Recently, I helped serve at an event for single moms. This amazing conference was geared to the heroes out there who daily struggle to provide for themselves and their kids. It was an amazing day where women where ministered to and blessed both spiritually as well as practically.
My job at the event was to work in the soundbooth, so I had a prime seat to observe everything. Up on my perch in darkness, I could see everything, but no one could see me. I watched as the women beamed over receiving gift cards to help them financially. I saw the sheer joy on their faces as they were given free cappuccino’s, a special treat that never fits into many of their budgets. I rejoiced when one women won a free crockpot, and then found out she had written on her hand “I need a crockpot!” It was an amazing day, and amazing event, but yet an event that should never be necessary! But sadly, it is needed. It is needed badly.
As I watched this event and the joy that these women experiences, part of me felt so blessed to be able to help and be part of it. However, these feelings were overwhelmed by a greater feeling, an overwhelming feeling of sadness. Sadness that these women had been treated like they were by their husbands, sadness that men are failing greatly as husbands and fathers.
About ¾ of the way through the event, the children who were their while their mom’s attended came in and performed a human video. Now, I know you’re suppose to be all "Oh, there so adorable", and they were; but it broke my heart watching close to 100 kids who at such an early age only know rejection and pain. All they knew at a young age is Daddy didn’t want me and men can’t be trusted. Sitting there watching, I wanted to just bawl. I could help but think how could any man could look at those faces and say, “I am leaving you for another woman and/or family”?
I admit, I never expected this event to be such an emotional weekend for me. My heart broke for these women and kids who only know rejection...IT ISN'T RIGHT!!!
I believe this event helped shine a spotlight on two things…a huge demographic that the church needs to stop ignoring and start ministering to---single moms, and secondly, the biggest failure of men in our generation, men who walk away and leave their wife to pick up the pieces and take care of their children. In this article, I want to address three different groups of men and look at ways each of these groups can work to help overcome this massive crisis and turn the tide.
The first group of men I want to speak to are my fellow single guys. While it may seem strange to address this group for this issue, I believe it is vital. Why? Because even though we are single now, we can make decisions and form goals and opinions now that will carry over into our future marriages. So lets take a look at a few.
1. I will not have sex until I get married.
Ok, now don’t skip this point and look at it as “2nd verse same as the first”. Why do I include this point? Well, one reason is because some of the women at the event were not divorced single moms. They were women who had sex outside of marriage and then the guy moved on after she was pregnant. If we as a culture get back to a mindset of waiting until we get married to have sex, we eliminate one whole demographic of single moms. It starts one guy at a time saying, "I will wait until I'm ready to make a lifetime commitment to have sex."
2. I will only date with the intention of getting married.
“Whoa Jamie, now you are getting Amish on us!”
No, I am not. What I am saying is the first step of marriage is dating, and if you’re not serious about marriage, then don’t lead on a girl who is.
3. I will commit to marrying for life, no matter what
We take marriage to lightly in America. Hollywood always makes the joke that this is your first marriage, meaning their will be a second one. The legal community pushes prenups, which basically imply you already know things won’t work out and divorce is inevitable.
If you are contemplating marriage but don’t know if you think it will last, THEN STAY SINGLE.
“But Jamie, if I am to keep point one, I have to get married so I can have sex.”
My answer is sex is not a reason to get married, it is a benefit of marriage. If you live your entire life and never marry, you will live. We need oxygen to survive, not sex. Sex is not a reason to get married. Love, wanting a partner to work with throughout life, is the reason.
Now let’s move on to the second group of men.
The men who have taken the step of committing themselves in marriage are on the front lines of the battle we are discussing here. You are where the rubber meets the road. You need to make sure you are committed to goals and will never go back on your commitment.
What are the goals?
1. I am committed to my marriage
Your wife needs to know you are 100% sold out to your marriage. You are in it all the way and will do whatever it takes to make things work. She needs to know that she is the 2nd most important person in your life, 2nd only to God. Her desires, her opinions, and her needs need to be your #1 priority. You need to decide to make spending time with her to both relax and to work on your marriage a priority. You need to be committed to her, and she needs to know it.
2. I will NEVER leave
You need to make a decision that no matter what happens, what you have are going through, or what may take place, you will never, ever leave. Bailing is not an option! You need to make this front and center in your mind and your wife needs to know you mean it.
