Sunday, January 8, 2012

Just Curious: Are you a child of divorce?

Growing up in the 1970s, I attended a public elementary school. All the kids in my class during those years had married parents, with the exception of one girl who lived with her very young mom and her grandma. She didn't speak of a father at all, except to tell us (once) that he was dead. (I am certain now that she had simply been born out of wedlock -- though I wonder if even she knew that at the time.) But other than that, all the kids lived with their married moms and dads.

We live in a different culture now.

My middle school and high school children attend a public charter school where the parents are generally well-educated and involved. Yet, divorce is commonplace. My sixth grader came home early in the school year and told me, "So many of the kids in my class have parents who are divorced! They talk a lot about how they have to switch houses during the week." I asked him how they felt about that, and he said that they seemed sad, except for the extra toys they got. My son seemed sad, too.

It hit me how much has changed in just three decades.

So, I am just curious: Are you from a divorced home? And if so, how did it affect you? Do you view marriage differently now, and how does the experience you lived through shape your own marriage?



  1. My parents didn't divorce but I sure wish my mother had divorced my father.

  2. Sarah, from what you went through, I wholeheartedly agree. Not only divorced him, but put him behind bars.

  3. Thankfully, no--my parents were married for 45 years.

  4. My parents divorced each other twice. Yes, I wrote that correctly. They first divorced when I was in the third grade for about a year. It was an official civil divorce, not just a separation. They civilly remarried each other before I started the 4th grade (they never sought an annulment so they were still married in the eyes of the Church) and then divorced a second time when I was a junior in college. Both are remarried now... to different people. I was born in 1974 and I remember that only a few of my friends also had divorced parents, most were still married. I'd say it was a 70/30 split. I got passed back and forth during the first divorce but by the second one, I was mostly on my own.

    It affected me negatively in that I had huge "trust issues" to deal with and suffer from some pretty awful anxiety sometimes that was traced back to some of what I experienced as a child by a reputable Catholic psychologist (not some Freudian nutjob).

    It affected me for the better when it came time to choose my vocation. I picked a man who shared my faith and my value of marriage. I did not want to put my children through what I went through so I married a man I could trust with that goal. He has never let me down!

  5. Mrs. Mike, awesome!

    Charlotte, that is the kind of thing I read about on the Catholic blogs that gives me hope. The determination to really live out the sacrament of marriage and not repeat the same mistakes of the parents. It is so good to hear, and shows that God can bring good and healing out of bad.

    Did you find the good Catholic psychologist as an adult?

  6. Just to clarify... it was a reputable Catholic psychologist who traced out which childhood experiences might be at the root of some of my anxiety issues.

  7. Yes! I talked with her for several years and still stay in touch with her now on and off. Have you ever heard of Catholic Therapists? They are a wonderful resource.

    I think the hope for the future of the child of divorce really depends on the support and the messages of the community/faith around them. I went to college were people valued marriage and openly talked about the tragedy of divorce. That was so much more helpful than the rest of the world saying, "It's not so bad. You just need to get over it."

  8. Our oldest started school this year, out of the 16 kids only 3 are married couples, a lot of Grandparents and single Mom's and never married couples, and one kid with 2 "Moms" I was rather shocked we live in a very Southern, traditional small town.

  9. My parents divorced when I was 5 or 6. We spent the week with my mom and saw my dad on weekends. It wasn't bad most of the time. There were times when my dad lived too far away to see him often, and I remember missing him a lot - but that only happened a few times during my childhood. My dad was... well, he was a mess in a lot of ways, but the one thing he did really well was being a parent. He may not have held down a job for very long in those days, and he moved around all the time, but my brother and I didn't realize how unstable he really was until many years later when he was older, and far more 'together'. In a lot of ways, being divored and on his own made him the father he became. He really stepped up and made us his priority and still does in a lot of ways to this day.

    Coming from a divorced home and knowing so many people who come from similar backgrounds has only strengthened my resolve to live out the Sacrament of Marriage fully. It makes my heart hurt so much every time I hear of anyone getting divorced. Rather than making me feel like divorce is the "norm" and a way out if I feel like our marriage "isn't working," I'm far more determined to make sure that we never find ourselves in a place where we might contemplate such a thing. It simply is not an option.

    We were married in the church, many years before I returned to being a practicing Catholic and my husband was received into the Church, but we took that very seriously from the beginning. Although we weren't active Catholics at the time, getting married in the Church was important to both of us because of the Sacramental nature of marriage in the Catholic faith and because of what that represented.

    I think my husband and I both viewed certain aspects of our childhoods as studies in what not to do (him more than me, but divorce affected both our lives). I know you can't look into the future and see what will come or what challenges you'll face, but I can say with confidence that the "d-word" isn't something that even exists in our vocabulary as it relates to our relationship and it does give me peace to know my children won't have to face that particular hurdle. It is my great hope that we can set a good example for our kids of what a marriage should be - not that we're perfect, by any stretch. But we give it our best.

  10. My parents have been married for 26 years! I am very blessed!

    1. My parents had been married for 26 years when they divorced, 6 years ago. I was 25 at the time.

  11. Nope... My parents have been together since they were in high school, so together a total of 53 years and this year they will be married 45 years. :)

  12. No. My parents were married until my mother died. When I was growing up, divorce was the scariest thing that could happen to you as a child. In my public high school, the pothead guy said if his parents divorced he would die. So even stoned teen-agers want whole families.

    However, I've seen marriages in my extended family that I would not want to be in. There were characteristics of my parents' marriage that I would not want in my own marriage. Hmm. Have I avoided marriage (not that I've had any offers) because of the crap marriages I've witnessed?

    As an adult I told my parents I was so thankful that they remained married, and what it was gift it was to me. I am glad I was able to tell them that.

    It's sad when a couple divorces. It's wonderful when a couple renews their vows or receives a special anniversary blessing at Mass.

    A friend who divorced her abusive husband invited me to her divorce party when the divorce became final, and she was free. I didn't go to that party because it just seemed too sad. However, it was unsafe for her and her children to stay with that man.

  13. I just want to add that divorce in a situation of abuse is different than the selfish "I'm tired of you" kind of divorce I've seen. Anybody in an abusive marriage has the right and responsibility to protect themselves and their children. That was not my parents' situation.

  14. Hi Leila! Yes, I am a child of divorce. I have written about it some on my blog. I currently go to counseling, working through some issues. I feel like I have healed and moved forward with my Dad. I have had some healing, but still need some to go with my mom. Here are some posts for you, that give you more info:

    I think I have mentioned in other posts, divorced stuff, but these are the posts where I had the label "divorce"

    Here is one with some memories with my brother:

    Sorry to link to my blog all over the place, but it was easier than just typing it out. :)

  15. Very blessed. Everyone in my family divorced except my parents. I am now in the 10th year of marriage with my wife and am thankful everyday for my parent's commitment to each other and God. In fact, my dad told me growing up that he was not committed as much to my mother as he was marriage which was ultimately a commitment to God.

  16. Yes, my parents finally got divorced when I was 15, but we probably should have left long before that due to the abuse going on daily.
    My husband's parents got divorced when he was little because of his father's infidelity (he later married his secretary that is three years older than his oldest son...). That divorce caused so much pain for my husband, much, much more so than my family's did to me.
    Between the two of us, we have said from the very beginning that we will do whatever it takes to not let that happen to our family.
    So often, it seems like people are just tired of each other and want the excitement of someone new. And, usually, after the divorce, they start putting all this work into themselves and their new relationship. If they would have done that much work in their marriage, I think so many divorces could be avoided.....

  17. Carrie - your post makes me pine for a "like" button. :)

  18. My parents were never married, my dad was never involved, and my mom felt it necessary to find us a "dad" every 4-6 yrs or so. I had 4 step dads growing up and have my 5th today.

    I was subjected to a lot of things that were horrible. I was never put first by my mom.

    Obviously, I grew up not knowing how a husband/father was supposed to be. I also didn't have much of a solid father figure at all. I started a latch onto anything that gave me attention habit at about 15. In the end, I ended up with a good husband, but that's only because we have worked on it all and are still working really, really hard, and he's my 2nd attempt at marriage, sigh...

  19. I was a child of a bitter and painful divorce. I wrote about it once when I was working on our adoption self-study.

    My parent's marriage, the divorce and the after effects showed me what I didn't want for myself.

  20. My parents divorced when I was 6 years old (my sisters were 5 and 4). To be completely honest, in my parents situation, divorce was probably best for my dad as well as myself and my sisters. My mother had a lot of issues that made our home very unhealthy (mental as well as drug). My dad received full custody of us (my mom told the judge she didn't custody) and my mom came to see us on weekends for a few months and then just stopped showing up. I didn't see her again until I was 18 or 19 (her choice) and now haven't seen her since I was 22 (I'm now 29 and I'd say its a combo of both of our choice).

    I really felt like for the most part I dealt pretty well with it. Our home was much more peaceful once she was gone and my dad's side of the family is amazing and did so much to help us. When I was younger, I had some ruff patches but really adjusted well. I do remember having a very hard time when I was getting married. All of the other girls had their moms there to pick out their dresses and I was jealous. Since my daughter was born I really struggle to understand my mother. The love I immediately had for my baby is so strong, I cannot fathom being able to walk away from her.

    Fortunately despite divorce, I've always views marriage as forever. My dad never did remarry and according to my Nana really struggled with his divorce because he said marriage was forever. When K and I got engaged he told me that I needed to realize that marriage was forever and that I needed to make certain that this was what I wanted because there was no going back.

  21. My parents divorced when I was around 14. My dad had been cheating on my mom for about 4 years, she found out later. He led her on for a couple years, dangling couples counseling and possible reconciliation so she didn't follow the legal steps needed to get alimony/support, etc. He was a lawyer, so knew all the dirty tricks to pull. My mom was a very faithful Catholic (a convert right before she married) as opposed to my Dad who was a big pretender to make his parents happy (he was a cradle Catholic in a VERY traditional family), and she was devastated by the divorce and still lives a celibate life to this day as she is still married in the eyes of the church. My dad was remarried to the woman he cheated with (how's that for an impossible stepmother relationship?).
    My dad got tired of the responsibility of 6 kids and a wife who suffered from chronic fatigue (due to the almost solo parenting/household work/yard work/volunteer activies she was required to perform), and since all of his lawyer buddies were living the good life with their tons of money and no kids (or one or two who lived with an ex)...he succumbed to the draw of that selfish lifestyle.
    Divorce is nasty. All six of us carry the emotional scars and still have serious issues in our relationship with our father. There is no "just getting over it" in our family, although my dad has many times expressed frustration that we can't all just do that very thing. Sometimes I wish we could be like other families where everyone's just peachy keen with the new stepmom and okay that their parents aren't together, but that will never be us. There were serious things that happened in our family after my father left (I believe you and I have emailed on this topic) that may not have happened with a strong father-figure in the household.
    Beyond all that, knowing my father couldn't handle my mom's chronic illness has really affected me since I have a chronic disease as well - endo. I used to have regular nightmares that my husband would leave me - this was mostly during the years I was in the most pain and going through all of the surgeries. My husband, though, is absolutely 100% committed and would NEVER abandon me, and has no respect for my father. He had a good example with his parents, who were married for 30+ years before they both passed, and his father stuck by his mother through 15+ years of cancer! We've both said that marriage is for a lifetime and we mean it. No matter how rough it may get, we'll work through it together. Luckily, despite infertility, endo, family drama, financial troubles, etc. we are very happy at 9 yrs and still going strong :).

