing will increase, and they will have increased concerns and uncertainties about marriage, trust, and commitment.
- You’ve contributed something to your marital problems, so why not fix that first and see what happens? Both spouses contribute to marital issues. Your contribution may only be 5%, but it still needs to be corrected or you will carry it into the next relationship. So why not correct it now and see if it will produce positive changes in your current marriage. You might save yourself the trauma of divorce.
- For Christians, it’s clear God would rather you repair a bad marriage. When Scripture says God hates divorce, it’s because He hates the pain it brings. Instead of condemning divorce, God would rather prevent it and improve marriages. If you believe God not only created marriage but has the plan to guide it and power to repair it…why not give Him a shot.
So, what should you do if you’re trying to decide whether to fix the old one or get a new one? Talk to a pastor. See a counselor. Work on yourself. Make changes. You may have tried all this, but try again. You can’t do everything to keep your marriage together, but make sure you do as much as you can.
You may be reading this and thinking, “I hear you, but there’s already been too much damage done.” If that’s you, consider this…
Suppose you severely broke your leg. The surgeon tells you that there are multiple breaks and that the situation is very drastic. Then the surgeon tells you there are two options:
- He can repair the leg, but it will not be easy. There will be surgery, much pain, and a very long rehab. But in the end, you will be able to walk and run and enjoy the things you love.
- He can cut off your leg. This too will require surgery, be painful and include a lot of rehab. In the end, you’ll be able to do some things, but not everything.
And by the way, both options will be costly. Which option would you choose?
I know that’s a loaded question. Please know that I’m not trying to be heavy-handed or guilt inducing. I’m not trying to gloss over all the complicated scenarios that are out there. I’m not saying every marriage can be saved. And I’m certainly not implying that anyone makes such a decision lightly. I’m just trying to stress thinking long and hard and long again before you answer the question, “Should I fix the one I’ve got or get a new one?”
This is a difficult subject, and I would appreciate your comments on this. Positive or negative, tell me what you think.
Copyright © 2014 Bret Legg