D is for Divorce

[Prior entries] Slim pickings in D: physical death, spiritual death, debt, and divorce. Maybe we can just generalize and just say: Avoid things that start with D. Divorce is the most interesting of the four entries, especially in light of renewed emphasis on LDS family values in this, the post-Proclamation era. The Church is against divorce, of course; the only question is whether divorce is nevertheless allowed as an acceptable or at least tolerated option for those who find themselves in troubled or failing marriages. It is the exceptions to the general policy against divorce that deserve our attention if we want to understand the current LDS policy on divorce as briefly communicated in the TTTF article.

The article itself is only two paragraphs long. The first paragraph declares that "the family is central to the Creator’s plan" and that the "growing plague" of divorce "is the work of the adversary." I guess you can add another D-word — "Devil" — to the list. The second paragraph takes a distinctly different and more understanding tone. "If you are married and you and your spouse are experiencing difficulties, remember that the remedy for most marriage stress is not in divorce or separation." That implies, of course, that divorce or separation sometimes, in some cases, is the remedy for marriage stress, a rather surprising admission following the blunt statements in the first paragraph. It’s fair to say the two paragraphs reflect a different perspective on whether there are practical exceptions to the general rule against divorce. One suspects the two paragraphs were written by two different people or by one person with two different personalities.

Other Articles
There are plenty of other published articles about divorce to draw into the discussion. A good sampling is available at the Teachings About Marriage page at All About Mormons. For example, the article "Divorce" from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism starts with this straightforward statement: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially disapproves of divorce but does permit both divorce (the legal dissolution of a marriage bond) and annulment (a decree that a marriage was illegal or invalid) in civil marriages and ‘cancellation of sealing’ in temple marriages." The article also provides some historical context for Mormon divorce:

For nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints, feelings about divorce were mixed. President Brigham Young did not approve of men divorcing their wives, but women were relatively free to dissolve an unhappy marriage, especially a polygamous union (see Plural Marriage). Such divorces were handled in ecclesiastical courts because polygamous marriages were not considered legal by the government. Records of the number of divorces granted between 1847 and 1877 show a relatively high rate of divorce for polygamous marriages.

The EoM article also notes that "[r]ecent U.S. data from the National Survey of Families and Households indicate that about 26 percent of both Latter-day Saints and non-LDS have experienced a divorce," and that "Church members who are divorced and the children of divorced parents sometimes report feelings of isolation or lack of acceptance because of the strong orientation toward two-parent families in the Church."

The All About Mormons site also posts an April 1945 Conference talk by David O. McKay entitled "Marriage and Divorce." I strongly encourage a quick read of this interesting talk, a fine contrast to the cut-and-paste presentation of Pres. McKay’s teachings from the recent RS/Priesthood manual. He presented a good deal of survey data in his talk to support his points about the rising tide of divorce but also showing that LDS marriages, especially temple marriages, fared better than average. He also showed some sympathy with the view voiced in the second paragraph of the TTTF article:

Unfaithfulness on the part of either or both, habitual drunkenness, physical violence, long imprisonment that disgraces the wife and family, the union of an innocent girl to a reprobate–in these and perhaps other cases there may be circumstances which make the continuance of the marriage state a greater evil than divorce. But these are extreme cases–they are the mistakes, the calamities in the realm of marriage.

Another comment on Brigham Young’s counsel on divorce is the following quote from Van Wagoner’s Mormon Polygamy: A History, p. 92-93 (citations omitted).

The extent of Mormon divorce was a concern to Brigham Young. … In an 1858 address Young argued, "It is not right for the brethren to divorce their wives as they do. I am determined that if men don’t stop divorcing their wives, I shall stop sealing." Though upset about the frequency of divorce, Young did not require unhappy women to stay with their husbands. His advice to a woman seeking counsel was to "stay with her husband as long as she could bear with him, but if life became too burdensome, then leave and get a divorce."

Concluding Thoughts
So, in light of the quotes above and especially with reference to the TTTF article, what is a fair summary of the present LDS position on divorce? The TTTF article makes it clear that divorce is only rarely recommended or encouraged; couples should "work to resolve difficulties," go "seek counsel from your bishop," and apply "repentance, forgiveness, integrity, and love." But even in the TTTF article there is a hint that in some cases divorce is appropriate. Oddly, there is no mention of divorce in the Proclamation, just this elliptical reference: "Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets." Seems like we’re due for a Conference talk on this topic in the next year or two.

Comments

  1. “what is a fair summary of the present LDS position on divorce?”

