If you’re wise, you marry with a good dose of reality alongside the stars in your eyes and the dreams in your heart. You know that it’s not easy to mesh two individuals no matter how much they love and respect each other. Before the wedding, of course, you’ve worked out the significant issues, such as Will we have children or just a cute little dog? And you both accept that in an imperfect world you’ll have to compromise.

But then reality hits. You are far more different than you realized. You’re a dreamer, and she’s a realist. And you had no idea how deeply your partner (and you, too) were influenced by your parents’ values. You think, How can I live like this? What am I going to do? That’s a serious question, for God never meant for married couples to divorce.

The Law of Moses detailed that divorce was permissible in some specific cases of neglecting the “marriage rights” (Exod. 21:10-11). It also stated that a man could divorce his wife if he found something objectionable about her (Deut. 24:1-4). One day the Pharisees tested Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” (Matt. 19:3). In that time and place, most people either agreed with the teachings of Rabbi Shammai, who said one could only divorce because of adultery, or Rabbi Hillel, who taught that divorce was appropriate for any number of reasons. The Pharisees hoped Jesus would take one side of the debate or another, so that they could split Jesus’ followers over the issue.

Jesus answered by quoting Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, underlining that God created both sexuality and marriage, and intended it as a union of body and spirit. When the Pharisees pressed Jesus on why Moses allowed men just to give their wives a certificate of divorce, Jesus told them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning” (Matt. 19:8, NIV). Jesus rebuked those who divorced their wives for selfish reasons, excusing their actions based on the Law of Moses. Jesus declared that they were as guilty of adultery as those who committed sexual immorality (Matt. 19:9). The apostle Paul wrote that if a Christian is divorced by an unbelieving spouse, the Christian can “let him depart”, divorcing with a clear conscience, for “God has called us to peace” (1 Cor. 7:15).

If you find your marriage slipping, due to neglect or merely the passage of time, dedicate yourself to getting it back on course. Pray and communicate with your spouse that you are committed to a strong, healthy, and fulfilling marriage. You may need the help of professional counselors. At the same time, be careful about criticizing your marriage to others not involved in its resolution.

If you find yourself in a marriage torn by abuse or another unfaithfulness, pray and seek the advice of wise friends and even professional counselors. If you are being abused, do whatever is necessary to protect yourself and anyone else in harm’s way. Also remember that even when you have the Biblical reasons to divorce, it is still possible to forgive your spouse and rebuild your marriage. Today, decide to live your life in such a way that you value the marriage relationship—yours, or someone else’s.