Dr. Jim A. Talley Ph. D
Relationship Resources Inc.
Declaring War On Divorce
From Single Parent Magazine
GOWYL: Pronounced "Go Will"
by Dr. Jim A. Talley
This acrostic represents the five most destructive words to the American family, and the five most common words of marital advice given by
both professional and lay counselors, both secular and sacred!
Molly is a twenty-seven year old mother of two children. Ron, her husband of ten years, has had an affair, and has moved to an apartment.
The kids cry for their dad, Molly is miserable. Ron is still seeing this "thing"! As a Christian, what does Molly do? Some friends say, go file,
others say don't. Her family wants her to get rid of the "bum", but she still loves him! She cannot face him while he is seeing "her", but the
kids want him home and he wants to come visit the kids. She is broke and he took all of the money from the bank. He is giving her just
enough money to pay the bills, nothing extra! What is a body supposed to do?
Society: The definition of Divorce Recovery is to get a divorce, find someone new and remarry... ASAP.
Our society has shifted around to the point that they give you the same advice every time you get a divorce, GOWYL. After the second divorce
they again give the same advice. Even after the fourth divorce the advice remains the same. All of this will drive a person crazy! Our society's
definition of sanity: How fast you divorce and remarry, the longer it takes you to remarry, the sicker you are! If you mention reconciliation,
you are really SICK and need drugs and to be hospitalized right away! No one tells you that: frequency is inversely proportional to longevity in
marriage. This means the more times you get married the shorter the marriages tends to be! Each cycle of remarriage complicates you life and
the lives of your children, but no one tells you the horror stories, you just get the GOWYL advice!
What does the Bible say? 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
19 that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of
20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be
reconciled to God.
21 God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (NIV)
The dictionary definition of reconciliation is to cause to be friendly and to bring back the harmony! It does not contain the words "marriage or
remarriage"! It means to return to a state of friendship! (The word reconciliation in the Bible in this section of scripture from the Strongs
Concordance is number 2644):
1) to change, exchange, as coins for others of equivalent value
1a) to reconcile (those who are at variance)
1b) return to favor with, be reconciled to one
1c) to receive one into favor
The problem is the world does not live by the Word of God so its advice runs counter to it! The sad thing is that the church has bought into
the philosophy of the world and is giving the same worldly advice! This advice is often dipped in spirituality by the statement, "God never
created us to be unhappy; if you are not happy, get a divorce and go find someone you can be happy with!"
Many couples who struggle in their marriages feel it is best to separate, and they get support from others to do just that! The problem in the
church is that we treat separated people as if they are divorced! However, they are still married and should NOT date! Well, what is a date
anyway? There are two definitions: The first is the fruit that grows on palm trees; the second is when two people spend time alone together
and one or both of them transmits emotional energy to the other! That is a date! But you protest, "We're just friends and I really need a friend
now!" Lets define the word relationship. Relationship is when you do things with the opposite sex person that you would not do with a same
sex friend. You are in a relationship and no longer "just friends." All the rules have now changed! This problem of the GOWYL advice has
penetrated all levels of our religious community.
The National and International Religious Review reports:
Some 25% of clergy women and 20% of clergy men have been divorced at least once. (This comes from a survey of clergy in a wide range of
denominations.) The figures approximate the national divorce rate. The national survey, conducted by Hartford Seminary in 1993 and 1994,
found that clergy women were much more likely to have been divorced before entering the ministry than male clergy. At the top of the
divorced-clergy list were the Unitarian-Universalists (47% of women and 44% of men) and the Episcopal Church (30% and 25% respectively).
Among Southern Baptists it was 17% of women and 4% of men. Many conservative denominations rarely permit divorced people to be
pastors. NIRR 07/10/95
The Evangelical community is not exempted:
Members of First Baptist Church of Atlanta voted to retain Charles Stanley as pastor despite his pending divorce (NIRR 8/21/95). In the second
such meeting called by his opponents, Stanley, 62, told about 5,000 church attendees it is not God's will for him to leave. Associated Baptist
Press said, "The recommendation to keep Stanley as pastor, approved earlier by deacons 35-3, passed by more than a three-to-one margin,
Ron came home one evening to an empty house. His wife and two children were gone, along with all the furniture. His clothes were stacked in
the corner and the house was bare, curtains and all! As he sat on his front steps in total shock, a friend came by and took him home with him.
Over the next few weeks, as he began to heal, the people of the church gathered around and began to "encourage" him. All he heard was the
GOWYL advice and several families began to have him over for dinner and would invite a nice girl from the singles group to join them. He
was still a married man, but by the time his wife cycled back to the line of reconciliation he was deeply involved in this new relationship. After
a short courtship and no premarital counseling, because they felt they didn't need it and because they had both been married before, they
married! Over the next few months as he communicated with his ex-wife about the children, he realized he had made a mistake and wanted to
be back with his family. As the holidays approached, he missed his family so much that he separated from his second wife and began seeing
his first wife again! This story is played out on a regular basis in our country! The opportunity for reconciliation requires a period of no dating
and a time for personal maturity and spiritual growth! Agony is spiritually invigorating! The pain will drive us to God unless we get involved
with someone else too quickly!