    There seems to be less shame in divorce, at least. Though it is interesting that if you’ve ever been divorced, you can’t be a CES teacher. Ever.

    But on a cultural level, it seems to be one of those things that we universally condemn – so long as it’s not attached to an actual person. When it comes to knowing people who’ve been divorced, more often than not, we’re understanding and sympathetic.

    On the one hand, I think we largely see positive benefits from the LDS value put on marriage. It does encourage couples to work out their differences and to put some effort into it. But there are also times when the fear of the divorce stigma causes more harm than good. Stories about bishops telling women to pray harder because their husband is beating them are certainly uncommon, but sadly, not unheard of.

    As for Brigham Young’s quotes, let’s just ask him how his marriage to Ann Eliza Webb went :)

  2. Many years ago as when I was just starting my career I learned an important lesson through a conversation with my boss. I was raised in a small Mormon community in a partially active family. My boss was a prominent Salt Lake City resident although he was not LDS. I mentioned to him that our family was shocked by the news of my brother’s divorce. He explained to me that he learned the hard way that divorce is not the worst thing in the world. His brother had been married to a woman who was professionally successful and personally domineering. He would often be publically humiliated by his wife’s words and actions towards him. He suffered anquish over the state of their marriage. But in their circles – social and religious – divorce was tabu. And so his brother suffered through a painful marriage until he finally took his own life. All of us need to be more understanding and sensative to our family and friend’s struggles in marriage and less likely to look at things in a black and white context. I personally believe that too many people want to take the easy way out rather than trying to resolve their differences and live up to their promises. But clearly there are times when divorce is the right solution.

  3. I’m all in favor of seperate bedrooms myself. And then sepration. And then divorce. In that order.

    Interesting blog. I’m an LDS dude with no political affiliations myself, by a desperate urge to see sanity within the members of the church.

  4. My first husband died. We were both drunks and alcohol played a significant role in the accident that killed him and our son. We were truly the quintessential low lifes.

    But I was a grieving widow and received nothing but kindness and support as I navigated those terrible waters. I did a complete 180, turned to the church.

    Then I remarried. A bum. Who didn’t drink and was active….yada, yada. It lasted ten months, seven, if you count how long we actually lived together.

    I suddenly was a credit risk. Old friends stopped speaking to me. I was actually more religious than when I was a widow, but I was in disgrace with the community.

    What a revelation that was to me. My ex-husband told me I would go to hell (or at least NOT the celestial kingdom) if I got a divorce. He was going Mark Hacking on me, threatening obliquely to kill me, before the divorce. I am no fool. I threw him out.

    Anyway, I thought because I’d divorced this paragon (his dad was a stake president) I was screwed. I made an appointment with Marian D. Hanks and went up to plead my case. He was terrific. He said they have to condemn divorce in general, from the pulpit, but they recognized there were situations that demanded divorce.

    But you know, the way I was treated by the community in general, will stay with me forever. Whenever anybody gets a divorce now, I am so down with them. I am up front about how I was treated and I offer encouragement. Especially to women. We get treated like sluts who suddenly don’t pay our bills.

    Claytonian, I am in favor of separate bedrooms myself, but I don’t think I will be divorcing my current (and currently wonderful, I know I gripe about him a lot, but I like him this week)husband. But as we age, we sleep differently and plus I have my little cave where I can read whenever I want and eat cinnamon gummy bears at 3 am. It’s not always a symptom of closeness in marriage. Personally, I wish we’d thought of it sooner.

  5. Seth Rogers says:

    I don’t know. It’s easy to start throwing out all kinds of platitudes and maxims when the discussion is strictly theoretical (I was rather tempted to do it myself). But it’s tougher when you are actually faced with the real people.

    I guess I’d simply have to take it on a case-by-case basis.

    That said, I don’t think that simply “falling out of love” unaccompanied by actual, tangible harmful stuff is good reason for divorce. Neither do I consider mere discontentment or “not being fulfilled” to be a good reason.

    I’m also not sure that people really think through what a divorce means: all the garbage they’ll have to go through, all the garbage the kids will have to go through.

    Of course, abuse changes the whole equation. I imagine that infidelity might as well, but it’s iffy.

    Oh whatever. Take it on a case-by-case basis.

  6. Seth Rogers says:

    Furthermore, unless I’m a bishop or a close friend, I don’t think someone’s divorce is any of my business. Community stigma isn’t really useful in most cases.

