Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I'm not buying the false dichotomy

With one daughter's marriage and the other daughter's childbirth just around the corner (love and life! both intricately connected), my reaction was strong when a 20-something male friend posted this sad status on facebook:

Early 20s: Watching your high school buddies get married.

Late 20s: Watching your high school buddies get divorced.

Feeling like I'd been punched in the gut, and angry at society to boot, I messaged him privately to get more details -- turns out there are small children involved, which adds to the tragedy. My friend is a good guy, and he's on the side of marriage, but after I challenged his claim that the young parents in question were "stable, responsible adults, aside from this" [emphasis mine], his follow-up question sent me:
...would you rather have two parents living together, at each other's throats all the time - or two separate but calm homes...

My response:

False dichotomy, Aaron*. We are adults. Barring true abuse, there is a third option. We act like adults and do what is right for the children and our marriage. It's the stable, responsible thing. 

Not much else to add here. I just cannot stand when selfish adults hurt children because (as Aaron recounts their excuse) "well we just can't work it out".

Nope! Sorry! These are children's lives. You brought them into your marriage, and yes you can work it out. In fact, you must.

End of short rant for tonight. Pray for a renewed understanding of marriage and of sacrificial love in our culture.

*Name changed unless he chimes in! :)

Related post:  Women: Save Your Marriage. In Five Minutes.


  1. We're living in a culture in which things are thrown away and not repaired... And people have the same attitude to marriage vows...
    I like to tell young people that if they see a married couple who have lived together for, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years and one can easily see that they do love each other, it is not a coincidence or they are not "lucky" to have such a marriage - it is the result of their struggle to overcome their own selfishness and to build love day by day.

  2. That is sad, but even I have observed that dichotomy. Then after watching the divorces, it's the re-marriages. I hate the phrase "starter marriages." Marriages are suppose to be forever. It is disheartening to see so much divorce around. It is life affirming to see couples renew their vows or have their wedding anniversaries celebrated at Mass. I was so blessed when my parents celebrated their 40th anniversary at Mass. Even though my mother passed away a year later, I will always have that joyful memory with them and relatives. I thanked them for staying together, so I didn't have to have divided holidays. They were a couple who were still holding hands after four decades of marriage. I'm not saying it was all roses and rainbows from what I observed. I have friends who have been heartbroken after a divorce. So sometimes my peers who have witnessed the heartbreak of divorce of others are afraid to get married to avoid that heartbreak. Who wants to go through that heartbreak and horror of divorce? Hate that some of us are talking like divorce is inevitable (sp?).


  3. I agree completely. But I do think it's harder today on couples. There is so little support for marriage in society. There's support for fairy tale endings, and the belief that you shouldn't have to work hard to have everything you want fall into your lap, and that once the ring is on everything will be perfect, and there's also the contradictory belief that marriage kills romance, that it's for people to use each other, and best avoided. I didn't understand when I was growing up how truly blessed I was that my parents were married (and are still married - 28 years.) One time my parents had an extended argument - I forget about what - and I remember suggesting to my mom that maybe she should leave (should I have to say that I was 13 or 14 at the time? ;)). My mom looked me in the eye and said, "That's not an option for us." My parents aren't Catholic, but they knew what a commitment marriage is. I just saw that most of my friends had two houses and they "seemed just fine." But it's not fine. When they started getting married, they had parents using their own children's weddings to fight with each other. They're putting off children because they don't want grandchildren to be the next pawns in fights that have gone on longer than the marriages did. Marriage is wonderful, but it is work, and I can't imagine trying to build a life with someone when the people who are supposed to be helping you - who are supposed to be your role models - are actively working to tear it down.

    I don't say that to excuse couples who end up getting divorced, for whatever reason it happens, but I don't think these types of pressures were common in decades past. I think they make marriage harder, and our society lies and says there's an easy way out. I get disgusted listening to the radio and hearing the ads for divorce lawyers. It's all about turning the person you love into a thing - in those ads, a golddigger or a cheat or a fun ruiner (especially if she dared to have children - as if she did it all by herself), and even in supposedly pro-marriage messages the idea that this person will be your entertainment, your fun, and make all your problems go away. That's not marriage, that's narcissism.

  4. As a very flawed women inside a Catholic marriage--I've got to say, I have problems too. It's not that I'm not stupid, insensitive, and sometimes amazing selfish in my relationships with my husband and my children. I sin. The difference is that my Faith gives me tools to better myself. There is a standard on how to treat each other--with kindness, patience and love. There's a place--Confession--where I have a personal, one on one time to talk intimately about my relationship problems. I can't even describe grace--it's supernatural.

    Divorce doesn't shock me anymore. I think it's truly impossible to have a lifetime commitment to another without massive help from God. I'm amazed at how often grace helps couples get over tough problems and helps them reach 50 years more in love then when they were newlyweds!

  5. "...would you rather have two parents living together, at each other's throats all the time - or two separate but calm homes..."

    Because this example doesn't sound like abuse, here's a suggestion: How about one parent zips it, and stops going for "the throat all the time"? One person can be a catalyst for peace in a party of 2. That's taking care of half of the problem right there.

    "Separate but calm homes" isn't even reality. Severing marital ties does not suddenly = "calmness" and tranquility for all parties involved. That's a nice sounding slogan for happiness, but there are too many variables to consider and not enough equations to solve for "calm". How would one measure "calm"? Is the only factor for calm the parents' vocal range? Is a child calm within his spirit after a divorce, or aren't his feelings a variable to consider for "calmness"? Is everything "calm" when he gets shuttled to mom's new house or dad's? Is everything "calm" because the kid can pull good grades, despite the angst they're suppressing inside?

    Convenient pro-divorce slogans without self-reproach: "Amicable divorce", "Calm divorced home", "Kids will adjust, they are resilient". There's plenty more. None of them pan out to any kind of calm utopia for all parties involved in the (now) broken family's future.

  6. Thank you. This is the lie children in the 80's and 90's were told when divorce. It's definitely a false dichotomy. If you really must have stats and studies to "prove it"... studies show that over 90% of marriages who report being unhappy report being happy 5 years later (if still together). Of course, "happiness" isn't always the highest goal, but a lot of folks who are miserable do eventually find happiness when they stick it out. Also, studies show that children of a "friendly divorce" in some ways show more damage than those who have a clear-cut reason (abuse, violence, rampant infidelity).

