The question of whether or not to put legislation in place that limits a couple’s ability to get divorced is a hot topic that breeds strong opinions from both sides of the issue.
I recently read a blog debate in the New York Times between Vicki Larson, author of the OMG Chronicles blog, and Beverly Willet, co-chair of the Coalition For Divorce Reform organization on this very issue. While I agree hands-down with Ms. Willet’s assertation of the tragedy of divorce, I disagree with both of their answers to this problem.
First, let me state this article is less geared toward anyone who has been in an abusive relationship than it is toward those in non-abusive relationships. Abusive marriages are an entirely different issue than non-abusive marriages, and although the example of abuse is used rather gratuitously in Ms. Larson’s argument, I would like to focus more on the non-abusive marriages that teeter on the brink of divorce.
Next, allow me to explain why I disagree with their different resolutions to the problem.
According to clinical psychologist Dr. Niolon, PhD, the problems that lead to divorce are typically high conflict (financial lows, prolonged illness, disagreement on religious beliefs, etc.), loss of intimacy, and in my estimation derived through my own work, the inability of the spouses to struggle through tough times in an honest and charitable way.
But I believe those problems stem from deeper issues that begin with these factors:
- Only 60% of children of divorced parents marry, and 40% of them divorce (Dr. Judith Wallerstein, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce). Why? Because their model of marriage is distorted. They did not grow up instilled with a sense of permanency regarding the marriage relationship and they’re set up for failure. They start out with a faulty foundation.
- Our society does not support virtuous relationships, therefore, the main message people receive via the media and people outside their family is they should be the center of their own universe, they should have whatever they want now, and if either of those ideas are compromised, they need to find someone or something else that will enable that lifestyle.
- Couples do not communicate well. They allow their pride to demand that the other spouse grovel at their feet with apologies and earn their way back into the offended spouse’s good graces until the ruffled feathers have relaxed and the vanity of the offended spouse has been soothed. This often results in severely diminished sexual intimacy.
- Couples do not forgive each other well. There may be some immediate forgiveness, but many spouses keep a mental checklist of what the other has or hasn’t done. This is not good for a marriage.
So, these are the primary factors, in my humble opinion, as to why couples divorce. They play out in different circumstances of course, but those are the four main reasons. If you give a couple enough years self-centeredness, bad communication, lack of sexual intimacy, and a lack of true forgiveness, there will come a day when one or both spouses will believe the relationship is beyond repair, even with counseling. The only hope, then, is a conversion of heart on the part of both spouses, and that is often hard to come by. By that time, at least one spouse has entertained thoughts of someone outside the marriage and may possibly have already been unfaithful.
It’s for those reasons that I stand firm in my stance that more stringent divorce laws are not the answer. The answer, plain and simple, is making sure couples are better prepared for marriage through pre-cana programs, healthy, intact family relationships, and a real understanding of what marriage is. To summarize, it should be harder to get married, not harder to get divorced.
There are some great Pre-cana programs out there, such as the Three To Get Married weekend program, which can be found in different locations throughout the country. This is a fairly thorough program that my husband and I went through ourselves, even though I had already been previously married. Most pre-cana programs are a great start to marriage, if they are taken seriously by the couple.
Society needs strong, loving, couples to raise solid, happy families. The best way to make this happen is to ensure you marry your best friend and a very important part of discerning who that is, will be through a solid and thorough preparation for marriage.
Would you like to disagree with me or bring your opinions to the table? Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to discuss them with you.