  7. Oh, you know, Seth, I just read a study somewhere in a magazine that tracked couples who had been unhappy in their marriages, but stayed together. After five years, the things that were bothering them had been worked out and they were all happier and glad they’d stayed together.

    I’m sure that isn’t always the case, but perhaps in people who originally loved each other, just became disenchanted for one reason or another.

    What the study said was that everybody goes through rough patches. It wasn’t about abuse or infidelity or bad stuff, just the normal falling out of love situations.

    I know I fall in and out of love with my husband quite regularly. Judith Viorst said once, “marriage is what keeps you together while you fall in and out of love.”

  8. Great post, Dave. It seems that we do share quite a bit with Catholics. I have some close friends who come from very strict Catholic backgrounds. One of their mothers stated that not getting married in the church, but getting married by the state is tantamount to living in sin. Seems to me that Joseph thaught something similar. It also seems like many in the Church’s early leadership had been divorced.

    Anecdotally, it seems that the Church is a little bit looser with how they pass out sealing cancellations. Which is the truely difficult action. Can two people aggree to divorce, yet wish to keep their sealing valid?

    What about all that early twenties divorce that is talked about so much? BYU has to be the only school where you can be a Junior and be divorced. It seems to me that Brighams pragmatism has prevailed and now it is expanding to sealings as well.

  9. I think the Encyclopedia of Mormonism entry contains a better discussion of various issues and several points therein could have been condensed for inclusion in TTTF.

    Regarding the TTTF entry itself, several lines are clearly adapted from a talk given by President Hinckley in the April 1991 General Conference (“What God Hath Joined Together”).

    TTTF: “This growing plague is not of God, but rather is the work of the adversary.”

    GBH: “I say without hesitation that this plague among us, which seems to be growing everywhere, is not of God, but rather is the work of the adversary of righteousness and peace and truth.”

    TTTF: “If you are married and you and your spouse are experiencing difficulties, remember that the remedy for most marriage stress is not in divorce or separation. The remedy is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ—in repentance, forgiveness, integrity, and love. It is found in treating your spouse as you would like to be treated.”

    GBH: “The remedy for most marriage stress is not in divorce. It is in repentance. It is not in separation. It is in simple integrity that leads a man to square up his shoulders and meet his obligations. It is found in the Golden Rule.

    That is true. I can show you throughout this church hundreds of thousands of families who make it work with love and peace, discipline and honesty, concern and unselfishness.”

  10. D. Fletcher says:

    Please don’t avoid things that start with D.

    I’m lonely enough as it is.

    :)

  11. This is a hard issue to discuss unemotionally. One factor that has to be recognized, though, is that divorce is MUCH more common in the church than commonly perceived. It’s only visible if you live in a ward for a time, and then find that you can go up and down the rows and recognize divorced people on every row. So blanket condemnations hit a lot us pretty hard.

    I did think it was a little unkind of my gggrandmother to have her sealing canceled after my gggrandfather had died, though.

    And while “the plague” of divorces may be from the adversary, I believe large numbers of individual divorces (like mine) are the work of the Lord. Until you know the dynamics of a particular relationship over time, you can’t judge the appropriateness of the action.

    I share with annegb the pain of being excluded by a ward after my divorce. Laurie and I and a friend did a Sunstone session a few years ago called “Divorce Mormon Style” in which we reflected on our varied experiences, and part of what I wrote at the time ended up in a DB book called “After Divorce,” so I no longer feel it necessary to dwell on that experience. I was intrigued, though, when I moved out to a new ward to have the new bishop reflect on his ward, and refer to it as a “halfway house,” presumably because of the range of problems contained therein.

    Mainly, I think, as several have commented already, it may be OK to affirm the sanctity of marriage, but it’s always a mistake to condemn those who find it necessary to divorce.

  12. Annegb, based on my last home-teaching visit, I believe that study was quoted in the Ensign.

    My problem with the study was it said that most couples “Who stayed together for 5 years” were now happier.

    The article didn’t say what percentage of the unhappy couples ended up divorcing, nor did it discuss the problem of the couples who stayed together for five years and were still unhappy.

    I am on my second marraige, and it is much happier (and has lasted much longer) than my first. I am now quite happy that I decided to get a divorce the first time around. It sucked at the time, though. There was no abuse or drugs or children, but it was not a good match.

    Sometimes we make mistakes, and sometimes Marraige can be a mistake.

  13. [annegb--your sleeping arrangement is actually feng shui approved! ...sleeping in separate beds is much healthier than sleeping on one bed comprised of two mattresses...]