  7. Sorry... SO tired... lol... I meant to say "when divorce was becoming 'the norm' in our society:.... toddler screaming, gotta

  8. For those who are struggling in their marriages, the book "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman has been instrumental in saving marriages for over 25 years. Check it out and make sure you are trying to love your spouse they way he/she needs to be loved!

  9. I can't remember where I saw this Bible verse, as I had run across it "by accident"; but I remember I read about it a day after my husband told me he wasn't sure if he believed in the Catholic Church anymore, making me doubt in him and our marriage: "Wives must stand with their husbands no matter if they should even cheat; marriages must be worked out." This is a paraphrased but I will try to find where I found that because I'm sure people will have a hard time with this phrase. At any rate, it was what I needed to hear--that you can't end a marriage based on a problem (I am not talking about abuse and neither was this passage) but it needs to be worked out. Marriages these days end at the first moment of hardships these days.

    And my husband is doing better with his faith too.

  10. I don't buy it either. I have a brother who married his bride when he was 20 and she only 19. They've been married 13 years this coming September. Has it come up roses every day of their marriage? I doubt it. But they did what was right and they've worked it out.

    I also have a brother who had marital troubles (wife's infidelity) BEFORE any children were involved. And they are now still married, 15 years later, with two children. Many people told my brother he should have divorced (including some family members), but he worked to repair the damage he'd caused before the infidelity and both he and his wife have forgiven each other and have made a life together that glorifies God.

    People just need to behave like adults and do what they committed to do.

    1. I also know someone whose spouse struggled with pornography. This hurt the marriage greatly, but they stayed together. God blessed their efforts and today, their marriage is stronger than ever.

  11. Also, as a child from a divorced home...that BS about it's better to have parents who are happy was so NOT HELPFUL. It clearly states that "happy parents" is much more important than "happy children". Gah! What utter nonsense, this "happiness"...

    1. Amen. It's really a subtle way of saying parents' (temporary) happiness is the priority.

  12. I worked with a young man who had married young, had one child, then divorced within 10 years. Both he and his 1st wife remarried and were by all accounts very happy in their new domestic situations. Excepting, of course, their daughter. She was acting out, her grades slipped, she was uninterested in her activities. The parents took her to family therapy. The girl finally revealed her anger at her parents' divorce and second marriages, where she had gone from an only child to one of 8 children in the combined households. Her new stepfather had primary custody of his 4 children and her new stepmother had primary custody of her 3 children. The adults had arranged weekend visits so that the parents all had every other weekend child-free. This poor girl no longer had any alone time with either parent and was actively abused by her stepsiblings at her mother's home and passively abused by the stepsiblings in her father's home.

    Sadly, the parents felt she just needed to get over it (they did address the stepsibling abuse issue). *They* deserved their happiness. *They* deserved alone time with their new spouses. I guess the child deserved nothing.

  13. My parents just celebrated their 40th this past weekend. My dad summed it up best - "40 great years, and it gets better all the time!" I am so grateful for their commitment and fidelity to one another - it really set a great foundation for my own marriage - there are tough moments, but you don't give up. You work it out, and you apologize when you make mistakes. I know it was work, and I heard arguments and fights, but then there were the times I'd hear my dad making jokes and my mom giggling. What a joy it is to see them now. Best friends.

    I've heard so many adult friends say something along the lines of "well, it took a long time to get over it, but..." and it's clear they are still not "over it". They still wish their parents had stayed together.

    I heard some great advice recently too - if you fight in front of your children, apologize in front of them. They need to hear and see you forgive one another.

  14. I have found the Bible verse that spoke to me that day after my husband told me he wanted to leave the Church, so this is a verse only specific to this example: "...and if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to go on living with her, she should not divorce her husband. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through the brother. Otherwise your children would be unclean, whereas in fact they are holy." 1 Corinthians 13-15

    In this case, I admit (to my shame) that I was considering leaving my husband, only because I was so devastated. I felt in a way, betrayed and I wasn't sure how our marriage could survive with only my faith alone. I know now how wrong and arrogant I was to think in this way, and God helped me see it through this Bible verse.

    It also goes on to say for those who are willing to stay married but the other spouse decides to leave: " IF the unbeliever separates, however, let him separate. The brother or sister is not bound in such cases; God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband; whether you will save you wife?" 1 Corinthians 15-16

    1. Becky, from the latter scenario derives the Pauline Privilege in tribunal cases. Someday I will do a post on all that, ha ha! Someday!

    2. Pauline Privilege? Is that something to do with annulment? That's very interesting to me. If you get the chance I'd love to read a post about annulment!

    3. Julia, technically not annulment. The Pauline Privilege (named after St. Paul, fro the quote from Becky above) refers to two unbaptized married people who are in a valid, natural marriage (not sacramental, which can only be between two baptized Christians). If one of the parties converts and is baptized after marriage, and the other party refuses to accept it and live peacefully, then the bishop can give permission for the baptized party to marry a Christian, if the new Christian asks for marriage in the Church. That is roughly the story with the Pauline Privilege.

      With the Petrine Privilege, it's the Pope's (and only the Pope's) jurisdiction to dissolve a valid, natural marriage (NOT sacramental) between a baptized Christian and an unbaptized person (even if the marriage was performed in the Church). Since it was not a sacrament (that would require two baptized people), then man can dissolve the union, but again, only the Pope can give that declaration (Petrine = Peter).

      Hope that makes some sense!

    4. In other words, Pauline Privilege is invoked for a marriage between two unbaptized people (non-Christians), and a Petrine Privilege is invoked between one baptized and one non-baptized person (a Christian and a non-Christian).

  15. Leila, this is OT but I just read about the priests shot in Phoenix last night. I just wanted to offer condolences to the whole community. We have FSSP priests here, too.

    1. I just woke up to the news. These priests were the priests of many of my friends. A huge tragedy. Thank you for prayers:

  16. My life was worse after my parents' divorce. All their animosity was out in the open at that point -- they weren't hiding it from us anymore. My parents' families didn't try to hide it, either. I remember witnessing a screaming match between my mother and my paternal grandfather about where we were going to spend Christmas. There was another huge fight when my brother decided he wanted to live with my dad instead of my mom. I had to have two separate receptions after my confirmation because my dad's family refused to even enter the house I lived in with my mother. And while my mom may have been happier after the divorce, my father was miserable and it hurt me to see him that way.

  17. I say this all the time, the only difference between couples who stay together and those who don't is commitment. That's really what it is. Because otherwise, wouldn't we all be gone at the first sign that we are "unhappy"? Such a sad generation we are, so weak.

