Category Archives: Divorce

'Til Death Do Us Part, or 3 Years, Whichever Comes First

Yesterday we told you about two competing perspectives on marriage – one focused on the desires of adults, the other on the needs and rights of children. In the end we talked about marriage as the social fabric that holds our culture together.

Well today, here’s another set of competing perspectives: Is marriage a permanent commitment or simply a commodity to be tried out on a leasing basis, like a car or an apartment? From the deep south of all places comes the idea of the ‘marriage lease’, as Fox Memphis reports:

WedleaseWhat if marriage was like leasing a car?

After a couple years, you could renew the relationship or just walk away, with no fuss. A Florida lawyer says now might be the time to consider short-term marriages.

In other words: a wed lease.

Read more here.

4 Factors of Marriage That Can Never Be Abandoned

Ryan Anderson, William E. Simon Fellow at Heritage and co-author of What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defenseprovides enlightening insight about the four key marital norms: the sexual complementarity, monogamy, exclusivity, and permanence of marriage, and what happens when they are abandoned.

The Heritage Foundation:

...No-fault divorce was the first major trend to undermine a strong marriage culture. Now the effort to redefine marriage away from male-female complementarity has gone even further in abandoning the central characteristics of the institution. But if the law redefines marriage to say the male-female aspect is arbitrary, what principle will be left to retain monogamy, sexual exclusivity, or the expectation of permanency?[2] Such developments will have high social costs.

Young CoupleIdeas and behaviors have consequences. The breakdown of the marriage culture since the 1960s made it possible in this generation to consider redefining marriage in the law to exclude sexual complementarity. And that redefinition may lead to further redefinition.

Indeed, these new concepts make marriage primarily about adult desire, with marriage understood primarily as an intense emotional relationship between (or among) consenting adults. This revisionism comes with significant social costs.

Redefining marriage to say that men and women are interchangeable, that “monogamish” relationships work just as well as monogamous relationships, that “throuples” are the same as couples, and that “wedlease” is preferable to wedlock will only lead to more broken homes, more broken hearts, and more intrusive government. Americans should reject such revisionism and work to restore the essentials that make marriage so important for societal welfare: sexual complementarity, monogamy, exclusivity, and permanency.

Revitalizing Marriage Requires Sacrifice, Effort

The National Review Online’s (NRO) Kathryn Lopez interviewed Hilary Towers, a developmental psychologist, about “how we can better support and protect marriage as a culture and in communities.” The resulting article, “A Guide to Saving Marriage,” provides some surprising and many insightful results.

A recurring theme from Towers is that successful marriages demand hard work: “Young people, in particular, deserve to hear the truth about what to expect from a vocation to married life at this time in history. It can be the most fulfilling, joyful part of your entire life, and yet it is so very hard! At some point (and for many couples, extended periods of time), it will hurt if you’re doing it right. It will hurt because a part of yourself will be continually dying in order to give life to your spouse, to keep the marriage alive and thriving.”

Towers continuously challenges the status quo, or so-called conventional wisdom, including the two most common views of divorce, “either as two impetuous adolescents in adult bodies who argued too much and made the best choice to move on, or as two unfortunate souls who simply ‘fell out of love.’” Instead, she believes there is a third, more accurate view for the prevalence of divorce and its negative impact on culture, particularly our children: spousal abandonment.

Bride and Groom

She describes the cycle: “A couple is married with children. One spouse is frequently…from a home where one parent abandoned the other. Their level of conflict is within the range of normal. There are no red flags that the marriage is floundering until around the time when an adulterous relationship begins, and at some point is revealed.”  She goes on to point out that the family of the offending spouse then encourages—tacitly if not explicitly—to abandon the marriage, thereby perpetuating a cycle of abandonment.

Cohabitation before marriage? Towers tells Lopez that it makes the eventual nuptials more unstable, “…cohabitation before marriage is associated with higher divorce rates, a greater proneness to infidelity…Cohabitation is the common thread of instability that runs through each of the alternatives to a lifelong, monogamous married life.”

Pornography and same-sex marriage are also covered in K-Lo’s eye-opening interview with the developmental psychologist, who unequivocally states that the former has no redeeming value to a marriage, “The verdict is [in] on pornography: Nothing good can come of it. Its sole effect is to destroy happiness and love.”

And on same-sex marriage, Towers is equally clear, “This debate isn’t about whether gay people deserve to be married. It’s about what marriage is. As Ryan Anderson says, one can’t really be in favor of a ‘square circle.’”  But she explains the need to speak the truth in love to those with same-sex attractions saying, “…We love you as daughters and sons of God; that we respect your right to be treated with dignity and respect. But in the recent words of Washington, D.C.’s Cardinal Wuerl, marriage is a ‘human community that predates government. Its meaning is something to be recognized and protected, not reconstructed.’”