  22. Geez, sorry for writing a book in your comment section.

  23. Well, you know my story. :) Yep, grew up in a divorced home and then had remarriage/stepfamily thrown into the mix. The shuffling households, the strained loyalties when remarriage occurs, the trauma of having dad move out during your formative years, the frustrating attempts by everyone to "normalize" it when you just knew your peers with happily married parents had a sweeter deal... had a huge impact on me and continues to. Thank God, He does help us heal and grow, but as our marriage preparer/priest pointed out, divorce permanently breaks something in a person. God works with that, but it doesn't mean that the brokenness isn't there... after all, the families are permanently split! I also love Elizabeth Marquardt's articulation of how divorce affects kids in her book "Between Two Worlds" - she basically points out that divorce creates a situation where, the parents are unable to reconcile their worlds so they (I am sure unknowingly) pass that job on to their kids (who then juggle the two words and two sides of their lives, trying to reconcile the two, for the rest of their lives). It affected my dating, although on the outside I looked pretty healthy and holy, and it affects my marriage, although hopefully mostly for the better as we have extra motivation to forge a lasting union (although sometimes, I am just a messed up wife - what can I say! Thankfully, he loves me anyway and won't walk away :))

  24. My parents are still married. 37 years now. But on a side note, I have noticed another and probably companion trend. When I was growing up (born in '75) all but 2 of my friends mothers stayed home. They were just moms-- that was all and that was good. I spent hours after school playing at the park with the neighbor kids. Today, I stay home with my kids, but almost none of my kids friends do. Whether they are3 or 13. We hardly see neighbors. They get home after 5pm because both parents work. Then they are off to their sports and music lessons. It is just a different world. I don't think it is as happy of a world either.

  25. Oh, and here is a good article on the topic.

  26. My parents are divorced and I am a priest. Very rare. My guess is that divorce kills most religious vocations.

  27. My parents are still married. They are going on 39 years (i think). :)

  28. My parents have been married for 35 years. They have 8 kids. My husband's parents have been married for the same amount of time, and they have 3 kids. I have a temper (like my mom) and I may have said the d word during an argument once or twice, and my husband is not too proud to say during those moments, "Don't go there. Don't use that word, it is not an option and it's not a part of our vocabulary." Having a level headed spouse to bring you back down to Earth during moments of insanity is helpful and my father was devoted in the same way to my mother, who is also a bit...spontaneous in this way. (I've gotten a lot better at not invoking my "rights" to divorce him;) I've witnessed the power of the sacrament of marriage and I know what brought us together is bigger than me and my ego.

  29. I feel so blessed. My parents have been married for 46 years and are still very much in love. They are high school sweethearts and were married when my Mother was 19 and my Father was 18. That is really rare these days!

    Interesting enough-- they are both from very traditional Catholic families. Both of their families had 4 children all born from the mid-40"s to the mid-50's. In both of their families 2 of the 4 children are divorced... exactly a 50% divorce rate.

  30. Yes my parents divorced when I was 13. It has been the worst experience of my life, hands down.

    Yes divorce breaks a person permanently, and no, you never get over it. Every holiday, the birth of your children, your wedding, you have to go through it all over again. There are no words.

    It affects my marriage but we have tried to learn from my parent's mistakes. God hates divorce and so do I. It is devastating. Marriage is supposed to be a reflection of God's trinitarian love and divorce is a complete contradiction. It says, "I give up on you."

  31. I am a child of divorce and I hate divorce. I hate what drove them to divorce but I hate even more that they gave up. Not only on themselves, but on us. The five children they jointly brought into the world. I hate divorce because I learned how to give up in my own marriage. I left my husband after 7 years. To save money I moved in with our two sons and another divorced lady who had a little girl. It seemed like a good idea at the time, we both had kids and the house was designed so we both had our own space and privacy.After several months I learned the most important lesson -- other people in general are hard to live with. After about a year of making concessions with my roommate, God bonked me on the head and gave me the wisdom to realize that if I could put up with her (as will happen when living with other imperfect people) I can certainly put up with my husband, the father of our children. We just celebrated 30 yrs of marriage, by the grace of God. That is another story for another time, but for now, suffice it to say, the divorce of my parents told me it was okay to do that to my kids because after all, I survived. Or did I? I hate divorce.

  32. My story is long and convoluted so I will try my best to keep it short and sweet. My father was the one who couldn't remain in a committed relationship (looking back - probably would be considered a sex addict and be diagnosed with PTSD after having been a POW in WWII). He divorced my mother when I was 9 (after 17 years of marriage), remarried within a week, had another family, was married for 14 years and when he cheated on her and divorced her - he again remarried within a week. Started a third family. That wife cheated on him after 12 years and left him. He died alone - regretting that he had ever left my mother. There are eight of us children - I helped raise the second group so I'm close to them while the third group are in the same age group as my own children.
    Both my mother and my first stepmother said that they met the true loves of their lives in their second husbands and my mother's second marriage lasted over 30 years while my stepmother had about 20 with her second husband. (Both of those men died and they are widows).
    So, how did that affect me? Quite negatively - and convinced that I would never be divorced. However, after 30 years of marriage, my husband has decided that I am too old, too fat, he doesn't respect me and he doesn't love me and he moved out - and he won't discuss the "D" word at the moment. (He wants some time to be selfish and find himself). We just lived through the holidays with our grown children and grandchild while he was here every day "making believe" that all was well. I am slowly going insane. What do I do now? All you Catholics out there know how this hits the very core of my beliefs about marriage - and when did the most logical man that I've ever known become my father? And how do you just turn off the love that you thought you shared for all these years?

  33. Yes, my parents divorced when I was 13 or so. It was a very acrimonious divorce, and it caused my teen years to be even more emotionally tumultuous than they might have otherwise been -- my parents (and extended family, on both sides) essentially played tug-of-war with my siblings and I for several years.

    My husband is also a child of divorce. His parents didn't divorce until he was in college, but their marriage had been extremely rocky for years so that as well as the divorce negatively affected him in his formative years.

    Our experiences have made my husband and I determined that our marriage will last -- not only that, but that we have a healthy relationship with a solid foundation that will withstand the storms of life. I think our conversion to Catholicism, and our commitment to the tenets of Catholicism, have made our goal a reality.

    I honestly don't think my husband and I would be married today if we had remained in the Lutheran church and its lukewarm attitude toward marriage vows. We went through an extremely rough patch in our marriage about six years ago, and were separated for three months. I don't know if we'd gotten through that period without our Catholic faith and our firm commitment to our marriage vows, for better or for worse.

  34. My parents divorced when I was about 5 years old and my brother was about 8.

    It definitely had a negative effect on me since I basically grew up without a father. There were weekend visits, but we never became close. As a teen and woman, I realized that there was no man in my life that loved me the way that I desired and deserved. I definitely missed that (and still miss it). I really related to God as Father, to fill that void (not a bad thing to do, of course!) Not only that, but my brother decided to move out to live with my dad, so I missed out on several years of growing up together with my brother. He was raised one way by my dad, and I was raised another way, by my mom. It was difficult to realize that my parents didn't love one another and to hear them speak poorly of each other. It was confusing to me to think that their "love" brought me into the world, but that their "love" was over; what did that mean for me? Holidays were particularly anxiety inducing since we would go from one family to another and as healing started to take place for everyone, and my parents decided they could have events together, it was stressful for me to have them in the same room (something that hadn't happened throughout most of my childhood). It also made me somewhat fearsome of my own plans to marry, but thankfully grace through spiritual direction quickly dispelled my concerns.

    Thankfully I see the truth and beauty in the Church's vision for marriage and my experience of divorce just confirms the goodness and necessity of that vision. Now, as a married woman with a child of my own, I am completely committed. I realize marriage isn't always easy, but the key is in the complete and selfless gift of myself to my husband. My experience definitely keeps me aware of my own selfishness and the harm it can cause to a marriage and family/children.

  35. I was born in '69 (yes, that makes me 42!) :) and no, my parents never divorced. In fact, last July was 43 years of marriage for them. I think their witness to keeping a sacramental marriage has helped my husband and I keep ours. This past October was 18-years for us. Marriage is certainly not easy...for anyone. Our marriage has had to endure 18-years of a fire department 24-hour rotating schedule and 11-years of infertility...but we've stayed the course and today have 3 beautiful little miracles!

  36. My parents have been married for over 30 years now... However, I am now divorced and remarried. It terrifies me to hear all the hurt and anger in the adult children of divorced parents. I was pregnant with my second and my oldest was 1 and 1/2 when their dad and I split, so they really know nothing different. I remarried when they were 2 and 4, so they always remember my husband being in their life. At 5 and 7 they seem perfectly fine...but I would hate for them to someday post on here how terrible they have it!

  37. My parents are divorced, too. Not Catholic, but protestant. My Dad is married to his 4th wife right now and they're having issues. My Mom is widowed from her 3rd husband. My parents are each other's first marriage. They divorced when I was around 3 and my brother 2.

    I am who I am because they're divorced. I know that it is a sin, but I am glad that they divorced. My dad makes me crazy. On the other hand, it exposed me to an abusive stepdad and have a multitude of distrust and anger issues toward my dad. I have never known what it is like to have a normal family holiday. My family is spread all over the place now.

    I could type a lot more, but I don't want to go there. Divorce sucks.

  38. Oh my goodness, I am so moved by all your stories. They are heartbreaking but also inspiring. Thank you for sharing them, and I look forward to others' stories. I didn't fill in my own details, which are that my own parents have been married for 47 years and going strong. Dean's parents divorced when he was in his late 20s. Dean and I have been married for 21 years ourselves, and divorce is not an option now, nor was it when we were a bad Catholic (me) and an agnostic Jew (him) in a non-sacramental (but valid) marriage.

  39. Such touching stories.

    My mother and father were high school sweethearts, but my Dad became an alcoholic and very abusive. Though at the time I didn't think so, his leaving us when I was eleven was the best thing he could do, as he wasn't providing for us and the abuse (especially toward me) was growing. One day he just went to work and never came home. I had no contact (no idea even where he was) for five years.

    I am thankful to my stepmom who found this bum and turned him into a human being again. At age 17 I met him again and wanted a relationship, but he never wanted to be a Dad. I saw him off and on for nine years and then moved near him to get to know him better. I'm glad I did because the little girl inside of me was able to finally let go. I loved my dad, but he wasn't a very nice person and always thought of himself first and foremost.

    My stepdad came along when I was 16 (a cradle but non-practicing Catholic). We despised each other and my poor Mom had to play referee between us. Today, I consider him more of a father than my own father ever was, though there were some serious issues with my stepfather. He was often sexually inappropriate and drank too much (and still does).

    I tried to maintain a relationship with my real Dad over the years, but he seldom responded. He died in his sleep in late November of 2009 and though I wish I could have said "good bye" and told him I loved him, I feel I was able to move on.

    And then God brought T into my life, my son's paternal grandfather. He's like a big-brother and father-figure all rolled into one. I've only known him a few years now, but he has shown me what a Godly man can and must be like.


  40. I also am a child of the 70's, and I cannot remember any of school mates parents being divorced. In the late 1990's I was driving with my daughter and she commented to me that she was one the few kids in her school with her origional set of parents :-( (yes, it was a catholic school)
    My parent/inlaws were never divorced. All have died except my FIL.

  41. I'm not but Ted is. He hates it-he's not one to just "get over it". It hasn't so much affected our relationship because he's very aware of his parents mistakes and is taking proactive steps to avoid them. Divorce is just awful.

  42. I should say too that as an adult I absolutely have huge abandonment issues obviously stemming from my mother. I also feel like I have learned that come Hell or high water, divorce is not an option. I absolutely will not put my children through what I went through.

  43. I am tearing up reading all of these comments. Wow. In my family not only have my parents been married for 40 years, but my husband's parents are still married, and so are each of our siblings' in-laws (four different couples). That's probably beating the divorce odds these days.

  44. I am not a child of divorce and neither is my husband, but for many years I idealized the lives of my many friends with divorced parents (they had lots of freedom, and "cool" parents, and were very good at making sure their lives seemed "just awesome and new age and empowered" from the outside).

