Featured Mini Documentary Produced by Saint Gabriels Newsroom in 2015
There seems to be "social peace" on the issue of divorce. It was not always so. I remember reading a magazine article from the 1930s. The author argued in favour of relaxing the divorce laws of that time – obviously there was a lot of opposition to that idea back then. It’s also interesting to watch some old movies in which a private detective is hired to get grounds for divorce or when a husband tells his wife that he wants a divorce and the wife says, "I won’t give you a divorce!" Times have certainly changed. The government has made getting a divorce very easy but the consequences of divorce are still usually hard.
People who divorce often become depressed and bitter. Their children often become "problem kids" and are more likely to divorce when they become adults than children from stable family backgrounds. Divorced people usually pay a big economic price and are, in general, worse off financially than those who remain married. Yes, there are many exceptions to these generalizations, but most studies show that divorce generally has a negative impact on adults and children.
To believe in the option of divorce is to contradict the ideal of marriage. When a couple marry, they exchange vows that profess unconditional fidelity and a permanent commitment. If they believe in the option of divorce, their marriage vows should instead sound something like, "I love you now and will remain with you unless I, at some future time, no longer love you or become unhappy in the marriage."
Now, in fairness, few people enter a marriage with that kind of attitude. When they promise to be together "till death do we part" they usually mean it. So, if they divorce, then they at least have to admit that they have broken their sacred vows.
Personally, I’ve never met a person who divorced their spouse who said that their decision wasn’t justified. They all said that their marriages were hopeless and impossible and that they had done everything they could to make their marriages work. I don’t doubt that they believe that they tried very hard; however, I’m quite sure if they and their spouses tried even harder they probably could have saved their marriages.
Now, I don’t want to appear insensitive. I know what a living hell a bad marriage can be. Believe me, I know. In the past, couples in bad marriages usually stayed together. Today, they usually leave and quickly divorce. Some of them even remarry the same people after they’ve had time to gain some perspective and mature. So, I often wonder why more couples in really bad marriages don’t separate with the intention of working out their problems and rekindling the romance. In some very difficult cases, the separation might have to become more or less permanent.
Many divorcees are innocent victims; that is, they wanted to continue to work on the marriage, but their spouses left and divorced them. These victims may have played a role in the marriage problems, but they are innocent as far initiating the divorce. Under our current law, the spouse who wants to save the marriage can’t legally stop the spouse who wants a divorce.
Our culture, our laws and even many of our churches have become "divorce friendly." However, God, who never changes, sees marriage as holy, sacred and indissoluble. Jesus performed his first miracle at a marriage ceremony (John 2:1-11). Many times in the Bible, the analogy of marriage is used to show God’s fidelity and absolute commitment to His people (the Church). In the Catholic faith, marriage is a sacrament that cannot be undone. Jesus said, "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate" (Mark 10:9). God sums up His view on the matter thusly, "I hate divorce" (Malachi 2:16).
I don’t mean to condemn anyone who is divorced. I want to encourage people to stay in their marriages, if at all possible. I believe that the best way to "divorce proof" your marriage is to keep close to God. "The family that prays together, stays together." And, be very, very careful about whom you marry, because marriage really is supposed to be for life.