You can read the whole interview here.

What Divorce Really Does to Children - in Their Own Shattering Words

UK Daily Mail has a heartbreaking article out today on how disintegrating marriages impact children, even well into adulthood. More often than not, divorce rips apart a child's world at a time when he/she does not have a voice or any control over the situation, and that pain can last a lifetime. Another example of adults prioritizing their own desires over the needs of children. And in a way, denying basic common sense that children need and deserve both their mother and father in their lives. Sound familiar?

"If you're divorced, or thinking about it, their testimony will shake you to the core."

DivorceI can still recall the sight of my boy dissolving, sobbing, still not believing that his parents would no longer live together.

I remember the message he recorded on his little cassette player, how he begged his dad to come back - and in turn the hackneyed platitudes delivered by the man who never understood, never wanted to understand, what he did to his child. 

The children in this documentary seemed like castaways, hungry and thirsty, dying to speak to someone about what happened to them and ask their parents questions still  left unanswered.

...I did my best to protect and steer my son through our divorce, but all too rarely are children caught in the middle of a divorce told why it is happening. And while some parents claim such an attitude is to protect them, in reality, of course, it's the adults whose interests and emotions are protected.

Conversations, you see, mess up game plans. They interfere with personal freedom and gratification. And induce guilt, that irksome emotion, for which there is no place in our modern world.

Separation, lone parents, remarriages, and the ensuing step-parents and siblings - the after-effects of divorce are now part of the fabric of 'normal' family life.

Read the full article here and get more info on filmmaker Olly Lambert's documentary, Mum and Dad are Splitting Up, on the BBC.

Divorced Man's Top 20 Things To Do Differently in Marriage

A little mid-week marriage inspiration:

After his marriage of 16 years ended, Gerald Rogers wrote on Facebook the 20 things he would do differently if he had his time over again with his now ex-wife.

"Obviously, I'm not a relationship expert," Rogers begins. "But there's something about my divorce being finalised this week that gives me perspective of things I wish I would have done different ... After losing a woman that I loved, and a marriage of almost 16 years, here's the advice I wish I would have had."

Couple on Beach1. Never stop courting. Never stop dating. NEVER EVER take that woman for granted. When you asked her to marry you, you promised to be that man that would OWN HER HEART and to fiercely protect it. This is the most important and sacred treasure you will ever be entrusted with. SHE CHOSE YOU. Never forget that, and NEVER GET LAZY in your love.

2. Always see the best in her. Focus only on what you love. What you focus on will expand. If you focus on what bugs you, all you will see is reasons to be bugged. If you focus on what you love, you can't help but be consumed by love. Focus to the point where you can no longer see anything but love, and you know without a doubt that you are the luckiest man on earth to be have this woman as your wife.

3) Fill her soul every day… learn her love languages and the specific ways that she feels important and validated and CHERISHED. Ask her to create a list of 10 THINGS that make her feel loved and memorize those things and make it a priority everyday to make her feel like a queen.

4) Forgive immediately and focus on the future rather than carrying weight from the past. Don’t let your history hold you hostage. Holding onto past mistakes that either you or she makes, is like a heavy anchor to your marriage and will hold you back. FORGIVENESS IS FREEDOM. Cut the anchor loose and always choose love.

If you are reading this and find wisdom in my pain, share it those those young husbands whose hearts are still full of hope, and with those couples you may know who may have forgotten how to love. One of those men may be like I was, and in these hard earned lessons perhaps something will awaken in him and he will learn to be the man his lady has been waiting for.

The woman that told him 'I do', and trusted her life with him, has been waiting for this man to step up.

If you are reading this and your marriage isn’t what you want it to be, take 100% responsibility for YOUR PART in marriage, regardless of where your spouse is at, and commit to applying these lessons while there is time.

Finish reading Gerald Rogers' list on his Facebook page.

Why Is It So Difficult to Discuss Marriage?

As a forward to the 2006 book "The Meaning of Marriage", prominent ethicist Jean Bethke Elshtain, who passed away earlier this week, wrote this insightful piece on the marriage debate.

The Public Discourse:

One reason, of course, is that we all have a stake in the debate and its outcome. No one is left untouched by marriage, including those who never marry, because marriage is such a pervasive institution in our society. One recent estimate indicates that 88 percent of women and 82 percent of men will marry at some point.