    I had a starter marriage. I actually had a lot of family support throughout my divorce, but was mortified of the members at church–you cannot escape judgment. (In attempts to be friendly, people are so nosy!) I avoided church for years afterwards, but now that I’m in a different stake I feel like I have a fresh start. I do find that people still have no idea how to react when they find out–like they’ve opened Pandora’s box.

    Incidentally, my family thought divorce was okay partly due to the fact that we had not been sealed in the temple and we didn’t have kids—better to get out now!!

  14. Anne, I have a question. What is the proper way to react when they find out there has been a divorce. A good friend of mine is going through one right now and I’ve been witness to a few awkward encounters, people not really knowing what to say or how to react. And I’m SURE I’ve inadvertantly said something insensitive around him without even thinking about it. It’s eggshells and I’m curious as to how to go about it.

  15. “a desperate urge to see sanity within the members of the church.”

    AMEN!!

    “Can two people aggree to divorce, yet wish to keep their sealing valid?”

    Yes I believe they can. I base this on the fact that not everyone who applies for a Temple divorce has their request granted (ie. they are divorced, but not Temple divorced). So I would imagine that if it was a couples wish to get divorced but stay sealed that would not be a problem.

  16. “Can two people aggree to divorce, yet wish to keep their sealing valid?”

    “Yes I believe they can. I base this on the fact that not everyone who applies for a Temple divorce has their request granted (ie. they are divorced, but not Temple divorced). So I would imagine that if it was a couples wish to get divorced but stay sealed that would not be a problem.”

    Does anybody think that if you are divorced in this life and your sealing is not canceled that you will be sealed together in the celestial kingdom? I think this is probably unlikely but not impossible cause we are not the final judge. Christ is.

  17. For the record I am glad that LDS do not have the catholic teaching on Divorce. Ours is much more realistic.

  18. go “seek counsel from your bishop,”

    This troubles me. Bishops, unless they are already trained mental health professionals, have no training in counseling. Marriage and family dynamics are incredibly complex, and praying more/reading scriptures etc won’t address the real issues that come up.

    Being the the mental health field, I have a code of ethics that requires me to stay within my scope of practice, meaning I shouldn’t do things I’m not qualified to do. I have enough training to know when I need to refer.

    I suspect most bishops don’t know enough to know what they don’t know. I really hope that bishops are quick to recommend that people see qualified professionals. I don’t know what the reality is.

  19. I have a good friend who is getting divorced (separated a year now). I could have told you exactly what was wrong with their marriage and how to fix it 5 years ago.
    The adversary was working. But the husband and wife were letting him.
    The had a list of fairly typical marital problems, plus a few unique to them. But NONE of them were divorce material if they’d worked to fix their problems.
    But, the problems got worse and worse. I saw two people who did NOT put the marriage first. They did not make it a priority.
    Even when she still loved him, and I would gently suggest how to go about making certain situations better, she’d shrug off my insights and keep on the same way.
    I have sympathy for many people, including this couple. There is no way I’d “put up” with some of the stuff they had going in that marriage, so I’d get divorced too. But I have to think that if they’d made better choices all along the way, they could have been happy.
    After 13 years of my own marriage, I see that even when I am “right” and I am justifiably angry, I have choices on how to handle a situation. Some choices make our marriage stronger, and some choices hurt our marriage. Marriage hasn’t been a walk in the park. My husband and I have had our “downs.” I think the only reason we’ve stayed together is because we’ve worked really, really hard.

  20. I think it’s too easy for people who are in marriages that have lasted to look at people whose marriages haven’t and point fingers–we have a lot invested in the notion that we can control the outcomes of our lives by our own efforts. “A good marriage requires work” is appealing because the equally true statement that “a good marriage requires luck” is just too scary to deal with.

    It’s the same set of fears that forces us into the false and hurtful belief that righteous, skilled, hardworking parents end up with children who behave well, while parents who aren’t working hard enough, don’t have the right skills, or have some secret sin will end up with poorly behaved children. Life is riskier and less linear than that–distance runners can die of heart attacks, righteous parents can have wayward children, people can work really, really hard at marriage and still fail.

    Which is not to say that plenty of people don’t work hard enough at marriage or at parenting, only that we ought to be very, VERY careful about judging their efforts from outside, and it would probably be useful for us to practice saying “there but for the grace of God…” over and over until mercy is our reflexive response.

