Is This Divorce Necessary?
IN MOST countries the divorce rate is skyrocketing. According to the Americana Annual, “nearly four out of every ten recent U.S. marriages might end in divorce if the current levels of divorce persist.” Every year, worldwide, multitudes of people are deciding that they no longer can endure their marriages.
Why? What triggers this tragedy? “A hundred, a thousand different things,” wrote Morton Hunt in his book The World of the Formerly Married. He included financial troubles, domination of one partner by the other, adultery, drunkenness, personality differences, a lack of interest in homelife, cultural differences, immaturity, the influence of relatives, and sexual incompatibility. Of course, the list is much longer, as the subject is very complex.
As faults become apparent, romance and affection can fade. Frustration and disillusionment grow. Instead of happiness and harmony, there are quarrels and tension. Instead of trust and love, suspicion and resentment grow. The situation becomes difficult to bear.
Often the reasoning of those who seek release from their unsatisfactory marriage is: ‘We tried, but failed. We just can’t make a go of it. So why prolong the agony? Divorce is acceptable today, so is it not better than a miserable marriage?’
That may be true in some cases. For example, when a marriage mate becomes immorally involved with someone else, and has no regrets or expresses no repentance, then legal action may be proper.—Matthew 19:9.
However, countless divorced couples have learned from bitter experience that divorce is not always the answer.
A Painful Experience
Divorce is often a very painful experience. It may be likened to an operation that leaves dreadful scars. According to research, compared to the death of a marriage mate, divorce ranks second in life’s most stressful situations.
The Brisbane Telegraph of Australia quoted a divorce-court counselor as saying that divorce is “the same as losing a close relative through death. Partners in marriage breakdown can go through a period of grief and mourning and experience the same emotion as though the loved one had died.”
With a marriage mate who seems “impossible” and with a wretched situation in the home, one might reach the stage of thinking that any change must be for the better. There may be a longing for freedom and a single life again. However, the matter is not as simple as that. Said sociologist Robert Weiss: “People need to understand that divorce is drastic surgery.”
Such expressions indicate the pain that can come from severing the bonds that once existed. These bonds between man and wife include those that are physical, emotional, mental and, in some cases, spiritual. To cut all that asunder is indeed “drastic surgery.” And this is not surprising when we consider what the Maker of marriage, Almighty God, said after establishing the first such union: “A man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.”—Genesis 2:24.
Cutting apart “one flesh” is no light matter. Often it produces deep depression and negative feelings about oneself; and it also produces a feeling of loneliness.
Companionship is one of the joys of marriage. Quite frequently elderly widows and widowers get married simply to have company. They are too lonely to remain single. Said one divorcée: “Loneliness can be the worst thing.”
The Bible puts the need for close, warm companionship in this direct, down-to-earth way: “Two are better than one . . . For if one of them should fall, the other one can raise his partner up. . . . Moreover, if two lie down together, they also will certainly get warm; but how can just one keep warm?” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-11) As God said before creating the first woman: “The man’s being alone is not good; I will make him a helper to match him.”—Genesis 2:18, Byington.
When God created male and female, he implanted in them the sex drive. This was so that they could “be fruitful and become many” and find a source of delight in marriage.—Genesis 1:28.
However, in recent decades sex habits have broken all bounds. As a result, millions of people suffer from venereal diseases, unwanted pregnancies and many other problems. Marriage partners can properly exercise the privilege of sex relations, but once divorced they lose that Scripturally legitimate and natural outlet for their desire.
Hence, one of the problems for divorced persons is finding themselves in unrelieved passion. As the Bible says: “It is better to marry than to burn with passion.”—1 Corinthians 7:9, Today’s English Version.
Often, for the formerly married, the hunger for love is greater than ever. As a result, some of them practice self-abuse as an outlet for their sex drive. Others seek satisfaction in love affairs or casual sex. But according to a report in the Toronto Star, many find these encounters disappointing and repugnant. Associated with such conduct is a serious loss of dignity and self-respect. Also, for those who wish to please God, such illicit sex is not acceptable. (Colossians 3:5) True, God created sex, but he created it for use only within the bonds of matrimony.—Hebrews 13:4.
The Effect on Children
Children, especially younger ones, can be devastated by divorce. For them, the family is like a nest—warm and protective. When it collapses, the bottom seems to fall out of their world.
