Aug 5, 2006

Why Not Divorce? Part 2

God does not like divorce! Some believe His laws are made by Him for His own sake, or that He doesn't know what He is requiring of us. God's are made for us to be happy and they consistently work for our good. My 60+ years of experience indicate God knows what he is doing.

I have seen only one “good” divorce—my Aunt O divorced Uncle O because of his drinking and physical cruelty to her and their youngest son. However, Aunt O told Uncle O she still loved him and would return to him if and when he stayed sober for six months. He didn't believe she would stay the course, but she found the first job she ever had to support herself and her son to show him she was serious. He did stop drinking, and they were remarried. The only problem afterwards was his sanctimonious attitude about his great sacrifices and his continued spending them into debt—but Aunt O remained a faithful and loving wife until he died. She was a gentle and kind woman who gave our family a wonderful example of marital fidelity.

Other wives I know were determined not to give up on their husbands and stayed married in spite of many grave difficulties. Their fidelity, perseverance, and long-suffering were almost always rewarded spiritually, materially, and psychologically. Mrs. C told me that her marital problems were extreme, but that she stayed with her husband because Jesus commanded it. In her later life, her husband did a lot of the housework and treated her like a living saint—which she was! Mrs. C asserted her new life was "heaven on earth" and made up for all the difficulties of the past. I doubt whether one of their sons would have become a faithful priest if Mr. and Mrs. C had divorced.

Mr. and Mrs. L were good friends who had five children, but Mr. L was as unfaithful to his wife as any man I ever knew! She finally had enough and came to my house one day to cry and explain she was going to see a lawyer the next day. Her husband was attracted to other women and she felt unloved. I explained to Mrs. L that Mr. L really did love her, but had a unfortunate strong physical weakness with other women. In addition, Mr. L was a very good father and provider for the family and Mrs. L agreed. We also talked about other aspects of a possible divorce--including temptations after marriage, future parental guidance for their children, and financial matters.

Several times over the succeeding years, Mrs. L thanked me for advising her to stay with her husband and not proceed with the divorce. No, her husband didn't always remain faithful, but he was always kind and generous to Mrs. L who became more aware she was still far and away No. 1 as his only wife. They now reap the rewards of HER fidelity with many successful children and beautiful grandchildren. I believe Mr. L has finally stopped crossing the fence into forbidden territory, probably more because of his age than anything else!

Mrs. D, an exemplary Lutheran who has taken care of flowers in her church for over 30 years, recently lost her husband who was far from ideal to say the least. She continues to take pride that she was always faithful to her husband, even when her husband's drinking and spending kept him from supporting his family, so that she had take a job to earn the family wages. Mrs. D now is rewarded with financial security, her children had a good upbringing, and she remains a sacrificing person who continues to make life better for everyone she touches.

Mrs B lives not too far away and is a friend of a friend. She remained with her profligate and selfish husband until his death. She has a clear conscience and a nice home while enjoying her retirement years.

An opposite example (of many that I know) is the divorce of Mr. and Mrs. C2. Mrs. C2 was active in Right-to-Life in the mid-1970s. Mr. C2 had trouble 'finding himself', couldn’t keep a decent job, and apparently was cruel to Mrs. C2, physically and emotionally. She divorced him, studied to become a nurse, and so raised her two sons by herself for the next dozen years because her husband moved far away. I learned some years ago that her husband eventually became a respected teacher and lives a successful life with a new wife—but it wasn’t Mrs. C2 who benefited from it. Both sons are now remote from their mother; one has chosen to live near his father.

A classmate of mine divorced her husband because of his beating her regularly, even though he was an active Catholic and member of the Legion of Mary. Even though her physical health was in jeopardy and she had good reason to leave, the result is that she has three malfunctioning children (they are now in their late 30’s, have had many personal and other problems, and at least one remains distanced from her). My classmate is a good person who tried to do her best to prevent and solve the problems that originated after the divorce—but the children needed both their parents in their developing years and they didn’t get it.

A close relative divorced his unfaithful wife and the subsequent stories of their oldest son are heartbreaking. He was a good kid before being told his parents were divorcing on the day of his 12th birthday. The boy became a street kid, took up drugs, couldn’t keep a job, was kicked out of the Navy, etc. A saintly lady I know prayed for years (and continues to pray) for him, and the young man finally began a new responsible life in his 30’s that has continued for several years. But what a long waste of a brilliant mind!

I was invited to the young man's wedding at a Catholic chapel several years ago. Interestingly, the wedding reception featured a number of people who grabbed the microphone and testified with great feeling that the young groom was responsible for bringing them out of the drug culture.


Anonymous said...

God Hates Divorce.

M. Alexander said...

I understand your point but I don't agree with staying married to a man who is constantly unfaithful. What about AIDS or any of the other venereal diseases you are exposed to, like HPV which can result in cervical cancer. Furthermore, how can your children grow up with an understand of the exclusive nature of marriage? What possible incentive will the sons of the marriage have for fidelity or the daughters for requiring it?

Dust I Am said...

All I can say is that in the case of Mr. and Mrs. L, the wife has thanked me several times for keeping her from divorcing her husband who had betrayed her on a number of occasions.

Do I think Mrs. L had good reason to separate from her husband--yes. Would the Church have allowed a separation and possible civil divorce (to deal with financial and other obligations)--yes. Do I think that a divorce would have caused many problems for their young children without a dad in their house (one more child woulld be on the way)--yes. Do I think the lady may have denied her husband his privileges for a time--perhaps. In the end, did the lady gain more by staying with her husband==absolutely yes!

Husbands can and do change when they finally realize the tremendous damage they have done with their infidelity. Just like in recidivism of criminals, age helps them confront their problems. Wouldn't it be terrible if the husband had an affair in mid-life, but the wife never forgave him and was long gone when he finally began to live a good life?

Please re-read the story of Mr and Mrs. C, both of whom attended daily Mass together in their final years.