    I had several friends who were very good at making me loathe my own family that was traditional but had serious problems due to my father's alcoholism and my aunt's intrusiveness. I did not realize that when they were mocking our "family outings" they were secretly dying of envy. I was a very weak person and wanted them to like me, so I would complain about my family commitments to them. This had a terrible impact on me and made me totally devalue my own family and their traditional values (my father's lack of respect for my mother also hit hard on my views of the good of religious upbringing).

    At the time, I thought my mother should have left him. 20 years later, my parents are still married (41 years), but mostly due to my mother's devout Catholicism. We grew up with periodic blow-ups which became all too predictable. My father would go downhill, my mother would complain, and nag, and threaten to leave and call in help etc., and he would get a little better for a while, but it always returned to the same old game. Today he is just drunk constantly. My father just never gave up the bottle. We had good periods, but he always goes back to it, and his slow, passive, depressive alcoholism is so hard. It is soul-crushing, as I have spent much time trying to change him, and suffered life-threatening eating disorders partly due to it... But, these two people had three children, all of whom are very close as adults (a success in my book). All three of us had rough starts in relationships, and fell very hard into the secular culture and wasted valuable time in our lives on nothingness. However, many (not all) of my friends and acquaintances from those divorces have suffered much as well.

    Many of the wives of those Ice Storm divorces never really recovered emotionally or financially. Some have been serially married to several men, and some married much younger men that left them once they started to age. Many of my friends were terrified of marriage, and grew to fear and hate men. Many of them seem firmly convinced that they must BEAT men at every game. They are so angry. Some have already divorced themselves. A few did seem to learn from the divorce and are making a very good go at their marriages.

    My Mother in Law is the only person of her four person family that did not divorce. And, of my husband's generation, already the kids are mostly divorced (sometimes twice) or delaying marriage until their forties. Oddly, my husband grew up idealizing his cousins from that side, because his mother glorified their hippie-free love lifestyles and the fun and coolness of it, while never wanting that for herself or her boys. It is so odd to me. How surprised she was when her oldest married a girl of divorce with huge baggage and a penchant for the wild life and then they divorced.

    So, I guess I would say, that although divorce seemed the thing to do in the mid-seventies, even from my perspective back then, the ultimate fallout is not so rosy. I still don't know what to think about my mom and dad. Sometimes I think he would have gotten sober if she left, and then other times I think he would have died early for sure. She would have entered religious life.

    As I read these stories, I realize how many women grew up with alcoholic fathers. I think this was probably the case for eons, and women just suffered through it. There were always mistresses etc. Is divorcing an alcoholic (even a non-abusive one) better than suffering through it? Rather than do away with birth control (within a marriage), and the possibility of divorce, I would do away with alcohol and drugs.

  45. I think my mother was married to my birth father in the courts. They divorced. Absolutely best thing that she could have ever done. He was awful. I never "loved" him or bonded with him. He creeped me out. I "divorced" that side of the family at 16 and have not looked back.

    My mother married a real man, my real dad when I was 8 and they have been together ever since. They have been through hell and back and showed us kids, you just don't leave. So I almost don't feel as if I come from a "divorced" family because my birth family was crazy and good riddance. :)

  46. My parents were not divorced but many of my aunts and uncles were. Some of my cousins were made to hate or not like the other parent. So sad.

  47. Jocelyn - I was 2 when my parents split and my lil sister was in utero. On the one hand yes, divorce will affect them (since we were so young, we had to grieve in stages... I'd say at age 25 was my biggest year to process all that but I sort of processed the divorce in different ways at different ages). BUT that doesn't mean your kids will hate you or hate their childhoods - I love both my mom and dad dearly... just give them room to grieve the loss, possibly in different ways at different stages, and love them unconditionally. :)

  48. My husband is a child of divorce. My husband's parents got divorced when we were he and his brothers were in their 20's. The marriage was built on a lie that came crashing down after 25 years of marriage. A lie that one parent threatened to reveal if the other filed for divorce. My husband and his siblings grew up in a very unstable home with addictions, bankruptcies, and moving almost every year to new towns, and new schools. By the time the divorce happened the kids were just relieved (however, they were young adults and on their own.)

    My husband is the only one who remained a practicing Catholic. His brothers had a rough start. Two of his brothers were married and divorced very young. They both have remarried and have been married for almost 20 years...and all 4 of them are good, loving husbands and fathers...and good people. My husband and I, and his mother, believe that is only by the grace of God.

    The problem my husband had was less with the divorce than how both of his parents handled things after the divorce. Both got married again, (his father twice) before getting an annullment. He was painfully disappointed in them.

    Divorce is always difficult, but there seem to be some things that happen after the divorce that make it even worse like a steady stream of boyfriends, girlfriends or marriages and divorces.

  49. My parents have been married 38 years, but I fully expect that when my youngest sibling goes to college in two years they will divorce. They had what my mother describes as a fairy-tale-come-to-life sort of marriage for the first 28 of those years, but in the last 10 my father fell victim to alcoholism and his selfishness has taken a huge on our whole family.

    The end result of that is that while I yearn for marriage and family, I'm terrified of it, because my parents did everything right (ie were chaste before marriage, shared a deep faith, had supportive extended families, worked hard, loved well, had beautiful children) and everything still went to hell in a handbasket. Seeing how vulnerable my father's choices have made my mother (both financially and emotionally) has given me a deep mistrust of men, even men who seem to have it all together like my dad did. There's no guarantee in this life, I suppose.


  50. Elayne! Ohhhh! My heart is bleeding for you and your mother. I have not a clue what to suggest. I will pray for you.

  51. My parents divorced when I was 13ish and my brother was 10. Though mentally, they divorced a lot earlier than that. However, my mother was never married to my birth father. The man I grew up calling Dad is actually my first step-dad. He and my mom are now married to different people. My bio dad get married 2 years ago. I'm not interested in his life or new wife.

  52. DD,

    If you are still reading the comments I have a question and if it's too personal you don't have to answer...I was wondering if your experience with the father figures in your life (the feeling of rejection, the anger towards them for disordered behaviors, etc.) may have had an impact on you deciding to be a lesbian. I know many people say they did not choose that lifestyle, but a good friend of mine from high school had some issues with his parents at home (I don't know all the details but I know his father was an alcoholic) and he later came out as gay. I was just wondering if you rejected men as a result of growing up around men whom you disliked/felt rejected by.

  53. Ah, yes. My parents separated when I was 23. Up until then, I really thought they would be together forever. Silly me. Big family secret and it is all still very painful. My parents are still not divorced, they live separately. It has been awful and I, too, have horrible trust and anxiety issues. I have been working with an awesome Catholic psychologist that has helped immensely. Actually, I have been in therapy for over 10 years since they split with over 5 different therapists but this one I am seeing now has helped the most. I am truly blessed with my own DH and our marriage, we have been married 8 years and both know it is forever. :)

  54. Elayne,

    What is your dad's faith life like now? Does he still attend mass regularly/go to confession often? Do you feel like you could invite him to go to confession with you? That sacrament is so powerful.

  55. It's so clear from these comments what a soul-crushing and marriage-killing thing is alcoholism. :(

  56. There have been so many times that a friend or relative's divorce completely surprised me. From all outside appearances things seemed to be good so the divorce was harder to accept. Not knowing a cause can bring fear of the unknown in us onlookers who wonder what happened.

    I always assumed that the children in these families saw things in the home that the public didn't see and so they weren't completely surprised. I can see from E's post that this isn't always the case. If it is hard for an aquaintance to process these divorces. I cannot imagine how hard it is for a child to accept their parents divorce if they didn't see it coming either. It would definitely make marriage seem unpredictable and risky.

  57. my parents celebrated 40 years of marriage last year. I remember them going through a rough patch when I was in my first year of college. My Dad even moved out for a few days, but they never divorced. They are so happy now. They have 4 children, 7 grandchildren. They are both retired busy playing with the grands, traveling and enjoying each other. :)

    PS my mother got married at 17 years of age. She says she didn't know a thing, but she knew to stay faithful to her husband and family. :)

  58. I struggle a little with the comments divorce "best thing they ever did". I realize that life at home can get toxic, I lived it as well with an alcholic and abusive father, however, even with all the abuse, I can not rightly say the divorce was the best thing they ever did. I would say the best thing they ever did was have 5 beautiful children (to which are so wounded now because pride and selfishness took it's toll. Children need to be validated by their parents and the best way to do that, is to love each other.)So, I would say the best thing any two people can do is put God in the center of their marriage and love each other. Love does not mean a "feeling" but it is a decision. If my parents would have made a decision for their children, for each other, for God, divorce would not have been a part of the equation. IMHO

  59. My parents (liberal, atheist) have been married, in-love and best companions for 35 years : )


  60. My Mom and Dad have been married for 25 years, but Dad is having an affair. However, he hasn't moved out yet, and they're going to Church regularly for the first time in years. So I'm hoping between Dad receiving his sacraments and all the prayer my entire family is doing that we can change Dad's heart and mind.

    To top it off, I just got engaged to an amazing Godly man, so I'm praying that my upcoming marriage will remind Dad what marriage is supposed to be.

  61. Yes, I am from a divorced family. My parents were divorced when I was very young (about 2 I think), so I don't have any memories of the two of them together. I think how it affected me most was not having a relationship with my father. Because he was Navy I only saw him during Summer and every other Christmas.

    My mom has been through 3 divorces including the one from my father. After listening to the reasons my parents were divorced, I am unsure as to whether they couldn't have worked through it. One divorce was for the best of the children and my mother due to an abusive situation & drugs. My mother's last divorce - they really shouldn't have gotten married - my mom completely changed who she was for him, but I'm sure if they really wanted to they could have worked it out.

    I think I have the mentality though that I'm not going to let my parent's mistakes make me into a person I don't want to be. By seeing what my mother went through with the 2 marriages I can remember I am more determined to make my marriage work. I am more dedicated to my children by remember how certain thing affected me when I was younger. I was lucky in that I wasn't constantly switching homes each week, but then again, I lost out on a close relationship with my father.

  62. It's so clear from these comments what a soul-crushing and marriage-killing thing is alcoholism. :(

    You have no idea...My husband's parents never divorced. But when my Father-in-law died in a car accident (he had been drinking and rolled his truck over a guard rail and slammed into a tree) the grief they all felt was quickly replaced by guilty relief, knowing that they didn't have to worry about him anymore (he'd been arrested several times for drunk driving). That was 12 1/2 years ago.

    I still don't know a whole lot about my husband's childhood when it comes to his dad. His dad, thankfully, wasn't a physically abusive drunk. Rather he suffered from depression, and no one could figure out whether he drank because he was depressed or he was depressed because he drank. But I do know it made for a less than stable home life for my husband, his mom, and his sister.

  63. Oh, and my parents have been dysfunctionally married for almost 39 years. But I guess it works. We'll see how the next few years go, now that my dad retired.

  64. My parents have been married for 48 years. There were a few rough patches when I was in high school, but they worked it out and are still together.

    Also, I am a stepmother to a teen whose parents divorced when she was two. She seems to have adjusted very well, forming a strong bond with both of her parents. I've been in her life for 10 years.

    I have a comment about Michelle's statement that people should just change they way they are, so that they don't divorce.

    When I served in the Peace Corps for the second time, one of our trainers told my group that we had this unique opportunity to change who we are upon this move to a new country. She said, among other things, "If you were an introvert, you can decide to be an extrovert." I was shocked and appalled that she would say that to a bunch of 20-something people.

    I feel that statement by that trainer is similar to Michelle's statement that two people who cannot live together for whatever reason should just "decide" do. It may cause more problems in the end if you try to be something you are not.

  65. 2 people who stood in front of witnesses for the purpose of promising to spend their lives together in mutual self giving and service to one another is completely different than a trainer telling an introvert to become an extrovert. Marriage is the most solemn promise we ever make to the supposed most important person in our lifetime. I don't even know how you can make this comparison.