Don't TalkGiven the importance of marriage as an institution for individuals and for society, the thoughtful citizen has every reason to expect, and even demand, a deep and thoughtful debate as the precondition for any change in how we understand marriage and encourage it to take shape. One need only reflect on previous alterations in the regulation of marriage in order to understand that changes in marriage law have consequences that intellectuals, politicians, and citizens alike should think through thoroughly before endorsing.

When one looks back on the debates that took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s over changing the divorce laws of this country—leading to the wide-scale institutionalization of no-fault divorce—there was much debate about the rights of women stuck in unhappy marriages. There were few serious discussions about what effects no-fault divorce would have on the institution of marriage; how social perception of marriage as a normative institution would subsequently change; how its purpose in society might be altered; what historical and philosophical roots anchored the movement; what effect widespread no-fault divorce might have on how we raise children and prepare them to become responsible citizens. Certainly people did not consider the negative impact no-fault divorce would have on women themselves!

But we have now learned that divorce is strongly associated with the immiseration of women: studies indicate, for example, that between one-fifth and one-third of women fall into poverty in the wake of a divorce. At the time, there were a few who argued that no-fault divorce would have significant social repercussions, but the ensuing highly-charged debate, again narrowly cast in terms of individual rights, muted their voices. Any opposition was construed as anti-feminist, despite the fact that many of the concerns expressed were precisely about the well-being of women who faced divorce.

...Responsible social scientists and political theorists always caution that major social change—and same-sex marriage involves something more basic than no-fault divorce—always trails negative unintended consequences in its wake. It follows that this recognition, for which there is a mountain of compelling evidence, should caution us to move with great care if we aim to alter the fundamental human institution that has always been the groundwork of social life.

When Our Laws Start Losing Sight of Children

Alex Saitta writes a thought-provoking letter to the editor of the Easley Patch this week, pointing out what happens when our laws start catering only to adults and ignore the best interests of children's when it comes to their growth and development.

GirlThe arguments for gay-marriage and abortion are fundamentally flawed because both put the rights of the adults ahead of those of the children. Adults create our laws and naturally have written them to benefit adults and the point of view of the child has been given too little weight. That’s wrong! This would be like the captain of the Titanic saying adults off first; leave the children behind. Children need to be thought of first.

You can see this clearly with the abortion issue. The abortion debate has devolved into what is best for the mother or “father”. Birth is not about the adults, but the life of a new child. In the case of abortion the mother and father walk out; the child is killed. If children made the laws, it is safe to say abortion would be illegal.

Looking at the same-sex marriage issue, we don’t have to look far to see what happens when society gets careless about the togetherness of parents and their raising of children. Just look at the divorce craze that began in the 1970’s. So called sociological experts of the “me” generation said if you aren’t happily married, leave your spouse, and all will be better off. As the trend unfolded, marriage was further trivialized with the onset of terms like the “starter marriage”.

Today what we see in the wake of the divorce craze are millions of broken families, millions more children and their offspring suffering from emotional and psychological issues that prevent them from reaching their potential in school, their careers and even their personal relationships. That’s what happens when marriage focuses on the adults and loses sight of the children.

Likewise, those advocating gay-marriage, it is all about them – the adults. The children are secondary. Just look at the recent Supreme Court case. It dealt with gay couples having a claim to their partner’s federal benefits. When the focus of marriage turns to the adults and adult issues, and it is no longer about the children, the children suffer.

Oklahoma Introduces Bills Aimed at Keeping Married Couples Together


"..."Till death do us part... not till difficulties do us part," says State Sen. Josh Brecheen, R- Coal County. He's going after the number one reason Oklahomans are filing for divorce-- incompatibility. In his proposed bill, Oklahomans would have the option of choosing a "covenant marriage."

"When they choose the option of a covenant marriage, they will go through four hours of premarital counseling," says Sen. Brecheen. If you want a divorce from a covenant marriage, you and your spouse would be required to take six hours of counseling, spread out over a three-month period. "We're not saying they can't get a divorce. We're saying we're going to slow down the process and make it much more thoughtful," he adds. But, that's not all. If you still don't want to stay together after three months of counseling, you would have a one-year "cooling off" period, before you could be eligible for divorce. "This is light. Other states require two years in a cooling off period. This bill just says one," says Sen. Brecheen.

"My heart really goes to the kids," says State Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman. He says marriage in Oklahoma is easier to get out of than a Tupperware container, so he's also proposed a marriage bill. "My legislation would require 30-minutes of education," says Sen. Standridge. Under his bill, if you have children, a divorce would first require a 30-minutes pre-divorce education class to be taken individually, plus a four-hour post-divorce co-parenting class. "It's mainly about making sure the parents get along and that the children have the best co-parenting environment that they can have," says Sen. Standridge.

