Delete the D Word

Brad says…

There is one word that does more harm to marriages than almost any other word in the dictionary, and yet I hear couples throwing it out over and over again. They shout it at the top of their lungs. They say it up while throwing their hands up in the air. They whisper it under their breath. They say it casually or critically. No matter how it is said this one single word has the power to tear, to wound and even to stop people in their tracks.

This one powerful word is DIVORCE, and I believe that it is one word every couple must eliminate from their vocabulary! I’m not talking about doing the action; I’m talking about the repeated threats “Fine we’ll get a divorce!” the defeated sighs “I guess we’ll just be divorced then” and the constant accusation, “I guess you just want a divorce.”coeur brisé

A Great Big Highlighter

Before we can stop people using this word we have to understand how it crept into our conversations in the first place. Often the person throwing around this word doesn’t really want the end of the relationship to happen. They are not actually looking to bring about the action; they are using this word as a great big yellow argument highlighter.

Remember back years ago when you were in high school and studying for some difficult test. You would read endless pages of material and try to highlight the important parts. You used a highlighter to make the important things jump off the page.

The word divorce does the same thing in an argument. It forces everyone to stop and pay attention. To take notice and tell your spouse in no uncertain terms “I don’t like where this is going.”

While “divorce” makes a good highlighter you don’t recognize the damage that you are doing when you bring out this big gun.

Open Doors

In every marriage there are doors, doors of opportunities to exit the relationship. Healthy marriages make every effort to lock these doors and throw away the key. Every time you use the word divorce in an argument or exasperated sigh you are taking one step closer to this door.

As you say the word you might actually never think it is a possibility, and yet simply allowing it to escape your lips moves the door from locked to unlocked. Continued use will actually open the door wider each time. (concept borrowed from re|engage curriculum)

Delete the D Word

Make a pact that you won’t say the word divorce. Take it out of your vocabulary. If you need a big highlighter in an argument then find another method. There are actually much better highlighters out there. Next time you feel the divorce word creeping up stop and say, “I’m scared, I love you and I don’t want us to treat each other this way.” It will work better without any of the nasty side effects that throwing divorce around will have.

Ask Forgiveness and Lock the Door

Have you been using the D word? It’s time to take it back and lock the door, but that doesn’t happen by itself. You might need to go to your spouse and ask their forgiveness for throwing this word around in your marriage.

Have you thrown this word around? What have you do to take it out of your vocabulary? Let us know in the comments!

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15 Responses to Delete the D Word

  1. God forgive me – I used this word last night. My frustration has been with a negative trend my husband is on with his mouth – I don’t even know if he does it on purpose or doesn’t realize it – but I have been close to my breaking point for some time and last night was just it for me. I told him to file the papers because I am done. And I have no idea where I am going if he would do it – but his words are so cutting and so disrespectful. It had built up all day. He came from a VERY legalistic background in his family and it has been a rough ride. What is getting me more than anything – is the negative he speaks to our kids. We have animals and while we were out feeding them yesterday – he asked our son to do something and he didn’t immediately do it – and I will admit – my son is one that you sometimes need to remind more than once – because he will acknowledge he heard you and an hour later – the thing asked remains undone. But when I tried to kindly say to my husband – maybe you get what you are speaking out into his life when he started badgering my son and he tried to state that he was speaking the truth. I said – you see it as truth – but how often have you accused and then later learned that you were wrong – because it has been many. I think it is time to start speaking out confidence that he is going to do what we asked him to and then yes later give the reminder if he hasn’t still positively. He will just make cutting comments at any time – it is like living with a bomb at times – because one minute he can be happy and things are great and 5 minutes later – we are in melt down mode. It is hard to keep the kids from doing the same thing – when that is the example set by Dad.

    • Julie,
      I’m so sorry to hear the pain and hurt in your story. I can see the frustration, but I also hear the desire for something to change. I know it feels like divorce might be the only thing to bring about change, but that doesn’t have to be the case! We worship a God who is one who changes us! He can and does redeem even marriages that seem dead. Remember he was raised from the dead, and if he can defeat literal death, then he can resurrect a painful marriage too! I encourage you to change your “D” word into a cry for actual help and change.

      There are many places you can find excellent marriage help. I encourage you to talk to your pastor, or a trusted Christian friend to see where you could go for help. If you can’t see any of that working, you are welcome to contact us for marriage coaching. We would love to be a help to you.

      I pray that God will help each of you see a way forward today!

    • I hear ya, Julie. While hubby and I promised no D word, it hasn’t been easy for me. He swears at me when mad, doesn’t communicate with me the hard stuff without a defensive fight, has threatened physical harm, used porn, went to a strip club, calls the children terrible names. I do everything but earn an income. But he isn’t like that all the time and if I play my cards right, he wont flip out. If I can jeep the kids well behaved, he won’t freak.

      I actually feel relief when I think about him passing away (he works a dangerous job and has a chronic). illness.). So sad, so very sad and I don’t want to feel this way. I expected mutual love, respect and cooperation.

      So, I am setting boundaries and getting help. But no D word. I am for separation if necessary, but divorce is not an option for me.