  66. Bethany,
    I could probably really understand your husband. My father is a depressive drinker and then depressed because he drinks, so it is both. I realized before that I did not express how much I love my father, and that I know he loved his kids more than anything. He suffered terrible loss early in life (large family, mother died when he was very young, then bonded with a nanny who was dismissed when he was five, not really cared for by next mother that bore four children very soon). He just does not love himself at all. He tried desperately to be a good father, and he did provide the basics and gave us love and attention, but he could not face confrontation or discipline us, and we constantly had money problems. He was not respectful to my mother and would make all kinds of disparaging remarks against women and all sorts of other people when he was drinking. He was sad a lot, but would never admit it. It is almost worse than an abusive drunk. You feel so sad for them, and you feel like you really are the source of all their troubles, and you feel guilty for being angry at them.

    What Michele said above: "Children need to be validated by their parents and the best way to do that, is to love each other.So, I would say the best thing any two people can do is put God in the center of their marriage and love each other." Is VERY VERY TRUE (the first part), but it is so hard when one person is putting God at the center of their marriage and the other person is shutting God out with booze.

  67. So, I would say the best thing any two people can do is put God in the center of their marriage and love each other. Love does not mean a "feeling" but it is a decision. If my parents would have made a decision for their children, for each other, for God, divorce would not have been a part of the equation.

    Michele, bingo. The cure for all the ills of the world is VIRTUE. Virtue is a life ordered toward truth and God. If we lived out the virtues, there would be no divorce, no suffering for the children. It starts with the individual, who decides to live a life of virtue. And passing that along to the kids. How many of us teach our kids the virtues?

  68. It may cause more problems in the end if you try to be something you are not.

    MaiZeke, so we should hang on to our vices? An alcoholic should stay a drunk? A selfish jerk should stay selfish? An adulterer should keep straying from his/her spouse? Help me out, here….

  69. My parents divorced when I was three. It sent my mom to church, but that would be the only thing I could find to be grateful about it. My dad and stepmom have been married over thirty years, and as an adult I have a good relationship with them.


    Because my father left, I wonder when God the Father will leave. I made sexual decisions I will regret until I die, all in the name of looking for male approval. My husband (also a child of divorce) and I have agreed from day one that divorce is not a option. But I still desperately fear he will walk out on me one day.

    My (Protestant) church values marriage and hates divorce, because God does. So we get a lot of mentoring and teaching about marriage and commitment there. But being a child of divorce has impacted me every single day of my life, and I will not let that happen to my son.

  70. Leila asks: MaiZeke, so we should hang on to our vices? An alcoholic should stay a drunk? A selfish jerk should stay selfish? An adulterer should keep straying from his/her spouse? Help me out, here….

    Yes, Leila. I wish it were as simple as telling everyone to simply not be an alcoholic. Would that I could live in your world.

  71. Oh, yes, MaiZeke, the Christian life and a life of virtue is so easy.

    Why do you come up with comments like that? When the heck did anyone say that doing the right things in life was easy?

    Did anyone ever hear me say that?


  72. By the way, MaiZeke, you can live in my world. It's very nice being a Catholic. Extraordinarily so. :)

  73. It may cause more problems in the end if you try to be something you are not.

    Explain what you meant by that, MaiZeke, in the context of walking away from a marriage and family. Thanks!

  74. My parents have been married 36 years. My dad's parents have been married for 65 years. He is one of 10 children and they all have been married 20 years or longer. My parents and my dad's side of the family have been a wonderful example of the sacrament of marriage. The marriages aren't perfect (what marriage is) but it reminds me when my husband and I argue that we can work through anything.

    My husband on the other hand is a child of divorce. His mom is on her 3rd marriage. During his mom's last visit to our home, my husband asked her if she loved her now husband. She said she didn't know. Sad. When we were first married, our first arguments ended with him saying he wanted a divorce. We never once "broke up" while dating, but immediately after we were married he'd throw out the "d" word in the middle of arguments. I know (and he has admitted) it is because in his life, that was how arguments were resolved. The marriage would end and you move on to the next. He's still working on not bringing up the "d" word during arguments and he whole heartedly believes marriage is forever. But with the example he was given, I can't blame him for being confused in the heat of the moment. I feel like sometimes he pushes me to see if there is a limit to what I will handle before I walk away (like he's testing me to make sure I'm in it for the long haul, because so many people who were supposed to always be there for him weren't). In those moments, I remind him that I love him unconditionally. That our marriage is a sacrament and that it is forever. Period. Five years down and a lifetime to go! :)

  75. Patiently Waiting - I can understand how your husband struggles with it. I struggle with using the "d" word myself, even though I would NEVER want that to happen. I sometimes struggle with telling my husband to leave, or that I'll go somewhere I'm appreciated in the heat of an argument. I always feel terrible after I say something like that and I'm working on not doing that anymore. But, it is difficult when a parent is on their 4th marriage. But, my husband has been amazing and has definitely proven he loves me unconditionally. I'm so glad we were married in the Church and our marriage is a sacrament that is forever. Period. Like you, 5 years down (on Epiphany!) and a lifetime to go!

  76. Leila said: MaiZeke, so we should hang on to our vices? An alcoholic should stay a drunk?

    MaiZeke replied: Yes, Leila. I wish it were as simple as telling everyone to simply not be an alcoholic. (emphasis mine)

    I'm really confused, MaiZeke. How did you get from Point A to Conclusion B? Where did Leila say that all you have to do is tell someone not to be an alcoholic, and they'll stop? I've been puzzling over how you could possibly infer that conclusion and I'm stumped.

  77. Nope. DH and I both have parents who've been married 30+ years. Great examples for us.

  78. Yes, I honestly had no idea. I knew my parent's marriage wasn't perfect, they fought, but always seemed to make up. We went to mass every Sunday, went on vacations together, had many family friends and lots of extended family get togethers. Because my parent's split when I was older, it has a profound affect on my adult life. I believe that it is because of both of my parent's self centeredness. My dad has many many addictions, but my mom is the perfect co-dependent. She still is. Both of these issues have manifistations in pride, but virtue is the opposite of pride. Once I realized that my own anger and anxiousness was the result of my own pride, I have come to work on it and rely a lot on the Blessed Mother as my guide of virtue and receiving sacraments more consistantly, my life is much more peaceful.

  79. They met in high school, married in 1954 and stayed that way until dad died in 2009.

  80. Manda,

    I just read your comment and yes, I do feel it played a HUGE role in my choosing a lesbian lifestyle. I used to think I was just "born that way," but I no longer think that. I believe what happened with my dad and the kidnapping and molestation when I was seven brought me to distrust men so vehemently that I subconsciously only trusted women and therefore could only have a relationship with a woman. All this thinking has changed over the past two years and every day I seem to learn something new about myself because I've given myself over to God.


  81. My gosh, DD, I had no idea you were kidnapped/molested. Thank you for answering, and praise God you now strive for a life of virtue!

  82. My parents have been married for 32 years, and they are happy. :) I am very blessed, and my childhood was normal with two parents in a healthy, functional, and loving marriage.

    My husband's parents separated and divorced when we were in college. It was and still is awful. :( They were the seemingly perfect Catholic couple, open to life with 7 children. But up close, there was a great deal of dysfunction, and the two of them were like a key in a key hole. Their faults complimented each other in a perfectly disastrous way. :(

    My husband's older sister was 23 and the youngest was 1 when my father in law left, and while things have gotten more peaceful in the years since the divorce was finalized, the damage and scars remain.

    The kids have varying degrees of relationships with their dad, but it is still a painful topic for most of them.

    They were granted an annulment, and rightly so in my opinion, but neither of them have seriously dated even after 6 years.

    Being in the thick of things while all this was going on was so emotionally draining on me as an inlaw that I can hardly fathom the pain it caused in my husband and his siblings. It was like everything my husband had built his identity around suddenly crumbled around him.

    I could go on for pages because it is such a complicated situation, but I will spare you the details in your com box.

    The bottom line is that my husband's parents' divorce was awful, but it did highlight the issues that his parents had, and it helped us as we prepared for our own marriage.

    Marriage is tough, but worth it. I remember having a huge argument in the car one day about a year ago, and after we had resolved it, he looked at me and said, "Things may get tough, but I guarantee you it would always be tougher apart." He took my hand, and I cried. I wholeheartedly agree, and neither of us want our kids to go through what his family has gone through.

  83. Leila and JoAnna question me on my statement about how it would be nice to just tell people not to have their vices such as alcoholism.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly that I wish everyone had the biological makeup to want to be married to the same person for 50+ years, only have sex with the person they want to raise multiple children with for 50+ years, to have chosen the perfect partner when they were 20 years old, overcome their alcoholic or other addictive tendencies, overcome their own poor upbringing, etc. That would be ideal. What a wonderful world it would be. I would love to live in that world. Keep striving toward that goal!

  84. I agree with you wholeheartedly that I wish everyone had the biological makeup to want to be married to the same person for 50+ years, only have sex with the person they want to raise multiple children with for 50+ years, to have chosen the perfect partner when they were 20 years old, overcome their alcoholic or other addictive tendencies, overcome their own poor upbringing, etc. That would be ideal. What a wonderful world it would be. I would love to live in that world.

    Catholics are no more "pre-wired" evolutionarily speaking than you are. Where do you get the concept that Catholics are instantly made up of virtue and perfection? That cannot be what you've gathered from being on this blog as long as you have, and after having engaged Leila and others as in depth as you have.

    Do you understand the Christian/Catholic concept and teaching of "overcoming self"?

  85. to Megan,
    Your husband's response almost brought me to tears, so COOL!

  86. Megan,
    That was a heartbreaking story. After seven children? How does that happen? It terrifies me.

  87. "Keep striving toward that goal!" Ummm. Yes. I think I will, in fact, i'm pretty sure that's a big part of what life is all about.

  88. Keep striving toward that goal!

    Um, yes, that's what life is. It's a training in and a striving toward the goal of virtue. Of course that is the goal we strive for. That's what we do as Catholics. (Everyone, not just Catholics, used to understand that virtue is the goal.)

    Let me ask you: What will you teach your children when they come up against a situation (which happens all the time) where they have to choose between what is right and their own desires?

    What will you teach them about that?

  89. Late to the discussion, forget divorce, most parents were never married in our neighborhood. Still the same stressors for children, as research tells us over and over again. True, in unsafe situations, divorce is an important legal option.

    When parents break up, we have several fatherhood programs to ensure that the father stays involves and both parents work it out.It's no longer treating the dad as a bad guy, back when all services were based on abusive situations. We now have programs for dads, who need to some camaraderie talking about their children.

  90. Nubby, I am right there with you on the "overcoming self". It sounds so negative to people, but it is really the only way to find peace and joy. Sounds so backwards because I am saying if a person quits running around trying to do everything that makes them feel good, if they live life the way God calls them, that is when they become content. However, I always have to be clear on this, it doesn't mean a person will be constantly free from suffering, always feeling good, never just means you have a peace about you big and little things are manageable.

    In writing with this, I struggle with this concept for unhealthy marriages. Some may misinterpret "overcoming self" to mean taking the abuse...letting people hurt them. In those situations "overcoming self" may be leaving the security and the familiarity, asking for help and living a chaste separate life.

  91. Renee, yes, the "never marrieds" is a sad situation, too, and growing. :(

    Lucky7, great point about the abuse. The Church does not require a person to stay in a home with danger and abuse! One may separate in a truly bad situation like that. The divorces I have known have usually been the "no fault" kind, which has really harmed children. No fault divorce is one of the worst things that happened to this nation. Very sad for the innocent abandoned spouse, and for the children.

  92. MaiZeke, That's a strange non-answer to my question.

    So, let me get this straight - you believe that alcoholics can't and shouldn't seek help to remain sober? You believe that treatment (e.g., AA) is worthless, or you believe that alcoholics shouldn't have to stop drinking because it's who they are and they shouldn't have to change?

