Divorce Immunity

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I was listening to a podcast this morning about a family who experienced so much happiness together, and for certain reasons that are irrelevant to this post, the parents eventually got divorced. The parents continued having a very amicable relationship, but I was still saddened by the divorce. I was saddened because of why they divorced, just that they did, and it made me think about how unbearable it would be for me right now if Mary approached me and wanted a divorce. A divorce is unfathomable to me giving the state of our marriage currently.

But I was left wondering something. Do couples who divorce after 25 or 30 or 50 years feel the same way at 11 years of marriage as I do now? When they had been married for 11 years, was their married life blissful and divorce unfathomable? Or has the reality of eventual divorce already entered into their marriage by that point? Can I be realistic that if my marriage is as strong as it is now at 11 years, that it will always be immune to divorce?

35 thoughts on “Divorce Immunity

  1. I like what President Hinckley said in the October 2004 Conference:

    “If every husband and every wife would constantly do whatever might be possible to ensure the comfort and happiness of his or her companion, there would be very little, if any, divorce. Argument would never be heard. Accusations would never be leveled. Angry explosions would not occur. Rather, love and concern would replace abuse and meanness.”

    This is what I do for my wife, and she does for me. You have to think less about yourself in marriage than you ever had when single, which is, I think, something that many people just cannot get used to in marriage.

  2. “This is what I do for my wife, and she does for me. You have to think less about yourself in marriage than you ever had when single, which is, I think, something that many people just cannot get used to in marriage.”

    Yes, we do this too.

  3. Not accounted for by GBH in the quote in #2 is apathy. I’ve known more people divorce after 25 years of marriage due to apathy than the result of contention. I know if my spouse and I ever divorced that contention or infidelity would not be any of the reasons.

  4. I would think your chances are good. Our marriage has been a disaster from the beginning, and continues to be a disaster after 20 years. I’m still married because it’s good for the kids and good for personal honor and maybe something will change.

    I could see leaving when the children are grown. I’m sure it would never be good for them for me to divorce their father, but knowing I have the future possibility keeps suicide at bay.

  5. TUW

    Oh I am so sorry for what you are going through. i do hope you are getting counselling.

    Arer you sure it is good for the children? It is actually rarely good to stay for the sake of your childnre, especially if there is extreme unhappiness or abuse (I am not saying there is in your situation), whether it be physical, emotional or mental. Children are very well aware of what is going on around them even though they might be good at hiding it. As far as personal honour, again, I don’t know your situation, but staying in a marriage that is wrong is not something that Heavenly Father wants you to do. He wants His children to be happy, He wants success for them.

    My parents divorced when I was an adult. I can tell you, as the adult child that it would not have been bad if they had divorced when I was a child. It might have actually been better, especially for some of my other siblings. Most especially for one. Do not stay in your marriage if it is irrecovably destructive, as it will not only be destructive to you, but to your children too. They can still have a relationship with their father, especially if this is a good relationship. But you are not necessarily doing them any favours by staying in a marriage that you know is doomed. I do hope you can find some peace and strength, and please please talk to someone. Divorce isn’t evil. When it is used properly, it can be salvation. You have to look after yourself AND your children.

  6. You are very kind and covering the bases, Mary. But there’s no abuse, addiction, or adultery, so I don’t see that divorce would be appropriate. He’s a difficult person, kind of arbitrary and self-involved. And there’s a huge financial mess, since he won’t live within our means. But y’know, his difficult personality is not news, and I accepted him over the altar (six months after meeting him, which really is enough time to know who someone is), so I think it’s a matter of keeping my word. I do wish I’d done a credit check before I’d gotten engaged though. Maybe that would have gotten through my stupid 20-something head.

    So, he’s a jerk. A bit he’s the jerk I made, because I’m a mouse. I did a few months of counseling a couple years ago, so I’m doing better not going along with things I don’t agree with. But seriously, who do you blame when you don’t get what you want, if you keep agreeing to what you don’t want.

    I don’t like how too much in the church, women think they can dump their husbands because they’re not as mormon as they used to be. And I’ve had people try to comfort me by saying in heaven we’d be unsealed and I’d be sealed to a better man. I don’t want any theology that weakens my resolve to redeem this relationship and make this family work. I don’t like any theology that undermines the earnest temple wish that all would receive what God offers there. Not all but him.