Where is our society headed with no-fault divorces and the ease with which people are able to trash their marriages? Some inroads are being
A Michigan state legislator is attempting to reform the state's no-fault divorce law. Syndicated columnist Mike McManus said, "The law is so
lenient, it is easier to divorce my wife of twenty-six years than to fire someone I hired one week ago." Said Michigan Family Forum President,
Randall Hekman, a former judge; "Before no-fault laws any spouse who wanted a divorce had to prove the other was to blame through
adultery or some other form of destructive behavior. No-fault divorce laws allow a marriage to be dissolved for almost any reason, even if only
one party wants a divorce. According to a study in the Journal of Marriage and the Family, the divorce rate has increased in forty-five states
since no-fault laws were passed. In Michigan divorces increased by 36%. Citing a connection between rising juvenile crimes and the divorce
rate since 1960, state Rep. Jessie Dalman has proposed reforms. If one partner wants to reconcile, then the one who wants a divorce will have
to prove fault. Also, the law would give more power over the division of assets to the partner who wants to reconcile. If there are children, the
parents would have to prove that the divorce is in their best interests." NIRR 9/18/95
For the best interest of the family, my advice is to choose not to date when you separate or within six months after you divorce! You need to
sign a no-dating agreement and give a copy to someone who will hold you accountable! There are samples of this agreement in my book,
"Reconcilable Differences," published by Thomas Nelson. There are several stories in the book about couples who have finally divorced for up
to five years (neither remarried) who worked on their friendship, rebuilt the relationship and some of whom I had the privilege to remarry back
to each other! But, you say, that's fine for them, but what am I supposed to do with my life? My best advice is to stabilize your SELF! And
leave your partner and all other opposite sex people alone! Stabilize your SELF! John Powell has said; "Love is not a feeling to be felt, it is an
action to be learned!" Maybe it is time to do the action and leave the feelings for later!
Start off by getting right with God. Be sure you are truly a Christian and that Jesus is the Lord of your life! Often in marriage we have made
our spouses our god! Get into the Word, read the Bible daily! Soak up the goodness of God, spend time in Psalms and Proverbs, spend time
in prayer, sit under good preaching and fellowship with other believers. Find a place of service and ministry in the local church!
Stop going up and down! Focus on your emotional stability, not on the other spouse! Let them go up and down, but you put your focus on
God and use Him to rely on! It is easy to go get a quick emotional fix from the opposite sex, but this only delays your recovery and increases
your risk of another failed relationship!
Re-establish you support system with your extended family; mother, father, sister brother, aunts and uncles! Don't overlook your in-laws or ex
in-laws! Blood is thicker than water, but remember they lived with him/her before you did and know them well! They may even feel a little
guilty about passing them off on you in the state they were in at the time you married! They are also the grandparents of your children and
must never be denied access the them unless there is a legal reason not to!
Try to get on a cash basis as soon as possible! Most couples in this country are struggling in this area. Money, sex and children are some of
the top reasons for divorce and the separation immediately doubles the most expensive item in the budget and there is little or no increase in
the income level. The result is a financial crisis. Avoid the temptation to cover your emotional pain with plastic! One suggestion is to make
you credit cards frozen assets. Put your cards in a bowl of water and freeze them. If you need them, fine; let them thaw. You may regain you
self control in time to put them back and refreeze them! Be forewarned, the microwave defrost setting will ruin the cards. Someone else has
already been there and done that!
What are some goals to maintain? The first is a pure heart, this makes sure your motives are right before God! Next, have clean hands. Check
your actions daily for conformity to the Word of God! A good question to ask yourself is, "What does God want?" The third goal is to
maintain a clean conscience. Check your guilt indicator daily; are you where God wants you to be? Glen Campbell wrote in his recent book,
"A clear conscience makes a great pillow!"
George Barna says:
"America is headed for either anarchy or revival in five to ten years," researcher George Barna predicted during a February 19, 1995 seminar
in Nashville, Tenn. The church has not prevented a massive moral and ethical decline in America, he said. He cited statistics such as: a
majority of people who marry this year will have cohabited with someone before getting married; one-third of Americans believe it is
acceptable for two people to have an affair with each other; and half of the people marrying this year believe they will divorce. Also, 71% of
American adults believe there is no such thing as absolute truth, a view shared by 64% of born-again Christians and 40% of evangelical
Why is it so hard to function after separation of a divorce? Why can't I concentrate? It is hard to focus! I start one way and forget what I was
going to do! Reading is difficult! I cry all of the time and feel listless and depressed. It is as if I have lost all hope! As John, a young engineer
who is separated, relates these questions to me it is clear that he is emotional scrambled! The separation and or divorce shifts us emotionally
to the point that we are burning up 85% of our energy emotionally, that only leaves 5% for physical, 5% for spiritual and 5% for mental! Many
people choose to date and remarry in this state! How well do you think they are going to be at discerning character in a future mate?