    Is any of the above true? If so, how have you come by those conclusions?

  93. I am going to post, "Keep striving toward that goal!" on my refrigerator for me and my family to see each day. Maybe we'll have a discussion about what "that goal" means to us as Christians (otherwise my daughter will think she is striving toward a facebook account, my 9 y-o will be striving for a new DS game and my 16 y-o will be eyeing the 2012 Dodge Charger!)

  94. JoAnna says:
    MaiZeke, That's a strange non-answer to my question.
    MZ: I'll try again.

    So, let me get this straight - you believe that alcoholics can't and shouldn't seek help to remain sober?
    MZ: No. They should try to seek help.
    You believe that treatment (e.g., AA) is worthless, or you believe that alcoholics shouldn't have to stop drinking because it's who they are and they shouldn't have to change?
    MZ: No. They should try to be better.

    Is any of the above true?
    MZ: They are both true.
    If so, how have you come by those conclusions?
    MZ: What? The same way you have. People should try to fix all of their problems. It makes a better world.

  95. Leila says: Um, yes, that's what life is [keep striving toward that goal]. It's a training in and a striving toward the goal of virtue. Of course that is the goal we strive for. That's what we do as Catholics. (Everyone, not just Catholics, used to understand that virtue is the goal.)

    MZ: So, I'm interested in how you will be striving toward that goal. Do you suggest to outlaw divorce? Or only allow the Catholic Church to decide if anyone can officially get a divorce/annulment?

  96. Leila asks: What will you teach your children when they come up against a situation (which happens all the time) where they have to choose between what is right and their own desires?

    MZ: It is not my opinion that staying in a marriage is always the "right" option. For example, if one of them marries a woman who turns alcoholic and who refuses to get help after years of counseling and/or therapy, and who abuses their children, then I hope that my son will divorce her. I will teach my boys to think for themselves and decide for themselves what is "right" for them and their loved ones and their society.

  97. And to clarify, the hypothetical alcoholic wife that my son marries "should" try to get better. You're right she should. But people can't always do what they should, and so divorce is legal.

  98. Striving toward that goal is personal, individual (i.e., work on yourself), and also a matter of teaching our children that virtue is what we work towards, not comfort or convenience or pleasure in place of virtue. It would be good if society taught that, no?

    I will be doing a whole series on annulments soon, and right now I don't have time to get into all of the implications of your questions. Off to see my parents in a few minutes!

    But in the meantime, you didn't really answer the question. Of course it's "right" to get children away from dangerous abusers. But that wasn't really what I asked. You said that people can't just stop being who they are. So, if your children are acting in an unvirtuous way, and they are either committing adultery, or drinking too much, or being horrible to their spouses: What do you teach them? To continue doing what they desire, or to do the right thing? Why do you assume it's your children's wives that are the bad ones? What will you tell your own sons about doing what is right when they are doing wrong? Do you still leave it to them to decide right and wrong for themselves? And, I thought you had told us earlier that there is an objective truth (even though it has "no source")? If so, shouldn't they do the objectively right thing, even if their desires want to take them elsewhere?


  99. MaiZeke, but yes, I think there should be no such thing as "no fault" divorce. It has devastated families and children. It's only been around for a few decades and it's no good for society.

  100. MaiZeke,

    Your comment re: 50 year marriages came off as skeptical if not sarcastic. However, you have clarified that you would like a world where marriages last and people are faithful. I guess my question is, "Do you believe 50 year, faithful marriages CAN happen any more?" If so do you see it as a rare, freak occurrence or something that could be attained by many?

    I am asking because it seems from the tone of your comment that we are striving for the impossible. Honestly, since we are human, it is impossible that every marriage will be a faithful, 50 year commitment of bliss. We still strive for it, we still hope for more intact families, we still work toward less people devastated by divorce. If we are not striving for something better, we are sliding toward something worse...there is no standing still.

  101. If you don't mind me saying, I think you all need to redefine your terms so that everyone is talking on the same page. Divorce is permitted by the Catholic Church as a legal means of separating two people's stuff. An abusive situation would be a perfect example. In order to protect the children and spouse of an abusive person, the state can legally divide and separate their assets and property from legal entanglement. The problem arises when people start thinking that this is an end to the marriage. According to the Church, the state cannot separate what God has joined together. A divorced couple will remain united in the Sacrament of Marriage unless an annulment is granted which effectively says the sacrament was never properly convected to begin with. When someone says, the Church doesn't allow divorce, what they really mean is that she does not allow divorce and remarriage. The Church does not grant divorces simply because it is a legal action, not a spiritual one.

    Here is an except from Catholics United for the Faith:
    Contrary to what many believe, divorce does not end a marriage. Quite simply, divorce is a permanent separation of spouses recognized by the authority who grants it. A divorce does not change or remove the obligations to the marriage bond. Our Lord made this clear in Mark 10:1-12 (see also Matthew 19:1-12) and the Catholic Church upholds this divine truth.[4][4]

  102. Now I'm really confused. When did anyone say that divorce should be illegal? It might help the discussion, MaiZeke, if you could stop arguing against straw men.

  103. I meant to add that divorce, even in the case of abuse, is still a tragedy, just as much as the abuse, but if necessary to protect the victimized spouse and children it is seen as the lesser of two evils. Our society turned it into a weapon of mass destruction when it decided that a divorce was the same as a "do-over" and it entitled them to try again as many times as they wanted.

  104. Hi Leila - I know I'm coming in late after a lot of replies. I just wanted to say that my parents separated after all of us left home, and it was still painful.

    A few years ago I nearly left my husband. All of the rationalizing I did in my own head, I knew I'd heard before - it was all the same stuff my mom told herself. "He won't care if you're gone; we have nothing in common; I deserve to be happy; everyone will get past it and be ok"

    That stopped me; it made me pause and ponder long enough for God to begin turning me around, healing my marriage, and transforming my heart.

    Yesterday my husband & I celebrated our 30-year wedding anniversary.

  105. However, I always have to be clear on this, it doesn't mean a person will be constantly free from suffering, always feeling good, never just means you have a peace about you big and little things are manageable.

    In writing with this, I struggle with this concept for unhealthy marriages. Some may misinterpret "overcoming self" to mean taking the abuse...letting people hurt them. In those situations "overcoming self" may be leaving the security and the familiarity, asking for help and living a chaste separate life.

    Bingo. In simple terms, overcoming self just means not giving into temptation, fleshly comforts, or unhealthy desires.
    And yes, that never applies to putting up with abuse, as the Church teaches. Human dignity and preservation of life are to be upheld.

    As pertains to Maizeke, she had made a glib statement that to live a Catholic life is somehow "biologically wired" and that somehow the deck is already stacked in our favor, and/or just peachy/easy. Wrong and wrong.

  106. Charlotte thank you!!! for saying that so well, so clearly, so succinctly. I hope that helps MaiZeke understand and (as JoAnna said) stop with the straw men.

    iamlori, Wow, what a wonderful story, and happy anniversary!! Praise God!

  107. "Biologically wired" would imply no free will and frankly, we would all be a lot better at it wouldn't we?

  108. Saint Augustine is a prime example against "biological wiring". He lived a non-virtuous life for years, and then "re-verted" shall we say, and became a saint. Biological wiring is from doesn't change mid-life, right? It proves it is a choice...and often not an easy won, but always a rewarding one (but not in the secular sense of the word.)

  109. "Biologically wired" would imply no free will and frankly, we would all be a lot better at it wouldn't we?

    Exactly. We would all have evolved to this point in time to be predisposed to living a heroic life.
    It wouldn't be a calling, it wouldn't even be something we had to strive toward. "Biological makeup" is the actual term she used and she used it in conjunction with desire ("want to be married"). So either we reason or we don't. Either we're driven by animal nature without reason or we aren't.

    Clarify for us, Maizeke?

  110. Interesting you should ask this because I just starting reading your blog from the start and was about to write my conversion story. These two questions go together for me. My parents divorced when I was 2 and my sister was 6 months old. My father ended up marrying his mistress, and my mother never got over it. They played all sorts of games, putting us in the middle. My mother decided to stop speaking to him, so it was my job to ask him to increase the child support, etc. At the same time, my father would make it a point to let my mother know that he and his new wife were traveling, which is what my mother always wanted to do. My mother was too depressed to ever go back to work, so we lived at about the poverty line while my father and his new family, including his step daughter just a year younger than I, lived an upper middle class lifestyle. Yes, it made me insanely jealous at the time. So, when I decided to begin thinking seriously about getting married, I approached it logically. I researched who was least likely to get divorced and I carefully observed the other families I knew whose parents seemed to be happily married. While I couldn’t change the fact that my parents were divorced, I could decide to marry (and therefore I only dated) someone whose parents were married. I also realized that Catholic families seemed to be the happiest and least likely to be divorced. I called the local Catholic Church and the RCIA instructor said I could join in on classes. That’s where I learned about the divorce rate of people practicing NFP (< 1%), and I was sold. I found the man who fit all the requirements, whom I also happened to adore, and we’ve been married for almost eight years, with five wonderful children.

  111. People say I'm arguing against straw men. Michelle said this: "So, I would say the best thing any two people can do is put God in the center of their marriage and love each other. Love does not mean a "feeling" but it is a decision. If my parents would have made a decision for their children, for each other, for God, divorce would not have been a part of the equation." Leila said that this was well said.

    I replied that it is very difficult to just "change the way you are". Sometimes people can't do what they should. I am agreeing that it is best if they can, but sometimes they can't.

    Leila is also arguing that no-fault divorce shouldn't be allowed. I think it should be. I am against having others outside of a marriage decide if the marriage should be dissolved, most definitely not the church, and not the courts.

    Why is this a straw man?

  112. Leila says: "But in the meantime, you didn't really answer the question. Of course it's "right" to get children away from dangerous abusers. But that wasn't really what I asked. You said that people can't just stop being who they are. So, if your children are acting in an unvirtuous way, and they are either committing adultery, or drinking too much, or being horrible to their spouses: What do you teach them? To continue doing what they desire, or to do the right thing? Why do you assume it's your children's wives that are the bad ones? What will you tell your own sons about doing what is right when they are doing wrong? Do you still leave it to them to decide right and wrong for themselves? And, I thought you had told us earlier that there is an objective truth (even though it has "no source")? If so, shouldn't they do the objectively right thing, even if their desires want to take them elsewhere?"

    Wasn't one of your New Years' resolutions to stop this combox from going off on tangents? I for one don't have the time this week to talk about objective truth again. Or free will.

    I don't think we disagree so very much, Leila. Divorce is generally bad. It is. I've said this many times. I will counsel my children to choose their mates wisely if they want a mate and to stay married if they do get married and to be good people in general. Why do you assume I won't do that? You are so interesting.

    I am also glad that they will be able to get a divorce if they need to, and I hope that if they do they will find someone else to share their life with afterwards.

    This has been lovely, thank you very much for hosting such interesting conversations!

  113. I come from a huge Catholic family. Very few divorces. My parents married 51 years and I have been married 21 years. My mother took her vows and views them as sacred. My father unfortunately did not. Result, a broken mother. In turn we children payed the price of her devout faith. She finally after 40 years of marriage brought my father to the Catholic Church.. but not one of her 4 kids remained Catholic.

  114. MaiZeke, good to have you continue to post. As you wrote, you agree on many important issues with Leila and us other Catholics. I am very happy to read that, and hope and pray that soon there will be even more.

  115. Yes my parents got divorced pretty early on in my childhood. Fortunately, I never really noticed the negative effects of the divorce growing up.

    Now that I'm in the seminary, however, I do notice the glaring differences between myself and the other Holy Cross seminarians at Old College. Most of the guys seem to have come from model, Catholic homes and I have to admit I'm almost ashamed at times to reveal my family's not-so-perfect track record.