  2. Excellent advice. I know this one popped up in our first year a few times, mostly as a way to add impact to the point I was trying to make. My wife came from a divorced home and I knew this would stop her in her tracks. What I didn’t know is that one word leaving my lips could also destroy her trust in me, cause her to shut down and ultimately level our relationship to the foundation every time. IMO, if you can’t embrace the concept of “burning your ships” in marriage, you aren’t ready to be married. It took years to repair the damage I did with the “D” word. No argument is worth sacrificing hard earned trust and stability to win.

    God bless,


    • Michael,
      I’m glad that you learned to “burn the ships” before the “D” word burned you! Many times people don’t learn this lesson until it is too late! Keep it off your lips and find other ways to say something needs to change if it does.

      Thanks for your comment!

  3. When I read your excellent article, the idea of a door on the second floor of a house that has been permanently locked because the outside staircase was removed. If the door is opened, the unsuspecting person could plunge a long way down.

    Hope it makes sense as the “D” word does in fact need to be permanently locked out of a couples mind and therefore off their lips.

    The difficulty is that so many of us were raised in a divorced home and that just seems to be the “normal” for husbands and wives to escape their commitment.

    BTW, the same woman has been gracious to me for forty years! Any tough times during that span? Certainly but not divorce.

    For a bit more about more about my most traumatic memory at the age of twelve from a set of parents who fought constantly look at my story at

    Thanks again for your normal thought provoking and educational post!

    Jerry: The Romance Educator and Marriage Coach

  4. This is an excellent word of advice. We have been married 18 years and neither of us have ever used this word. I told my wife when we got married that this was for life and no way out. I am going nowhere and divorce is not even a word in my vocabulary or hers. This means you have to work through and discuss every problem because there is no other option.

  5. Tried to do this, was told by my wife that she “lives in reality” where divorce is a possibility.

    • AnonymousMe,
      Ok so you have been the recipient of the “D” word too. You need to hear it for what it is. Unless she has walked through the process then what she is really saying is “I need something to change.”

      I encourage you not to let it go, make sure you are listening and doing something to make the change happen!

      • Actually, she has already walked out, been with another man who subsequently sent her home then committed suicide. It has been almost three years since and she still insists that divorce is an option. As recently as this year I have found evidence that, when things don’t go her way, she thinks our marriage is over, wishes the other guy had “taken her with him” and even contemplates leaving once our kids are grown up and out of the house. I hear it for what it is, and what it says is “I am still a child. If I don’t get my way, I will destroy our family, but, I will make sure and use you for everything I can until I make that decision.” If it weren’t for our kids I would likely encourage her to make her decision now, but I don’t want to put them through that. She doesn’t want me to lead her, doesn’t want to be washed in the water of the word, yet still claims to be a believing christian. Don’t get me wrong, we have our moments, and sometimes it’s easy to forget that she may be planning on stabbing me in the back, but I feel like I can never let my guard down. I have to remind myself that nothing is ever okay, but is always one step away from her blowing up our family. I have already done everything I can to make the change happen, and I am done blaming myself and telling myself it’s me when it obviously is not me anymore. It is her, plain and simple. Are we doomed? I don’t know, only time will tell, but if we end up divorced I am secure in the fact that I have done everything I can do to hold it together, and it is her refusal to submit to God that will bring everything crashing down.

  6. This is an excellent post, Brad!!
    Sadly, my husband used this word several times in the past and we were at the very precipice of the divorce cliff and nearly went over that edge. We went through a very traumatic experience several years ago and it took me a very long time to recover, but praise God for His powerful healing in our marriage. I think my husband felt that divorce was the only answer to what had occurred. He had strayed in our marriage, yet I was the one that although deeply hurt by the betrayal, wanted to work through things as I knew God was able to restore even the deepest hurts and worst marriages. What was hard for me was even after we got back together after a 6 week separation, there were a few times he still used the D word on occasion. Him stating he was done with our marriage and the 6 week separation that followed caught me totally off guard and even after we got back together I still had some abandonment issues and fear that he was going to leave again for whatever reason. Thankfully God has helped me work through these issues and my husband has not used the D word in a very long, long time. Using the D word does not belong in a marriage where you have made a covenant with one another for better or worse and til death do you part.

  7. Thanks for sharing this JustWant2BOne! I don’t think we realize how much insecurities it creates in a marriage, when we throw around the D word. It makes you feel like the bottom could drop out at any moment. Definitely not what anyone wants in their marriage. So appreciate your openness! Blessings, Kate

  8. Thanks Kate for your response. Yes, after hearing the D word and after some very difficult experiences the past few years, it has taken a period of time to build back the trust and for me to even feel secure in my marriage again, but thanks be to God for helping me overcome a lot of anxiety I had in the past and insecurity due to trust issues. Using the D word, definitely breaks down walls of trust and it takes years (in my case at least) to rebuild that trust because you are always left wondering, “If I tell the honest truth about an issue, is he (or she) just going to give up and walk out the door?” Hence, I have held back a lot of things over the years and am just now starting to bring some unresolved issues to the surface with my spouse for fear of how he would react after he had used the D word in the past. But thanks be to God that the trust is finally coming back.