  18. Child of divorce, product of two "separate but stable homes."

    "Separate but stable" sounds a bit like "separate but equal"... hmmmm...

    And I say Amen to everything in your post. Shared custody never ends. Every holiday, every vacation back home, every weekend when I'm juggling phone calls to two "homes," every time I have to decide which set of grandparents should take the kids to do this or that special thing... I get mad all over again. Let's not even talk about the guilt-inducing Mother's Day/Father's Day thing, where each "set" of parents expects some sign from me that FOUR PARENTS IS TWICE THE FUN... not so much.

    If the repercussions were only one generation, heck, I'd probably be "over it" by now. But the fact that this decision affects MY kids, despite my efforts to maintain a stable, happy, married home for them... maddening.

    1. Monica - you just described my life too!! Yes, yes, yes! The fragmented reality NEVER goes away. I was just buying FOUR Father's Day cards the other day (pricey.. don't even get me started on budget) because I have a dad, a stepdad, a father-in-law and a hubby... thank goodness Dh's parents are still together or that would just be too much. And the deciding who to spend time with, holidays with, etc. We could literally do *nothing else* but "dates" with the grandparents if we committed to seeing each set once a month... all the weekends would be booked. Don't get me wrong, I love large families, but with divorce and remarriage, the entire family doesn't get together at once... it's a separate relationship with each "side." The "kids" pay forever (and I am not even trying to promote being bitter, I *love* my stepfamily, it's just sheesh, when I watch my in-tact in-laws interact, it is SO much simpler, happier, easier).

  19. This breaks my heart so much! My brother never married the mother of his twin daughters, because as the two parents had both been deeply hurt by being abandoned by their respective first spouses they had announced that they did not need a piece of paper to prove their love to one another. Well, sadly, this summer will mark two years since they have separated and their daughters' lives have been completely shelled and turned upside-down. There is so much hurt and animosity trickling throughout our family now and even attempts that I have made to try to remain in loving communication with my nieces' mother has been attacked by my brother and our mother. The idea that couples "split up", like a sheet being neatly split in two is not accurate. It is more like a bomb going off with shrapnel and broken little people lying in the wasteland. I thank God so much for the graces he bestows on marriage, without them I know that there is no way that the weak, impatient, selfish, sinful creature that I am could ever have made our relationship last! To be clear, my husband is a good, decent man - no abuse, addictions, adultery issues here.... we just experience the normal ups and downs of any family. Too many times I would have quit had I not found myself on my knees and praying for my heart to be changed instead. Without knowing the love of God, how can we love our spouses? I suspect God is the heavy lifter in all successful marriages. I pray for all of the children of divorce that God's love is able to provide them with the true peace, security, and love they need. "though a mother forsake her child, He will not abandon you."
    Sorry for my rambling thoughts, so much goes through my head whenever I read about a divorce :(


  20. Oh my gosh, my readers are a fount of wisdom! I am hanging on every word. I don't have any experience with divorce and I cannot begin to imagine how differently things would have been if so. I feel so terribly for the children. There is no private sin. It affects everyone, down through the generations as folks are saying in these comments, in ways I hadn't thought of.

  21. I hate to read all these posts from children of divorce. It is so sad how the effects of divorce last a lifetime. I married into a divorced family, and the children have suffered and continue to suffer as adults. My husband can't even speak of the day his family broke up. It is too painful 25 years later.

    I agree that the typical "lost that loving feeling" split is due to parents thinking more about their own needs than the children's. All my sisters-in-law had dysfunctional teen years. You can't tell me that it had nothing to do with not having their Dad in the home. My MIL expected them to accept her new husband as "Dad". It doesn't work that way.

  22. A big problem is that a vast majority of people enter marriage seeking "happiness." Engaged Encounter and Marriage Encounter taught us that "happiness" is NOT the goal of marriage, but rather, UNITY. Happiness may come as a RESULT of unity; but realistically, "happiness" is a FEELING...and feelings come and go.

    Try to tell this to two starry-eyed kids in the midst of young love, and the odds are good that they won't hear a word of it.

    My wife and I had a very difficult couple of years some decades back, and I won't deny that the thought of divorce crossed my mind. What caused me to back away from it? Admitting my own BIG fault in the problem in the sacrament of penance, AND to my wife, and asking forgiveness. I was left with a certain sympathy for couples who have seemingly insurmountable problems; but even with a couple of relatively brief separations, I could see the harm that it was doing to our daughter; I pray that she--now 31, married, and a mother of two--has healed.

    As for us, we're at 36 years and counting...and there's a lot of grace flowing :)

  23. Priscilla, that is so sad! And Paul, congratulations on 36 years! You said:

    "Try to tell this to two starry-eyed kids in the midst of young love, and the odds are good that they won't hear a word of it."

    That's why it's so important to teach children from the very earliest years that love is not a "feeling" but a choice. And then model it for them. Those two things can be a huge protection against the corrosive culture. No one has an easy marriage (well, almost no one). Most people wonder at some point or another if they married the right person and "why the heck did I choose him/her???" It can get very bad. But yet those who persevere will triumph. Kids can be raised to see that we must never give up, and we must always choose to love. That's why raising children in the Faith is so important. And living the Faith.

  24. Divorce shatters children. It shatters their very sense of self, in fact. As an adult child of divorce, I can honestly say that after 26 years I have never, ever gotten over my parent's divorce. It took a HUGE amount of GRACE and probably a small miracle for me to even find the courage to get married. My husband's parents are still married (though they have their fair share of problems - who doesn't ?). We alternative sides to spend holidays with and let me tell you. Going to see my side is WAY more stressful. I always realize after we get home how stressful it really was after leaving my side. My divorced parents are both remarried but live in the same town. Do you know how utterly unfair it is to have to cart toddler grandchildren between homes on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day after you already drove them cross country? And they have nap schedules? Forget unfair, it is just plain "Unfun." I cannot imagine how it would be if we all lived in the same town. It would probably be worse. It would never, ever end.

    I honestly struggle to this day against bitterness and judgement toward my parents, which I feel is also wrong. But they still will not speak to one another. I actually dread the day I have to explain to my girls (ages 3 and 4) why their grandparents are living separately. I simply do not want them to ever know what divorce is. Sigh.

