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Divorce & Annulments

You are a fool!

That is what I said to myself as I sat in my car in the parking lot of the local Denny’s restaurant where I was about to make the gutsiest move of my lifeI was going to ask my ex-spouse to consider reconciliation instead of divorce.

He had reluctantly agreed to meet me, especially since I did not tell him why I wanted to see him. And honestly if I allowed myself to think too much about it, I would have labeled myself as insane for doing something so bold. I still loved my soon-to-be-ex-husband, but asking him to reconcile would be a very difficult thing to do. He had betrayed me and abandoned me, and asking him to give our marriage another chance admittedly made me look like the weaker party, like I could not let go of a relationship that was over. The thought of doing this was painful and humiliating but it still was something I knew I had to do.

I parked, and walked into the restaurant with my heart pounding so hard I thought I would have a heart attack. I ordered a diet coke and waited nervously. Was I going to be able to go through with this? I hoped so. When he finally showed up, I nearly lost my nerve because I could tell something in him had changed. It was like a switch had been flipped and the man I married was gone. In his place was someone I didn’t recognize at all.

In the end, my efforts proved to be fruitless and the actual conversation we had was even more devastating than the day he left. Yet,I have never regretted asking him to consider reconciliation for one moment. On the contrary, not only do I believe it was the right thing for me to do, but I highly recommend this idea to anyone who A) was not living in an abusive or dangerous marriage relationship, and B) does believe there still might be a shred of hope the marriage can be revived. Here are the reasons why I would encourage someone to do this:

  • In my personal experience, the most important reason to ask for reconciliation is because we should do everything we can to save our marriages. Again, I am not including spouses who have been in abusive marriages in this. But, if abuse or some other dangerous situation is not an issue, why not give your marriage one last chance? It is possible a marriage between spouses who are in the process of divorce can be savedit happens more often than you might realizeand that can only begin with one spouse stepping forward in humility instead of anger and indignation. Acts of humility have the potential to soften even the hardest of hearts.
  • Perhaps the most emotionally significant reason I believe seeking reconciliation is important is if your marriage cannot be saved and your request is declined, you will never look back years later and say, what if? Knowing I did all I could to save the marriage was healing for me and when I remarried after going through the annulment process, I had no hesitations whatsoever.
  • Above all, if we are Christians, we should love as Christ loves us and this is why reconciliation is important. In my situation, some of the people who were aware I was going to ask my ex-spouse for reconciliation tried to talk me out of it. They said it would be psychologically healthier for me if I just let go of my spouse and went my own way. They questioned the sanity of wanting to go back to a spouse who had so blatantly betrayed me. But my conscience compelled me to take this step and I wanted to follow it.

Society doesn’t value the virtue of humility, anymore. An eye for an eye is the law of the land but Christ reminds us to offer our coat and hat in addition to the shirt we’ve been asked for; to walk two miles instead of just the one we’ve been pressed into (Matthew 5:38-42). No matter how ridiculous it may seem to other people, it’s not about them, nor is it up to them. They tell you you’re humiliating yourself, but you’re actually humbling yourself if you approach it with sincerity and that is a huge difference.

If you feel you have even the slightest chance of restoring your marriage, I encourage you to consider taking this step for reconciliation. A great way to begin is by checking out a great Catholic organization, Retrouvaille, at Retrouvaille.org. They offer retreats for couples whose marriages are severely distressed and couples who are separated or divorced. You can also contact me at asklisa@catholicmatch.com.

 

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10 Comments

  1. Cindi-1073390 June 5, 2014

    Lisa, That’s a great post. Sometimes we need to try what seems impossible, just as you said, so that we do not look back in regret that we didn’t try everything. Healing came to me, too, when I experienced something similar to what you described. Thank you for sharing that sometimes it takes tremendous pain to grow healthy again. ~ Cindi

  2. Donald-1062010 June 6, 2014

    I wish I had made the effort in a different manner in which I did. Although I was the “wronged” party, I do not, to this day, believe that I did all that I could though I did go a lot further than my ex-wife. For that reason, I believe our divorce was not handled as well as it could or should have been for the sake of our children. Make the effort even though you have doubts, it will serve you well later no matter if it is not successful at the time.

  3. Terri-838897 June 6, 2014

    Lisa… What a great post that hit home with me. I had been in a 32 yr. marriage that ended because my husband decided he wanted a “new life”. He had lost his management job thru company reorganization, one where he climbed the corporate ladder by hard work & education, after 32 yrs. of service. It was a life altering event for him, one that changed him forever. I fought hard for our marriage, thinking he was just experiencing loss not only of a good job, but part of his identity as well. We went to Retrouvaille for the weekend, which I highly suggest for troubled marriages, but it wasn’t enough for him. He just didn’t have it in him anymore to put the work into our marriage. Very sad…. but I, like you, felt that if I didn’t put every last effort, prayer & hard work into it, it would be on my conscious the rest of my life. I didn’t want to stand before God when I died, without knowing I did the absolute best to honor the covenant the three of us entered into on our wedding day. I have finally found peace in my heart & soul, but it certainly has been an interesting journey these past 3 1/2 yrs. Blessings to all of you who have experienced the same or similar situation.

  4. Jillian-1014035 June 7, 2014

    Good post and true….for many reasons….

  5. Regina-911983 June 8, 2014

    Great article. I was in a very similar situation – betrayed, abandoned, emotionally abused. Asking for reconciliation is the right thing to do. It is what Jesus would do. This, in itself, is very healing and therapeutic. It sets the right tone and example especially if there are children involved. We cannot and will never know why people abandon and leave a marriage. Heal and follow Jesus and lead by example and always take the HIGH road!

  6. David-1054431 June 10, 2014

    Great article. I’m a man in my 50′s and have never been married. I’ve been strongly of the opinion that there are far more divorces in American society than there need to be. (And too much cohabitation and illegitimate births too, but that’s another topic.) But I’m usually shy to express my convictions to people who are divorced because the first thing out of their mouths will inevitably be, “Well, what would you know about it, Mr. Never Married? Who are you to talk?” So it’s validating for me to hear people with the experience sharing a similar sentiment.

    There’s something I don’t quite understand, so maybe others can help. I have only recently returned to the Catholic faith, having been active in another religion for more than 20 years. So I’m still trying to get in the swing of living the Catholic faith.

    So my question is as follows. The church teaches divorce is wrong. Yet Catholics are divorced at about the same rate as the American population as a whole. So how do practicing divorced Catholics reconcile with this teaching? Do they consider their divorce to be civil only and figure they’re not in sin unless they try to remarry? Are they just all hoping for annulments? Someone explain. I don’t ask the question in a judgmental way; I’m just trying to understand it.

  7. Priscilla-945039 June 10, 2014

    That is what the annulment process is all about.

  8. Glenn-1012637 June 11, 2014

    I too made the effort to reconcile after my former wife’s affair. The words of the Our Father kept going through my head – “as we forgive those”. If you are going to be a Christian, you have to live the words, not just say them

  9. Annemarie-985527 June 11, 2014

    I, too, asked my almost ex to give “us” one more chance. I did not get married to get divorced. We had given each other 24 years and 4 children and I would have done whatever it took to make the marriage work even after I found about his wandering. I asked and then wondered what I would do if he said yes but he didn’t. I did what I had to do in order to look at myself in the mirror every day and know that I had done everything I possibly could to save my marriage.

  10. Joseph-924851 June 24, 2014

    Your courage is inspiring.

    Takes faith to do the right thing and hope it’ll work out. You are a woman of real grace, and some man will count himself fortunate to win your heart.

    God bless.

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