Divorce: Not a Private Matter – MM #190

DIVORCE! Not Private - Pixabay - CanvaDivorce is not a private matter. We often act like it is, but it isn’t. There are many reasons why it shouldn’t be. One reason? “Like a bad cold in the office, divorces may be contagious.” That’s what research is revealing.

Divorce Is Not Private

“Yvonne Aberg, a sociologist at Stockholm University, found that as the proportion of recently divorced co-workers increased, the chances that other married workers will subsequently divorce also increased.

“She also found that men and women were 75 per cent more likely to divorce during the study period if they worked in an office populated mainly by people of the opposite sex and of the same age.

“And the more single people working in an office, the higher the divorce rate, she reported in a paper presented at the last meeting of the American Sociological Association.” (From article, “Catching Divorce”)

Divorce Influences Others

So divorce influences, affects and almost appears to infect other marriages, as well. That reason alone, makes divorce a public matter.

Another reason divorce is not so private is because as Christians break up their marriages, they also break up God’s living picture of His relationship with His bride. Throughout the Bible, we see that God compares marriage to His love for the church. It’s a living picture —a testimony of God’s love. So when we tear up this picture, it becomes a very public matter.

It becomes the business of followers of Christ, as the “world” is watching, how we do this thing called love and marriage. Do we just preach love and teach love? Or do we truly do what it takes to love each other and stay true to our vows? You have to know that when a marriage falls apart it affects us all. It gives us all cause to be concerned and grieve. Marriage is a witness to that, which God can do in and through us as we follow His ways. He also does this as we tap into His empowerment.

For those of you who are followers of Christ, the following is a Love lesson.

God Makes a Difference

“If you fall in love with God —really fall in love with God, you’ll notice a difference in your love toward your spouse. We each study and personalize the Bible. Plus we memorize specific verses to continually renew our minds to God’s power and character. If we fail to do that, our culture and society will shape our minds in the opposite direction.” (Mike and Debbie Breaux with Ginger Kolbaba, from the Marriage Partnership article, “The Real Thing”)

To consider additional reasons and thoughts written on this subject of divorce, please read the following. It is a shortened version of a newsletter article, authored by Mary Kochan. It is titled, “Divorce Is Not a Private Matter.” Here’s what Mary writes:

Ever notice how when folks are getting married they make it everybody’s business? This happens from announcements to bridal registries to showers to showing off the ring. From guest lists and invitations to bridesmaids to something borrowed —everybody is expected to get in on the act. Interesting isn’t it how these same people can decide to call it quits and slink off a few years later and get divorced. And then whose business is it?

The problem is that we all buy into it. Even if we try to talk to them about it, we usually feel compelled to begin the conversation by saying, “I know it’s none of my business, but… Well, enough of that. Because divorce is no more private than a wedding. And it is time we stopped pretending it is…

Here’s why their divorce is your business:

• The effect upon children creates a strain upon every resource in our communities. Juvenile delinquency increases. Teachers face ever-mounting discipline problems at school. The ranks of those in need of government assistance and private charity continue to swell. No family comes through divorce and ends up with the financial resources they would have had staying intact. And the effect is particularly bad on the mother and children.

Every year the magic of compound interest works in reverse: Combined resources that the married couple could have set aside for retirement or the kids’ education are diminished. Less of a return is earned, and the future financial security of everyone is threatened.


—Among Christians in general, divorce is just one more scandal that makes a mockery of what we say we believe. If the power of the Holy Spirit, Whose indwelling we claim to have, is not great enough to enable us to live with one another under the same roof, what good are all our “peace on earth” slogans?

…Those who are ignorant of the temporal and spiritual damage divorce causes need to be instructed. Those who are doubtful about their ability to heal a damaged marriage need counsel. It might help them to know that many couples who were on the brink of divorce, but who try again, later report happy marriages. They may need direction to resources or something as practical as a baby-sitter while they go talk to someone.

Consider the Positive Effect

Putting your arm around a shoulder and saying, “I know you are going through a tough time. Let me know if I can help” is not admonishing. God hates divorce. (Malachi 2:13-16) Don’t be afraid to assemble a team to intervene if necessary. Peer pressure does make a difference. Marital partners should be reminded that charity begins at home and that to bear wrongs patiently and forgive offenses willingly is not an optional requirement of our faith.