    I would like to say, if anyone out there is reading this contemplating divorce, or knows someone who is ... and if you have even the slightest concern for children involved, please talk to children of divorce. Ask them honestly what their experience was like. Then listen. REALLY LISTEN. You may just hear that those children often felt a tremendous sense of burden to take care of their own parents at too young of ages. To meet emotional needs of broken parents is not the job of any child. It is unfair for any spouse to wash his or her hands of marital problems and then just hand it over to the child to deal with the rest of their life on this earth. And yet is that not what people do when they divorce? They just say, "Well, I am done with your Dad/Mom. But good luck to you since you are stuck with him or her." That is so unfair on so many levels.

  25. The effects last forever as every one above has stated. My husband's mother has been married 3 times. My husband has his biological father, his step dad and now who he calls his mom's husband. When we visit, we visit THREE families. And we're expected to pretend they are all the same. How is that even possible?! And the effects trickle into our marriage as husband's default position is to want a divorce after any argument little or big. He thinks more clearly when he calms down, but the anger from his childhood takes the lead in his arguments and he explodes (not physically, but emotionally). Thankfully, he knows he doesn't want his childhood nor his anger for our children, so he tries. Of course we fail, but we keep trying and working together. We have a long way to go...only in 8 years of the 60+ we plan on :), but we'll keep chugging, because in the end it will always be worth it. For our kids and for us.

  26. Thanks so much for this post, Leila, and thank you to all who have commented. My husband and I have been going through an exceptionally hard time lately. We have only been married 6 years and have already dealt with job loss, breast cancer as well as alcoholism. Somewhere in between there, we managed to have 2 children as well. As I said, we are at a point where we are REALLY struggling right now. I have never thought of divorce as an option, but I have thought that I might just be living in a miserable marriage for the rest of my life. I've been doing a lot of praying (mostly to St. Monica - patron of difficult marriages, alcoholics and patience) and between that and the comments to this post, I am starting to feel a bit of hope that things will work out. Thanks for the reassurance that I am doing the right things by praying for my husband and our marriage. Thanks also for the hope you have given me that "this too shall pass." I needed to hear this today.


    1. Substance abuse, physical abuse, personality disorders are very different reasons to separate than "not feeling it anymore". These very often require physical separation for emotional and physical safety. You aren't obligated to stay in a harmful enviorment for the sake of your children. They might be harmed more by substance abuse than a separation.

    2. Danger is a reason to separate, of course. I am not sure she is in danger; we didn't get that info. If not, then working for healing is best (even if that requires some periods of separation). We'd have to know more. I am glad she has some hope now, because honestly, so many in our culture lack hope.

    3. CCS, if you need someone to talk to privately about the substance abuse issue, I'm a good listener, and have been through it myself.

      Perhaps the bits I've learned could help you, and save you some trouble. The first priority is writing out all the issues, then creating a thorough solution for each one. It CAN be done, I promise. We can figure it out together, and get your husband back.

      Email me if you'd like, okay?

    4. I just wanted to put that our there. I have no idea what her situation is. I don't like divorce, but I understand when it can be necessary.

    5. Wow, thanks so much for your concern. But as Leila mentioned, I didn't give all the information. I am the one who is the alcoholic, not my husband. I will have been sober for 2 years next month. My life has been leaps and bounds better since I have sobered up, but my relationship with my husband just seems to get worse. I feel like he doesn't know how to "deal with" a sober wife. I think back to the things I used to do while I was drinking and I can honestly say I would not have stayed with him through that. Things were bad . . . and yet, he acts like nothing even happened. He thinks I'm "better" now so all is well. I have encouraged him to attend al-anon meetings, but again he says there is no problem now that I'm sober. There is obviously much more to this story, but too much to type out here. Suffice it to say, we are going through a BIG rough patch. I sometimes wonder if I hadn't been drinking so much, would I have chosen him to be my husband?

      As I said before, I never thought divorce was the answer to this, but with his denial of there even being a problem, I was beginning to feel like I just have to stay in a marriage where my feelings were being ignored. This post has given me hope that maybe with love and prayers, he will come around and fight for our marriage with me. St. Monica pray for us!

    6. What would you have him do differently?
      He obviously loves you to stick it out through the previous rough patches. I bet he's willing to hear you out.

    7. What do I want? I want him to fight for our marriage. I want some romance. He used to be the “hero” that would swoop in and save me when I drank too much and got into trouble. Now I don’t think he quite knows how to deal with me since I don’t need “saving” anymore. But just because I don’t need saving doesn’t mean I no longer like romantic gestures. I’d love for him to do something, anything romantic for me. Flowers, a nice card, a note to say he loves me, etc. I have STRONGLY hinted that he do these things for me – reading the kids books that have flowers in them and saying loudly, “Wow, do you think daddy might bring flowers to mommy for her birthday?” When he didn’t bring me flowers for my birthday, I straight up told him that I really wanted flowers for our anniversary. He didn’t get me flowers for our anniversary AND he gave me a funny joke card instead of writing any feelings of love in it. Of course he still wants sex so I guess I’m just feeling like he still finds me attractive, but I’m not feeling the love anymore. You mentioned that he must love me to stay with me through all the drinking – and yes, it is true I felt loved while I was drinking. But now that I have stopped drinking, I am feeling like he is still attracted to me, but I don’t feel like he loves me anymore. (Not saying he DOESN’T love me, just saying he’s not expressing it anymore and I am yearning for it). There are many things I am willing to do to save this marriage, but I am NOT willing to go back to drinking. That was an awful way to live.
      And with the kids . . . I love my children and I’m so glad mommy is back and is capable of taking care of them. BUT - some days I need help. I feel like he thinks he is “off duty” now that I can properly take care of them. Again, I am happy to do it and I feel honored to be their mommy and that God would grant a screwed up drunk like me such an incredible gift in those two boys, but I need a break sometimes. I am often so overwhelmed with taking care of the kids, working full time, getting to AA meetings, keeping up the house, etc that I feel like I may have a nervous break-down sometimes. I’m so grateful that I have a wonderful mother who helps me.
      Yes, I have told him how I am feeling and I guess he just thinks I’m being hormonal (we have a 9 month old baby who I am still breastfeeding) or that I’m joking because he usually just laughs it off and acts like it is not a real problem. I realize that I am the one who has changed, not him. I realize I put him through hell with my drinking. I know this can’t be easy on him either, but I’d like to at least see a little fight in him.
      Anyway, sorry for the rant. I never anticipated sharing so much on this forum, but it has been a bit cathartic. As I said, my mom has been extremely helpful to me and she is helping me find a good Catholic couples counselor. With counseling and the help of God, hopefully I can get through to my husband. I really do still love him – I just hope he still loves me . . .