    No, he’s not a model Dad. He doesn’t teach them anything–think about that–because he can’t slow down and listen to them or have patience with the fact they’re children. He likes to show them off to business associates, or take them to things he enjoys without accommodating for them. He misses almost every child’s game or school event; the few he attends he brings his laptop and is aggressively being too important to be there. He loses his temper, but he’s not around that much. And he’s their Dad. Divorcing him will only mean they seem him less. Divorcing him will only make them more insecure, not more secure.

    And I’m not fabulous either. A little continual keeping depression at bay, a bit disorganized, a bit unconventional. It seems best for everyone that I ride this out

    Hey, the Ensign’s always saying, it doesn’t matter what you feel for your spouse, only what you do. I don’t feel loving when he’s rude and dismissive of me. But I can keep doing marriage, doing what a loving person would do.

  7. Interesting comments TUW but it sounds like you enjoy playing the victim. I expect it gets you want you want.

    This is not backed by any study but within the church there are 5 times when divorce is more likely to occur. Less than 2 yrs (either spouse wants out) – 9 years of mariage (wife wants out and the younger the higher the %) – 15 years is the man (mid life crisis) – 21 years of marriage is the female (the children are almost grown) and retirement (they did not live together and now he is always around.

    Divorce puts into practice the concept of free agency. We often talk about so and so used their free agency but when another persons free agency affects your free agency things change.

    There are some other interesting associations with LDS who divorce. These are not 100% but very high.

    1.) One spouse is a convert or came from a less active home.

    2.) One spouse went on mission.

    3.) Holidays were different – For example – one spouse Christmas was Christmas eve and the other Christmas Day.

    4.) Divorce in one family. The spouse whose parents are still married is usually not the one who leaves. Adultery of parents increases this one.

    5.) Female was married close to the age of 18.

    I know that not all breakups have these stats but it is interesting how many do have them.

    The lack of Money is a huge factor in divorce but it can also bring couples close together. If you allow your spouse to spend money and you do not stand up then you are not putting 100% into your marriage. 1/2 the money is yours after the bills are paid and if you allow the other person to spend your money then you are not defending yourself or your children.

    Men can be jerks if you allow it.

    TUW – I do not mean to sound unkind but you have portrayed your husband as a sperm donor (he’s not being a father to his children) and yourself as a prostitute if you are staying with him for financial security or to give the imagine of being the happy LDS family.

    Men do not like a weak wife. Men prefer an equal partner unless they are evil and need to rule.

    Does your husband treat you like his father treats his mother? Do you want your sons to treat their wives like your are treated and do you want your daughters to be treated by their husbands like you are being treated? If not, then they need to see how to stop this evil that you are raising them in before the next generation suffers for the sins of their parents.

    God does not require or bless you for staying in a bad marriage. You are on this earth to learn how to make choices and decisions.

    What church callings does your husband and you have?

  8. TUW: I think you are very noble and persistent. You cannot change his behavior only your, including your reactions to his behavior. I think I know some of what you are experiencing. Don’t give up. Sometime he will see what he is missing out on. I am assuming you have brought this one to our Heavenly Father and probably more than once. I was married for almost 10 years to my first husband. I truly thought divorce was unfathomable for most of my marriage. Needless to say my husband did not experience the same feelings, went haywire, cheated, abused his body and lost respect for himself and turned his back on me very suddenly with few warning signs. After an excruciating period of time I have recovered the events that preceed the divorce. I Never thought this marriage would be anything but rock solid. Was i fooling myself. If i was then i did a very good job and so did he. It’s 7 years later and after some heartache and mistakes I am remarried and blessed with 2 beautiful, healthy children. I can’t believe I am here. It’s definitely not perfect but I keep trying to do what is right for me and keep bringing everything GOOD and bad to our Lord. Hang in there.

  9. Good points from bill.
    Check out the book-Rekindled, easy to find used.
    I admire TUW.
    Marriage is work and can be so rewarding. All relationships take work, right?
    Whistle while you work.

  10. Not everyone has a mid-life crisis. As long as they are grounded and especially if they have seen the stupid results of those who do. I won’t have time for a mid-llfe crisis, I am busy raising my children, homeschooling them and living life and being a wife and mother. My marriage, I determine, will be like my grandparents’. Neither of them had a mid-life crisis either. Their marriage was the epitome of an ideal marriage. Love, respect, admiration and complete devotion to each other. My grandma has been my greatest example of how to be. My grandpa was who I modeled who I wanted in a husband. And I got him.

    TUW, I hope you can find some peace in your marriage at some point. Or if you cannot, you can find some happiness at some point, not too long in time.

