President Spencer W. Kimball
A Happy Marriage is not Automatic, and Divorce is not a Cure for Unhappiness
Marriage and Divorce, pp. 12-13
The divorce itself does not constitute the entire evil, but the very acceptance of divorce as a cure is also a serious sin of this generation. Because a program or a pattern is universally accepted is not evidence that it is right. Marriage never was easy. It may never be. It brings with it sacrifice, sharing, and a demand for great selflessness. ... [We] have come to realize that divorce is not a cure for difficulty, but is merely an escape, and a weak one. ...
Many of the TV and movie screen shows and stories of fiction end with marriage, and "they lived happily ever after." ... [The] mere performance of a ceremony does not bring happiness and a successful marriage. Happiness does not come by pressing a button ... happiness is a state of mind and comes from within. It must be earned. It cannot be purchased with money ...
Every divorce is the result of selfishness on the part of one or the other or both parties to a marriage contract. Someone is thinking of selfcomforts, conveniences, freedoms, luxuries, or ease. ... If each spouse submits to frequent self-analysis and measures his own imperfections by the yardstick of perfection and the Golden Rule, and if each spouse sets about to correct self in every deviation found by such analysis rather than to set about to correct the deviations in the other party, then transformation comes and happiness is the result. ...
There are many pharisaic people who marry who should memorize the parable of the Savior in Luke—people who prate their own virtues and pile up their own qualities of goodness and put them on the scales against the weaknesses of the spouse. ... Sometimes the ceaseless pinpricking of an unhappy, discontented, and selfish spouse can finally add up ... For every friction, there is a cause; and whenever there is unhappiness, each should search self to find the cause or at least that portion of the cause which originated in that self.
Divorce can be justified only in the rarest of circumstances, because it often tears people's lives apart and shears family happiness. Frequently, parties in a divorce lose much more than they gain.
The traumatic experience one goes through in divorce seems little understood and not well enough appreciated. Certainly there needs to be much more sympathy and understanding for those who have experienced this great tragedy and whose lives cannot be reversed. For those who are divorced, there is still much to be hoped for and expected in terms of fulfillment and happiness in life, in the forgetting of self and the rendering of service to others. ...
There are no simple answers to the complex and challenging questions of happiness in marriage. There are many supposed reasons for divorce. Among them are the serious problems of selfishness, immaturity, lack of commitment, inadequate communication, unfaithfulness, and others that are obvious and well known.
In my experience there is another reason that seems not so obvious but that precedes and laces through all of the others. It is the lack of constant enrichment in marriage. It is an absence of that "something extra" which makes married life precious, special, and wonderful, in spite of its being sometimes drudgery, difficult, and dull. ...
There are a few simple, relevant questions that each person, whether married or contemplating marriage, should honestly ask himself. They are:
- (1) Am I able to think of the interest of my marriage and partner first, before I think of my own desires?
- (2) How deep is my commitment to my companion aside from any other interests?
- (3) Is he or she my best friend?
- (4) Do I have respect for the dignity of my partner as a person of worth and value?
- (5) Do we quarrel over money? (Money itself, or the lack of it, does not seem to make a couple either happy or unhappy, but it is often a symbol of selfishness.)
- (6) Is there a spiritually sanctifying bond between us?
What, then, might be "just cause" for breaking the covenants of marriage? ... I confess I do not claim the wisdom or authority to definitively state what is "just cause." Only the parties to the marriage can determine this. They must bear the responsibility for the train of consequences which inevitably follow if these covenants are not honored.
In my opinion, "just cause" should be nothing less serious than a prolonged and apparently irredeemable relationship which is destructive of a person's dignity as a human being.
To you who are divorced, please know that we do not look down upon you as failures because a marriage failed. In many, perhaps in most cases you were not responsible for that failure. Furthermore, ours is the obligation not to condemn, but to forgive and forget, to lift and to help. In your hours of desolation, turn to the Lord, who said: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. . . . For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28, 30).
The Lord will not deny you nor turn you away. The answers to your prayers may not be dramatic; they may not be readily understood or even appreciated. But the time will come when you will know that you have been blessed. For those of you who have children, and struggle to rear them in righteousness, be assured that they will become a blessing and a comfort and a strength to you through all the years to come. ...
A husband and wife were quarreling and had reached such a degree of incompatibility that they had flung at one another the threat of divorce and had already seen attorneys. Both of them, embittered, had found companionship with other parties. This was sin. No matter how bitter were their differences, neither had any right to begin courting or looking about for friends. Any dating or such association by wedded people outside the marriage is iniquitous. Even though they proceeded with the divorce suit, to be moral and honorable they must wait until the divorce is final before either is justified in developing new romances.
So long as the marriage covenant has not been legally severed, neither spouse morally may seek new romance or open the heart to other people. After the divorce becomes final, both freed individuals may engage in proper courting activities.
"A man who has entered into a sacred covenant in the house of the Lord to remain true to the marriage vow is a traitor to that covenant if he separates himself from his wife and family just because he has permitted himself to become infatuated with the pretty face and comely form of some young girl who flattered him with a smile. ...
"[We] are to ... warn these men ... who, after having lived with their wives and brought into this world four and five and six children, get tired of them and seek a divorce, that they are on the road to hell. It is unfair to a woman to leave her that way, merely because the man happens to fall in love with some younger woman and feels that the wife is not so beautiful or attractive as she used to be. Warn him! Nothing but unhappiness for him and injustice to those children can result." (McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 473)
"Altogether too many men, leaving their wives at home in the morning and going to work, where they find attractively dressed and attractively made-up young women, regard themselves as young and handsome, and as an irresistible catch. They complain that their wives do not look the same as they did twenty years ago when they married them. To which I say, Who would, after living with you for twenty years?" (Hinckley, Conference Report, October 1991)