  21. Kristine, I think both you and I are right up to a point.
    I do try to avoid judging from the outside. I guess in my friend’s marriage I didn’t feel so outside. I was her older, more experienced friend that she turned to for advice…yet didn’t seem to understand the advice I tried to give.
    I can honestly say that I couldn’t really stay married to a man who did the things that her husband did.
    I think we all know people that perpetually make poor choices. I have simply accepted that some people are less talented at seeing consequences, and therefore they are still doing their best. I can be accepting and sympathetic.
    It doesn’t stop good marital advice from being true. If you want to stay married, maybe pay attention to how to do it. There are studies, statistics, etc.
    There is a little luck, involved. You can’t control everything. And even if you think you are doing everything, you may still make mistakes that cost you your marriage.
    But, I have a hard time with today’s attitude that divorce just happens. That if marriage isn’t what you expected, if it doesn’t make you happy, you need to end it.
    I know that at a certain point divorce is inevitable. But there are often years before that it could be avoided. I think that we should pay attention to our marriage on a daily basis.
    I hope you realize that my point was that divorce was and still is a possibility in my marriage. I don’t think I’m immune, and I don’t know what challenges we face in the future.
    I prefer to approach my marriage as is in our hands. Divorce isn’t just going to happen with bad luck. A happy marriage isn’t just going to happen with good luck. We will make our marriage into whatever our daily choices turn it into, and it is a work in progress.

  22. Measure: “Sometimes we make mistakes, and sometimes marriage can be a mistake.”

    Amen. I’m in my second marriage now, and I’m infinitely happier than in the first. But I’m at the other end of the time scale from you. My first marriage started out in the temple and lasted 34 years before going under, so the kids were all grown and married and on their own.

    Sometimes Duty forces us to avoid, repress, and/or deny the mistakes of our lives, but Duty is a cold motivation for an eternal relationship. What finally pushed me over the edge was my memory of my grandparents’ lives: they were married over 60 years and all the time I knew them they were in a constant state of warfare. There was no evidence of love or even respect in that household. I have no idea whether they expected to spend eternity in this same attitude, but I wouldn’t want it. And I finally determined that I didn’t want to get old that way. Luckily I got the confirmation of the Spirit that divorce was the proper solution.

    And boy, am I happy now!

  23. D. Fletcher says:

    I can’t really comment on divorce and relationships since I’ve never had either. But I might be bad luck: it does seem that everyone I know (Mormons in show business) have been divorced, and some of them more than once. Perhaps this is what was meant by “avoiding D.”

    P.S. Seriously, at least 10 close friends of mine have been divorced, all temple marriages.

  24. People keep telling me that marriage is hard work. I suppose that for some, it is. I know in my first marriage, I worked my butt off and got zero return for my effort.

    Now, in my second marriage, it seems…effortless. Maybe he’s just the one doing all the work. The only real problem we’ve ever had was that argument about hanging the potholders. And then there was the time he lied to me about who was on the phone because he was trying to keep the surprise baby shower a secret. I dunno, maybe he’s doing all the work. But I think I was just really, really lucky this time.

    Google’s quote for the day may be appropriate: “Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.” – James M. Barrie

  25. JKS: I do try to avoid judging from the outside. I guess in my friend’s marriage I didn’t feel so outside.

    Not Yet Psyche: We are always on the outside of other people’s marriages no matter how much we’ve listened and observed. The interpersonal dynamics of a marriage are complex and intimate and mostly unknowable to anyone else.

    JKS: “I was her older, more experienced friend that she turned to for advice…yet didn’t seem to understand the advice I tried to give.”

    Not Yet Psyche: It is rarely “advice” that someone seeks. It is instead compassion, care and concern. Only uncommonly is real counsel sought. If someone chooses to disregard your “insights” into their personal life it is most ungenerous to assume they didn’t “understand” what you had to say.

    JKS: I think we all know people that perpetually make poor choices. I have simply accepted that some people are less talented at seeing consequences, and therefore they are still doing their best. I can be accepting and sympathetic. It doesn’t stop good marital advice from being true. If you want to stay married, maybe pay attention to how to do it. There are studies, statistics.

    Not Yet Psyche: Assuming someone is “less talented [than you are] at seeing consequences” in the their own life may be a way for you to be “sympathetic” but it also very condescending.

    JKS: “There is a little luck, involved. You can’t control everything.”

    Not Yet Psyche: There is much more than a “little” luck involved and I would suggest that there are very many things beyond our individual control

    JKS: I have a hard time with today’s attitude that divorce just happens. That if marriage isn’t what you expected, if it doesn’t make you happy, you need to end it.