    8. P.S. In AA they tell you not to have any expectations and that by having the expectations I have of my husband, I'm setting myself up to be let down. It is true - I have been VERY let down because of my expectations. But letting go of those expectations is what was leaving me feeling hopeless that I was stuck in a marriage where I'm not getting any help and not being shown any love . . .

    9. CCS, it sounds very much like he loves you, even to the point that he cannot see that there is a problem (other than he thinks you might be hormonal). I am guessing he is not fighting because he doesn't think his marriage is in danger?

      Please, if nothing else, will you go to the library and check out this book?

      I am telling you, it has saved countless marriages, in five minutes time, in your own home, in your own chair or sitting on you couch. I am not kidding. It's like an epiphany for women. Assuming your husband is a decent man, this is the book you cannot afford to miss. Trust me.

      And, congratulations on your sobriety! I had a weird feeling that you were the one who is the recovering alcoholic, since you didn't mention that it was him. You have done something amazing! And Andrew, perhaps you should consider becoming a counselor? Great question you asked.

    10. CCS, now THAT's the kind of reply I was hoping for.

      It looks like you've got the problem all mapped out. You're also well aware that drinking is the one thing to avoid, despite your husband suddenly feeling like a hero with no damsel to save anymore.

      First, I'd read the book Leila recommended.

      Secondly, you know your husband better than we do, but with most men, hints won't work. (they don't with me, either, for some reason)

      So Option 1 is take the Direct Approach.
      Take his hands, look into his eyes, and tell him point blank that you need some PASSION right this instant. Heck, throw in a good long kiss with it and see where things go.

      Option 2 is the opposite. Make him work for it (even just a little bit). Like the good old days, when he was a younger man hunting for your affection. Often with marriage, the sexual conquest part goes stale. So keep that fresh instead.

      Also consider, maybe he's losing luster with age. Work, kids, gray hairs. They take it out of a man.

      So remind him why he wanted you in the first place.

      Hit the gym, or go for a run. Either on your own, or together. Turn yourself into that sexy gal he couldn't resist all over again. You don't need a 6pack for him to want you. Even just breaking a sweat and smiling more could wake him up again. :)

    11. CCS - I think I kind of get what you are saying regarding him not seeing a problem. Alcoholism in so many ways is a relational condition... those who surround the person struggling with alcohol take on certain roles that they may become very comfortable with even if those roles are painful... it gives a sense of identity, of purpose... I've even heard of loved ones trying to prevent treatment! It was too scary for them. If it's any consolation, though, a lot of these issues also just sound familiar! I am part of a large Mom's group where these complaints and stressors come up all the time...especially how some moms seem to take on everything at home! It sounds like there is a lot of hope for you two, just that it's going to take time - this is a major adjustment period. Hopefully at some point he might consider al-anon too, but really, I second Leila's reading suggestion, it might really ease this transition time and soften your feelings for each other!

    12. Thanks again for all your concern and suggestions. Andrew, I think you kinda missed my point about romance, but it has given me a glimpse into what "romance" means to a man. Maybe my husband and I are just talking past each other on that one. At any rate, I have no doubt that my husband is physically attracted to me. I need to know he is emotionally attracted to me. But again, your comment made me realize that maybe I'm saying one thing to himand he's hearing another, so thanks for that!

      Sarah, thanks for your input too. It's good to hear that some of my issues are just "normal people" issues. I know the alcoholism isn't my fault and I did not ask to be an alcoholic, but sometimes I still blame myself for the choices I made. It's good to know it's not all about the alcoholism and that "normal" couples have some of the same issues.

      And lastly, Leila, I have put in a request for that book at the library. Apparently it's quite the popular book because all the copies are checked out and there is a wait list to get it. I'll get it eventually and hopefully I can carve out some time to read it. You mentioned that I may only need 5 minutes, so here's hoping :)

      Thanks again everyone for all your care and concern.

    13. Yes, it's a very quick book to read! You will start to see the light after about five minutes, but it may take you a day to read the book. :) Very quick read, and you will be engrossed!

      As for romance, we women tend to want things of our man that are akin to what is seen on chick flicks or romance novels. Some have called that "female porn" as it puts very unrealistic expectations on very good husbands. They really don't think like we do, and it's okay. God made us different, and we have to embrace those differences and love each other anyway. ;)

      I'll be praying for you, and please report back once you have read the book!! I had forgotten that I did a follow-up post on that book recommendation and here it is, full of really great and hopeful responses!

    14. Although, now that I re-read what you and Andrew both said, I have to agree that Andrew didn't get your point. You are already able to get sex from him, and he's attracted to you and has that passion for you! You are asking for things like flowers and notes and little gestures of love that are not just "sex" or a prelude to sex. Andrew, comment?

  27. Wow, these comments restored some faith in humanity for me today.

    The 'society of throw-it-away instead of fixing it' comment earlier was spot on.

    We can save marriage one discussion at a time. Instill the proper meaning of the word to our children, and turn this ship around. Marriage requires some real work, maintenance, and love. Like anything that really matters.

    -Your 20-something pal, 'Aaron'

  28. Thanks, Andrew!! See what you started?? ;)

  29. A bridesmaid at a wedding I photographed last weekend had a tattoo with the quote "To thine own self be true".

    I wanted to ask her "What does that mean exactly?" How does it work in relation to our pursuit of Truth in religious matters, and in the context of our relationships with our spouses and children, when we are called to make routine sacrifices for the well being of our loved ones? Does being true to thine own self mean all of us have our own system to of what's good and right and worth pursuing, depending on how happy it makes us, all else be damned? If others happiness is of equal significance, then isn't that quote phrased badly? Do I have a personal truth that is greater than actual, universal Truth? Am I my own God?

    At any rate, if she was my bridesmaid, I'd have required a bolero to cover that tattoo during my wedding Mass. It seems to contradict my faith and my vows.

  30. Sweet jane, no kidding, sheesh. If that motto is worth a permanent tattoo, I do wonder what she means by it and how she lives that out. I would steer clear of her if I were a marriage-minded man.