3. I will do whatever it takes to make this marriage work
I once read a quote by Fred Stoeker in His book, "Every Man’s Marriage”. He tells of a time in his life when his marriage was in trouble and on the verge of collapsing. He decided during this time that he would “eat gravel” if necessary to save his marriage. Basically, he was saying he would do whatever it took to make it happen. He would make whatever changes needed made or take whatever action needed taken to make his marriage work. This is an attitude all married men need to have.
Now, we are going to address the third group of men.
I want to start by saying that I don’t want to condemn you or cause you pain. You have made your choice, now let’s go from there on how you should act from this point forward.
Guys, just because you are divorced doesn’t mean your responsibilities to the women you once vowed to be with forever are over. Maybe legally they are, but before God, Whose opinion is the One Who really matters, it isn’t. This is ESPECIALLY true if you had children together. What do I mean?
Allow me to give an example. Recently, I had a conversation with a man that made my skin crawl. He described his anger with the government for taking his drivers license away because he hadn’t been paying his child support. He went on to explain why it was wrong by comparing other crimes that he deemed worse such as drunk driving. He had no license, yet a DUI person could get their license back. He wanted me to side with him, but I couldn’t. I was too horrified that he was a deadbeat dad.
Then a few days later, God began showing me how many single moms there were in the church community who were struggling financially because the father of their child refuses to help. God opened my eyes to see that this is a huge area where men need to grow up and accept their responsibility.
I am not saying that you need to remarry your wife. However, I will say this: You must learn how to be good friends with the mother of your baby, because your child deserves nothing less. You have a responsibility to your children and their mother to take care of them and to provide their needs. There is absolutely no highway option on this. You must begin today to make things right.
If you are a divorced dad, you need to accept the financial responsibility you have to your ex-wife and your child. If you have neglected this responsibility, you should go to her and ask her to forgive you for not fulfilling your responsibilities. Tell her you realize that you have sinned against her, your children, and God. Then you must make restitution and pay her all the money you owe her.
This applies to the single guys as well. If you have fathered a child out of wedlock you need to do the same thing. You must go to the mother first and ask her forgiveness for having sex out of marriage. I would also recommend asking her parents for forgiveness if they are active in her life. Then you need to ask her to forgive you for walking away and not providing financially for her or your child and make restitution. Work out with her how you can help financially. If she is skittish about it, you must insist she allow you to accept your responsibility. Make a financial plan, and also make a plan of how you can spend time with your child. After all, they deserve to have a father in their lives. They also deserve to have a mother.
I am going to go even further. If you are meeting your legal requirements, but can see your exwife is struggling to provide financially, give her more.
Why should you give more than legally required? Because of the little eyes watching.
Your kids view of God is formed by you, and if they see you not caring about them or meeting their needs, it will transfer to their view of God. God said it is better to wear a millstone and be thrown into the ocean that make a little one stumble. Do what you need to do to make the best of a bad situation. Go above and beyond. Why? Because you’re a man and that is what men do!
When men fail to step up to the plate and financially support the mother of their children, they are robbing the child of their mother as well. Often she has to work 2 jobs to supply food, shelter, clothes, insurance, and many other expenses. Your child will not get to spend as much time with his mom, and she will be exhausted when they re together. It is not fair or right to do this to her or your child.
I also recommend that, no matter if you are single or divorced, you sit down with your children and ask their forgiveness for failing both them and their mother. Tell them you realize your sin and want to have a new relationship with them.
I realize that this sounds extreme…however, it is vital and necessary. Let me give you one more piece of advice. When you do this, realize you are doing it because it is the godly thing to do. DO IT WITHOUT EXPECTING ANYTHING IN RETURN. There is a good chance your ex-wife/girlfriend will not be very happy with you. Odds are she won’t believe you or trust you. It is your responsibility to accept this and to earn her trust by living a changed lifestyle. Even if she never accepts or believes you, it is your responsibility to live a godly life and hope she notices.
I know this is a tough article, hitting many men between the eyes. I do not apologize for this. Sometimes we have to address the tough issues. What matters is you get past the initial sting of pride and analyze yourself. Maybe if we all do this, we can turn the tide in America.
I, for one, want to see this dark day for men come to an end. I long to see men stand firm in their marriage and be the husbands they were destined to be. I long to see a time when single moms won’t have to struggle to survive financially. I long to see women and children no longer feel the pain of rejection and abandonment. Guys, if this is to happen, it must start with us, and it must start today!