Yes, to comfort the afflicted is also a spiritual work of mercy. But if we perform some of these others and do so prayerfully and courageously, we might have fewer people afflicted by divorce to comfort.

Responsibilities of Attending Weddings

One friend, who wrote to me about her own attitude toward weddings, had this to say, “I don’t even attend a wedding unless the person is someone I know very well. They must be someone whose marriage I think I will be able to uphold should trouble strike. I don’t treat them as social Extravaganzas. I treat them as sacred covenants that I’m witnessing, and as a witness I have an obligation to uphold.

For me, witnessing a wedding is akin to becoming a godparent. It’s an obligation to continue witnessing to “the marriage—encouraging, supporting, helping out practically, etc. is what I expect of myself.”

Imagine what a difference we could make if we all took weddings this seriously and made it our business to make our position known to those around us. (From a past Newsletter, courtesy of “The Catholic Exchange”)

We encourage you to pray about the above information. Ask God to show you how you can be an encourager to those who are married. And then help those who need it. It’s a matter of getting outside of our comfort zone. You are not condemning them. Instead, you are confronting and giving help, when needed. (We have a lot of tools on this web site that can help. Pray and ask for God to guide you in this mission.)

Reach Out For Help

And if you are someone who needs the help, then please prayerfully look around this web site. Ask God to show YOU what you can do to help your marriage grow healthier. We acknowledge that you are not in complete control of all that goes on in a marriage. Sometimes divorce happens no matter what you do. Again, this message is not to condemn you. It’s to wake up those who are sleeping, thinking that divorce is a private matter. It isn’t.

For a parent, please know that:

“Once you divorce, you let a judge into your parenting to decide how you can raise your child. Your parenting values can be jeopardized by what the courts decide.” You may think that getting a divorce will help you to experience more peace than you have today, but consider that there are ‘hidden costs’ that could be much more expensive to pay in the end. ‘Consider the costs’ before tearing apart your home.” (Terri Meeuwson of The 700 Club)

You may have no say or any choice in whether the divorce happens. But please consider what has been said above, if you do have a choice. Don’t buy the lies and myths of the world. Ask God to help you to fight against divorce and do what you can to help others do so, as well.

May we work together to make our marriages reflect the love of God everyday, in every way,

Cindy Wright and Steve Wright

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Filed under: Marriage Messages Separation and Divorce

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11 responses to “Divorce: Not a Private Matter – MM #190

  1. (USA)  The divorce is contagious thinking is dangerous. It seems to encourage folks to avoid ministering to those going through a divorce.

    Remember, half of those getting a divorce probably didn’t want it. Probably most of the men who are getting divorced didn’t file. Neither were they guilty of marital misconduct.

    So I urge caution in this who divorce is contagious thinking.

    Looking at statements like, “once you let a judge…” as the writer here said, only half of those in the divorce (roughly speaking) let anything happen.

    I think Steve and Cindy understand this. However, looking at many of the experts they quote, I wonder if the experts really understand this. From what I read, it appears they don’t. Or if they do, they certainly are not very careful with their words.

  2. (US)  This the most meaningful comment I have ever read. I wish that every married couple could read this. I think that this is so true. it is an encouragement in ministry for those who think their marriage is dead or hopeless. More of this needs to be preached in the church but is not because they think that divorce is private and it is not. I wish that this could be pressed because the world is looking and taking notes and it does destroy God’s children one way or the other.

    My cousin’s pastor had them sign a declaration before they married. It stated that if they ever got to the point where they wanted a divorce, they could not divorce until they found counseling for 6 months. Well, of course they signed. Getting married is easy, and they didn’t think twice about it. However, they found themselves after 12 years ready to call it quits, but guess what? The contract they signed with the pastor was a legal and binding contract, recognized in the court system and they could not divorce until they met the counseling requirements. They are still together and I think that if it had not been for a pastor who was fed up with the divorce rate of Christians and had he not developed this creative way of making sure his people received help, they may have been another statistic… great commentary, Steve and Cindy.