    Priscilla, you are right. Even the Church acknowledges the place for civil divorce in order to protect a spouse or children. It still does not dissolve the marriage in the eyes of God of course, but civil law can protect, even as a valid sacrament cannot be broken by any man (even the pope). The annulment process can look at that aspect and see if the sacrament was never valid in the first place. Then there are Pauline and Petrine Privileges, as some non-sacramental marriages can be dissolved by the bishop or the Pope (stress on "non-sacramental"). Gosh, I have been meaning to do a post on annulments, etc., for years. Maybe someday….

  31. Leila, please do that post on annulments! I would love to learn more about them because it seems they are granted almost as a matter of course which is really concerning to me. I just don't quite understand how it can be possible that so many marriages just never were real marriages to begin with (is that not what an annulment really means? That it was never a valid marriage to start with?)

  32. I read an interesting article several months ago about a new "trend" in divorce, I think it was called bird nesting or something... where there is a shared "home" where the child lives permanently, and then an apartment where the parent who is not on child duty stays. So the child has a so-called stable home, and the parents move back and forth every other week or whatever the arrangement is. It was brought up on a homeschool forum I read, and the response was overwhelmingly- "That is unlivable! That is impossible! Imagine the inconvenience!" - My reply was, "Well, now you know how children of divorce feel!!!"

  33. Marriage is hard, but worth it with kids involved. My DH and I both have divorced parents -- which is a risk factor for divorce, you are more likely to stay married if your parents have never divorced -- and we've definitely had struggles. I've done a lot of reading on marriage rates, and it's really very complicated as to what keeps people together. Conservative, Bible-belt states have the highest rate of divorce. The lowest rates are in the Northeast. Divorce is HIGHLY correlated with income -- couples are far less likely to divorce if they have incomes over $75K. Catholics have the lowest rate of divorce of the major religious groups (tied with Lutherans), which seems to indicate that even more secular, less observant Catholics (as in the Northeast) have more commitment to marriage (pre-marital counseling is often cited as a factor). But Asians have the lowest rate of all ethnic groups. Conservative evangelicals have high rate of divorce, higher than other Christian groups and higher than agnostics and atheists. Also, college graduates -- of all ethnicities, faiths, etc. -- have a much lower divorce rate than non college graduates. I put this all out there because I think divorce is FAR more complicated than a throw away culture or selfish adults. I don't think low-income people or non college grads are inherently more selfish, yet they divorce at much higher rates.

  34. LifeHopes, yes, an annulment means a marriage never actually took place. Part of me is appalled that the annulment rate is so high in the US; another part of me realizes that so few people come to marriage with an understanding of its permanence and meaning that of course there are so many annulments. It's a tough situation.

    Monica, great point!

    Jessica, it's very fascinating! But doesn't it still all boil down to what I mentioned earlier? The only difference between people who divorce and those who don't is commitment? If a couple is committed, they don't divorce. I know there are factors that go into why people remain committed or don't, but ultimately, wouldn't almost everyone be divorced if they did not understand that they were making a commitment for life?

    I actually almost gasp when I realize how many Catholic make their marriage vows (VOWS!) before God Almighty, and they don't really mean them… not really.

    And actually, the same could be said about baptism vows. I was guilty of being a mom who didn't really care much about the baptism vows I made before God, because I wasn't going to mass and I didn't obey the moral law. So weird to look back on it. What was I thinking?? A vow before God, and I was so lackadaisical.

  35. The American situation is different than many other parts of the world. First, there is no dominant Catholic culture here. In previous generations, Catholics usually married Catholics within their own ethnic group. Everyone knew you got married for life.

    Now, Catholics don't live in ethnic enclaves as previous generations did. They often marry non-Catholics. Many of these non-Catholics come from backgrounds where divorce is permissible under certain circumstances,

    Secondly, the marriage culture has changed dramatically with the advent of no-fault divorce. Most people getting married today were born during the decades in which divorce was common and acceptable. Catholics aren't completely immune from absorbing the culture. That's where good teaching on marriage must come in during the teen years.

    Finally, I'd venture to say that many of the people seeking annulments are coming from secular and non-Catholic backgrounds in order to marry Catholics. Hopefully, the tribunals take that into consideration when looking at the validity of marriages. I'd say that most non-Catholic marriages are not valid when using Catholic criteria to judge (most protestants allow divorce and remarriage).

  36. You are absolutely right about the scourge of no-fault divorce. Absolutely devastating to families.

    As far as the tribunals, there is (in my understanding) no separate criteria for non-Catholic marriages. A marriage between two baptized Protestants (assuming they were free to marry in the first place) is as much a sacrament as two Catholic marrying in the Church (even if the Protestants don't understand marriage as a sacrament). The same impediments would have to be there for a declaration of nullity to be given. But you are right that a lot of the non-Catholics bringing their cases for annulments have circumstances that may make it easier to see that it was not a valid marriage to begin with -- maybe they had multiple marriages, maybe they had married a Catholic outside of the Church previously (and that would be invalid since the Catholic has an obligation to marry in the Church), etc. For Catholics who want to get right with the Church, the annulment may be no more than a "quick form" acknowledgement that the Catholic had never validly been married before since it was performed outside the Church. In those cases, it's not like a declaration of nullity for a (presumed) sacramental Church wedding (which can take years to get through the tribunal, and often for good reason).

    Sin and the fallen world complicate everything, sigh….

  37. "The only difference between people who divorce and those who don't is commitment?"

    I see the general principle here, but I don't know about the broad application. This would mean that those spouses who were actually committed, yet were left for another, are somehow implicated as not committed, when they really had no option.

    "If a couple is committed, they don't divorce. "

    On the whole, when you're talking mutually desired divorce, I agree, Leila. Yes, if *the couple* is committed, they don't divorce.
    But a truer picture includes the ones who did not want a divorce, yet found themselves in that situation. Divorce discussion has to include the exception: those who are divorced who do not wish to be. They were committed. Yet, they were left.
    Reconciliation and re-commitment to the marriage weren't even options. I would say we have to include this, when we're talking why or how divorce occurs.

    1. Nubby, thanks for making the clarification. Absolutely, 100% agreed. When I said "a couple is committed", I literally meant the couple. Both spouses.

      If a spouse is abandoned, that is a tragedy -- the faithful spouse can be completely committed, but it takes two.

      So, yes, that clarification is incredibly important!