UK Gay Marriage Bill Also Would Redefine Adultery and Sex

As these provisions make clear, redefining marriage redefines other core values our legal tradition has traditionally inscribed in marriage law:

Under a long-awaited bill allowing same-sex couples to marry, only infidelity between people of opposite genders would count as adultery in divorce cases.

It means that people in a same-sex marriages who discover that their spouse is unfaithful to them would not be able to divorce for adultery – unless it was with someone of the opposite sex. 

Equally, it makes clear that straight people cannot accuse their partner of adultery if they discover they had a secret lover of the same sex.

It comes after Government legal experts failed to agree what constitutes “sex” between same-sex couples.

The bill also makes clear that gay couples would not be able to have their marriage annulled on grounds of non-consummation for the same reason.

Lawyers and MPs said the distinction over adultery created inequality between heterosexual and homosexual couples in the divorce courts and would lead to confusion.

They said it made it likely that adultery would simply be abolished as a grounds for divorce – either through Parliament or the courts. (UK Telegraph)

Maggie Gallagher: To Transform the Culture Christians Must Live Up to Their Marriage Vows

Maggie Gallagher writes in Town Hall about the scandal of Dinesh D'Souza:

"...Adultery is a grave sin for Christians, but it's the sin of giving yourself a partial excusal from the sacred marriage vow -- of unilaterally taking back the gift of your body that you gave at the altar. So how exactly, from a Christian point of view, does breaking the whole vow publicly and explicitly make it better?

I could cite chapter and verse, but let me instead just cite a few examples from the studies published just this year on the harm that divorce causes.

A 2012 study in the International Journal of Public Health looked at 6,928 adults in Alameda County, Calif.. Adults whose parents divorce experienced not only “lowered well-being in adulthood,” but reduced “long-term survival.”

A 2012 study by Leslie Gordon Simons (et al.) looked at more than 2,000 college students: “Results indicate that respondents from continuously married families were more committed to marriage, and this commitment reduced the probability of risky sexual behavior.”

So Dinesh, by choosing divorce, you may not only put at risk your teen's life, health and faith in marriage -- but even her faith in God.

”Parental breakup is associated with religious decline among ... youth characterized by high levels of religious salience,” according to a March 2012 study by Melinda Lundquist Denton.

If we were really close, I would plead with D'Souza: Don't do this. Don't do this to your daughter. Don't do this to the wife of your youth. Don't do this to those former students of yours at King's College, young and idealistic and hopeful about marriage, scared and scarred by divorce."

Why Elizabeth Brake's "Minimizing Marriage" is Wrong

Scott Yenor reviews Elizabeth Brake's new book "Minimizing Marriage" for Public Discourse:

Elizabeth Brake’s Minimizing Marriage breaks new ground in the contemporary liberal critique of traditional arrangements. The object of her critique is what she calls amatonormativity—the belief that society should value two-person, amorous love relationships. Even same-sex marriage (SSM) advocates are too restrictive for Brake in that they would confer benefits on two people alone; SSM advocates are unwitting amatonormativists. Their defenses of marriage leave out “urban tribes, best friends, quirkyalones, polyamorists” and other diverse groups united by a common bond of caring. Brake argues for an almost complete disestablishment of marriage.

Brake’s argument for minimal marriage is both destructive and constructive. Rather than propose that we abolish marriage, Brake contends that we free ourselves of any demand that marriage have an approved form. Yet Brake’s minimal marriage does not abolish the function of marriage, though she thins out that function considerably. After attacking traditional normative beliefs about marriage, she constructs a new vision of marriage as an institution that fulfills, broadly speaking, the function of caring. States, in her view, should recognize and provide benefits to caring relationships.

Slate: Divorce Has Consequences

For a long time advocates claimed divorce had no permanent effect on children. Now we're acknowledging this isn't so. We shouldn't dismiss warning signs accompanying redefining marriage:

My friend Judy Wallerstein, who died last month at age 90, liked to tell the story of how she was drawn into the rancorous national debate on divorce. It was 1970 and Judy, a psychologist, had just moved with her husband and three children from the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kan., to Marin County in northern California.
... Judy went to the Berkeley library to see what had been written about how children react to divorce. And found nothing.

