Thursday, April 20, 2006

Divorce ...

Now, this may seem like an absurd topic from someone who's never been married, but lately I've been thinking a lot about divorce.

I think many people have become far too comfortable with the idea of divorce. The fact the lexicon now includes the phrase "starter marriage" freaks me out. Do we really need to be so cynical? So cavalier?

But the other end of the spectrum is populated by people who take their vows so uber-seriously that they refuse to get divorced even when circumstances seem to justify it.

Therein lies my confusion.

Today, people seem to get married at a more advanced age, relatively speaking, than our parents did, and so in theory, we should be more in tune to what we want and expect from a relationship, and make the marriage/no-marriage decision accordingly.

But what about those people who did indeed get married at a young age, before they really understood who they were and who they would become? If those people ultimately choose poorly, is a life of unhappiness their punishment?

Presuming the marriage was of the church (not civil) variety, are these people fearful of angering God? Is that why they refuse to divorce? Let me state again that I'm not a religious person, so I don't believe in the concept of God the way many people do, but I did go to Sunday School and get confirmed and all that, so I'm hip to what's taught to Christians, and I remember being told over and over again that God loves us. So God wants us to be happy, right? So does God demand that you live out your days in sadness or at least in the absence of joy as a result of making a bad choice? Does the vow of marriage simply supersede all else?

I know some people who stay in marriages because they're too afraid to be on their own. The someone-is-better-than-no-one philosophy. I know other people who stay in marriages because in their world, divorce is spelled f-a-i-l-u-r-e. I can't judge them for why they do what they do. Everyone's lives and circumstances are unique. People are capable in varying degrees. Some can walk away from a marriage and start a new life. Others can't.

And then there are the people for whom divorce was not their choice. Some people are the divorcers and some people are the divorcees. When a spouse decides to leave, the other half is in the same boat, whether they ever wanted to be, or not.

But mostly, I'm thinking about people who stay out of obligation.

I have friends who have been married several times. To them, they entered into each of their marriages thinking they had found the right person, and then they discovered they were wrong. For some of them, the third time really is the charm, it seems. "Nobody gets married thinking they'll get divorced," one of them once said.

Maybe that's true. Maybe people really do believe that their love will last forever.

Or maybe love needs to be measured with a healthy dose of luck. We're all going to change over time. Maybe the key to a successful marriage is finding someone who will change in compatible ways.

But if you don't end up with that person, it doesn't seem fair to be trapped forever.

Or is that kind of thinking an extension of a society that is ever-increasingly self-centered?

College Boyfriend David, long after we had stopped dating, once said to me, "Why can't people just accept that we're not meant to be with one person forever? Why can't we just be together for as long as things are good, and then move on?"

That always struck me as selfish, as if once the salad days had wilted, he wanted to be out the door. But maybe he meant something else. Maybe he wasn't opposed to doing the heavy lifting that's required in a marriage, but also understood that at some point, you just can't lift anymore.

David's getting a divorce.

It's never an ideal situation. It's usually messy to some degree, and people are inevitably hurt. But, as some people seem to think, should it never be an option?

I guess I answered that question already, above: I can't judge people for what they do. Everyone has to live the life that they can live with.

But I hate to see them so sad.


Blogger Commit2U said...

Beth, I'd like to share with you a letter I sent to a friend of mine regarding this issue. I hope it is enlightening to the deepness and breadth of the marriage commitment.

Dear John,

It saddens me greatly in what is happening to you, your wife, and your kids.

I was so impressed with the way you handled your company change process a couple of years ago. It struck me so much about your approach to that whole thing and the struggles you had with loyalties to your current employer. It seemed like you were really focused on what was the “right thing to do”. I pray that you are focused on that now, and if you are, you are making every possible effort to one day look back and say, “ I did everything I possibly could to maintain and save my commitment to Suzy and lived up to my marriage vows.

There are so many things in life that are black and white. It makes it easy for decisions and easy to judge others. To me, the difference between success in living, and in dying, is knowing that when the gray shit hit the fan, we made decisions for the good of those we cared about and that we leaned or bent more to the white than to the black, the right vs the wrong.

I wanted to share with you some teachings that I became aware of through some bible study and reading. I think they are pertinent to struggles and influences you are dealing and what direction they are pulling you.

