Monday, July 9, 2012

When Divorce Isn't an Option

In a world where many people seem to have the mentality, "If it doesn't work out, we'll just get a divorce," the concept of marriage is changing. Instead of "until death do us part," marriage vows are becoming, "until it's no longer going well." My husband and I are still in the former camp. As Catholics, divorce just isn't an option.

A Permanent Union
In fact, we actually believe that marriage is a permanent spiritual transformation that happens between two people, in which, upon their freely given consent, God binds their souls together. Simply deciding to go their own separate ways doesn't change the fact that a married man and woman are "one flesh." This is at the core of the Catholic Church's teachings about divorce: we believe it's impossible for two married people to become un-married. (Yes, we believe in annulment, but that is a declaration that the two people didn't enter into marriage freely to begin with and therefore it never existed - not a "Catholic divorce.")

The Choice to Make it Work
As for my husband and me, we knew exactly what we were getting into when we got married, and so we are fully culpable for that un-doable decision. Is that a little scary? Yes, it can be. It opens up the possibility that we could take advantage of one another because we know the other is not going anywhere. We could feel trapped or question our decision to get married. Thankfully, those thoughts don't prevail in our case. On the contrary, the attitude that divorce is not an option ultimately creates a healthy, empowering, and reassuring atmosphere in our marriage.

Knowing that we will be together for life means that if something isn't going well, we have two options: we can either be miserable, or we can work through our problems. I feel such relief when my husband says, "Talk to me," when I seem to be struggling with something. When we've gotten into an argument, we come out on the other side with an apology, a conversation, and a plan of attack to keep it from happening next time. Knowing that we can't just escape our problems through a divorce keeps us constantly working on our marriage to make it happy and healthy.

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