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Ending the divorce epidemic
Posted By David Kupelian On 04/07/2005 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
When 32-year-old Paul and his 17-year-old fiancee Anna walked into the Norristown, Pa., courthouse to apply for a marriage license, the justice turned them down flat when he learned they had known each other for only one day.
Yet after much pleading and persuasion, the judge reluctantly granted them their license, and Anna and Paul were married three days later.
The wedding, held at Paul’s brother’s house, wasn’t much – only four people in attendance, no wedding gown, no flowers, no cake, not even a picture taken. He was poor, and she was poorer.
As marriages go, this one didn’t sound like it had too much of a future.
Yet, exactly 50 years later, I was privileged to attend the golden wedding anniversary party of Paul and Anna Paulson, my grandparents. It was memorable. They were as loved by their many friends and relatives as George and Mary Bailey in the final scene of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Although their marriage had been arranged by their Greek families according to old-country custom – hence the absence of any courtship – Grandmom and Grandpop had learned to love each other. Along the way they raised four children (including my mother, Louise), kept them safe and sound through the Great Depression, built a successful business, put all four kids through college, saw them all married and producing 13 grandchildren, and lived a long and exemplary life of Christian service to others.
What magic kept their marriage so rock-solid despite the tremendous stresses and hardships they endured?
I didn’t know the answer to that as a 14-year-old boy at their 50th anniversary party, nor did the question occur to me. Why would it? After all, their marriage didn’t represent anything out-of-the-ordinary. When I was a kid, marriage was normal. Almost all grownups were married, and the marriage lasted until one of them died. That’s just the way it was, or so it seemed.
I had heard about Elizabeth Taylor and other movie stars who scandalously seemed to marry for a short time, get divorced and then remarry and then redivorce and remarry yet again. Some would just sleep around and not bother with the charade of marriage at all.
But that was Hollywood. In the real world where I lived, people got married and stayed married.
I vividly remember the day I discovered divorce. My mother introduced me to Yvonne, a friend of hers who had been divorced. I still recall my feelings of awkwardness and embarrassment, a gut recognition of some private shame. I knew there was something very wrong, something tragic, about divorce.
Today, decades later, it seems every few weeks I hear about another friend or acquaintance of mine whose marriage has detonated. With stunning rapidity, divorce has been transformed from something relatively rare, stigmatizing and traumatic to something commonplace, accepted – and traumatic.
Indeed, divorce today is almost expected, with one in every two marriages ending this way. It is only the numbing frequency and ubiquity of divorce that make us forget the full-blown tragedy it really is – the devastation of a family.
“All it takes is one confused spouse who thinks that divorce will solve their unhappiness,” said Michelle Gauthier, founder of Defending Holy Matrimony, a Catholic organization. “When that one spouse visits a lawyer, they place the entire family in the hands of a hostile court system. Children become wards of the state, and all marital assets are controlled by the courts. It is truly a tragedy.”
A tragedy, yes, and nowhere more so than in its negative impact on children.
“National studies show that children from divorced and remarried families experience more depression, have more learning difficulties, and suffer from more problems with peers than children from intact families,” writes Judith Wallerstein, widely considered the world’s foremost authority on the effects of divorce on children. In her landmark book, “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce,” Wallerstein reveals:
Children from divorced and remarried families are two to three times more likely to be referred for psychological help at school than their peers from intact families. More of them end up in mental health clinics and hospital settings. There is earlier sexual activity, more children born out of wedlock, less marriage, and more divorce. Numerous studies show that adult children of divorce have more psychological problems than those raised in intact marriages.
It gets worse. Besides the more obvious results of rampant divorce – such as the massive growth in single-parent homes – “virtually every major personal and social pathology can be traced to fatherlessness more than to any other single factor,” says author Stephen Baskerville, a professor of political science at Howard University. Citing violent crime, substance abuse, unwed pregnancy, suicide and other problems, he says, “fatherlessness far surpasses both poverty and race as a predictor of social deviance.”
Indeed, the growth of the youth-gang culture – police say Los Angeles County alone is home to an estimated 150,000 gang members – is eloquent testimony to the powerful need boys have for a father. If they don’t have a real father in their lives, they’ll gravitate to another male role model, even a poisonous one.
Equally alarming, although largely unrecognized by most people, is the expansion of government power to which rampant divorce has given rise. As Baskerville puts it:
The result of three decades of unrestrained divorce is that huge numbers of people – many of them government officials – now have a vested professional and financial interest in encouraging it. Divorce today is not simply a phenomenon; it is a regime – a vast bureaucratic empire that permeates national and local governments, with hangers-on in the private sector. In the United States, divorce and custody comprise over half of civil litigation, constituting the cash cow of the judiciary and bringing employment and earnings to a host of public and private officials, including judges, lawyers, psychotherapists, mediators, counselors, social workers, child support enforcement agents and others.
This growth industry derives from the impact of divorce on children. The divorce revolution has spawned a public-private industrial complex of legal, social service and psychotherapeutic professionals devoted to the problems of children, and especially children in single-parent homes. Many are women with feminist leanings. Whatever pieties they may voice about the plight of fatherless, poor, and violent children, the fact remains that these practitioners have a vested interest in creating as many such children as possible. The way to do it is to remove the fathers.