  38. I don't get all this annulment business (separation for abuse I do get). If you're Catholic (or non-Catholic marrying Catholic), you had to go through marriage prep to even be married in the Church. The priest would normally make sure that the conditions for marriage are fulfilled (he can't be sure of course, but the couple cannot claim ignorance). But even if the marriage is invalid in the Church's eyes, the kids are still there. Do they really care whether the marriage was valid or not? They will be devastated either way. So I don't understand how there can be so many annulments, which often really are only sought to marry another (next blow to the kids). I'm surely missing something here. I hope it's not just a fine theological point. Kids have a right to their parents (barring abuse), so the parents better get their act together, valid marriage or not. And I wish the Church was clear on that.

  39. Sebastian, you make a very good point. I can't argue with that.

  40. A man I knew said he put new tires on his wife's car before winter in the Midwest because she has a long commute. That IS love. Nothing romantic or pretty about tires, but the taking care of her safety is an act of love and a sign of a gentleman.

    Regarding bridesmaid with tattoo - yes, I think tattoos should be covered up in church.

    Regarding that particular tattoo - I see that quote as sticking to your values and not giving into peer pressure to do dangerous things or the evils of society. I think it would be wrong for a marriage-minded man to pass her over. Instead, if you're a guy, ask her about it. What was she thinking when she got it? Maybe she'll reveal something substantial about herself. Maybe you'll get to know her on a deeper level instead of just judging her by her appearance. People go through phases and stages in their lives plus there are fads and some are silly. Look deeper.


  41. And then there is me. Getting involved in a relationship and having a child out of wedlock. I knew it wasn't the right relationship and shouldn't have gotten involved. I knew we would separate and the thought of marriage made my heart scream "NO" I couldn't get married. I felt it would actually have been a mockery of marriage, since I would be getting married knowing that we would separate. He was/is venomously anti-religion. Talking about God to the children is like a form a child abuse. We are separated and it is difficult. I still think that for the situation it was what was best for the children. The relationship was emotionally abusive with the possibility of it being more. The children actually have a better father now and we are free to talk about faith. And for myself I'm happy being single and will probably remain so.

  42. Lena, good point!

    Chantal, you were right not to marry if you could not fulfill the requirements of a true marriage. But I am confused… do the kids have a new father now, but you did not marry at all?

  43. When a couple stays together, even without care and respect, I agree they are modeling commitment for their children, and that can be a helpful thing. But is it a good thing to show their children, day after day, a relationship where there is no tenderness? Every situation is complicated; in some instances it might be the better choice to stay married no matter what. But it isn't always.

    There are people who are glad their parents got divorced--it was so much more peaceful than feeling the tension between them.

    I don't agree with, or understand, the negativity toward no-fault divorce. I think the real problem is that getting married is so simple. People can get married in 15 minutes in a drive-through chapel in Las Vegas. Does it make sense to say that anyone with a marriage license should stay together for all time?

    Or maybe you're just saying they should stay together if they have children? I get confused about Catholicism's rules about matrimony vs civil marriage. It is only against Catholic doctrine to get divorced from someone you married in the Church? I think you explained all that already--I haven't'read the whole thread carefully and maybe the answers are already there.

    If getting a marriage license is so simple it should be simple to get out of it. Maybe it shouldn't be so simple to get married.

    Some random thoughts.

  44. Johanne, thanks! Actually, I think this is also a false dichotomy:

    "There are people who are glad their parents got divorced--it was so much more peaceful than feeling the tension between them."

    Again, there is a third choice: The adults get it together.

    I don't know if I have ever met anyone personally who wished their parents would get divorced if there was not something horrific going on in the house. Looking at the comments above, and from all my experience, I don't think that's common at all. "Hey, there is no tenderness between my parents; I think we need to break-up our family." I think the children would prefer tenderness to no tenderness, of course, but my goodness, that is a high bar to keep a marriage together! If we are not tender, if there is tension (what marriage doesn't go through that?), then we divorce and the kids will be relieved. <--- that does not make any sense to me.

    My husband was the product of a very non-tender marriage. They had a very tense and unhappy marriage. In no way would he have preferred to have been raised in a divorced home. They divorced when their two kids were adults, and Dean has been forever grateful for that.

    Marriage should be permanent, especially because marriage is about children (there would be no reason for this universal thing we call "marriage" if humans reproduced asexually and children took care of themselves from birth). It's a little confusing to write out in a combox, but sacraments cannot be undone. If two Christians are married validly, there is no power on earth that can undo that (Jesus said, "What God has joined, let no man separate"). But non-baptized persons also can have valid (if non-sacramental) marriages. I spoke a bit about that above in the comments. All marriage should be taken seriously, and should be considered permanent. If we had a society that took marriage seriously (as seriously as societies should and as we used to), then there would be fewer children adrift and hurting.

    So, you are right that we seem to get married too quickly. But I promise you, folks would get married less flippantly if there were no no-fault divorce (which mostly has hurt women and children).

    Bottom line: Sin causes hurt. Sin is the reason for suffering in personal relationships. Let's get rid of the sin, not the marriage.

    Yes, please do read the entire thread. The comments are painful, but enlightening. No one prefers their parents get divorced. They want their parents to be adults, and do the right thing. That is something we do not stress in society anymore, by a long shot. It's why we are sinking, and fast.

  45. No one prefers their parents get divorced

    I have trouble with these sweepings statements: because they're not true. Some people do want their parents to get divorced. It's sad, but it's true. How can you speak for every person on the planet who has parents?

    And this:
    "Again, there is a third choice: The adults get it together."
    I think that is a preferred choice but in many cases it's not a possibility.

    For two people who once loved each but now feel strong antagonism--it takes enormous maturity, sacrifice, and commitment to spend years together, ignoring their natural needs for intimacy (no longer met in the marriage).

    On the other hand, it takes about five minutes and requires no maturity whatsoever to create a pregnancy or to get a marriage license. Therefore there is no logical reason to assume that any person who has a child and is married has the ability to be committed, to make sacrifice, to be generous toward their children, or be emotionally mature on any level. It's sad, but it's true.

    So in many unhappy marriages there may NOT a choice to "get it together," even if the intention is there.

    I think the most helpful thing to do is prevent the situations from happening--discourage people who don't want children from having intercourse.
    And make it less easy to become married.

  46. "I think the most helpful thing to do is prevent the situations from happening--discourage people who don't want children from having intercourse."

    On this we can agree. Unfortunately, the culture has swung to the extreme of encouraging casual sex, and even expecting it for teens (and in the case of Planned Parenthood and its many, many ideological allies -- even encouraging teens to have
    "fun" with sex and sexual exploration). So, we have a huge problem. If the culture at large respected marriage again, saw it as something serious and permanent, we'd be in a better place. No fault divorce is a scourge, and again, if that were not available, there would be countless fewer divorces.

