For Better or Worse?!?

“I STILL REMEMBER every detail of the day he left home. I relive it in my mind over and over again. ‘Are you really sure it’s worth it?’ ‘No I am not. But I am leaving…’ Those were his last words that day.” It is Valerie speaking. The beginning of another divorce.

Everyone had something to say, she remembered. Mum said “Get your hair cut. It’ll make you feel better.” Dad said : “Monitor the joint bank accounts. He might empty them.” Sister said: “Take your time, see a counselor.” Friends said : “Get even. Nail him in the settlement.”

The Hurt Of Divorce

Two months later, her 7 year-old daughter Lindsey still cannot go to sleep alone, and her 5 year-old is constantly angry, and she, the mother and wife, is waking up every morning with a headache, alone in a big bed she no longer wants.

One evening, while the kids were running around the family room, Lindsey went crashing into the mum’s left arm. It was hard enough to hurt and Valerie said so, and Lindsey apologized and Valerie forgot all about it. Lindsey apparently remembered. Before going to bed, this seven year old girl handed her mum a note that said, “I’m sorry I smacked you. Are you gonna go away like daddy did?”

Just another divorce. As a statistic it is hardly noticeable. In America roughly forty per cent of first marriages end in failure. This cuts through religious affiliations. For the past twenty years, the number of divorces in the States has exceeded a million each year!

Always the same story. Filled with dreams, they get married. Empty of love, they separate. Then comes a time of adjustment. A time of pain. Some bitterness. Reciprocal accusations. Lawyers and attorneys. Eventually, though it will work out. Better to be apart than unhappily married.

That, at least, has been the conventional thinking about divorce. It’s temporarily unpleasant but ultimately beneficial. Not just to a particular family but to society in general.

Well, this is just wishful thinking! Studies are confirming what experience has already shown us. Divorce is not and will never be an asset to society. It hurts families psychologically and economically. Today, secular counselors are saying that even couples who despise each other, or are fighting a lot or have simply become bored should do whatever it takes to remain together.

You Can Run But Not Hide

“The divorce revolution has failed,” says a report “Marriage in America : A Report to the Nation. “It has created terrible hardships for children, incurred unsupportable social costs, and failed to deliver on its promise of greater adult happiness.” This report took two years in the making.

“A study conducted at the University of Washington divided 117 households into three categories: “maritally distressed”, “maritally supported”, and “unmarried mothers,” and found that children of the families that had marital distress had significantly higher disciplinary problems than children from families that reported a happy marriage, but those children of unmarried mothers had a considerably higher amount of disciplinary problems that those who were from the other two categories.”

This is not even debatable. Children want two things. They want the love of their parents and they want their parents to stay together. If you take that away from them, you are doing something that is non-compensatible. You are hurting them and wounding them and diminishing their chances to become happy an contented adults. It is as simple as that.

In the family the father presents the moral “I”, the meaning of duty. The mother creates in the child the sense of affection, love, tenderness. If one is missing, the children will grow emotionally handicapped.

Hollywood and Television do not help. They still insist on glamorizing unwed motherhood, marital infidelity, alternative life style and sexual promiscuity.

Schooled By Christ

We have to return to the sources. “Come to him [Christ] a living stone. Yes, dear brothers and sisters, make sure that Christ the Lord is your teacher”

“Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a vision of the ‘wedding feast of the Lamb’. Scripture speaks throughout of marriage and its ‘mystery’, its institution and the meaning God has given it, its origin and its end, its various realizations throughout the history of salvation, the difficulties arising from sin and its renewal ‘in the Lord’ in the New Covenant of Christ and the Church.” (Pope John Paul II)

And those who are divorced? “My life is blown away like a shepherd’s tent,” Isaiah wrote, “it is cut short as when a weaver stops working at the loom. In one short day, my life hangs by a thread.” Many a Catholic has felt the same while standing on the brink of divorce or separation. The Pope encourages pastors to work at weaving that thread into the fabric of their parish community. The divorced persons need more than ever to feel the love of Jesus Christ. The only love which is always faithful. They need more than ever the experience of a real community.

And those who were divorced and got married again? Compassion and all possible help, the Pope insists. They must not despair of God’s grace. “Let these men and women know that the Church loves them, that she is not far from them and suffers because of their situation. The divorced and remarried are and remain her members, because they have received Baptism and retain their Christian faith.”

And those who are passing through difficult moments in their marriage? Keep believing in the power of the sacrament you received! In the Hebrew vocabulary, there is no word for marriage. The word that is used is kiddushin, which means holiness. Very interesting! A relationship between a man and a woman in marriage is not a biological union, an economic partnership, or an emotional attraction, but rather a sacred oneness of man and woman through the holiness of God.

Marriage is indeed the union of two forgivers. That is why God remains the greatest asset to romance. Include Him in marriage and He will lift it up above the level of the mundane to something rare and beautiful … and lasting.

There was an elderly man riding on a bus holding a bouquet of flowers. A young woman sitting in the seat across the aisle from him kept glancing again and again at the flowers. The bus came to a stop. The man got up looked at the young woman and said, “Here, I can see you love these flowers and I think my wife would like for you to have them. I’ll tell her I gave them to you.” The girl accepted the flowers and watched the old man get off the bus and walk through the gate of a small cemetery.


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.