To Divorce or Not To Divorce (Part 1)

(This blog post is based on my personal story with the understanding that every story is unique. We may not share the same opinion and that’s ok. It’s a long one, so hold tight!)

I’ll never forget the day I met {him}.
It was the fall of 2009, a beautiful sunny day, and my phone dinged as I walked across campus to class. I had winked at him on an online dating website and lo and behold, he winked back! If you’ve never experienced online dating, you don’t know what a thrill it is to get attention from someone with a good looking profile picture. Quite the confidence booster!! We messaged back and forth over a period of several days, exchanged phone numbers and talked non-stop.

This was a guy who made me smile and I enjoyed the way he made me feel. We decided to meet for dinner and I’m not saying it was love at first sight, but it was pretty close. From that moment on, we were inseparable. If we weren’t together, we were burning up the phone lines with text messages by the hundreds. The progression of falling in love happened so quickly and naturally. He was a great Christian guy and I knew God was saying yes to us being together. A few
months later he proposed and we were married in April, just seven months after that first wink.

The joy of being a bride was a moment I had always looked forward to. I was twenty-nine when we married, which felt so old at the time…I had thought I would be single forever when he swept me off my feet. I became wife and step-mom all in one day and I was absolutely THRILLED!!! It was the instant family I had always wanted. There was always some new reason to brag about him on Facebook….flowers and jewelry and trips, oh my!

We traveled frequently, taking romantic trips just the two of us and family trips to the beach and DisneyWorld. It was the dream life with a dream guy. Then, we bought a house and remodeled it together from top to bottom. He would have a few drinks at night to relax after a hard day at work and I thought nothing of it. Some nights, I would join in and we would “relax” with our drinks together. It became a bonding experience…and then, a habit. As the debt from house projects and travel and living the high life went up, so did the drinking.

Recently, I was told that the most revealing moment in a marriage is the day you discover how your spouse sins. We’re all sinners, but up until that moment, you had delusions that you were married to the perfect person. That moment is when the true choice to love begins. To stay committed, for better or for worse, ’til death do us part. But what does “for better or worse” actually mean? And how much of the worse are you willing to take before throwing in the towel.
What happens when your spouse chooses their addiction over you? Or when they step outside the boundaries of your marriage and turn their affection to someone else?

As a Christian woman, I was taught to never give up on my marriage….no matter what. I believed that God could work a miracle if I prayed hard enough and did everything I was supposed to do. What a rude awakening I was in for. We separated after months of fighting and I fell to my knees and prayed that God would restore my marriage, that He would work a miracle and bring this hater back to the man I knew he could be.

Sometimes, the marriage can’t be saved and God instead saves the person. I learned that the hard way on September 27th, 2016, when the person I had promised to love, for better or worse, shot me outside of our home in a drunken rage. The worse had suddenly gotten a lot worse and I had a choice to make…to divorce or not to divorce. The answer may seem easy to you from the outside looking in. He shot me. He committed a physical act of betrayal against my body, but as crazy as this sounds, I still believed that God could work a miracle in him.

I believe when you’re struggling with saving your marriage, you need to ask yourself two questions:

#1 – Is the intentional sin your spouse is committing causing you physical, emotional, sexual or spiritual harm (meaning is it coming between you and Christ)?

#2 – Are they sorry for the sin they committed? Is there remorse, repentance and a willingness to make it right?

If both answers are yes, the marriage can probably be saved and you should wait it out to see how God moves. He can work incredible miracles if we let Him! If the answer to #1 is yes and #2 is no, there’s a problem. Let’s look at question #2 a little closer…

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another,
for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

(1 Peter 5:5)

What is remorse? Google says remorse is an emotional expression of personal regret felt by a person after they have committed an act which they deem to be shameful, hurtful, or violent. If he had shown even a smidgen of remorse, I may have reacted differently. Instead, he tried to have me charged with burglary. Yep, that happened. His last opportunity to show remorse will happen in less than a week when we make our final court appearance. I pray that God leads him to make a brave choice, so we can both move forward separately.

Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)

What’s the difference between remorse and repentance? In the simplest terms, remorse is a feeling and repentance is an action. While I was in counseling, my pastor told me that “repent” was a command used by the Roman military which called for a turn of 180 degrees, an “about face.” Sure, your spouse can tell you they’re sorry, send you flowers and gifts, but the real test comes in their repentance. Have they made an 180 degree turn and are you seeing physical changes backing up their words? Words are easy to say in the moment, but the action behind them is what really matters.

Be sober-minded; be watchful.
Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 
(1 Peter 5:8)

True change takes time and doesn’t happen overnight. It takes 21 days to form a new habit, so that may mean that God is asking you to be still, to wait, to give Him time to work in your spouse. You are not God. Let me say that again in case you didn’t hear it the first time…you are not God. You can’t want it for them, they have to want to change for themselves. My final wake-up call came in these words from a very dear friend, “You are not the Savior. You cannot save him.” Step back and allow God to move. I guarantee that He will do a better job than you could ever do on your own.

At the end of the day, I chose divorce knowing that God hates divorce, but He loves me more. It was a hard decision that took months to make, but I know I made the right choice for me. He has blessed me beyond measure since that day, providing me with a beautiful home, incredible new friends and the blossom of a love I never imagined possible, making me a bride once again. Stay tuned for next week’s follow-up challenge to my story…To Forgive or Not To Forgive.


If you are struggling with divorce, I highly encourage you to read a very small book that was suggested to me called “How to Save Your Marriage Alone” by Ed Wheat. It provides Godly principles on marriage and why it’s worth saving.

If you’re wanting to reinvigorate your marriage, check out the book “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers. It’s a fictional retelling of the Bible story of Hosea and it does an amazing job of showing you what true love looks like.


Sarah K. Heer is the newlywed wife of Paul, a dog-mom of 3, a speaker, storyteller and a champion for women. You can’t have the testimony without the test….Sarah believes, after a life-changing domestic violence incident, that God wasn’t quite finished with her yet and she was given a story to help others dig their way out of the mud. Miraculously, God restored a shattered soul into a woman of resilience and fire and grit. Since that day, Sarah has learned that resiliency can be taught, fire can be harnessed and grit is found when God’s grace rubs off the rough edges.