For Better, Not Worse

Last month, as I waited in my hair salon for the goo on my head to perform the miracle of turning back time, “Sue” (alias) announced her tale of woes that ended the prior week in divorce.

Sue seemingly was married to Attila the Hun. If what she said about him was true, words like unlovable, despicable and dangerous come to mind. Kiddie pornography. Beating dogs. Mean and armed.

Then Sue shared that her ex had Parkinson’s. Based on her understanding of the symptoms, changed behavior can manifest itself. In her retrospect, his bad behavior started about five years prior – about the time of the Parkinson’s onset. He was a nice guy before that.

One of her friends had told her that she was lucky she got out when she did. “Otherwise, I would have ended up his nursemaid.”



Was Sue’s friend right?

Was it good that she got out when she did? After all, why should Sue give up good years of her life taking care of Mr. Despicable?


Was Sue justified?

Was she right divorcing her husband in light of his bad behavior?

What would you do? (No copping out and saying that wouldn’t happen to you. If the disease was the cause, he was not at fault.)


Did you promise “for worse?”

Think back to your own wedding. Did you say the traditional vows to your spouse before God, but really mean…

For better, not worse

For richer, not poorer

In health, not sickness

To love and to cherish until death do us part … unless things get worse, we go broke or you get Parkinson’s, which causes a deterioration in your cognitive function, at which time I will dump you so I don’t have to be your nursemaid.


When does God prescribe divorce?


When does God allow divorce? For adultery and when an unsaved spouse leaves. But God still does not want you to divorce … ever. (And aren’t you thankful he doesn’t divorce us?)

But inasmuch as God does not want divorce, he also does not want you harmed. Even as it relates to our heart, he tells us to protect our hearts because they are the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23).


In the Beginning

A wedding is the culmination of a dating relationship of two whose brains are on drugs … “love drugs.” They’re hormones created by the body to first attract you then get you addicted to the other. Even our male/female hormones change. Men produce more estrogen and women more testosterone. (Explaining women going to sporting events and men to ballet – before the nuptials.)

In-love brain scans show little activity in the frontal (thinking) lobe, and lots of activity in the anterior (emotional) section. Hence, “love is blind” and “what was I thinking?”

Believing that your intended will ever be anything less than the idyllic is virtually impossible in this drugged state. “For worse will not happen to us.” “Love will get us through.”


First comes love…

Then comes marriage, then real life begins – the messy stuff we find in the Garden of Eden, where everything was perfect and Adam walked with God. How many marriages would survive the he said/she said of the getting kicked out for bad behavior. Can it get worse than that?


Who broke their vows?

Was it Sue for divorcing her husband? Is it breaking vows if he didn’t cheat or leave her?

Was it her ex for his despicable behavior?

The truth is they both broke their vows, and you break yours every day when you put your needs above your spouses. It’s called sin.

Jesus taught us that we are to love our spouses sacrificially as he loved the church (Ephesians 5). That’s a tall order. He gave up his life for us “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8).  And aren’t you glad that he didn’t dump us before he had to nursemaid us?


What can you do?

  • Consider your troubles. If they are few, thank God and keep loving and cherishing your spouse. If you find yourself in a messy marriage where trouble and or danger abound, get help. Get out of harm’s way. Call 9-1-1 if you are in physical danger.
  • Consider your vows. What does it mean to love and cherish? How can you do that more perfectly? How can you love the unlovable?
  • Join a class like Family Life Skills offered by Living Water Christian Counseling or marriage programs.
  • Seek counseling or a marriage mentor.
  • Pray for God’s wisdom and guidance daily.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Do you believe this promise only when it’s better, or do you know that God will carry you through the “for worse?”


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Patricia Hartman, CPA is the owner of Patricia Hartman, CPA, PA, a tax and forensic accounting practice. She has worked with hundreds of divorcing clients. She is the author of “The Christian Prenuptial Agreement” available at She is the president of South Florida Word Weavers and a board member of Living Water Christian Counseling.

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