  11. The couples that I know who have divorced knew it was inevitable. Maybe not the first couple years of marriage, but years before the separation finally happened, they had one foot out the door already.
    What I couldn’t understand is their willingness to stay in the unhappy marriage. Saying things like “We’re staying together for the kids.” If you are planning to stay put, then make changes!
    I think that often you can make positive changes in yourself that end up making your marriage happier. Whether it is getting counseling for yourself, or whether it is looking for ways to love your spouse better (love is something you do, not something you feel–but remember it is not love to let someone treat their family poorly, and it is not love to let them mistreat you).
    I just read the Five Languages of Love, which is interesting. They gave an example of a wife who was miserable and her husband wouldn’t come into counseling. She was Christian wanted to stay married but she was miserable. Working with the counselor, she learned that he and she were speaking different love languages. She effected changes and her marriage improved. It didn’t become perfect, but it became more of what she could be happy with, as opposed to something intolerable.
    My marriage has taken a lot of hard work. I think we have 4/5 LDS divorce indicators (he came from a less active family, divorced parents, xmas eve presents, and only he went on a mission). Hmmm. But we’ve made it 14 years and we are happy. We’ve had hard times but we’ve always both been willing to work together to get through them.
    Whenever I have prayed for HF to change my spouse (because he’s been in the wrong) it hasn’t worked. But when I’ve prayed to change myself, to know what I should do, I have received wonderful answers that have improved our marriage.
    My final thought for TUW is the financial aspect of marriage. I would consider financial infidelity as much of a breach of trust as sexual infidelity. A husband and wife should be able to trust each other and finances should be reserved for the good of the family. If personal purchases for certain amounts of $$ per month are ok because of the budget, then great. You are giving up your financial stability, your financial future if this man keeps you in financial straights. If you are currently not with marketable skills, consider going to school and becoming prepared to support yourself and your kids. Even if you stay married, you will probably be needing to work at some point.

  12. “Divorce puts into practice the concept of free agency. We often talk about so and so used their free agency but when another persons free agency affects your free agency things change.”

    Agency is never free. There is always a cost associated with it. Whoever first used the words “Free Agency” mis-spoke and should be spanked for doing so, right along with those who keep using the term.

    Other than that, very well constructed post Bill.

  13. Point taken.

    It’s amazing how definitions of words taught to us in primary stick so strongly that we can’t see other definitions in plain sight!

  14. Well, of course I wrote a long justification about why I’m not a prostitute, but that’s not going to be very interesting, is it?

    Thanks for your detailed responses, bill and Betty.

    btw bill, if you add together risk group #1. one’s a convert or from less active, and risk group #2: one’s an RM don’t you end up with 85% of lds couples at risk for divorce?

  15. Very good thought Kim!! Something I have learnt over the years is that marriage is NOT 50%/50%. Marriage is about 100%/100% from each side. This way one a bad low day when one spouse isn’t able to add their 100% due to illness/work etc there is still 100% going into the marriage. If you only do 50-50 and one is low then you are running at a loss right off the bat. Do that for too much time in a row …. well you can see where that will lead.

    I made a serious error in my marriage in it’s early days. Because when my husband and I met and we had both been married before with full custody of our children from those marraiges, and I was all of a sudden 21 years old with 5 children under the age of 5, my days was spent being a mom. All my efforts were spent on trying to keep gum out of their hair, clothes free of spilt food, laundry out of the laundry room and refilling a constantly emptying fridge and pantry. I had no time being a wife. Years later when we had 4 out of the 5 children marry in an 8 month period and the 5th child moved away from home on his own in that same period, I went through a horrid Empty Nest Syndrome.

    I had spent all of my life being “MUM” and had no idea how to be me. My husband thought the kids are all gone WOOOOHOOO now we can do what we want when we want where we want go away when we want yadda yadda yadda and did not understand why I was so depressed.

    It finally hit me one day that his role in life is to provide for his family whether it be one person or 10. My role in life was to raise and nurture my children. Once they left I had no role. I didn’t know how to be a wife or what to do. It was a very rough adjustment. But we muddled through.

    But we made it through because we had laid groundwork for our marraige along the way even though we didn’t know we had. From day one we had a weekly date night. Our children grew up knowing Friday nights if Dad was in town we went out.

    We made sure when he was in town we knelt in prayer together before we went to bed every night. We went to the temple as often as we could together. Things like that.

