Yesterday, I spent the day with parents and two daughters on a pleasant outing to Lancaster County, PA. We passed a development in Chester County where a newly-divorced cousin is living with her three kids. I asked my mom how she was doing and she said the ex-husband had just lost his job and informed his ex-wife he is in no position to help her financially. The divorce was a contentious one. The wife decided she wanted to be single again, despite the fact that her children were all under the age of 12, and the husband wasn't given much of a say in the matter. In the span of time it takes to say "I want a divorce", his life lay in ruins and his kids became pawns.
Now, both parents are engaged in a game of "trash the ex-spouse" with the intention of setting the children up against each other. It's an all too common scenario these days and in fact, may have been a factor in the tragic murder-suicide that took place last weekend in Bucks County, PA.
Today after Mass, Rebecca and I decided to get a sandwich at a deli near our church. As were walking home, she ran into a school chum who moved away in the second grade. I asked the young lady how her parents were and she matter of factly told me that her mom lives down South and she is living with her dad. I remember this family as being a close-knit loving unit and it was sad to think it had become dissolved.
When violence is prevalent, or infidelity, I can see how divorce might be the only way out of a bad marriage. But in too many other instances, like the cousin I mentioned above, it seems like selfishness is the major motivating factor and little regard is given to how this will affect the kids, who are bounced from one house to another and spend their holidays split between two factions. I don't know that I could have subjected my children to this simply because I don't like living with the man I once chose to be my husband.
Marriage is a sacrament that not everyone can take part in. We make vows to our intended spouse as well as to the Lord but when a wife wants a newer, richer model or the husband wants a calendar pin-up, how easily that is forgotten and how quickly those vows are discarded. Is it any wonder the rest of society started to follow suit as divorce became more and more prevalent? Infatuation is mistaken for love and no one bats an eyelash.
The love between a man and a woman isn't too unlike the love Christ has for His Church and expects in return. Sometimes, you can't buy a warm fuzzy and faith is spent blindly groping. Sometimes, it seems like there is more suffering than joy and perseverance takes on a whole new meaning. Things happen that don't make much sense, but you don't bail because you have made a commitment. Love is a lot more than sharing a bottle of wine on the beach during sunset or lighting the candles at dinner. It's the decision to stay when the candles go unnoticed or the wine goes unappreciated. It's knowing that there are more lives at stake than your own and accepting that what's best for you isn't what's best for your children. It's bearing wrongs patiently without trashing your spouse to your children. It is putting the needs of others above those of your own.
How quick we are to forget this, especially me.