At the swim meet this week, I was visiting with a gentleman in our neighborhood that we know just a little better than we know others. I asked where his lovely wife was and he pointed her out across the pool and said she was his wife no longer. She had evidently asked him for a divorce. He didn't offer any reasons why and I didn't ask! He kept the house and the kids because that made more sense financially since he was the only one working. He did at least say that he hadn't wanted the divorce.
My response is the same one I would give if someone told me their mother had just died. "I am so sorry!" When we say our vows we become "one flesh". For that flesh to be riven apart is the same thing as a death. I've had this same conversation before in the neighborhood except that the husband told me it was okay; he was moving in with his girlfriend. It shocks me, and it breaks my heart to hear people speak so cavalierly about the end of their marriage. I know that not everyone feels as Catholics do, that marriage is for life, but it still surprises me.
I know there are sometimes very valid reasons that people divorce, and I wouldn't want anyone to feel judged. I've talked with this couple on many occasions and found them both very personable and likeable, but it's impossible to know what goes on inside a marriage or what baggage people bring with them to a marriage.
We didn't have any pre-marital counseling before our wedding, and I brought a LOT of baggage with me. I'm very grateful for all the graces we've received to help us over the rough spots! We also spent quite a few years giving the infamous sexuality talk at our parish pre-Cana program. In so doing, we sat through many pre-Cana sessions to make up for what we hadn't gotten before our own wedding. We had lots of opportunities to learn and practice fair fighting! I wish that real marriage counseling, like Pre-Cana, was a requirement for everyone, not just Catholics.
Do you think you were prepared for marriage? Since my own mom had been divorced twice, I knew that I didn't know how a good marriage should work, but I was determined to do everything in my power to make it work!