Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Divorce: When Is It Justified?

It seems that more and more of my friends, peers and associates are splitting up or getting divorced.  No, I don't think the world is getting worse all of the sudden, it's simply that I am now thirty years old and many of my friends have been married for 5-10 years and this is when things get tough.  At the heart of divorce I often see selfishness, in one form or another.

Anyhow, a simple google search produced the following resource (I Googled Faust + Divorce or something along those lines since I know the late President James E. Faust of the LDS church spoke on the subject a number of times):

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 ...

President Spencer W. Kimball
Self-Analysis Can Avoid Divorce
Marriage and Divorce, p. 19

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.

Pres. James E. Faust
Sympathy and Understanding for Divorced Individuals
To Reach Even unto You, p. 53

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. ...

Pres. James E. Faust
Reasons for Divorce
To Reach Even unto You, pp. 54-55

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?

Pres. James E. Faust
Just Cause for Divorce
Conference Report, April 1993, p. 46

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.

President Gordon B. Hinckley
Respecting Divorced Individuals
Single Adult Fireside Satellite Broadcast, February 26, 1989
Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, pp. 161-162

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. ...

President Spencer W. Kimball
Courting Someone Before a Divorce is Finalized is Sin
Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 143

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.

Presidents David O. McKay & Gordon B. Hinckley
Flirting is a Betrayal of Marital Vows

"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)


Anonymous said...

Thank you, I think I found my answer. I take my vows seriously and I seriously tested myself for selfishness. After twenty two years of selfless marriage I cannot go further. Did not love her in the first place, but I took up the responsibility of my asking. We were both in dire constrained spiritual and emotional straits. We raised my two step children, while she is handicapped in one leg. I closed my eyes to abusive manipulation and forgiveness saved many a day. Recently she announced it is over, she'd go for au pairing in the US.

Just like that. No real management to anything. Now she is back and in worse condition. I have to stop everything I do to see to her needs. Always had to. I don't and haven't minded that ever, but now I am tired. Thing that gets me most is the arguing with no end if it does not go her way.

We were separated yet not divorced - and I take heed of the admonishment on new romances - but I did find a new lady. {It is not good to be hammered like that. I cried about the fact that I could not show her God's mercy - could've changed everything}. "That certain something" is there this time, but we both believe and live under God's light. I have considered not having her in my life and the decision is the same. I cannot carry on with this marriage.

Selfishness does not necessarily manifest in the person asking for the divorce. It is incumbent on us to understand that any relationship comes from two sides. In this case I am convinced it did not. Otherwise why would I feel so badly done by. Is my conscience so corrupt? I think not. I actively and consciously live under God's light for the past 36 years.

A final year seminary student explained the second law to me. That God, by using it as reference framework, actually acknowledges our healthy self-love. If that went in there on any willy-nilly basis then God does not know what He is doing. Against all supercilious attacks of "you can love yourself too much" it is final and empirical.

You may attack me on any grounds and I'll have your teeth chatter with the decisions I had to make to help myself see out of my eyes in any level headed sort of way. But the self-doubt and the testing continues. I make decisions only on compelling exclusive grounds.

But thank you. I cannot continue with this marriage. Mostly, I realize now, since I failed in leading her as I vowed before God on a Saturday afternoon more that 22 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, you have FREE Agency. You can choose as you please, but please don't tell me that God will justify your decision to divorce or that the spirit led you to believe divorce was right for you. If you are both striving to live the commandments of God, Divorce is never an option and even if only one of you are, then divorce is seldom an option.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. This guy makes no sense. Sounds like selfish babbling to me. Also sounds like he got a lady friend before he got a divorce. And he is justifying it. Get the divorce first. Sounds like if he is saying he married her, but didn't love her in the first place, then goes on to say he was selfless, it is a contradiction. If he was truly selfless, he would have felt like he loved her in the beginning. Maybe she was manipulative partly becasue she never truly felt loved. If he was selfless, she would have felt loved. This is almost funny reading his justifying and contradictory sentences.

Ferdinand Draper said...

There’s no use in staying in a relationship in the absence of love. Why stay if you constantly hurt each other? Deciding to end things does not mean that one of you is selfish to just leave; it should be rather seen as loving and respecting yourself. No one wants to fail, but no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. And the best way to make things right is to end it properly and legally.

Russell Dill said...

Marriage will never be easy. It's good to know that before we commit, we'll be ready to face all the risks and challenges together. You can avoid divorce by going through counseling. There might be professional counselors, or at least people you know, who have a happy and successful relationship. Their advice can be of great help to your family.