Shattered. A precious vase drops to the hardwood floor. A baseball sails through the window. Adultery decimates a marriage.
Shattered. No longer whole. A thousand scattered shards. Can you put the pieces back together again?
The short answer? Yes, it’s possible.
The long answer? Maybe, and I’ll apply the answer using the three examples above.
Is it worth the repair?
The precious vase.
Whether it’s your great-grandmother’s possession passed down to you or a priceless work of art from the Ming Dynasty, yes, it’s worth putting the pieces back together.
Painstaking work requires collecting all the pieces and recreating the original with the patience of a 3-D puzzle master. You’ll need special glue, and if you want to add to its value, learn the exquisite art of Kintsugi. The final product will show all the scars in brilliant gold rivers crisscrossing the body of the vase.
Unless it’s rare stained glass or holds the sentiments associated with your great-grandmother’s vase, no, don’t repair it. Much easier to replace the window. Less work, less cost, and it will look exactly how it used to before the baseball arrived. No need to weep over the original window.
Ah. IS it worth the repair? Marriage by definition is precious. People of faith make their vows before God and man and intend for their union to last until death. Those who see marriage as a contract more than as a covenant are likely to nullify the contract over the breach of adultery, but divorce still shatters their souls.
Regardless of whether you entered a contract or a covenant, any marriage can be saved if:
- Both husband and wife want to repair it.
- They will give the repair process time.
Putting the Pieces Back Together Again—Or Not
Both parties want to repair the marriage.
Chances are good they will succeed, but it also depends on the offending party’s repentance and the injured party’s willingness to forgive. Statistics show husbands are more likely to have an affair then wives, so I’ll use that scenario.
The husband makes a U-turn in his behavior, asks forgiveness of his wife and family, and determines this situation will never happen again. That’s what repentance is—turning away from sin.
Forgiveness is a choice to love and set aside the hurt of betrayal. The wife, with God’s help, will forgive her husband and start this marriage anew. She’ll continue to demonstrate love for the man who shattered her heart. A forgiving attitude does not constantly remind him of past sins. If she throws a guilt party in his honor on a daily basis, the marriage will never become whole again. Jabbing him with her hurt feelings is like tapping her finger on a pottery shard recently fitted into place before the glue dries. Immediate disaster.
Which brings me to the sad message of a failed marriage.
IF the offender continues to sin against his wife, then he doesn’t really want to fix his marriage. Divorce will happen. And IF the wife can’t move toward a new and better relationship with her husband, if she only gazes at the shattered pieces of her marriage and can’t step away from the hurt, she makes the process so much more difficult. How can you make repairs if you only bemoan the damage already done? Can pieces be glued back together if you won’t pick them up and fit them into place?
Repair takes time.
Gluing a vase back together is painstaking, time-consuming work. The finished product will look a little different but will still be beautiful, maybe more beautiful than before.
Gluing a marriage back together is even more difficult since many of the pieces are invisible. Give each other grace. Any process based on trial and error takes a lot of time. You’ll make mistakes. Each piece may take several attempts before you find where it fits correctly. Practice the fruit of patience along with kindness, goodness, gentleness, and love.
If you were the person who broke your marriage into a thousand pieces, and you want to repair it, let me know. I will pray for God to enable you to turn away from sin and persevere in the years it will take to regain what was lost. Yes, be prepared for the process to take years. Trust is earned over time.
If your heart has been shattered by betrayal and you need prayer—to survive the pain, to learn how to forgive—please let me know. I will pray that you and your spouse gain the endurance to rebuild and repair one piece at a time.