Remember they only have 5% of their mental capacity for a while. How long is a while, when will I get well, how long before I am over this so I
can GOWYL? After almost twenty-five years of counseling, my professional opinion is that it takes at least five years to recover from a divorce,
emotionally spiritually and economically! The sad reality is that 80% of all divorces end in marriage! That is, most will marry before they have
recovered and will carry much of the baggage from the first marriage into the second and then face a higher divorce rate in that marriage!
There is still hope for this marriage, but it is very difficult!
"Is there really any hope, Dr. Talley? It feels totally hopeless and everyone tells me to get on with my life" Martha, a divorced mother of
fourteen (yes, I said fourteen natural children) who works full time, is sincerely asking if there is hope. Hope for reconciliation only dies when
one of these three things happen, one of you dies, Jesus comes, or one of you says I DO (that is, one of you gets married), otherwise HOPE
LIVES! Okay, okay I have a little hope, but how do I act, what do I do or don't do? Learning how to respond is very difficult when you are in
deep emotional pain! It is much easier to allow the waves of hatred to flow through you r life! I saw a bumper sticker that said "I miss my ex . .
.but . . .my aim is getting better!"
Rules of Conduct:
Do kind and gentle things to or for them. This is to keep you from becoming bitter!
Log as much good conflict-free time with them as they will tolerate. Just try to have some fun.
Control your expectations. The first step into anger is unmet expectations and the second is a lack of emotional response on their part after
you ask them about the unmet expectation!
Circumstances are no more responsible for your attitude than a mirror is for your looks. They just reveal who you really are.
Stop playing Dick or Dixie Tracy: Getting information before God wants you to have it will cause you to have emotional and spiritual relapses.
Treat them emotionally like they are married to someone else. Treat them courteously, as human beings who have a right to exist, and upon
whom you can make no demands.
If you are legally married, wear your wedding ring as an indicator that you are not open for business. You can only take it off the day after you
are free to marry someone else.
The NIRR reports that this problem has impacted every area of the Christian community:
"Gospel singer Sandi Patty admitted having an extramarital affair with Don Peslis, the backup singer she later married. Patty said the affair
began in 1991, about seventeen months before her divorce from then-manager John Helvering. 'I admit that I have sinned,' Patty said in a
statement last month, adding that she has been seeking counsel from her pastor and church council."
It is normal to experience intense waves of anger and hatred in this process, but it is vital to protect yourself from continuing down the
destructive road of domestic violence. More police officers have died responding to this type of call than any other situation they face! Choose
to respond not react; "A soft answer turns away wrath," Pro 15:1. Respond out of Agape love not the heat of wrath and anger What are the
indicators of your destructive slide downward? There are four major levels and four sub levels for each one: Anger, Bitterness, Pugnacious,
Anger: You attack their actions
The first step into anger is to have unreachable expectations of them. The next level down is when you ask them about it they have no
emotional response, they don't give a rip. This drives you to the next level of emotional hurt and you feel wounded. This leads to the final
level of boiling emotionally to the extent that you retaliate!
Bitterness: You attack their character
The urge to retaliate is fueled by intense frustration with everything going on around you. The result is a feeling of deep emotional hurt and
pain. This comes in waves that fill you with resentment toward the whole situation and your partner in particular. As these waves increase they
lead to a obsession for revenge. The emotional hurt is so intense that you can lose control of your reactions!
Pugnacious: You attack their person
This leads to your throwing and slamming things around, punching holes in the wall and breaking out windows. The next response is to
begin to destroy their things, and take out your anger on their personal property. When they defend their property you push them and shift
from property to person! Next you are forced to defend yourself so you hit them! Now things have really gotten out of hand! It is imperative for
the authorities to intervene at this point to protect both parties! The failure to involve the authorities at this stage may lead to the next level!
Death: You attack their life.
The ultimate hurt you can inflict is to kill them, so you begin to have thoughts of suicide or homicide. Then you begin to think about ways to
kill them or yourself. This is a very dangerous place in which to be and you desperately need help now. If you begin to formulate a plan for
suicide or murder, the next level has been breached. If you discuss this plan with others or begin to give away your personal property, attempt
to recruit help or hire it done, you are in grave danger. The last and final step is to commit suicide or hire someone or murder them your self.
The ultimate destructive act is to do both, murder and suicide.
All of this sounds so bizarre and beyond what we feel capable of doing! Never doubt your ability to react in a violent manner if you feel
attacked and hurt in a deep way! So, the choice is yours; which way will you go, Gods way, or the way of the world? Stabilize your SELF or
follow the GOWYL advice!
Remember, Hopes dies when:
One of you dies
One of you says I DO
Otherwise HOPE LIVES!
Even if the divorce goes final HOPE STILL LIVES!
Just don't buy into the GOWYL advice!