For the last two weeks, we’ve been examining the problem of divorce, its nature and it’s causes. Last week, we looked at “7 Worldly Wisdoms.”
Today we will seek out the cure.
1. “He who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47).
A heavy weight of grudge, complaint, injustice and remembered wrongs can sink any marriage. Wrongs remembered in times of anger are fuel thrown on the fire. Take time in prayer to recall old wounds that you haven’t healed and set them before the cross. Everything in marriage should be brought to God — whether it is something as trivial as laundry left undone, or something as serious as adultery.
Real forgiveness, like real contrition, expects no recompense: If you have forgiven, you will not be bitter about being the one who had to forgive. Rejoice. Marriage gives us many opportunities to cash in on God’s promise that we will be forgiven as we forgive.
2. “Love issues from a pure heart” (1 Timothy 1-5).
Be chaste in thought and in deed. If you rehearse adultery in the theater of your mind, you will find it difficult to resist temptation when it comes. Pornography, prurient entertainment and steamy romance novels all replace your real spouse with a figment, a sexual automaton who possesses no personality or needs beyond your own.
If your spouse is involved in these behaviors, be gentle and patient: They may be compulsive, and quite humiliating.
3. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Work together, play together, relax together, fight together — and make sure that you make separate time for each of these activities. We are often inclined to try to do the wrong things at the wrong time. If you want to rip your husband’s head off and eat it with ketchup, it isn’t the time to fight. Go calm down, then go for a walk in the park, or take the kids to the zoo.
When you’re getting along again, then it’s the time to talk about the problems in your relationship and get them resolved. I suspect that most divorces are the result of couples littering the floor with each other’s emotional entrails when angry, and then trying to keep a tight-lipped peace when they’re not.
4. “Pride goes before destruction” (Proverbs16:18).
No divorcee is ever responsible for the divorce. If they committed adultery, it was because their husband was distant and emotionally abusive. If they asked for the divorce, it was only after years of putting up with their wife’s frigidity. Marriage requires the humility to admit that you are wrong. Say, “I’m sorry,” and don’t add a “but …”
Remember that pride is the invisible vice; you can see it easily in others, only with difficulty in yourself. Frequent the sacrament of confession and get into the habit of knowing your own faults.
5. “The measure you give will be the measure you get” (Mark 4:24).
Money is always a means to an end; people are ends in themselves. It is therefore a severe perversion of the moral order to allow money to undermine a relationship. Put first things first.
If you tithe, give alms, lend to those who cannot repay you, and invest your treasure in your faith and your marriage instead of your property, then God will provide you with everything that you really need (and often with much more). Have faith in divine Providence, and there will be no need to fight or worry over money.
If your spouse cannot do this, don’t fight, and don’t worry. Discuss it reasonably and charitably and let them have their way. Better to lose your house and gain your marriage than to surround yourself with baubles and lose your spouse.
6. “Whoever would save his life will lose it” (Matthew 16:25).
If you cling to your spouse, and try to hold him captive with threats of private detectives, or with the latest tricks from the magazines at the grocery counter, you will suffocate your marriage.
Be faithful, and trust your spouse to be faithful. It is much more difficult to disappoint someone who loves and trusts you than to defy someone who holds you on a leash.
7. “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
Be open to filling your house with children. A child is an incarnation of your love for each other. They confirm that love, and each one is an incarnation of a different aspect of your union.
If this has not proved true in your marriage, spend more time really interacting with your children (i.e. not watching television or playing video games with them, or watching them inertly over a frazzled cup of coffee). You will find in them a reflection of the spouse you fell in love with, and they will find in you an image of God’s unconditional love.
Melinda Selmys is a staff writer