The Pope has decided to get with the divorce culture (traddy-Catholic blogs & idiots in the media), the Pope has decided to help Catholics pastorally (his supporters) the Pope has moved the church toward accepting divorce (liberal Catholics) – and so we can go round the circle to the point at which liberals, traddys and media ignoramuses meet. Divorce is the scourge of the age, and, along with the horror that is abortion, a clear sign that the devil is at work amongst us. I doubt how many people, even those in churches fully understand what they are embarking on – which is why I’d guess that most Catholics who end up divorced would get an annulment on the grounds they didn’t know what they were entering into. Preparation for marriage in many places is next to non-existent, and with so many folk living together before marriage, something of a formality where it does exist.
This age is not one which values working hard at something. Young folk seem to me to be fed a narrative of romantic love and sexual satisfaction which are just about bound to lead to disillusionment. Heightened feelings never stay at a high level, and if you want to be loved always, get a dog. Real people can’t always be as attentive as we’d like, and we can’t always be as appealing as we think we are. It’s easy to mistake a need for company for being in love; it’s easy to mistake lust for love; feelings are a bad guide to the long-term – they change, and we do. Mrs S and I have now been together for more than half a century, and that’s required the patience of a saint from her, and a certain amount of self-knowledge from me; we have little signals which tell us both when one of us is pushing the other a bit much, and sometimes we miss them and end up being cross with each other. But after this amount of time, we’re as close to one flesh as two folk can be – when she needs, as she has until recently, full-time care, then that’s my job. Sure, I’m happy for professional ‘carers’ to help, but I care for her because we have memories going back fifty odd years, and a love we’ve shared, which has gone from being a set of feelings to something so deep in us both that it is part of us.
But we belong to a generation and a type of folk where, when you got married, you knew it was for life. It never occurred to either of us that, when things got tough, as they did from time to time, that we could quit. I’ll not say it never occurred to either of us to stray, as I can speak only for myself, but if the thought crossed either of our minds, it was to be dismissed, though, if I am honest with myself, it never actually occurred to me; she’s the perfect woman, and I knew from the moment I met her that she was the one for me; I felt, and still feel, so lucky to have her that I’ve never been tempted to push that luck! That six months of marriage preparation we went through was a good one – it asked us to think very seriously about what we were about to do. Now, of course, there’s never a guarantee that attaches to anything – but as Mrs S and I approach yet another wedding anniversary, I’m sure that the fact we’re both Christians who pray about our marriage, and see in it a time of trial as well as a cause of celebration, has helped. The fact that we never considered that word which forms the title of this post also helped – you work stuff out when you don’t have an escape clause.