I will pause a moment to let the collective gasp from everyone who has been living under a rock for the past forty years to reverberate around the room and die out. PAUSE. Okay.
Yes, folks, people like the staff at The Seattle Times are waking up to a fact that every child whose parents divorced for little or no good reason has known for years: Divorce sucks. It's bad for kids. It's bad for society. And - and this is the part that may make the demi-children called modern adults sit up and take notice - it's bad for those who are divorcing.
Oh sure, Seattle Times staff reporter, Kyung M. Song, starts with a disclaimer that what follows in the article will sound like a "conservative (boo! hiss!) marriage manifesto." I'm sure that he wants the readership of greater Seattle to know that he is just as aghast at these statistics as any good liberal should be. But wait (he implies)! Don't discount them just because you've heard "conservatives" touting them for years! This advice will benefit your health too! Tellingly, the article starts out by stressing all of the emotional and physical health risks to divorcing couples. Secondly (always, always secondly nowadays), he looks at the health risks to children of divorce.
Then, the article delves into risk factors for divorce. The predominant ones follow:
- Having divorced parents
- Marrying young (the article doesn't specify what "young" is, but seems to imply that it is under 20 years of age)
- Living together before engagement
- Being previously divorced or marrying a previously divorced partner
- Having a child before marriage (and to a lesser extent getting pregnant before the wedding)
- Being much older or younger than your spouse
- Marrying someone of a different race
- Following different religions or no religion
- Having low educational levels
Hmmm . . . My parents did not fall into any of those categories, except the religion one, and that didn't stop them from giving up after 18 years. Oh well.
My mom was married three times. According to the statistics of the article I read, this gives my marriage only a one in three chance of lasting. Baloney! I say. Seeing my mom and her failed marriages and all the emotional distress that she lived with day-to-day has only strengthened my resolve never, ever to divorce. Knowing what it was like to grow up as a child of divorce, knowing the heartache of living between two different houses, choosing constantly between my parents, having every cause for celebration (i.e. birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, graduations) become a cause for peeling off once again the scab over my wounded spirit, I will never, ever do that to Sadie. No! No! One thousand times, NO! To this end, I carefully chose a wonderful man as committed to marriage as I.
The opposite view from that in this article, one that may not be borne out in statistics, but one much more closely aligned with my own philosophy, is found in this wonderful closing paragraph from Emily Post's Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage (1965):
"At present, the breaking up of homes is so widespread it may be that those who grow up never having known the completeness of home will find it unessential. Or will it be the other way around? Perhaps the children of today's divided houses will be twice as earnest in their efforts to provide their own children with the priceless security of a father and mother together in one place called HOME!"
(I love that book! I have spent many a delightful afternoon pouring over it in a reverie of nostalgia. It totally rocks - especially compared to modern day Emily Post - which is a little too modern; proper manners and etiquette are timeless and should not be subject to the whims of vulgarity that infiltrate society for time to time. I'll stick with 1965 and earlier versions, thank you very much!)
Of course, the Seattle Times article loves to point out that really abusive or "toxic" marriages should come to an end, for the betterment of all. Duh! The problem is that, with no-fault divorce, any little reason has become de rigueur for unraveling the marital knot. Who hasn't seen their parents divorce for the nebulous reason of "irreconcilable differences" and wondered if it was simply because of boredom or something different, something darker? This vagueness in dissolution leads to children who do not know the line between emotional abuse and the normal back and forth, anger and reconciliation, of two people learning to live under the same roof. They end up thinking that anything other than constant bliss is a terminally troubled relationship. They see the wedding as an act of "perfection" and finality in the relationship between man and wife, and not the commencement of life-long refining and, well, tweaking that is really is. This lie of instant gratification is what is most "toxic" in marriage today.
The one divorce statistic that I have always found most troubling, that is not addressed in the article because it is not part of its scope, is the equal or higher rate of divorce between "born-again Christians" as compared to the rest of society. This is so distressing, because 1) Christians should be "set apart" from the world (John 17:14), 2) our lives should be reflections of Christ's infinite forgiveness and mercy ("Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16), 3) we should place others' (read concerning marriage: our children's and our spouse's) needs above our own selfish inclinations, 4) we should obey Christ's admonitions regarding divorce - His narrow standards for allowable divorce - one of the few social issues He commented upon directly (Matthew 19:1-9, Matthew 5:31-32), and 5) we should remember that the "Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce" (Malachi 2:16), which, really, should be enough to keep Christians from divorcing for any but the most dire reasons. Once again, just as in the human life issue, Catholics put all of us Protestants to shame.
Anyway, congratulations to The Seattle Times, for this revolutionary piece of reporting. Who knew that disregarding the sacred bond of marriage, which was ordained by the Creator for humans as being the best foundation for society since the dawn of time, would actually be a bad idea? Stay tuned for more cutting-edge investigative journalism that reports:
- The sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s was devastating for society, especially for women.
- Abortion kills actual human children.
- Abortion is bad for women and humankind in general.
- Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Savior of the World.
- Breastfeeding is the best way to feed babies.
- The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
- You should never wear white after Labor Day.
- Smoking is a primary cause of lung cancer.
- Chocolate tastes good.
These and other exciting reports coming your way from the daring reporters of The Seattle Times.