Marriage is a very sacred and holy agreement that is all too often given back-seat importance to personal freedom’s or beliefs. I bought off on the concept as a kid that “whatever is meant to be is meant to be”. What a cop out. What is meant to be is that when we make a commitment to something, that we owe it to everyone involved to live up to it at great personal sacrifice and cost. We owe that to the ones we love. More times than is believed, those sacrifices come back a hundred fold in joy and personal fulfillment, it is just that our society has gotten too impatient with life and love and the sacrifices entailed with both.

If we only understood our roles better in live, and what our priorities are, people would find happiness more readily, I believe. That said, I’d like to share mine with you:

1. Man of God
2. Husband
3. Father
4. Employee to others at work
5. Manager of others at work
6. Athlete/physical fitness
7. Friend
8. Volunteer in building and improving my community

If I am not good in one, I am not much better in the others.

John, from my reading and listening to people much smarter than me, I have learned that God puts a great importance on marriage. Here is what I mean.

• Did you ever think about the importance of Jesus’ very first miracle? It was performed at a wedding when he turned water into wine? The concept of a wedding feast is so prominent in the bible and through many analogies Jesus used when he taught.(Luke 14: 15-24, Matt 22: 10-14, and Revelation 19: 5-10)
o The miracle has meaning to the couple – he protects their reputation, social standing, by blessing them with the wine that all praised as being the finest of the party.
o Have you allowed Him to perform His greatest miracles and fill you with his Grace?
 Your kids are a wonderful example of His miracles in your life.

• That in the bible, the church is referred to as Christ’s bride and He is the groom and together, they form one flesh between God and Man. Ephesians 5:22-32
• That marriage is a covenant between a man and woman and not just a civil contract or arrangement. Mark 10: 7- 12
• That Adam and Eve is the first marriage in the first book in the Old Testament.
• In Matthew 19: 5-6, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become. So, they are not longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”
• Mathew 22, Jesus, in his parable, describes Heaven as a wedding banquet that we are invited to come. I don’t think Jesus would have used this parable and produced his first miracle at a wedding knowing it is not a true covenant where “two become one”.

• John, if you haven’t read Ephesians 5:21-30, it talks about wives being submissive to husbands and husbands loving their wives as Christ loves the Church. Much of this write-up is intended to show the love for each other, and that husbands would commit themselves so much they would die for them to save them the way Christ died for the people and His church. Verse 21 calls for both husband and wife to be subject to the other out of reverence for Christ, or as Christ did, we are to die of our own personal desires, lusts, wants and needs, and in sacrifice to our families, just as Christ served and sacrificed Himself for us.

John, I share these things with you with the hope and prayer that you take them to heart, and that you “do the right thing” by yourself, and your family. You are a good man - that I know. What you are doing though is wrong.

The bible also teaches us in Mt 19: 4-6 that divorce is wrong. One of the Ten Commandments directly addresses the sanctity of marriage.

You once loved your wife with passion and affection. That just doesn’t go away. It gets buried sometimes in the chaos of kids, and house chores, and work, and blah blah blah. There are times that Beth and I can not stand to be around each other. There are times where we cannot stand to be away from each other. Marriage was meant to be a roller coaster ride, boring at times on the ride up to the top, and as exciting as hell going down hill and the loop the loops. It was not meant to be a ride where you jump off.

I hope you pray about what you are doing, and put the time and effort your relationship deserves to get it back on track. You owe it to yourself, to Suzy, to your kids, and to your faith. John, forgiveness is a gift from God and Jesus Christ. As you saw in The Passion, if He forgave us all for what we did to him in the crucifixion, He will forgive you as well as long as you ask for it.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...


I will say that until you go through the experience of being married and considering divorce or being on the receiving end of someone considering divorce (and I hope you never do), I'm not sure you know what you'll do and how you'll react. I always thought I did and I have been so surprised by my actions and reactions. You do have a good view on things, though, and already seem to have a great grasp on the commitment and seriousness of marriage. I enjoyed reading your comments.


11:48 PM  
Anonymous @$$hole said...

All these comments are lovely, but deep down inside Beth wants David divorced. Why? She is in love with him.

8:38 PM  

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