Every parent knows how important it is to be on your best behavior around your kids. Why? Because they’ll pick up on whatever habits they see from you.
Whether we like it or not, proximity automatically leads to imitation. If you raise a perfect child with all the right moral character but put them around bad kids, the bad kids will corrupt your good child.
The Apostle Paul said it this way: “Do not be deceived; evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Everyone knows this, of course, but what we often forget is that the same thing is true of adults — bad company damages good character. One of the best ways to divorce-proof your marriage is to find, and cultivate, positive relational support.
What does that mean? The University of Chicago once did a study about people who stay married rather than getting divorced. They discovered that couples tend to stay together when they have friends who have a negative outlook on divorce. When your friends want you to stay married, you tend to stay married.
How many times, though, do we find ourselves in a work situation where a group of women end up complaining about their no-good husbands? Or when a bunch of guys share how fed up they are with their nagging wives?We reinforce those complaints by laughing about it. We egg each other on and we keep telling stories that make our spouses look bad. It becomes a contest: Whose spouse is worst?
It’s in those kinds of situations that divorce — in a very subtle way — becomes an acceptable solution. How different would it be if our friends listened to complaints about our husbands and wives and told us to stop griping and straighten up?
I have a group of close friends who would beat me up if I told them I was thinking of divorcing Karen! I would get no sympathy from them whatsoever.
We live and work in a lost world. While there is virtue in befriending the lost in order to love them and model Christ for them, we do have to be careful. You don’t want to run with the kind of crowd who might talk you into doing the wrong thing, who might cause you to soften your attitude about divorce, adultery, or any other marriage-breakers.
Your marriage is more important than that. Keep your marriage strong not just by working on your relationship with your spouse, but also by being careful with your other relationships. Bad company corrupts good character. What kind of company do you keep?