    1. Wow, Tina! Thanks so much. What you said about what your cousin’s pastor did touched our hearts more than I could say. I wish we could shout it from the housetops. Not enough people consider the fact that marriage is meant to be a lifetime commitment –a sacred covenant relationship. They say they do; they say their vows accordingly. But not too many couples really “get it,” in reality. It’s more about the romance of the moment and the wedding extravaganza, to the point where they somehow think because their love is so unique and wonderful that it will naturally carry them through for the rest of their lives. How disillusioned we can be! It’s a good starting place, a launching pad, but it isn’t a sure foundation to build a marriage upon (which too many people find out later).

      I think it’s so true what Diane Sollee said, “The public is so ill-prepared for and ill-informed about marriage. They don’t realize that the first 2 years of marriage is the time when a NEW CIVILIZATION is hammered out. We mislead by calling it the ‘honeymoon’ phase. We send them off without the basic understanding of what to expect or the skills they need to lay the foundation for a life-long marriage. So much needs to be done in the area of marriage education.”

      If only we understood that and we involved God more in our everyday lives, and the wisdom He can lead us to, to apply to our marriages! And if only we didn’t buy the lie that divorce is private and that when we have marriage problems, we hide them and don’t deal with them. Most couples neglect taking them to someone in the early stages of trouble, who can help them work through them, rather than bury them and eventually let them explode apart their marriages. It’s all so sad and maddening.

      It’s not that we want to punish those who divorce or not comfort them –absolutely not! But what we do want to do is to help more couples put in the work they need to do BEFORE marrying and also to KEEP WORKING on their relationship after they marry so there isn’t all of the divorcing that’s going on. Hooray for that pastor! We need more of them! Thanks Tina, for encouraging us with what you wrote.

  3. (SOUTH AFRICA)  I have been married to a non-believer for almost ten years now. Over the years he verbally and emotionally abused me so much so that I ended up going through counselling and having to take medication for depression. I have forgiven and given my marriage a chance over and over again in the years, but he has never appreciated it. Instead he saw it as another chance to hurt me again and again.

    He has done such cruel things to me, one of which was to insist and refuse that I have someone to help me at home after I delivered our first baby through a c-section. There are many other even more cruel things he has done over the years. My family and friends have interverned to save the marriage a number of times. in 2009, I decided I could not take it anymore and we separated when our second baby was only four months. The torture, verbal and financial abuse that came after that was unbelievable. Still, after about six months I forgave him and let him back into my life after he admitted to being demon possesed and allowing the demons to rule his life day in and day out. He came to church and got saved. Everybody could not be more happier, including myself.

    After a while he got back to his old ways of being abusive, neglecting the family being non-supportive to me and the children. It was even worse as I was not allowed to say anything as he would quote scripture and say I am not being submissive. It got to a stage where it was too much for me and this time around I have decided I want a divorce. The church has taken his side and even though I am the one that has endured abuse and suffering all these years, I am the one that is an outcast and am being judged from all angles.

    Sometimes I wish people could live my life for just one day and wonder if they would have made it this far with their sanity intact. I lived and was married to a monster for almost ten years and have nothing to show for it. Instead I am the one that is being blamed and judged. Articles like these ones really break my heart because they generalise and make judgements and isolate the very people that have sufferred and given their all to make their marriages work.

    1. Dear Thandeka, I’m so very sorry for the abuse you have been suffering in your marriage. You are right in saying that people that are not living your life don’t understand. Those that abuse are usually not ones who display themselves as monsters to others, outside of their home surroundings. They can actually be quite charming and quite convincing that they would never be an abuser. And if they do admit to abusing or are “caught” in some way, they can be quite convincing that they are sorry and that their spouse is to fault in some way. They can look quite pitiable. That’s one of the reasons why others, outside of the home, can be fooled and can quite wrongly try to convince the victim to go back to their abuser (because they don’t see the victimization), when the abuser hasn’t truly changed –it’s all an illusion.

      It’s true that divorce is not a private matter, but neither is abuse. Many who marry abusers know ahead of time that there were warning signs there, BEFORE they married. We need to get the word out to those who are considering marrying NOT to ignore those red flags, which would save them from leading a life of being abused. I don’t know if this is the case with you. But even if it was, now that you are being subjected to abuse, you should not have to live with it. Abuse should not remain a private matter, either. It should never be excused or enabled to continue by the church or anyone in any way. Abuse is never ok. No matter what! And those who are being abused, need to protect themselves and get away from their abusers, if it is possible. The church should help in this. We even have an article addressing this in the “Abuse in Marriage” topic.