    And I can’t speak for him but when I married for all time and eternity I took those very seriously and as long as I am breathing I will work on that. As Mary said, its an every day effort, it’s something I always have to be conscious of. I have to be on guard all the time. I have to pray for help all the time.

    I have to know that I am doing everything I can every day to keep my marraige alive and well. So that on days (like this past couple of weeks) when I cannot put 100% into it, hubby picks up the extra slack and gives more then 100% and we are still where we need to be.

    Something else we have always done was have personal “interviews” with each other on a regular basis. We always had goals to work on, work towards and we would talk about how we were getting to those goals.

    I have never spent my time worrying about whether or not my marraige was going to work. To me if the thought of possible divorce is there then the possibility of it happening is also there. To me IMHO, as long as I believe in “for all time and eternity” then that is what I will continue to work on every minute of my every day.

  16. Sally – Turning a blended family into a family is one of the hardest things there is to do. I was thrilled to hear how succesfull you have been. 4 marriages in 8 months – your husband must make a fortune or it was all boys.

    Second marriages have a very high divorce rate – 75%. 3rd and 4th marriages are even higher.

    The most important decision you ever make is the person you marry.

    Free Agency is never really understood untill it truly effects you. When you believe in eternal marriage and eternal families and all that goes along with it, having your spouse destroy your future based upon those beliefs is very hard to deal with.

  17. It was three boys and one girl, but the only one they didn’t pay for was ours (well, beyond outfitting my brothers who were my groomsmen, or the wedding night hotel). The parents of my two sisters-in-law were not able to contribute much (if anything) to the weddings.

  18. Weddings can be expensive. I like how simple the temple is. If only the reception could be the same.

  19. I wrote this in Elders & HP but I think it would be better here.

    Today was High Council Sunday and the HC speaker and his wife talked about how they meet as teenagers (she was 14) and they wrote every week to each other. They married when she finsihed high school. From the pulpit they said that they believed it was good for a women to marry at 18/19 years of age. The SP was sititng on the stand during all of this.

    We have several 18 year old girls in our ward getting married later this summer.

    Do you think it is fair to YW for the Church to put a successful couple up as an example when the the divorce rate for young couples is so high?

    Is the fear of couples having sex before marriage worth the problems of getting married too young?

    If preventing sex before marriage is a reason to promote young mariages, what about when these couples each their 30’s and find themselves divorced and used to sex fair to them when they start dating again? Think about the promises they made in the temple.

  20. Well, hard to say. I guess it depends on various factors that develop over time. Of course outside influences play a major role. But may be your marriage is immune! May be…

  21. I can undertand where TUW is coming from. I too have been married to a guy like that for 6 1/2 years now. Overall, he is a good guy and handles the children well, but he is financially irresponsible and selfish. He also has turned his back on the church. I have been unhappy in our marriage for a LONG time and have put in every effort to fix it, with no effort from him.

    I have never been one to consider divorce. I came from a family where my parents were the only ones still married. He came from a very broken home (mom’s on marriage #4, dad on #3). We also have several of the “indicators” listed earlier: I was 18, he was inactive, neither of us went on missions, christmas issues, and obviously, divorce… huh actually we have all of them…

    Anyway, after several years of counseling, meetings with the bishop, and attempts and fixing things on my own, I decided to file for divorce. Few people have been supportive of this decision and have thrown my temple marriage in my face saying that I am walking out on my covenants. Funny thing is that most of those same people are supporting him. Problem that I am having now is that I’m feeling guilty and wondering if I should stay and continue trying to fix things, if for no other reason than to give my kids (2 toddlers) a more “stable” environment.

    Any thoughts on this, no matter how opinionated, are welcomed.

  22. SW

    It sounds like you have put the greatest efforts you can into how to save your marriage and no one except you and God are able to determine that.Do not stay for your children. Only stay if you know that you are supposed to. All I can really suggest is that you focus on the scriptures and studying about Christ. He knows you and your husband best and He has the answers. I don’t know if this helps at all, but my thoughts are with you.

  23. “I should stay and continue trying to fix things, if for no other reason than to give my kids (2 toddlers) a more “stable” environment.”

    With, by all accounts, a terrible role model for a father? This sounds like a good idea?

    I’d also suggest that no matter how good of a ‘feeling hider’ you think you are, your kids will pick up on your feelings of resentment and disharmony with your spouse and it’s going to confuse them.

    You asked for opinions, ‘no matter how opinionated’, so here’s one. Dump the bum and move on. You can do better.

