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Divorced Couples Need Our Empathy
Mom with a View

Divorced Couples Need Our Empathy

With all its inherent pain, most couples do not treat divorce cavalierly.

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We are all troubled by the terrible rising rate of divorce in our society. It is tremendously painful and makes us fearful for the future. In the wake of this anxiety, I believe there is a rush to identify the reasons for this plague and perhaps thereby protect ourselves and those we love from falling victim to it. But we need to be careful in assigning blame.

One of the most commonly asserted causes for today’s high divorce rate is that we live in a disposable society and that the attitude towards marriage is “if this one doesn’t work I’ll dispose of it and get another one”. Some people may think this way, but I don’t believe it is the majority. I recently heard a radio talk show host, himself divorced and remarried, discuss the issue. He described the pain involved in his divorce – from the difficulties inherent in the marriage to the decision to divorce to the divorce proceedings themselves. Every step along the way was filled with pain and, according to him, no one would choose this if they felt there was any other option. He didn’t look at his marriage as disposable.

Listening to him opened my eyes. Unfortunately over the years we have been witnesses to many divorces, within the orthodox community and without, across the spectrum of Jewish observance. In not one situation has the decision been made cavalierly. In not one situation have the parties not been in tremendous pain. In not one situation have they not prayed for other options and tried their best to avoid getting divorced. In not one situation have they looked at their marriage as disposable.

I don’t know why marriage has become such a struggle. Each generation certainly has its own unique challenges. I believe most men and women go into marriage with hope and optimism and prepared to give it their all.

We live in very confusing times. People feel more vulnerable and more anxious than in past generations. Community has broken down and families are spread across the globe. There is more mental illness (detected and not, curable and not), more substance abuse and addictions, more domestic violence and sexual immorality, higher unemployment and less financial stability. There are a lot of pressures on marriages these days.

In addition I think there are higher expectations. A husband or wife is expected to be “my everything”. They should solve my problems and prevent loneliness, and make me happy and keep me fulfilled. No human being can provide that for another and if we expect our spouse to do that we will be in a constant state of frustration and disappointment.

These are just some possible suggestions; there are many potential reasons for divorce and I certainly don’t mean to list them all here. We need to examine the issue carefully so we can properly tackle the issues.

Young couples need our help and support to make their marriages work. And divorcing couples need our empathy and understanding. We need to be careful that we don’t judge them. We don’t really know what goes on behind closed doors. We are taught that when a couple divorces, the Almighty cries. We should be crying also. Only then can we begin to lay the foundation for a more hopeful future.

Why do you think the divorce rate is on the rise? Let us know in the comment section below.

May 28, 2016

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 9

(9) Anonymous, May 30, 2016 1:46 PM

Divorce is the death of a marriage and needs to be mourned

Each divorce, just like each marriage is unique. We should offer loads of empathy and care (and advice only if we have something brilliant to say and it will be accepted!) The loss of a marriage is extremely painful - and each partner needs to be allowed to mourn the very real loss - even as they try to cope with the struggles of dealing with an X-spouse. Another side topic which would be great to address is "How to get divorced like a mentsch!" To often all the basic" getting along and working things out rules" that we learn in preschool, or the "how to deal with difficult people" we learn in middle school - get thrown out the window during divorce.

(8) rena, May 30, 2016 3:03 AM

I too am divorced

I'm so glad to see in print what I myself have felt for years while reading so many articles decrying our disposable society re: the divorce rate.
It is my own humble opinion that in years gone by, people suffered no less in unsuccessful marriages, that there were happier marriages than others. But so many women simply had no other choice.
I think we should applaud the fact that in today's world we do have more choices than in previous generations, that we do have a chance to rebuild a second happier marriage than the first.

(7) Vis, May 29, 2016 11:00 PM

Because people lack information

We need to place family information in designated classes/books in schools and high schools. Also our salary would depend not only of our skills but also moral and family based salary.

(6) Nancy, May 29, 2016 9:51 PM

If your gut says don't marry that person, then listen.

When a family has spent thousands of dollars on wedding related expenses, an individual or couple may be too ashamed to say they don't want to go through with the wedding. Is calling off a wedding gut wrenching? Yes, I'm sure it must be. However, there are times when it is better to call off the wedding than to marry the wrong person.

(5) Rachel, May 29, 2016 9:04 PM

What about the spouses needs?

I frequently read advice to those looking for a shidduch to the effect that they should look for a partner who will help them grow. I think this is the wrong advice. Love for others is really much more about how much each of us can give, how much we can help them. Putting the focus on the self rather than on others can lead to a lot of dis appointment. My husband and I are married more than 30 years. Sometimes 1 of us gives more than the other, but we are both always aiming to put in 100%.

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