      Please know that my heart breaks for you. I’m so sorry that so many around you don’t “get it” that abusive behavior needs to addressed and the victims need protection, not coaxed and shamed into going back into an abusive situation. Temporary repentance is not something the victim can accept. If the abuser has truly changed –that is one thing, but just because someone says they have changed, it does’t mean that is true. Please read the articles in the “Abuse in Marriage” topic to learn what you can so you protect yourself and your children as best as you can. I pray peace for you. I hope you can find a supportive church to help you. I also pray God infuses hope into your heart that you will eventually experience better days –ones that will bring a smile to your heart and peace into your home.

      1. (SOUTH AFRICA)  Dear Cindy, I am so touched by your comments and understanding, I am actually crying as I write this e-mail. There are very few people who get it. You have described my husband to the T; he is exactly like that. I wish the church and the whole world could understand the issue of abuse and be realistic about it and stop giving such wrong advice.

        I have been advised by the church to “just put yourself in a comma, ignore him and trust God for your situation, nothing is too big for our God.” I have been following your ministry for years now and have always shared your articles with my husband and have never received any comments or action from his side. I pray that God will continue to use you and your husband to minister to so many who are in need. I will read the article you recommended. God bless you always.

  4. (U.S.A.)  Getting the Church Off the Sidelines when Spouse Files for No-Fault Divorce – Syndicated by Bai Macfarlane http://www.catholic.org/prwire/headline.php?ID=10574

    WESTLAKE, OH (March 10, 2012) – During the US bishops “Ad Limina” visit to Pope Benedict XVI yesterday, he emphasized that grave societal problems, bearing an immense human and economic cost, are caused by the weakened appreciation of the indissolubility of the marriage covenant. In the U.S., when a Catholic spouse disregards the importance of the indissolubility of marriage and abandons his or her wife, the Church is a silent observer. With the support of two canon lawyers, a non-profit-organization is providing the faithful with a way to formally invoke the intervention of the Church when one breaks apart his or her own family.

When couples marry in the Catholic Rite, each says, “I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.” Such people are willing to start a family only under certain conditions: if bride and groom both agree to be together until death, remain sexually faithful, and promise to support the children and each other in a marital home for life. 

The Catholic Church, our culture, and the civil laws used to recognize that keeping these vows was a good thing, but with no-fault divorce, that has all changed. Don’t we all know a faithful spouse and good parent who had been a defendant in a no-fault divorce? These faithful spouses are separated from their own children most of the time and ordered to pay child support for a second household in which they are not even allowed to live. 

I’m not shocked that the animalistic sexual liberation ideologues don’t lift a finger to try to protect children and faithful spouses from typical no-fault divorce. But I’m disappointed at the indifference of the Catholic pastoral leadership that celebrates all these church weddings. Catholic leaders are silent bystanders when members of their own flock force no-fault divorce on their families, against the will of the other spouse who has been faithful. 

There is now a formal way to get the Catholic Church off the sidelines and involved. Mary’s Advocates, our non-profit, pro-marriage organization, is offering a “Vindicate Rights Petition” so a faithful spouse can use canon law to formally ask the Church to intervene. 

For those who profess to be faithful Catholics, forcing no-fault divorce on one’s family is untenable, according to The Catholic Code of Canon Law. In the U.S.A., however, the Church response is commonly to offer the ‘pastoral care’ of giving annulments. An annulment, a decree of invalidity of marriage, is an official statement from a Catholic Tribunal in which they say the couple was never married in the first place. What child of divorce wants that kind of ‘pastoral care’ when one parent chooses to abandon marriage and force a family break-up? 

Two forward thinking Catholic Canon lawyers are supporting the “Vindicates Rights Petition.” Canon Lawyer, Fr. Chuck Zmudzinski, C.P.M., J.C.L of the Fathers of Mercy in Auburn Kentucky describes the pastoral landscape from his perspective. “Now that almost every marriage that appears before the Church’s tribunals in the U.S. ends up being declared invalid, I fear that many pastors take the side of the spouse who wants to divorce and remarry and actually encourage divorce and annulment, leaving the abandoned spouse with little or no recourse, and the children of the broken home are the greatest victims of this injustice.” … “there should be a serious effort by the pastors to bring the offending spouse to repentance and save the marriage.” 