    Not Yet Psyche: I don’t know who you could be talking about as this is certainly not the typical attitude of the Saints. If you are referring to the prevailing attitude in the world then I may grant you a limited concession. But we are talking about the issue in terms of the LDS church and I do not think that this is a prevalent attitude among members.

    JKS: We will make our marriage into whatever our daily choices turn it into, and it is a work in progress.

    Not Yet Psyche: very wise of you

    While I agree with Kristine’s comment and hesitate to contadict any of what she said above, I will quibble only with her admonition to repeat “there but for the grace of God . . .” as a device for developing mercy. If one believes that it is God’s grace that keeps one from facing such a tragedy, it becomes too easy to wonder why your poor neighbors who do confront it didn’t receive that same graciousness you seem to enjoy. Such a puzzle quickly resolves into a downward spiral of philosophical trauma over the problem of evil or an indecently glib judgment on your neighbors’ worthiness.

  26. Rusty–to answer your question… I think a simple “I’m sorry to hear that and I wish you the best” is kosher.

    Before my own divorce I went through my parents’ divorce and you would not believe the amount of people who came up to me asking personal questions about the dissolution of their marriage and for family updates. When it was my turn I had already been bombarded with questions for a couple of years (my parent’s divorce, my inactive siblings, my fiance-then-husband’s conversion, when were we going to get sealed… wait… divorced?!?!). And of course you feel like you’re letting the whole world down… it was hard to face.

    Now that I’ve been divorced several years (and I’m still in my twenties)–when I’m introducing myself to other members and it comes out that I’m divorced I get the cartoon expression of shock followed by apologies and avoidance from them. It was a very difficult decision and time in my life, but I’m no longer ashamed. (Or shy!) It’s a historical fact of my life. So why treat me any different?

    (Does that in any way answer your question?)

  27. Not Yet Psyche,
    I suppose you could consider me condenscending, but I felt more frustrated than condenscending when it comes to my friend’s marriage.
    When myfriend told me that she refused to have sex with her husband because she just didn’t seem to have a sex drive, I identified with her telling her its a common problem. Here’s what I’ve read. Here’s what’s worked for me, etc. Have you tried this or that?
    I also pointed out that marriages don’t usually survive this way. She apparently refused to believe me. She seemed confident that he wouldn’t “ever leave” and seemed to never take real action about fixing a part of their marriage that they were both miserable about.
    I saw a lot of things in their marriage that were textbook poor marriage practice. Dishonesty. Competition spending. No consensus in parenting style. Financial irresponsibility. Child favoritism. I could go on.
    Yes, I think they were making poor choices….perhaps the poorest choice was choosing to marry each other in the first place. I don’ know.
    But I think that I am making reasonable and accurate judgements on what was going on. Yes, I was her friend even though I didn’t agree with everything she did. If I disagree about discipline style, its no big deal. But when I see a friend making poor choices that I know won’t turn out the way she thinks, it is hard not to be frustrated.
    I mean really, when someone says to you that now they are just staying together for the kids’ sakes, and seems to think that that’s going to work out just fine for the next 15 years, wouldn’t you get a little frustrated?

  28. This posting confirms the LDS view that we have general standards of the ideal, but exceptions are allowed. It seems to be the reverse image of “The Horse You Rode in On” at T&S, about when/whether to get married out of the temple on another blog. The comments here could have appeared in the other blog:

    “But on a cultural level, it seems to be one of those things that we universally condemn – so long as it’s not attached to an actual person. When it comes to knowing people who’ve been divorced [or not-temple married], more often than not, we’re understanding and sympathetic.”

    “I made an appointment with Marian D. Hanks and went up to plead my case. He was terrific. He said they have to condemn divorce in general, from the pulpit, but they recognized there were situations that demanded divorce.”

    And Elder Hanks was quoted in the other blog: “That is not a question that can be answered on a general basis, and essentially it is not a question that one person can answer for another. It must be handled in counsel with our Heavenly Father, and the answer must be sought through the Spirit.”

    “I don’t know. It’s easy to start throwing out all kinds of platitudes and maxims when the discussion is strictly theoretical (I was rather tempted to do it myself). But it’s tougher when you are actually faced with the real people. I guess I’d simply have to take it on a case-by-case basis.”

    “Luckily I got the confirmation of the Spirit that divorce was the proper solution.”

  29. 27
    re: when someone says to you that now they are just staying together for the kids’ sakes

    “We stayed together for the children. Who were the children? Well, we were.” — John Bradshaw

  30. “Does anybody think that if you are divorced in this life and your sealing is not canceled that you will be sealed together in the celestial kingdom? I think this is probably unlikely but not impossible cause we are not the final judge. Christ is.”

