The Rise of Divorce
March 17, 2015
Filed In: Church and Culture
I've recently started working on a family genealogy project. In the past, I hadn't much cared about my family's history beyond my grandparents, but lately I've become fascinated with our family's story. I'm basing all of my research around Benedict as the starting person and am excited about the journey that this is taking me on. While many of the discoveries have been very exciting, I've noticed something else that's rather tragic. In keeping with what I suspect is par for the course today, in the last 115 years, it's nearly impossible to find any branch of my family within two generations that hasn't been touched by divorce.
It's obvious that divorce today is far more prevalent that it has been at any another time in history. As we struggle to understand or even remember why we have marriage as a societal institution in the first place, it has become more and more socially acceptable for couples to end their marriage for even seemingly petty reasons. This rise points to the need for more education before engaged couples tie the knot.
In the United States, no-fault divorce laws are a complete train wreck. From the very beginning of this legal concept, we've progressively eroded away societal pressure for couples to stay together, even when things are difficult. In most cases, fights and disagreements can be worked through, although it may require outside professional assistance and a substantial amount of time. No-fault divorce laws create in our minds the notion that when things are difficult, it'll be easy to just quit. This notion reflects an innate immaturity that's wholly incompatible with the reality of marriage. There are valid reasons to divorce a spouse when the Sacrament of Matrimony was invalid in the first place, such as spousal abuse, addiction, or other impediment. However, no one will argue that all divorces in this country are based on these serious situations.
If we want to have a healthy marriage culture, and in turn a healthy family culture, we need to get back to basics. We need to learn how to communicate again. I have no objection to the innumerable ways we can communicate today and I use many of them to interact with Alison every day. However, when you're in a fight, you need to use words and not a text. Spouses have to speak to one another. We've forgotten how to use our words properly and constructively. We need to learn the art of communication and use it to prevent fights from starting in the first place.
We also need to educate young people. While we need to talk to our kids about possible vocations to the priestly and religious life, we also need to recognize that the vast majority of our kids are called to the married life. Marriage is a vocation that's just as important, just as holy, and just as much a calling from God as a vocation to the religious and priestly life. We have to talk to our kids about the beauty of marriage, the struggles of marriage, and the importance of marriage.
The prevalence of divorce only gives rise to more divorce. By understanding what marriage is, by getting back to basics, and by forming in the minds of young people the correct vision of marriage, we can reduce the divorce rate and enjoy the societal benefits of strong families.