Canon lawyer, Philip C. L. Gray, J.C.L, from Hopedale, OH, describes what he sees happening to Catholics when one wants divorce, “In the vast majority of cases today, divorce has become an ‘easy out’ to avoid responsibility, pass blame, obtain revenge, or somehow justify problems in the marital relationship or between parents and children.” After Gray reviewed the Vindicate Rights Petition, he says, “The legal and doctrinal foundations for these petitions are well established. In my opinion, unless a petition in a particular case suffers from a defect identified in law, these cases should be accepted and heard. Not doing so would express a departure from the expectations of the Natural Law and the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church.” 

Natural laws are the life-principles that we are all ordained to follow, whether we consciously think about it or not. It is natural that every married couple has disagreements and challenges, but it is not natural for a dissatisfied spouse to force the permanent break-up of his or her own family. Children, by nature know this, and the Vindicate Rights Petition is a way to involve the Catholic Church in keeping families together. Dissatisfied spouses should work on bettering their marriage, rather than abandoning them, and it is time for the Catholic Church to start formally telling them just that.

    1. (USA) WOW. I so agree with this way of thinking. I wish I could do more to save my marriage however, my wife filed for divorce, custody and a restraining order in Feb. 2012. She has shown no signs of reconcilition. We have three young children. 9-7-5 They are very traumatized by our situation. My wife is now wanting to put my middle child on ADHD medicine. It is crazy and it truly is her lack of spending individual time with him and not that he is ADHD.

      I have a restraining order and if I come within 30 feet she can and has reported this. I’m currently under arrest pending trial for being close to her and asking if we could talk about our kids, she replied that she would call 911 if I didn’t leave. I did walk away and when doing so said in an angry voice. “We cannot continue to communicate like this.” She then reported me for harrasing her.

      My wife had a two year affair, with two different people. My wife had money deception and told lies… She then left the relationship one weekend I was away on business. She is very cold hearted and deceptive. Long story short is through all this turmoil I still love her and wish for our family to be together. She is a Catholic and I practice the Catholic faith, but this does not seem to phase her. In fact she has only been seen at church on Easter Sunday. I stil attend church and she is never there. I take my kids when they are with me.

      It’s a crazy world and I truly believe she has a chemical imbalance but I will never be able to prove this. My family will crumble along with my marriage. It’s a sad state of affairs.

      1. (USA) Ken, Visit marriagebuilders.com, click on the Forum (upper left hand corner) then click Surviving an Affair. I also encourage you to read Surviving an Affair, by Dr Bill Harley.

        Regarding divorce, I can help you through that if you make your way to the forum. I was able to get full custody of my 3 kids.

  5. (NIGERIA)  Good day Cindy Wright, I thank God that visited this web site today, because since I got married last year I have never understood what love is, or a honey moon.

    I just met my husband in his cousin’s house and the same day he proposed to me. After 3 three days I accepted his proposal. We then went for tests, visited his people, and the introduction followed. In fact, in less than 2 weeks, we had our traditional marriage. I only enjoyed my husband for 3 days, then he travelled back to his base. Since then, we’ve gone from one problem to another, even before our white wedding.

    After no peace, he said that I eat the money we got during our T.M, which I did not. I have explain to him everything I know about it. All he could do is call my family that he is not interested in the marriage. Before then I became tired of the way he talks to me and the way he addresses issues in the family, because I could not find happiness. I complained to his mother, if he is not interested in me then he should take me back to my father’s house, because I believe we never loved each other. It was even his family who was pushing him to marry or he had a broken heart. Now the pastor can’t find love in the marriage. What do I do? I don’t want to quit the marriage.

  6. (Nigeria) I was astonished to read this article. In fact I am going through a divorce and I felt very blessed to read this type of an article. As you said, most of our friends who were part of our marriage had disappeared. I think some are even celebrating, besides feeling pity for us. Our marriage is been attacked by anti marriage powers coming from the man’s friends, including his our mother. They are living in darkness and practicing witchcraft against me and my children. Please pray for us.