In going through my morning blog rotation, I came across this article by Michael Howard about a married couple, the husband being a renown figure at Google and the wife being a prominent researcher, who attempted to study the effects (i.e. why and how it happens) and affects (i.e. implications) of divorce. Their result? Pretty much inconclusive.
Howard notes that “studies on the effects of divorce are plagued by spurious correlations, incalculable variables, and the near-impossibility of separating cause from effect,” a generalization with which I can agree. Although divorced persons could each have the same reasons for why they got divorced (e.g. finances, career, etc.), I think the whole thing is too deep and dynamic to study and provide any straightforward explanation. However, I do believe divorce is ultimately the result of a ceremony conducted only between people who are, without fail, going to change; their bond and vows destined to be as volatile as the day’s prominent news topic. There is nothing absolute to which their marriage is accountable.
In is his response with regards to how people’s loved ones could better help people assess their situation [of divorce], Astro Teller, husband of the researching duo, says, “in order for things to change, society as a whole would have to lighten up on the narrative.” My initial reaction to this was to respond with “why.” Why would we ever want to lighten that narrative? Shouldn’t we want to engage in a deeper conversation to get to the root of the issue so we can understand and prevent it?
I think Howard actually summarizes this notion in his statement leading up to Teller’s – “[The researchers] would like to see those people’s loved ones understand the situation differently.” And, to an extent, I agree. Rather than offering cliche statements of pity, we could be thinking deeper about the hows and whys of people’s feelings in divorce. I think that carefully employing empathy could be one of the best way to go about consoling, comforting, and having a discussion about the situation.
What stuck out to me most was when Howard says that “blindly encouraging the persistence of a broken marriage may come from good intentions, but it only serves to shame the couple whose divorce could very well be for the best.”
I personally don’t believe comforting equates to shaming especially when you consider the heart of the initiator. There are times when empathy and sympathy come from a sincere heart. A more important question I’d like to ask is why is there often the underlying sentiment that divorce is acceptable and that it’s “for the best” of those involved? Why are we okay with it being an option or an out for [a difficult] marriage? If the narrative for divorce needs to change, maybe we can first rethink it and then take a position where we don’t even allow it as a possibility, thus eliminating the need to redefine it.
Ultimately, I believe there’s another outcome besides divorce for a difficult marriage, one where the only option is that there are no other options – but a Hope – such a Hope that defines and determines the beginning, middle, and near-end of any marriage, if you let Him. If you find yourself asking who this Hope is or how you can find Him, leave a comment. I’d be more than happy to share the Good News with you!