    But I've learned that everyone has their struggles and it's only awkward if I make it out to be.

  116. MaiZeke, the straw man was when you said that we Catholics think civil divorce should be illegal.

    Do you think no fault divorce has strengthened marriage and been good for children? Because I know that an awful lot of secular folk (and studies about children and divorce) have said that it's been a disaster.

    Also, when did I resolve not to go on tangents? Is my memory that bad? Where did I put that down as my New Year's resolution in any shape or form? I happen to enjoy the tangents, as long as the tangents themselves can stay on target (meaning, answer questions specifically, not dodge). So, I'm not sure what you are talking about there.

    You say that divorce is "generally bad" but then you say it's okay to go ahead with one if you want to. Almost like it would be good. I get confused with reasoning like that.

    Christie, welcome!! And what an awesome story!

    And to the commenter who said: …"but not one of her 4 kids remained Catholic." That is so sad. I wonder, though, if bad catechesis had anything to do with it as well? Read my reversion story, above. Our generation got almost nada when it came to really being taught the faith.

  117. That Religious Guy, welcome! I am so happy to hear of your vocation! My two amazing parish priests, both of whom are around 40 years old (so both younger than me!!) are products of divorced homes. I think you are going to be an amazing priest. :)

  118. PS: MaiZeke, I truly am glad to hear that you don't totally disagree with the Church on this. But I still would love to hear your response to Lucky7 and Nubby, as pertains to doing the good and living the virtues. What do you think about St. Augustine? Was it biologically-wired in him?

  119. Leila,
    I have read your powerful story. I believe I was robbed a true Catholic education. That being said, I don't find my current situation sad at all. Nor do I view my brothers religious life as sad either.I found your blog through my cousin who is planning on becoming a nun. There was a blog posted about being gay and catholic she posted on fb. I have come back now and again to read and this time I felt like posting a comment.
    I believe that even if I had a deaper teaching of Catholicism it wouldnt have changed the outcome of my spiritual road. Everything was clouded and effected by my family life. It was hard to have a healthy understanding of anything really. Good news is I am a mother of 6 and am happily married to the father of all my babies. He is a good man and I have wonderful children.
    my name is nikki

  120. Leila says "MaiZeke, the straw man was when you said that we Catholics think civil divorce should be illegal. "

    I asked it. I didn't state it. This is what I said: "So, I'm interested in how you will be striving toward that goal. Do you suggest to outlaw divorce? Or only allow the Catholic Church to decide if anyone can officially get a divorce/annulment? "

    You could have merely answered, "No, I don't want to outlaw divorce. But I want to make it very very difficult to get one." We might easily have gone on from there. (to which I might reply, how will you make it very difficult for people to get one?)

    I don't think I've actually seen your answer to my second question, above. Do you wish to put the Catholic Church in charge of deciding whether or not people get a divorce?

    Maybe I just dreamed that you weren't going off on tangents. At any rate, that is one of my resolutions, so I won't be going off on tangents here.

    And finally, I totally disagree with the church that
    a) the church decides when a marriage can be annulled
    b) the church says that if you are divorced you can't get married again

    This is pretty substantial.

    Also, this: "You say that divorce is "generally bad" but then you say it's okay to go ahead with one if you want to. Almost like it would be good. I get confused with reasoning like that. "

    I'm sorry that this is confusing for you. Since you agreed with the lesser of two evils commenter, I think that you agree with the statement -- so I'm confused why you are confused.

  121. MaiZeke, just to clarify a very common misconception about annulments: (a good friend of mine is a canon lawyer and he's constantly educating me via facebook discussions :-)

    You said
    a) the church decides when a marriage can be annulled

    Sort of. Annulment is NOT "Catholic Divorce." It is most formally called "a declaration of nullity," which means that the marriage tribunal (made of canon lawyers, both laypeople and priests) had determined after careful study that a valid marriage never existed in the first place, and thus both people are free to marry other people, since they were never validly married anyway. So basically an annulment isn't a thing you "get" but a declaration of something that already "is:" the non-existence of a marriage. I know this seems crazy from a secular perspective, but it's a huge difference.

    Usually, people receive an annulment if it's clear that one of the four vows of the marriage were not intended to be kept by one or both parties. For example, the vows a Catholic takes are that the marriage is chosen freely (not coerced by parents/society), a total and permanent gift of self, faithful, and fruitful (open to children.). If the marriage tribunal discovers that one spouse entered the marriage thinking they could cheat, or knowing there was a legitimate reason they shouldn't be married, or that it would be ok to back out if things got tough, or use contraception/etc, then that couple didn't actually mean their wedding vows, and so were never validly married in the first place in the eyes of the Church = annulment.

    Related is your point here:
    b) the church says that if you are divorced you can't get married again

    I can understand why you think that, but again, it's different use of semantics and understanding. For Catholics, marriage can only be broken by death. If I marry and my spouse dies, I could marry someones else, for example. But divorced people (civil divorce, according to civil law) are not necessarily annulled. It's very possible that someone is divorced civilly but hasn't obtained an annulment yet.

    Remember an annulment is a statement that the marriage wasn't valid/didn't exist in the first place. So if a couple hasn't been annulled, their marriage still exists, whatever the state of their tax filing status might be. Since you can't have more than once spouse at a time (that would be bigamy), someone who is divorced-but-not-annulled cannot marry again because they are in fact still married to spouse #1.

    Does that make sense?

  122. Maggie,
    Annulment has been abused by the Catholic church. As Catholics I find it very hard to believe you haven't questioned or challenged this. In just my own circle.I have an uncle who had his first annulment after a 25 year marriage and then went off to get a second one after just a few years. My own brothers first marriage was annulled after 15 years. She acted so evil to abtain this annulment so she could remarry. Further more the priest who was on this tribunal disclosed the details of the annulment to members of our church. I find it hard to believe these are isolated incidents. I don't disagree with annulment, but you should demand more from your church.

  123. You're right it's been abused (ie the system of annulments), but that doesn't make the Church or the annulment process invalid. You're also right that we need to hold the Church leaders to a high standard- and especially, pray pray pray for them.

    A similar argument could be made about the abuse of indulgences in the middle ages. Indulgences are a good thing (and a valid thing) but the sale of them wasn't cool. However, just because the "system" has been abused in the past doesn't mean we should throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    It's always important to remember that the Church is protected by the holy spirit and will not teach error, but she is made up of human beings like everyone else, who are sinners. So we need to pray pray pray for the Church and her leaders that abuses of all sorts are in the rare minority. It is a spiritual battle above all.

  124. Also my cousins and neices were thrilled to know their parents marriage never existed. My neice is agnostic now. I am not saying that is the only reason, but these kind of things damage children. Sometimes she refers to herself as the little bastard. Now that is sad.

  125. Quick responses, more later:

    MaiZeke, my apologies if I misunderstood. I thought you implied the Church wants to make divorce illegal (for example, comment at 9:18).

    Annulments are not simply a concept of the Church. The civil authorities annul marriages also. They annul civil marriages (meaning, they declare that a valid marriage never actually occurred). The Church annuls sacramental marriages (Christian marriages).

    That would make sense, no?

    As for no remarriage after divorce, that would be a dictate of Jesus Christ himself (mentioned more than once in the Bible, by both Jesus and St. Paul), so it's not just something pulled out of thin air. No one is trying to outlaw civil remarriage! Unless you know something I don't know….

    As for the lesser of two evils commenter, she was correct. But she was not talking about no fault divorce. She was talking about leaving the home when abuse occurs, for the safety of the spouse and children. Not a "do over" for marriage if it didn't quite work out the first time. It was for safety reasons (no one is required to stay in harm's way), not about moving on to the next marriage to find a more compatible mate.

    Maggie, thank you!

    Nikki, I agree that annulment has been abused, and the Pope (JPII) said as much, esp. in the Western world. However, there is always the avenue of appeal to Rome for any petitioner. I may just have to make my next post about annulments. Stay tuned….

  126. Nikki, the Church does not consider the children of annulled marriages to be "illegitimate". That is a huge misconception.

  127. Yes I know that so does she, but I am talking about the feelings of a child. Even a grown child as she is now

  128. I guess I am saying.and what I have wanted to say in this blog many times is this, Catholicism isn't why I left the Church. It is the priests. I have left because of the priests. I know prayers are needed, but honestly it needs to be much more than that. I see no accountability . When my last babies were born 11 years ago I just lost trust in the Church to protect the innocent. Annulments,, molestations, Catholic politicians standing for abortion with little criticism. Don't have a theology difference. I have trust issues.I know off topic, but I felt compelled.

  129. Can you look beyond the faulty humans and accept that the teachings of the Catholic Church are indeed from Christ Jesus? Corporately, we need you home again. You are part of that mystical body and vital to its health.

  130. Nikki, I second Nubby's question, and I also ask, what would it take you to trust the Church again? Because we do want and need you in the Church. It's your birthright, and your home! And Jesus is the head of the Church.

    Do you know of any good priests? So few priests have ever harmed a child -- much less than the general population, and most molesters are in a person's own family, not in the Church. The public schools have 100 times the abuse against children than the Church. Those are objective facts. But I know you are operating on your feelings now, and you are hurt, and that is hard to shake. What would help you get past those feelings?

  131. Nikki, just fyi, you said:

    "She acted so evil to abtain this annulment so she could remarry."

    An annulment has nothing to do with how someone acts during the marriage. An annulment means that there was something wrong at the time of the sacrament (at the time of the wedding itself), and that the sacrament never happened. So, nothing that happens after the wedding would invalidate a valid, sacramental marriage.

    Also, may I ask if you are from a region of the country where the Church is very liberal or the priests very unfaithful? Some diocese are full of scandal, and some places have a very sad legacy of unfaithfulness and dissent. I showed this video on the blog once, and a reader from Massachusetts (who has left the Church) said she never has seen any priests like these incredible men:

    But where I live, these kind of amazing priests surround me! So, some of what you experience may depend on where you live, unfortunately.

  132. A reader wanted me to post this for her:

    I am 60 years old now, and was brought up by a great aunt because my parents were divorced. I never knew my father and had limited contact with my mother. It was very hard growing up as everything in school was geared toward 2 parent families. Whenever we did a gift or drawing for different holidays, it was hard because as everyone else was doing it for Mom or Dad, I was very confused. Marriage is very hard for me even to this day. I didn't have much to compare my life to. I had 3 beautiful children, and have 2 wonderful grandsons. Scars are there, but through the grace of God, I'm a survivor.

  133. So much to respond to. I will try to touch on most of them. When I said my sister -in -law acted evil I meant she exploited our childhood for her personal gain. My brother let me read her testimonial to the tribunal. She was an active participant in our family for 15 years. She exploited our family to remarry. Many untruths and exaggerations

    As for knowing priests, yes many. My mothers best friend of almost 35 years a priest. I went to and sent my kids to Catholic school. My mother a Catholic school teacher so came into contact that way. Probably a more personal way than most. I have 2 friends who are Jesuits.

    I would say I have met some great ones and some not so great.

    Ok, I think I know where you are going with the " feelings " angle. And yes I have deep feelings, but what I am desperate for is action on evil. The Catholic Church has been absent in action. I know secular society probably has more child molesters, , but I expect more from my church and maybe some jail time. The pope wants us westerners to get.our act together on annulment, but what action is being taken on this matter?

    I live in the Midwest. I have come into contact with one priest who was a child molester as a child. In contact with another where my kids attended Catholic School. Both disappeared. Also knowing priests on a somewhat personal level I know there is an issue with celibacy.Both gay and straight. And I refuse to believe this is an isolated experience.

    So yes I have "feelings " on this matter. I was raised with a mother who dedicated her life teaching me good from evil. I just wish the outrage was more evident. It will take more than prayer to fix these problems.

