The cultural assault on marriage takes many forms. Cohabiting, divorce, same-sex marriage and other trends in society impact our marriages in unforeseen ways. Traditional marriage has been protected under the law because it provides stability to society, but it has been eroded over the last fifty years or more, and the results are around us. The Catholic Church has been strong in its teaching but weak in its actual catechesis – too many Catholics do not understand what the Church teaches and why. They are almost as likely as anyone to fall victim to the consequences or marriage breakdown.
Perhaps the most destructive weapon against families is no-fault divorce. In years past, a person would have to make their case in front of a judge as to why the marriage should be dissolved. It was not automatic at all. That is because marriage was recognized as a good for society with a societal interest in its preservation. However, the sexual revolution led to marriage becoming seen a private good and so the idea of parading one another’s faults in front of a judge (as it was portrayed) became distasteful. Laws were relaxed until we reached the point where either spouse, after a year of separation, could declare the marriage irreconcilable and presto! Divorce granted. This means that countless spouses are divorced against their will and the initiating spouse is divorced without penalty for causing the end of the marriage.
One of the champions of marriage and a vocal opponent of no-fault divorce is Bai Macfarlane, founder of Mary’s Advocates. There are resources at the website explaining the canonical rights of spouses (that is, their rights under the laws of the Catholic Church.) Also, there is considerable research presented as well as other resources, including online support for couples hoping to reconcile as well as for individuals who have been victimized by unwanted divorce.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse is the founder of the Ruth Institute. This organization is focused on the “survivors” of the sexual revolution, among them:
- Child of divorce
- Child of unmarried parents
- Reluctantly divorced man or woman
- Reluctantly single parent
- Heartbroken career woman
- Donor-conceived person
- Pornography addict (and family)
- Post-abortive woman or man
- Gay lifestyle refugee
- Refugee from hook-up culture
- Cohabiter with regrets
- People with health problems related to hook-ups, abortion, contraception
Much of the information on the site is directed at a wide audience, however there are also some Catholic-specific items as well. Dr. Morse has a lot of information here, as well as food for thought. Many of us may not have considered how bitter are the fruits of the sexual revolution. The Ruth Institute offers marriage-related events, including retreats for Healing Family Breakdown.
Little Catholic Bubble is a blog run by Leila Miller. A Catholic mother, author and catechist, Leila has a lot of good material on her blog and it is well worth exploring. Her first book, Raising Chaste Catholic Men is a book of practical advice on raising sons. Her new book, Primal Loss, The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak will be released next month. Based on some excerpts she has shared on social media, this book will be enlightening and heartrending. It is an important contribution to the understanding of marriage breakdown and the family. In short, the ripple effects of divorce extend for many decades, even generations.