    I agree that the level of immaturity and selfishness today makes many people unsuited for marriage. It's a tragedy. You will be happy to know (I think!) that in my diocese, there is a nine-month marriage prep requirement for couples. It's quite thorough (my husband and I go over the compatibility evaluations with couples in our parish, and that is one small part of the overall program and prep). In most diocese in America, the marriage prep requirement is six months at least.

    "No one prefers their parents get divorced"

    When I said this, I said it as a generalization. We have to generalize or we cannot speak (see below). Yes, I am sure that there are kids who would prefer a broken family, being shuffled between two homes all week, spending holidays apart from a parent or with new step-parents and step-siblings they just met, or spending the rest of their lives even into adulthood with the stress and tension that many of my readers described clearly (and similarly!) above -- all to get out of a house where the parents are not "tender" to each other or where there is tension (your scenario).

    Yes, there may be children who want that. I don't know who they would be, but yes, I cannot speak for every single child on the face of the planet.

    But when I say things like that, it's like when I say, "Nobody likes eating bugs!" Clearly, some people do like eating bugs, but I think people get my general point. I wrote something about generalizing a while back, and every now and then I throw it out, because I think it's important:

    Anyway, I hope that doesn't come off as harsh. I just woke up, and I never know exactly how I come off when I am still half-zombie-like. ;)

  47. Lelia,

    long time reader, first time commenter.

    Although I'm completely in your camp -- we need a renewal of hearts and minds about marriage - I couldn't help but feel a wee bit uncomfortable when reading your post.

    I came from a divorced family. I saw first hand the heartache and turmoil that affected all of the children. I vowed as a young girl that I WOULD NOT do that to a family.

    Fast forward to my early twenties. I got married right out of college, after a whirlwind courtship -- we went through Pre-Cana (a joke in my area), compatibility testing (FOCUS, I think) as well as private instructions/meeting with our priest. I had been baptized Catholic, but not raised in the Church. Our marriage prep was a combination of private RCIA and the other prep work.

    My marriage fell apart after my oldest daughter was born, for reasons I'd rather not discuss publicly, and after a year of therapy, talking with our priest, we divorced. I was heartbroken. This was not in my 'game plan for life'.

    I started working on my annulment packet after a year or two. Boy. That's a giant undertaking, as you're answering deeply personal questions about your family background, your relationship, your spouse's relationship, etc. I could only digest it in small doses.

    Long story short, I was granted my annulment, and went on to marry again in the Church, adding 5 more sweet babies to our family. Having gone through the annulment process, I realize that I shouldn't have gotten married the first time around. I carried an amazing amount of baggage from my childhood and wasn't emotionally mature enough to be married. I've been in therapy for years, learning to deal with the aftermath of my childhood, learning how to set boundaries and put healthy coping skills into practice.

    So, where does your comment leave people like me?

    "Nope! Sorry! These are children's lives. You brought them into your marriage, and yes you can work it out. In fact, you must."

    I tried to work it out, and failed. Then, I followed our Church's teachings and moved on, still caring for my daughter. I remarried, and am living out my vocation as a wife and mother.

    Does that make me a 'selfish adult'?

  48. Dianna, it makes you someone who lives in a fallen world. I have helped two friends (very close) work through their annulment paperwork. I have watched their children suffer, as neither one wanted to do this to their children, and would have worked it out if possible. Their children have definitely suffered. But the annulments were granted and they were warranted. No doubt about it. Still a complete tragedy for the children and yes, for the single moms. They have not had easy lives at all. I won't get into the details of course, but red flags everywhere.

    I don't expect you to answer personal questions (not my business to pry!), but I guess my general question to something like this is was the man a decent man? Did you both try to work it out? If you were trying and he wasn't, then yes, I can see why it could be impossible to keep together (in some cases, the men simply leave…). If both husband and wife are (as my original post stated) "responsible and stable", there really is no reason that two people who chose each other and also brought children into the world would not be able to work on themselves and become better spouses. It is an act of the will, no? If not, then what is our faith? I want to really stress that I understand if both parties are not willing. It can be impossible to make it work if both parties are not working together, if they do not make a decision that they will commit and stick it out and get through the tough spots.

    Again, I am assuming there is no abuse, and that safety is not an issue. I am also assuming general decency on the part of both adults.

    But please know, I have seen myriad bad marriages, and I love the people involved. There are no perfect marriages. And if it gets to the point where it cannot be worked out (due to abuse or one spouse unwilling), then yes, a Catholic has the right to take it to the tribunal for investigation.

    But it's still a tragedy. Not a positive good. Especially for the children. I hope we can agree on that.

    1. I should clarify: The friends I helped with annulment issues are two women, not a "couple" themselves… So, it was two separate marriages/divorces I'm talking about.

  49. Again, I need to clarify to be crystal clear. Innocent parties are abandoned. In these cases, or cases of abuse, things cannot always be worked out. The innocent party (or the one trying to work it out) cannot do anything to save the marriage if the other party leaves. That is the true evil of no-fault divorce. It often leaves the innocent spouse (meaning, a generally decent spouse, who does not want a divorce) with no options. It makes marriage disposable. This idea that because we are "unhappy", we are justified in leaving and trying again… it's corrosive. It's not Catholic. It's not reality. Marriage is not about romance and butterflies. But if only one spouse is willing to try, and the other leaves, then what can one do? It's a helpless situation…

    Okay, off to mass. I hope I was clear. If not, challenge me and I will try again.

  50. Leila
    Are annulments less damaging to children than divorces?

  51. Johanne, an annulment process cannot even be commenced until and unless a civil divorce has already been granted. So, it's hard to say, since the family is already broken. I think the fact that an annulment process is begun is already a tragedy. But if there were no annulment process, the divorce would still have happened, so to the child, the damage of a broken family is already there.

    The Church's role in annulments is simply to hear the case of a divorced party who is convinced that the sacrament was never valid in the first place. It is a difficult, often multi-year process (an investigation) that is arduous and emotional. It seeks to get at the truth of the bond. But it's not for the faint of heart. Not a quick and easy thing, like a divorce. During the process, it's not like the couple is together. They have already split. And if the tribunal were to decide that the marriage bond is sound, it could in no way force the couple to move back together or remarry, civilly. It is very unlikely that they would end the separation. The broken, divorced family would continue on that way. Very sad all the way around.


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