  24. If Bill is still around, I’m just wondering where his information in comment 8 comes from.

    Kim, you start out asking about a marriage being “immune” from divorce. That’s like asking whether I’m immune from eating bananas. It’s not a disease; it’s an action. If I choose to eat bananas, I eat them. If I don’t, I don’t. The concept of immunity has no place. I think it’s likewise with marriage and divorce: If my wife and I choose to continue in our marriage covenant, then we stay married. If we don’t, we don’t. Furthermore, if we choose to do those things that will keep our marriage covenant intact, we do them. If we choose to do things that will make one or both of use miserable, we’ll do those things. But we always have the choice. So I don’t think the concept of immunity has any place here, either.

  25. `Free Agency is never really understood untill it truly effects you. When you believe in eternal marriage and eternal families and all that goes along with it, having your spouse destroy your future based upon those beliefs is very hard to deal with.`

    I am glad I ran into your blog…brings me some comfort in such a hard time in my life, time of confusion and honestly, doubt.

    My husband filled for divorce last month, days before Christmas. Would have not expected it, not in a million years, it was not even a question. I thought we had it all, but his testimony he tells me. He lost it and now I am facing this devastating situation that I can honestly say that brought me to the lowest I can ever feel. I have suggested the whole deal, conseling, prayer, changing whatever he does not like about me, I would do anything for my temple marriage, but he would not. He told me about the divorce in an email. My husband that I adore and love more than life itself was able to hurt me in such way that I am almost ready to give up on life.
    Talk of Free Agency. I begged God to put some mercy in his heart, everyday. I am struggling right now, when I need the Lord the most. I am having a hard time praying anymore, I don´t understand why this is happending to me and why would the Lord not take my pain away.
    I married a man that served a mission, did all he can do be righteous, he took me to the temple ( like my patriachal blessing tells me)and now his choice in life is having an impact on me that I can not see myself stong enough to endure it.

    What is next when I can reach out to a man the way I use to and mend his heart and have his stay?! Where do I get the strenght to keep on living and not lose all I have believed in and gave me so much joy in my life??

  26. I really feel for you Vio. Separation is an extremely difficult time. For me it happened 11 years ago and sometimes i can remember the pain so clearly. Mostly I try to remember how the Lord and others in my life pulled me through the most horrific experience of my life. My world came crashing down around me. Only through many mistakes and many blessings did i come out stronger even though it was painstaking and tiring and still affects me today. It’s unbelievable how our bodies and minds can react to such stresses. I cannot even imagine doing what i did and caring for children at the same time. Don’t give up hope on your salvation or your marriage even though things may look bleak right now. Be sure to get yourself some counseling so you can look at things from different perspectives and deal with the everyday issues with some one who can see a bigger picture. Hang in there! This is an important time to hold yourself close to the gospel even when you are confused about the whys. It is hard to see things through when you just want it all to go away immediately. Sorry i don’t have a magic wand for you but it is amazing how down the road the Lord can make something you have no control over help you in ways you could never imagine. It is wonderful how many blessings he gives us when we endure the pain and continue with what we know to be true. Jesus suffered this pain you are feeling too. Please try to remember and i hope you will be able to spend lots of time on your knees in fervent prayer.

  27. Thanks so much for your kind words. I am really taking it day by day right now and yes,I am mentaly, physically and emotionaly overhelmed and the pain is unbearable. Look at those people in Haiti and it does put things into perspective, yet I can not think of my own grief and how much it has distroied me as a woman and individual. I talked to my husband last night and in my disperation he kept on saying the most hurtful words how does not want things to work and does not want to think how things could have been. He said he loves himself more than a piece of paper that keep us together. I piece of paper. He forgot about all the temple covenants me made and the promises he made to always look after me. It hurts. I am worried about him. He was swearing and he even said that when our conversation will be over it´s worth getting drunk for. Scarry. I think he was just saying it to make me step back and resent him..He is not like that.
    It hurts when my family tells me when they say I am better off without him. I do not agree. I want my temple marriage. People have gone throught infidelity and much much worse than that and to finish a marriage because of arguments that have never been talked about or fixed I find it absurde. I am truly sick over this. I feel too weak to see myself getting the strenght to move on. I need the strenght to pray and I don´t. Right now I feel like the most important part of my life it was taken away from me. I use to believe in miracles,not sure about those either anymore. I don´t leave near a temple right now, but I sure miss it.
    Thanks for reading this.

  28. Divorce is always a bad news among married couples. Some couples just cannot iron out their differences..“

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