The effect is illustrated by an incident reported in Dr. Howard Irving’s book Divorce Mediation. A divorced husband was taking camping gear to his car on a Friday night, preparing for a weekend trip with his children. His three-year-old daughter woke up, saw him outside packing the car and began screaming hysterically. Mummy had left her already. Now she thought that Daddy was leaving too.
Dr. Irving noted that “divorce introduces the idea that love can die. For the child who depends on the love of his or her parent, this can be a frightening thought. . . . If the parents who once loved each other no longer do, will they be the next to lose that love?”
For most children, divorce spells disaster. Almost all of them suffer intense unhappiness. It can make them cynical and hard in their emotional lives. Many children from broken homes become problem pupils in school. The loss of family security has cost them dearly.
Thus, a survey taken in San Francisco revealed an interesting preference. It showed that 80 percent of the children involved in marriage breakups said that they preferred their parents having a miserable marriage rather than their getting divorced.
Is Your Marriage in Danger?
If your marriage is in danger, think carefully. And think again. Is it possible that your marriage can be saved, and thus you and those involved can be spared the agonizing consequences, of which we have discussed only a few?
Recall the happiness of your courting days. What went wrong after that? Is it your mate’s fault or yours? Or both? Has there been a failure in three of the basic requirements of a good marriage—communication, cooperation and consideration? Even if your failures have been only partly to blame, have you said “sorry”? Just saying that sincerely and humbly can often free a deadlock in the marital partnership.
Of course, marriage problems often become so complicated that man and wife are no longer able to correct them without help. But where can a person go for help? There are many marriage counselors in this world, and often their advice is helpful. Yet, because there is no common standard among them, their views may be contradictory. What a marriage in trouble needs is the very best counsel that comes from the most reliable source. Where can it be found?
The best counsel on marriage comes from the One who has the best knowledge of human nature, and the most experience. The Creator, the Almighty God Jehovah, made man and woman. He brought them together in the first marriage. He has had thousands of years of experience in viewing marriage. Hence, when he gives us counsel in his inspired Word, the Bible, it works! When both parties in a marriage adhere to God’s counsel, serious marriage troubles can be avoided or solved if they do appear. And often, where only one mate works hard to apply the counsel, good results can still be obtained.
Among Jehovah’s Witnesses there are many men and women with a deep understanding of marital problems. They can give counsel that many others cannot. Why? Because they adhere strictly to the best standards, those that God lays down in his own Word. If your marriage is in trouble, why not discuss it with them? Since they may not be your parents or close friends, they can take an impartial view.*
Those Contemplating Marriage
Can many marriage problems be headed off even before two people get married? Yes, for it is at the courting stage that serious mistakes are often made that bring trouble later.
To choose a suitable partner can be the most serious decision one has to make in life relative to another human. It can lead to marvelous happiness, or to misery. And very often it is made too hastily by those who are too young. Divorce is more than twice as likely to occur among those who marry as teenagers.
Are you a young person in love with someone? That can be a very fine time of your life. But beware that the ‘pink mist’ of romance does not shroud serious incompatibilities. Have you seen how your prospective life partner reacts under stress? Is he or she honest, mild-tempered, kind, unselfish? Do you have much in common? Is the attraction mainly physical, or are there qualities in him or her that command your respect?
A Most Vital Factor
Yet there is another vital factor even more important for successful marriage: Will the Originator of marriage, Jehovah God, be involved in your marriage? Will you be guided by the fine counsel that only God can give us, as recorded in his inspired book, the Bible? He knows what it takes to make a success of married life. His Word is a sure guide toward that goal.—Ephesians 5:22-33.
Thus, if marriage partners really love each other, not just physically but also because of the other partner’s spiritual qualifications, and have deep respect for God, he becomes a third party in the contract. In this way marriage ties are greatly strengthened, for as the Bible says, “a threefold cord cannot quickly be torn in two.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12) Asking God to be a third party can be the greatest help to those planning to marry. It can also transform many miserable marriages into happy ones.
For a detailed discussion of what is involved in making a success of marriage from the Creator’s viewpoint, ask Jehovah’s Witnesses for the book Making Your Family Life Happy, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. Or write the publishers of Awake! for a copy.
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In recent decades sex habits have broken all bounds
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For children, loving parents are like a warm, protective nest