    The day I left the church was th day my priest let a child molester be transferred somewhere else. Now how do you send hour kids back to the Catholic school after that? That wasn't just feelings, that was being a.protective mother. And if I am to believe the Church is my Mother, I EXPECT no less from her.

  134. The day I left the church was th day my priest let a child molester be transferred somewhere else.

    Not doubting you, but when did this happen, and how did it happen? If everyone (you, too?) knew he was molesting kids, how did he not get reported to the authorities? I'm very confused. Thanks!

    If you lived in my diocese, you'd know that action has been taken. I wrote this as one section of a two-part post I wrote on the scandals:

    Fourth: The Church has been hyper-aggressive in addressing the problem.

    In fact, I have never seen or heard of any organization which has gone so far overboard in policing itself after similar allegations.


    Yes, in some cases, overboard. Let me explain.

    When the first wave of the abuse scandal swept the nation, dioceses sprang into action, setting up mandatory sexual abuse prevention and awareness programs for anyone and everyone involved in paid or voluntary positions within parishes, schools, ministries and other Church entities. These programs are often long and tedious, and everyone must become re-certified each year. The Church wants to right the wrongs, and has gone to great lengths to do so.

    Which brings me to the “overboard.”

    A few years ago, I was told about a policy which mandated that I could not be alone with the teen girl I was sponsoring for Confirmation. There had to be a parent or other adult present if we were together, even outside of a Church setting.

    Mind you, the girl I was sponsoring was the daughter of close family friends. I had known her since she was six weeks old, and she was my daughter’s best friend of fifteen years. Now the Church was telling me that I, a regular suburban mom with no criminal background, needed a chaperone to be with a family friend, even in a public place!

    I couldn’t believe this was right. I thought it was unjust (and just absurd). I called a friend who worked in the diocesan offices, and he confirmed that it was true. A sponsor for Confirmation was “a representative of the Catholic Church,” and as such, we had to be above suspicion in every circumstance.

    So, yup, I think the Church has gone above and beyond in addressing the problem. And the fact that there are virtually no new cases of priestly sexual abuse is a good indication that she has largely righted the wrong.

    If you think I am excusing the perverts and predators who harmed children, I assure you, I am not. I am a mother, and let anyone try to harm my kid or any child and you'll see my response (abortion and other child abuse makes me want to explode out of my skin, for starters). You can read the rest of what I wrote about the scandal, here:

  135. Nikki, and if you don't mind my asking, where are you now on your journey? You know that the Church teaches the truth (and I could speculate that you know that Christ founded the Church?), and you know that there are as many sinners outside of the Church doing heinous things but without the grace of the sacraments or the benefit of the Deposit of Faith. So, what now?

    It reminds me of John 6, when Jesus asks Peter, "Will you, too, go away?" And Peter answers: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

    As for annulments, what should the Church do? Every Catholic has a right to petition the annulment tribunal. The tribunals do the best they can. Many Americans did not approach the sacrament with seriousness in the first place in this culture. There are many who never knew what Matrimony really was. So, the overworked tribunals do what they can, and the pope (rightly) raised concerns about the vast numbers going through the local tribunals, but what can the Pope do about the specifics of each case? They have a right to be heard. And Rome gets involved with the appeals. His concern was noted, and hopefully heeded.

    There is no perfection on this earth. But to leave the sacraments, the Eucharist (!) and the Truth of faith and morals to wander around elsewhere with none of that, well, I don't get it.

    The Church is my Mother, and she has saved me. I couldn't leave her. I hope you do come back, I really do.

  136. To the first question, it was 11 years ago the young priest was abruptly removed from our school. He was in charge of teaching High Mass to the younger children. Being the pain in the butt that I am I asked parents, priest, principal why and where he had gone.I didn't get to far with the powers at be, but a few parents said he was being inappropriate with some young boys. When I addressed my concerns with our priest and principal no information was given. Now with the Church's history on this matter I can assume they are capable of withholding information from parents. Also I believed it happened because I directly talked to the families involved. I never returned. And ya know what, we are all ok.

    I have been taught that Christ founded the Church. As for where am I on my journey? That is a good
    question. I have been searching. I can give my love to God. I believe he sent his Son to die for me.

  137. Nikki, so he was never accused of molestation? Where is he now? Eleven years ago was a year before the Globe broke the story wide open. I just wonder what happened to him and what "inappropriate" entailed? Sad all the way around. Sad if he did something immoral, obviously (but doesn't sound like it went to the level of abuse, otherwise I would say "outrage"), and sad if he was not guilty of anything.

    Do you believe in the Eucharist? Does God's Son want you out of His Church?

    Did you ever see the Catholics Come Home campaign? Check my sidebar, on the right. Maybe that will help you come back home. I pray that you do.

  138. Sorry for the typos my smart phone isn't that smart.
    How do you look past some of these concerns? If they were in your home, you could get an annulment. Not trying to be difficult, it is a real question

  139. Actually, an annulment is not about what goes on in the home, it's about the state of the situation at the time the sacrament was confected. I will wait on the major details of that until I roll out my annulment post.

    I don't really have concerns that bother me to the point that I would leave the Church. I anticipate the human side to the Church, and that is a very sinful side. (Even Judas, an Apostle, was a grave sinner who betrayed the Church.)

    It just doesn't negate my love for the miracle that is the Church. The Sacraments, the priesthood, the Eucharist, the Saints, the Scriptures, the patrimony, the art, the music, the moral theology, the theology of suffering, the unchanging nature of the Deposit of Faith, the teachings on life and human sexuality, Reconciliation, Jesus Christ the Head of the Church and His Mother throwing her mantle of protection over me (from a young age….). All of it. It's home and I love her. I could no more leave than cut off my own arm. My life is not informed by Christ and His Church, my life is Christ and His Church.

    I know it's a sincere question, but it's one I can't answer, as I've never had that kind of angst about the sin or ugliness of the human side of the Church. I expect it. It's partly my job (as it is all of us) to be the ones who rectify it. Just as sin brings down the whole Body of Christ, holiness in her members elevates her. My job is holiness. That is how I help the Church. I'm a work in progress, but without the Church and the grace of the Sacraments, I would be toast. (I was toast before I came back to the Church.)

    Hope that makes some sense.

  140. Well they never did tell me what happened to this young man, they didn't like me asking. I knew the parents of the one young boy and I believed them. So abuse is what I would call it.
    I appreciate your prayers and I will pray for you as well.

  141. Ok, the annulment comment was a joke. I appreciate your recognition of my struggle. And I will do some more reading. Thank you for your time. I do appreciate it.

  142. What was the priest accused of doing (what did the parents say)? Hope you don't mind my asking. I'm just curious now, and wondering why he just "went away" or why the parents didn't call the cops. What was the abuse?

    I appreciate your time as well, and I am pained by your struggle. I hope you can find a way out of it and back to the Eucharist.

  143. Nikki -

    Regarding your earlier allegation that your sister-in-law lied in her statements to the tribunal...

    The tribunal functions very similarly to a court of law; each side presents evidence (usually written and oral testimony from relatives and friends).

    If your SIL presented false evidence to the tribunal, that was definitely a moral wrong on her part, but if your brother wasn't able to provide any evidence refuting her claims... how is the tribunal supposed to know she was lying, if it is his word against hers? I think you're placing blame unfairly in this regard, because you're expecting the tribunal members to have the ability to read your SIL's heart and mind. They can only make decisions based on the evidence presented, and if no one could refute your SIL's claims with evidence to the contrary, that's hardly the fault of the tribunal.

    I don't disagree that there are some tribunals that hand out declarations of nullity like candy, but on the other hand did you know that each annulment actually goes through TWO tribunals? It initially goes to the tribunal of the diocese in which the initial claimant lives, and once a decision has been reached, it's sent to a different diocese (one that doesn't border the original diocese) for further review. If the second diocesan tribunal finds fault with the decision, they can reject the it. Even if both tribunals come to the same decision, the claimant(s) can still appeal to the Roman Rota.

    The process is actually quite rigorous. Do abuses happen? Most undoubtedly, given that the tribunals are comprised of human beings. However, given the facts as you presented them, I think your expectations were a bit unreasonable.

  144. Please don't be pained by my struggle. I believe it is hard to imagine for you. There is a purpose. My life is full and blessed in ways I could never imagine. Your experience isn't mine, we all have our journey. I am good daughter tO Christ. It is funny to me that the Catholics feel bad for me and Protestants are thrilled I have seen the light. Both convinced the are the only way to God. Both have biblical proof of their beliefs. What's a girl to do??

    To answer your question about the priest, He fondled young boys as they sat on his lap.that was the accusation. I was not informed of what happened. Honestly we left shortly after. I felt some sort of statement should have been made. The principal lost his job a few years later.

  145. I wasn't informed where he went. Or what happened to him. I wasn't going to get the answers to those questions.

  146. Nikki, if there's an accusation but no proof, what would you have the Church do? It's generally not a good idea to punish someone based on accusations alone. That's not fair in any context.

    Besides, perhaps he was removed to a place where he wouldn't have contact with kids, just as a precaution. It seems unfair of you to make all these assumptions about the priest, the church, and the diocese with no facts to back them up, only based on hearsay and secondhand information.

    All I know is that if it were MY kid in this situation, I'd be on the phone with the cops so fast it'd set the cell tower on fire. And in the classes I'm required to take as a church volunteer (regardless if we work with kids), we're instructed to report any allegations or suspicious to Church AND civil authorities, immediately, no exceptions.

  147. Both convinced the are the only way to God.

    You might want to read my post on that, because that is not exactly a Catholic position:

    Both have biblical proof of their beliefs.

    Except that the Bible is a Catholic book, and the Catholic Church wrote and canonized and protected and promulgated the New Testament, and is the only legitimate interpreter of it. So, there is no biblical "proof" of Protestant belief if those beliefs go against the Church. It's being misinterpreted.

    What's a girl to do??

    Well, you say that the Church was founded by Christ. So, I guess a girl should come back if that's what she actually believes.

    Anyway, God's blessings!

  148. Joanna,

    I understand what you are saying. My point I knew at this point in my Catholic life ( priest touching boys) was a real possibility. I also know through experience that the Church's track record wasn't great with addressing this things. Just because it hadn't blown up in the secular society doesn't mean we didn't know it existed. A neighboring priest not but a year later was exposed for molesting boys for 20 years. Really this is why I get so frustrated


    Yes I have been a Catholic most my days. I know the poor Protestant s get to go to heaven, they just dont know the error of their ways.But there are some old timers who would disagree with ya.But the Church is clear. Thanks all I have to go to bed.

  149. I am behind on the comments and hope I haven't missed too much.

    My parents have been married for 56 years. My father is a recovering alcoholic, although after 43 years in AA he is probably pretty well recovered by now! I was very young when he started AA and remember nothing of his drinking, but I have been told that my mother made it clear that she would leave him and take the then-7 of us with her rather than stand by and watch him self-destruct. One of his drinking buddies died in a drunk driving accident the first night my father went to AA. We are all, the now-9 of us, very blessed that things turned out as they did. I can't imagine how hard it would have been growing up as one of the few kids of divorce and in what would have had to have been poverty. My father has Alzheimer's now and one thing he hasn't forgotten is that he is quite lucky to have my mother.

    My parents were very successful in raising 9 children who are all still Catholic, with only one divorce in the family - mine. I think I have mentioned a little of it here before. My children have suffered terribly from the loss of the family they had had. I understand completely the comment made above, that every major event in life, the things that are supposed to be great happy events like weddings and the birth of grandchildren, end up being reminders of the divorce. It is so sad.

    Fr. Damien, if you are still here, my oldest is a religious sister even though she went through several tumultuous years of rejecting God because of the divorce. I think the Blessed Mother had her eye on both you and my daughter in a special way. In spite of everything, I think now is a better time to have a vocation than the 60's to maybe mid-80's would have been, thanks to JPII and the Holy Spirit! I pray that the graces you are winning for us as a priest will allow the vocation of marriage to experience a rebirth as well.

