October 11, 2014

Divorce and the Respondent


"Do you know, daughter, for what reason I send crosses to souls dear to me? I desire to possess their souls, entirely, and for this I surround them with crosses, and I enclose them in sufferings and tribulation, that they may not escape from my hands; and for this I scatter thorns, that souls may fasten their affections upon no one, but find all con­tent in Me alone. My daughter, if you do not feel the cross it cannot be called a cross. Be sure that under the cross you will not be lost. The demon has no strength against those souls who for My love groan under the cross."  - Our Lord to St. Gemma Galgani (my emphasis)

Yes...carrying your Marital Cross for both you and your Spouse will be your beginning and what you will be doing until the end of your life. Assuming, of course, that you have not and will not ever fall prey to the god of divorce, that you have taken your vows seriously and will continue to live and to Honor them. Despite a Divorce. Despite any Annulment. Despite the modern world's ridicule of your choosing God over Man, Divine Law over civil law.

Prepare for your confidence in your Faith and principles to be branded arrogant; your challenges to marital solubility divisive. You will be called a liar by your children, mentally impaired by your spouse and a rigorist by your friends.  If you also start quoting definitive sources to validate your principles and positions - be it St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Matthew or Christ Himself - you will watch them walk away shaking their heads over your "obstinacy". Much like Our Lord had to endure when so many walked away shaking their heads after hearing His doctrine and Immutable Truth. 

Are you having self-doubts that you are right? Why? Your positions are all well grounded in Catholic Teaching, Canon Law and Christ's own words. And most importantly, you have the Grace of the Sacrament available to you if you call for help. You are armed to the teeth with the Objective Truth. You don't have a reason for doubt! YOU are right and your spouse is wrong! (See my previous posts here, here, and here.) Remember that Christ endured far worse than what you will endure, though please don't think I make light of the Cross you have been asked to carry (or may already be carrying.) I have friends who have been carrying this Cross two or three times longer than even I, and have endured far worse experiences. My sole point is this: that with Christ and the Saints on your side, why fear what man - or spouse for that matter - may do?. 

Robert Schuller, the televangelist and certainly not possessing of the One True Faith - once said a very Catholic statement: "Trust In God, Believe In Yourself, Dare To Dream". Regarding this particular matter, he is right - Trust in God as you have His firm foundation upon which to build your future - with or without spouse in tow. Believe In Yourself (read: Be Confident!) that your actions in defense of your marriage and your children are correct and in accordance with your Vow and your Vocation, though realizing also that you're going to make mistakes. Dare to Dream (and most certainly pray) the reality that you and your spouse will one day be re-united, if not on earth then certainly in Heaven. (She/He is still the Mother/Father of your children and deserves no less of your prayers to that end.) 


Get prepared to be financially raped, and the more children you have to support, the worse it will be. You will be ordered to give up two-thirds (or more, in some cases) of your pay to support your children (given willingly) and your disaffected spouse (not so much). You will be eating $.99 frozen dinners and discounted hamburger will become your Filet Mignon. You will spend more time than you should in front of the TV, as you will find it difficult to get up off your arse because the very incentive that drove you - your family -  has been unceremoniously stripped from your grasp. You will constantly berate yourself and claim sole proprietorship of this matter because you believe you have to (after all...you are the Head, right?) despite being told otherwise by your Confessor. Though you will eventually see the dawn of that particular Marital Truth, you will still have to fight to keep subdued the martyr-for-the-cause meme. The battle of Wills with your Spouse will leave you sapped and ready to just throw in the towel (after all, you do have an annulment, so its OK-right? Why be unhappy? Why be sad?) You will inwardly cry at being reprimanded by spouse and children for doing your Moral duty, but will always find the necessary Graces to trudge onwards despite the human emotions thrown back at you. 

You will spend - or should, anyway - more time at Church before the Blessed Sacrament than you ever did before, in part because you need something to fill the numerous time-slots in your day, but mostly because you need the Strength and Fortitude He gives. You will talk to Our Lord and Our Lady quite often, for though many agree chatting with another human helps ease your sorrow, you will find your only true relief - fleeting though it may sometimes seem - will come from vocalizing with the only Two who can Truly help.

All my writings trend predominantly from the husband-respondent viewpoint, because I am one. But the wife-respondent also must be considered. Their plight is no less a travesty than the the husbands, but certainly takes on a new - and obviously heavier - Cross, simply because many are or have been stay-at-home wives and Mothers before being forced to pick up what remains of a now decimated family and "move on" to a new life and an ill-prepared-for job. Abandoned by a supposedly "luving" spouse, they weep over those solemn vows spoken to them and that they now know had about as much meaning to him as washing away a bug on the windshield of his car - a car which now, in all likelihood, carries Princess Charming #2, rather than you...

An abandoned wife and friend - who, like me, has chosen to remain Faithful to her vows and to her Spouse - has graciously consented to give you a first-person account of what awaits the potential or actual wife-respondent (Ed. note: brackets [ ] indicate additions by me for clarity and context):

"In the years since then, my standard of living went from being a financially mid upper class lifestyle stay at home mother working barely part time [as] my income [was] not needed, to needing money from my elderly mother to buy groceries....I broke the news to our then-14 year old daughter - her body shaking with the tears, I assured her that I did not want this, that I would fight it. So -called Catholic friends [and] family all said the same thing- go find a new boyfriend. [This] at first it shocked me that they would say this- we were not even divorced, just separated... the local parish pastor who initially had wanted to 'help" us, told my husband in a private meeting...that...maybe he would be able to Get an annulment. [M]y husband told me this with such glee in his expression [that] within two weeks...he had moved out of our family home."

Divorce solves all marital woes, right? Divorce grants "happiness", right? Divorce allows for "Renewal", right?  My friend is not yet done with her story, however:

"I struggled. I wrestled with God, with depression, with the deep sadness of being abandoned, thrown away. [S]o sad- that in this world- so many like him choose a seemingly easy, happy path in this life...over faithfulness to the wife of his youth. [N]ow, past my childbearing years, I am thrown away, no longer useful it seems."

All the above - in all its fetid splendor - is what awaits you if you choose the wrong path. You know...the one with the wide gate?? The gate "...that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat." Do not be fooled! Do not fall prey to the sultry divorce-sirens singing softly in your ear! Divorce is not your friend! Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law and does injury to the covenant of salvation (CCC #2384). It is also immoral, brings grave harm to the deserted spouse and to the children and is a plague on society (CCC #2385). How can anything this harmful be - in even the most simplest of terms - considered "good"??? Why is "What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder" so hard to understand?

How do I conclude this post...this warning...this plea? Partly, I must go to where I have before - a music video (there is always one that seems to fit.) Listen, Abandoning Spouses, and you will find the words your Faithful Spouses speak to you within their hearts and with their Passions, every other weekend:


Every Other Weekend - Reba McEntire from C3 Churches on Vimeo.

This below conclusion, however, is much more apropos. It follows the path back to the very beginning, to the vows we all have taken, but slightly modified to fit present reality...to fit the Cross willingly carried:

"I, Your Faithful Spouse, will continue to take you, my Abandoning Spouse, as my still lawfully wedded Spouse despite your divorce, or in Spirit only if our marriage is declared null, to have and to hold always, from the day of our Separation forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, in health, even in abandonment, until death do us part."



Copyright 2014 David Heath - All Rights Reserved

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