    I think it will come down to what we have always had from the beginning: Agency to chose.

    “This posting confirms the LDS view that we have general standards of the ideal, but exceptions are allowed. It seems to be the reverse image of “The Horse You Rode in On” at T&S, about when/whether to get married out of the temple”

    Don’t even get me started on that thread. Some of the comments there made me ashamed to be LDS.

  31. I guess ashamed is to strong a word. I felt sorry for people who’s minds are so closed to the realities faced by individuals who’s lives do not fit into what are considered LDS norms.

  32. manaen, I guess I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make in #27. Which wouldn’t bother me much if you hadn’t appended a quote from one of my comments, and I don’t know whether to be offended or not.

    :-)

    Disclaimer: I didn’t read the thread you and Talon are referring to.

  33. If you are curious about divorce, you need to check out this web book, posted by two guys who just get it. http://www.angrylips.com

  34. Some random observations:

    – When my wife and I had only been married for about 10 months, we moved to another state for an internship and were promptly called as Stake Missionaries. One of the less active couples with whom we were working was on their second marriage. However, at that time, I think it was clear that they were headed for divorce, and after we moved away and then moved back (15 months later), they were divorced. And to be honest — they all lived happily ever after (both got married again to other people and the guy finally got reactivated after he got divorced).

    – The biography on Pres. Hinckley quotes his wife as saying that marriage was really difficult for the first 10 years. I’ve had another close friend (married almost 30 years) say that they fought for the first 10 years, but after that, it started to click. I guess that means to say that … becoming “one” in a marriage is NOT an automatic thing. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes recognizing that you can’t claim “irreconciable differences” after a year and bail, IN MOST CASES (all of the above references on exceptions are hereby acknowledged). I think my wife and I would both agree that it’s about the 10-and-a-half years before things really felt good.

    – Regarding couples who get divorced, my wife and I have a “Switzerland” (or “Costa Rica”) rule: complete and abject neutrality. There’s nothing worse than a divorcing pair trying to divvy up their friends like they divvy up what’s left of the unbroken china. The couple I mentioned above: While they were separated, they were in the same ward, and she’d bag on him from the pulpit during her testimony. And he’d sit alone since no one in the ward would talk to him, when he would come to Chuch. So my wife and I would sit next to him for solidarity, and then my wife would go sit next to the sister during RS, so that we could show them that we cared about them both and not play sides (although, my wife would take abuse from the sister for us paying attention to the brother). We have another set of non-member friends who we met through our wives’ friendship, but who I predict will be divorced within 5 years. The husband now works with me and is a close confidant. And when the time comes that they get divorced, we will not take sides. I’ll continue to hang out with the husband, and my wife will hang out with the wife (because honestly, it wouldn’t happen the other way around), but we will NOT get trapped in this game where the divorced friend wants to hear us bag on their ex. Cry on our shoulder about the loneliness. Ask us to help you redecorate the new place — we’ll come over and scrub the floor or hang the pictures. Ask us to babysit the kids. But do NOT ask us to listen to you kvetch about your ex. Because it’s usually a two-way street, and we don’t want to make our own lives miserable with your negativity.

  35. Revise this staement in my post above:

    “but we will NOT get trapped in this game where the divorced friend wants to hear us bag on their ex.”

    with

    “but we will NOT get trapped in this game where the divorced friend wants us to listen to them bag on their ex.”

    It’s still early and I’m not entirely lucid.

  36. Got a question, what’s with this “D?” Are you going alphabetically? I missed something.

    Queno, I disagree. If one of my friends get a divorce, I have a stock card I send them. “Divorce is hard, the emotions painful and jarring as the one you loved becomes your enemy…but time will pass. Bad memories will fade, you will start to remember the good times and think fondly of your ex-spouse. . .(open to inside of card). . .And I will be there to remind you what an SOB he was.”

    Depending on the circumstances, I take sides. But I can be nice to the other person without betraying my friends. I’ve never treated anyone like I was treated.

    Barry, I think there’s something wrong with your address because the little hand doesn’t come up.

  37. Anne, I agree that it depends on the circumstances, and it’s easier to take sides when one spouse is “clearly” at fault.

    However, what my wife and I have found is that MOST of the time, we are friends with both of the soon-to-be-divorced spouses, that the divorce is both of their faults (although not usually in equal doses), and that we want to continue to remain close friends with both. In such a situation, strict neutrality is really the best approach.