    I am not interested in an annulment, mostly because I think it would cause more pain and confusion for my children like it did for Nikki's cousin. I have been far too busy raising my children anyhow, and I am plenty fulfilled in that job. Not that men knock on the doors of single mothers with 8 kids, but still! If my ex-husband and his wife, who was raised Catholic, really wanted to validate their marriage (her third), I suppose I would be obligated to help them in concern for their souls, but it is very unlikely that such a thing has ever crossed their minds.

    I am amazed at how few intact families there seem to be, although I know it is not really a 50% divorce rate, that the 50% is a ratio of number of divorces in a year compared to the number of marriages in a year. That is not the same as saying "half of all marriages end in divorce." My very social 14 year old could only think of two of his friends that have parents who are married to each other, but I think he subconsciously gravitates to kids who are in his situation.

    God does hate divorce, and for good reason.

  150. Nikki, Archbishop Dolan makes some great comments here:

    It's not long. I hope you get a chance to read it.

    The abuse was mishandled in so many ways, but in the defense of some bishops, they were following the advice of psychologists who did not even fully realize the depth of the evil of sexual abuse of children, how ingrained it becomes in the perpetrator. If any psychologist thought he had "successfully treated" a pedophile or pederast priest, the psychologist was mistaken, but no one fully realized that then. I know how you feel about it all though. I read an article about a sex abuse victim that was written back in '95, way before the abuse problem became big public knowledge. I thought it was horrifying and thought that my faith would be deeply shaken if it had happened to a family member of mine. It was hard on my faith as it was, just reading about what happened to someone else. But you really can't take something that happened before the scandal went public to the way things are now. Things are dealt with very differently now, thank God, and it is only fair to give the Church credit for that.

  151. Okay, I just have to point out one thing relating to divorce. The day before your post, we watched Mr. Popper's Penguins. I was very bothered by that movie because the parents were divorced. The reason it bothered me so much is because in the book that the movie was based on, I am pretty sure that the parents are MARRIED, which means they went out of their way in the movie to make the parents divorced. They ruined an opportunity to show the ups and downs of being married and yet STAYING married. Almost makes me wonder whether they did it on purpose...

  152. I am very blessed. My parents have been married for 29 years and have a solid marriage. My paternal grandparents were married 54 years before my grandfather passed away. My maternal grandparents have been married for 59 years.

    Growing up almost all of my friends came from homes with married parents. I realize that that is very unusual in today's world, and I know that it is by the grace of God.

    It breaks my heart to hear all of the stories of divorce but it is beautiful to see the commitment that many of you are making?!

  153. Sharon,

    I appreciate the article. Yes I do give the Church credit for changes made. There is so much I want to say, but I think my point view is lost here. And I am sure you feel the same. Hurt and betrayal on this level is just hard for me to seperate. I am pleased that people can do it. I am just not one of those people. Catholicism wasn't a positive experience for me. In fact it was a painful one. I have been reflecting a lot one my experiences. I maybe asking to much from the human side of the Church, but I feel most dont ask or demand enough. So that is the root of the root. And I have exhausted this subject.

  154. First off, I just found your blog and LOVE it. I am a 23 year old Catholic, constantly fighting against what you talk about in your reversion; this desire to only see and talk about God's love and mercy and not His justice. It's so difficult to be in university, such a progressive and politically correct environment, and not shrug off the justice of the Father. But, thankfully I have been blessed with a rather large (about 100) community of 20-something men and women who are seeking to live lives of radical holiness and fidelity to the Church. So thank you for yet another resource!
    I am a child of divorce. Youngest of seven children from a "very Catholic" family. My mom tried her best (went to Mass almost every day, prayed the rosary with us, sent us to "Catholic" schools, did not use birth control [yay Mom!], etc.) But, she did not really know the reasons for her faith and I don't ever remember her explaining the "whys" and my dad always prided himself of his vast intellect, which left faith sectioned off for Sunday mornings. My dad slid into alcoholism when I was eight, began cheating on my mom when I was ten, and finally left the family when I was twelve. I think mostly because of my mom, my dad was a lector and did a lot of stuff with the parish.
    When he left, I remember making a very clear connection between him and Him, God the Father. I was convinced that both were hypocrites not worth being vulnerable to and seeking out love from. I went through high school and sought the love that I was so desperate for in many negative ways and then sought to numb the emptiness with drugs and alcohol. Thankfully my mom did have some foundation in the Church (though she now tends towards progressive "Catholicism", pray for her!) and forced me to go to youth group. My parish was blessed to have two young devout men as our youth group leaders and for every argument I had against the Church, they had solid logical arguments to combat mine (and theirs always won!). It wasn't until I had a profound experience with Penance(first time in 5 years!) and Eucharistic Adoration (first time EVER!) one evening on retreat though that I came fully around and desired the Lord again.
    I am now engaged and realizing that I still have emotional wounds from my parent's divorce, but with the help of a great priest my fiance and I are working through it!
    My six older siblings have all left the church (One is now Jewish, one flirted with Bible churches and is now ambivalent, one is living a homosexual lifestyle, one prescribes to the idea that you just need to be a good person, one is atheist and the other searching) and I am confident that its due at least in part to the failure of my parents marriage.
    Divorce is such a grave evil, especially when children are involved, as it tells the lie that love is not everlasting and faithful. It thus tells us a lie about God! It's blasphemy!!
    Holy Mary, Queen of families, pray for us!!!

  155. teresa, WOW! Girlfriend, you are amazing!! There seems to be always at least one "light" left in a family when the rest have gone astray and you are it! I am so glad you found the Bubble, too. Email me if you have the chance!


  156. Wow, thank you so much for sharing everyone. While I don't really think divorce is an option in most cases (except last resort like a physically abusive relationship) I am a child of divorce. I was born in 1970 and none of my friend had parents who were divorced.

    My dads parents were separated but not divorced. They were good Catholics, they wouldn't do that. They just remained married but lived separate celibate lives. My mom's parents were married but had that typical dysfunctional, alcoholic,you probably should have gotten divorced look!

    Some of my aunts and uncles got divorced and I noticed that their kids (my cousins) followed in their footsteps. It's probably not setting the best example but it's more than just remaining married because God is an important factor. As Bishop Fulton Sheen says, it takes three to get married. You have to have God at the center of your life for everything.

    Marriage is the beginning of the family life. You can't expect to have a good marriage and family unless God is a big part, if not the main part, of that life!

    For myself, both parents put others over their own kids and got remarried. I am married now with three children. I love my kids so much and I don't understand how my own parents don't love me. And it's ok, they really don't. As I get older I realize some people are just incapable of having loving feelings. It's usually the same people that put material things and money ahead of their family.

    But we must remember that God loves us all and no matter where we came from, He wants us to be with Him. God bless everyone!

  157. My parents are still married to each other. My heart ached as I read through the combox. Leila, have you heard of inner healing? It may provide material for a follow-up post. I have experienced it first-hand from a Catholic counselor and I think it would help those who carry the scars from broken family relationships. (the office I worked with - not much to their site right now but it may help with search terms for further research if you are interested.)

  158. I wanted to comment on the annulment thing.
    I am still married to my husband of 21 years. we were both life long committed catholics, met in our parish young adult group, dated 6 years. at the time of our marriage i wrote in my journal that I was so happy to be marrying my best friend. we used NFP- at least initially. so based on THE TIME OF THE CEREMONY- we have a valid marriage.
    I know youre going to do the annulment thing later- but..
    few years ago dear husband decided the grass is greener out there- several- yes several priests apparantly have told him that he could maybe get an annulment. the reason?
    he now claims he had doubts, and that we arent compatible.
    well this isnt one of the things that would make a marriage invalid.
    yet according to the american church tribunals more and more unions are declared invalid on the basis of psychological stuff. not the minority of cases where one is married to an ax murderer, or psychotic satanist person.
    but the majority of cases where the couple, or one of them, choose sin , selfishness ,choose what they want over what is best for their children,.
    rather than putting GOd at the center of the marriage often we focus on OURSELVES.
    I argued with this priest over this- he told me he has NEVER had an annulment denied.
    are there really that many priests not preparing couples properly before marriage that they do not know at the time of the ceremony that they are promising to be faithful, to be open to life and are entering into this freely.
    If anyone is interested check out Marys advocates at defending marriage has a lot of info on this subject.
    Also i do believe that many Catholics in the pews do not know that one can appeal a tribuanal from the united states to the Roman Rota. statisticly 90some percent of the american tribunal cases are overturned at the roman rota and indeed found to be valid sacramental marriages.
    Robert Vasoli wrote a book-What God has joined together- the annulment crisis in american cathoicism. He like many of us- did not know the full extent of this crisis untill he himself was in it.
    Our church teachings are very clear- nothing but death of the spouse ends a valid marriage.
    rather than being the purpose of just making us happy, marriage is a sacrament through which we learn to love unselfishly our spouse and children, putting them before ourselves and help our spouse/children get to heaven.
    along the way- in doing what God wants we find happiness.
    since i have been separated and in this crisis- i have embraced my faith, learned as much as I can about this subject and marriage as the church teaches. So the end result is am committed to it and to the salvation of my husband and family regardless.

    1. Therese, I have seen Mary's Advocates and I wholeheartedly support that! (That whole thing made me sick!)

      I would tell everyone who contests a declaration of nullity to appeal to Rome! That is our right! I do think the "psychological reasons" are way over used.

      Just out of curiosity, why did you date for six years before getting married? Was that "delay" his idea?

      Thanks for bringing this sad situation to our attention. And thanks for your faithfulness!! You are a strong woman, and an amazing example.

    2. Leila,
      I was only 19 when we met and still in college ( my parents would have said I was too young and finish school first- as this is what they had told my older sister). Also the first of the 6 years we were just good friends, actually both dating other people, then at the end we were engaged for one year.
      My husband is 4 years older but went farther in college than I did, so he did want to finish his degree before we married.
      While we were involved in our young adult parish bible study group, and both sunday mass attendees - we had no clue about so much about the faith due to the horrible catechisis we recieved- me at saturday CCD classes, then catholic girls high school where the religion taught was half feminism/ liberal theology of sorts. he went to Catholic school K-12 and probably didnt learn much more than i did.
      I will appeal to Rome if God forbid it comes to that.
      as it is we are still "just"( as if it is not still horrible in every way) separated at this time.
      what shocked/upset me so much was this priest ENCOURAGING Divorce by suggesting how easy it would be to get our sacrament- and family of our children- annulled.

  159. in reply to Julie- I think the reason so many childrens movies portray Divorced parents, is the liberal agenda to "normalize" it.
    Years ago- a wonderful 80 year old friend I have- her husband abandoned her for her best friend even while she was in the hospital recovering from childbirth. In those days- the pastor told her that SHE was to blame- that SHE must have done something to make her husband leave her and her children. He went on to leave the second wife too.
    but now the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction where divorce is OK even for low conflict marriages where there is not infidelity, not abuse, no drugs/ alcholism ...
    not that any of that makes it ok to divorce in the catholic church anyhow.- most of the time unless the marriage was not valid from the begining all the church permits is for permanent separation. but in GOds eyes the couple is still married to each other and as such cannot run around dating/ remarrying.
    to do so is adultery.

  160. After being raised in a solid Catholic home where "divorce was not an option" and "marriage is forever no matter what" my parents divorced (civil) after over 40 years of marriage (no annulment sought).

    It tore our family to bits.
    My husband and I set strict boundaries around having our children exposed to their new....'living arrangements' and it caused a great divide, as all the other siblings were pleased that mom and dad were getting on with their lives and 'happy.'

    This is a very strange turn of events, but one that keeps me grounded in the sacraments and devoted to training our children in the faith and deepening my marriage relationship with my husband as we grow in holiness together. Praise God for His Endless Mercy!


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