Given her initial idea that divorce may not be so bad, it's ironic that Judy became best known as one of the nation's leading critics of divorce. The heart of her findings:

  • The effects of divorce on children are not transient. They are long-lasting and profound, persisting well into adulthood.
  • The quality of the post-divorce family is critical. Parents are told "don't fight" but the issue is much bigger. Beyond custody and visiting plans, children need to be fully supported as they grow up. Few are.
  • Age matters. Little ones, ages 2 to 6, are terrified of abandonment. Elementary-school-age children, 7 to 11, grow resentful when deprived of opportunities they would have had if their parents had stayed together. Preadolescents, ages 11 and 12, can be seduced by what Judy called "the voices of the street." Many teenagers, taking on the role of parent, become overburdened.
  • Stepfamilies are laden with land mines that no one sees coming.

Second Chances was a best-seller, but reaction to Judy's findings was harsh. Parents did not want to believe it. Rival academics attacked her. Through it all, she stood up to her critics. -- Slate

Reforming Divorce: Changing Laws to Preserve Families

Deseret news:

"...advocates now hope to lower divorce rates through laws that slow the process — with some exceptions — and encourage couples who are waiting to use opportunities to improve communication and relational skills and hopefully reconsider.

Divorce-reform advocates are battling a cultural bias created by 40 years of legal precedent, concerns about increasing governmental involvement in private lives and the cost of seeking help. But they say this needs to be discussed to avoid more unnecessary pain.

... A 2008 study on the costs of divorce and unwed childbearing estimated that family fragmentation costs taxpayers $112 billion annually for things like food stamps, housing assistance, child welfare services and the justice system.

In a 2005 article in "The Future of Children," University of Pennsylvania sociologist Paul Amato explained that if children were to grow up in stable two-parent families at the same level as 1960 before the massive increase in divorce, it would mean 1.2 million fewer children suspended from school, 538,000 fewer acts of delinquency and 71,400 fewer suicide attempts.

Atlantic Profiles Same-Sex Couple Wed Last Year in New York, Already Divorced

The Atlantic profiles the rise of gay divorce where states have redefined marriage:

"...Soon after New York passed the Marriage Equality Act on June 24 last year, Katie Marks andDese’Rae Stage began planning their wedding day. A licensed masseuse and a photographer, both 28, the couple had been dating since 2008 and were already planning to get married — in Boston over the Memorial Day weekend of 2012 — but the euphoria of the moment moved everything forward. “It was kind of one of those things, to be a part of history,” Des says. On July 30, the first Saturday that gay marriages could be performed in New York City, Katie in a magenta dress and Des in skinny jeans and pink Chuck Taylors joined 23 other couples at the Pop Up Chapel, a one-day wedding event in Central Park, as part of New York City’s first wave of legally married gay couples. By January, though, things had started to come apart. Des and Katie have since separated and moved out of their Washington Heights apartment. They're now one of the first married gay couples — if not the very first — in New York to divorce. “I feel like I’m the president of the loneliest club in the world,” Des says. “I was the first gay person in my group of friends to marry, and now I’m the only gay divorcée I know.”

... On the sort-of-bright side, [Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights] adds, "I think we will continue to see people divorce. But nothing has humanized gay couples more than for straight people to realize gay couples need to divorce, too.”

... "We have 34 [gay divorce] cases right now in the office, compared to 150 [heterosexual] divorce cases,” says Raoul Felder, a New York divorce lawyer who has handled numerous high-profile breakups including Rudy Giuliani’s split from his wife of 18 years, Donna Hanover, while he was mayor of New York. [...] Felder added that gay divorces are currently "filtering down at a faster rate than heterosexual divorces.”

Liberal Writer Richard Kim: "I Want to Scramble" Marriage

Liberal writer Richard Kim of The Nation welcomes David Blankenhorn's defection on marriage as an opportunity to argue for further destabilizing marriage. For anti-marriage activists like Kim, nothing will ever be enough:

"...The primary difference, of course, is that Blankenhorn and I fundamentally disagree about what marriage should mean—for gays and straights alike. As the founder of the Institute for American Values, Blakenhorn has attacked single mothers, championed federal marriage promotion as welfare policy, railed against cohabitation and no-fault divorce and opposed access to new reproductive technologies. One of his institute’s latest crusades has been against anonymous sperm donors because it leads to “fatherless” children, an abiding preoccupation of his. Suffice to say, I don’t agree with any of this. I think divorce can be a great thing—as anyone leaving an abusive marriage might confirm. And I think all the debates over which type of family produces the best outcomes for children ought to be meaningless as a matter of state policy. Gay or straight, single or married, let’s try to create the conditions in which all families can succeed. Blankenhorn sees an inner circle of honor and benefits that should be attached to marriage, and he’s now extended that circle to include gays and lesbians. I want to scramble that circle."