    And I should clarify: I don’t mind hearing gripes from one ex about the other ex. I understand we’re there to listen. But I don’t like being dragged into it, where one ex wants ME to help bag on the other ex, especially when my wife and I are trying to remain friends with both. That’s a compromising situation and it’s unfair for the divorced to put us through that.

    Equally bad is when they try to use us to dig up dirt on the other spouse. The first rule of being friends with divorced couples is not to talk in detail about one to the other.

    Even more equally bad are the holidays — we’ve had one divorced friend inviting us to a “private dinner” on the SAME night as the ex-spouse’s annual holiday party. Don’t ask us to pick sides, and don’t get offended when we *do* accept an invitation from the other.

    But, I think your card is humorous and appropriate in some contexts. I didn’t mean to paint all relationships with divorced friends in the same light.

  38. All I can say, queuno, is that I wish someone like you had been in my ward when my divorce happened. I came to church, I led the singing, I sat in ss and ph meeting without anyone sitting by me, shaking my hand or even giving me a friendly look. I assure you that ostracism is a devastating experience. True neutrality is hard to come by, but I would have settled for some sort of fake neutrality at the time.

  39. annegb, yes I’m taking entries from the True to the Faith doctrinal handbook published by the Church. Click on the “prior entries” link at the beginning of the post for the prior entries. There’s an explanation in the “A is for Agency” post.

  40. Just a comment about the “neutrality” stance–I wish more people would behave that way. I’m currently going through a divorce which is weirdly amicable (he’s a great guy and we are good friends; he’s just gay) . The hardest thing at church is that people ask nosy questions, mostly, I think, to try to figure out whose side to be on. The fact that neither of us appears to feel wronged or want to say horrible things about the other seems to confuse people. So, along with the other sage advice offered above about just saying “I’m sorry; I’m here for you,” I have to agree that not forcing a couple into a custody battle over the friends, or not abetting them if they’ve already entered the fray, is a very kind thing to do.

  41. To the best of my knowledge, when you divorce and were married in the temple, they don’t like cancelling the sealing till one or the other of the partners remarries in the temple. But when I think about the various women in my family who’ve been married, divorced, and remarried — and sealed to each and every one of the men (I can think of three women in our line whose PAF entries I’ve seen,) well, it makes it seem less relevant. I know from journals that several of those women couldn’t stand their husbands; I don’t think God would force them to stay together for eternity.

    Divorce always haunted me as a teenager — I never dated, because I wanted to be sure I was a responsible grown-up before making any risky decisions (like going out to dinner.) The *worst thing ever* would be to make a mistake in who you decided to marry, because divorce would *ruin everything for everyone.* You don’t know misery till one parent is asking you to spy on the other and your grandma hopes your mother will become a victim of spontaneous human combustion (or something more painful, if possible.)

    Now it’s more like just one of those risks you have to realize exists in human relationships. People grow apart, people make incredibly bad decisions. Sometimes you’re one of those people. The Church knows that; they want people to work hard at marriages and the brethren seem pretty well aware of just how much not fun flying across country to see Mom and having brothers and sisters who don’t remember your name are. It’s a good compromise. Marriage vows should be taken seriously, and all that.

    (my parents’ friends, BTW, were much cooler about divorce than anyone had any right to expect… they were all non-members – everyone was when I was a kid; my mom joined the Church when I was 5. But I mean, even my dad’s brother still talks fondly about my mom [just not while my dad's there...] It probably helps that one of my dad’s friends named their oldest daughter with my mom’s name and all, but I was never likely to hear horrible things about my mom from them – just from my dad and grandma.)

  42. Robert Durtschi says:

    >>”the family is central to the Creator’s plan” and that the “growing plague” of divorce “is the work of the adversary.” …The second paragraph takes a distinctly different and more understanding tone. “If you are married and you and your spouse are experiencing difficulties, remember that the remedy for most marriage stress is not in divorce or separation.”

    I fail to see the difference in tone at all. The first paragraph identifies the danger. The second paragraph merely recognizes that we live in an imperfect world.

    >>Though it is interesting that if you’ve ever been divorced, you can’t be a CES teacher. Ever.

    Is this official position or just your observation? My wife is a divorcee. Yet she was not only a seminary teacher in Hollister, CA but the seminary president last year until we moved to Orem, Utah (or at least she’s in Orem, I’m stuck in Santa Clara, CA for 9 days every 2 weeks)

    Bob Durtschi

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