“Where you have minor children, there’s really no such thing as no-fault divorce for fathers,” says Detroit attorney Philip Holman, vice-president of the National Congress for Fathers and Children. “On the practical level, fathers realize that divorce means they lose their kids.”
For an out-of-control, ever-expanding government such as America’s, divorce represents a hard-to-resist growth opportunity. “Once the father is eliminated,” Baskerville explains, “the state functionally replaces him as protector and provider. By removing the father, the state also creates a host of problems for itself to solve: child poverty, child abuse, juvenile crime, and other problems associated with single-parent homes. In this way, the divorce machinery is self-perpetuating and self-expanding. Involuntary divorce is a marvelous tool that allows for the infinite expansion of government power.”
This may appear to be a sinister, almost conspiratorial-sounding assessment of government’s role in divorce. But if you look objectively at what has happened to the institution of civil marriage since the 1960s and pay attention not to what people and governments say, but to what they actually do, Baskerville’s harsh conclusions are hard to deny.
Consider just how absurdly easy it is to get divorced today. Writer Dennis E. Powell explains how, upon learning his wife desired a divorce, he quickly found the state more than eager to help break up marriages:
I have discovered how my state – Connecticut – has done all it can to make ending a marriage easy, while making little or no provision for preserving it. In Connecticut, as in other states, “no-fault” divorce means “divorce because it suits the mood of at least one partner.” The state has produced an official publication, the “Do-It-Yourself Divorce Guide” to make getting a divorce as simple as mounting a defense against a speeding ticket – even if your spouse has no interest in divorce.
Especially if your spouse has no interest in divorce. The “Do-It-Yourself Divorce Guide” offers everything one needs to know to obtain a divorce, but no guidance as to how one who opposes a divorce might respond. There is plenty on how to battle for a bigger piece of the marital corpse and on getting court orders of alimony, child support, custody, and exclusive use of the family home. There is no mention of another pre-judgment court order … available under the law, in which the court may order two sessions with a marriage counselor or other person trained in the resolution of disputes within families …
Filing for divorce, the guide notes, is a simple matter. Fill out a couple of forms, take them to the court clerk, and have copies delivered to your spouse by a process server.
In Connecticut, divorce is routinely granted about 90 days after one spouse files the necessary papers. Total cost to the divorcing party if one represents oneself pro se (without an attorney): approximately $225-$250.
Ninety days. A couple hundred bucks. No reason required – other than “the marriage has irretrievably broken down.” Breaking a marriage “contract” today is easier than firing an employee hired last week or getting out of a cell-phone contract.
In truth, there is no genuine civil marriage in America anymore. The “contract” part of the marriage contract is non-existent. After all, two parties enter into what they call a contract – and yet either party has the power to end that “contract” at any time, for any reason, whether or not the other party agrees. Thus, there never was a real contract, a binding agreement, in the first place.
Yet, the “binding,” extremely-hard-to-break nature of the marriage contract is essential to marriage itself. Marriage is difficult, and there comes a time in many, if not most, marriages when conflicts and suffering cause one or the other spouse to contemplate ending the marriage. The marriage contract is meant to protect both spouses – and their children – against exactly such a period of weakness. No-fault divorce destroys that protection.
How did this happen? How have we managed to cripple civilization’s primary institution, marriage, and with such blinding speed?
‘Marriage is legalized rape’
Let’s begin our exploration by considering that a best-selling pro-marriage book almost never saw the light of day just a few years ago.
Harvard University Press had contracted with University of Chicago sociologist and professor Linda J. Waite, a self-described “liberal Democrat,” along with co-author Maggie Gallagher, to write a book based on Waite’s studies about marriage.
Apparently, the Harvard-based publishing house expected the book to do the politically correct thing and criticize marriage, as is so common among today’s academic elite. But, as the Harvard scholars reviewed the manuscript, they found it revealed married men and women live happier, healthier, more financially secure lives, and even have “more and better sex.” So naturally, the university’s publication board members decided at the last minute not to publish the book – titled “The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier and Better Off Financially” – a book they themselves had commissioned.
One Harvard Press reviewer said she didn’t like the book’s “tone.” That’s about as close to an answer as the public ever got.
By way of “tonal” comparison, check out another Harvard Press author, feminist Catharine MacKinnon who frequently compares male sexual desire to rape – whether women consent to sex or not. Expressing what one reviewer called “a whole-hog hatred of men,” MacKinnon explains: “What in the liberal view looks like love and romance looks a lot like hatred and torture to the feminist.” A professor of law at both the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Chicago Law School, MacKinnon has written no fewer than five books for Harvard Press. Her message: “Feminism stresses the indistinguishability of prostitution, marriage, and sexual harassment.”
So, marriage-equals-rape is OK with the Harvard University Press, but marriage-equals-happiness is not OK. Fortunately, although Harvard turned down “The Case for Marriage” at the 11th hour, it was ultimately published by Doubleday and enjoyed wide readership and critical acclaim.
Flatly contradicting the cherished divorce-may-be-good-for-you myths of the ’60s and ’70s, Waite and Gallagher argued – using a broad range of indices – that “being married is actually better for you physically, materially and spiritually than being single or divorced.” But they introduce their findings with a warning:
For perhaps the first time in human history, marriage as an ideal is under a sustained and surprisingly successful attack. Sometimes the attack is direct and ideological, made by “experts” who believe a lifelong vow of fidelity is unrealistic or oppressive, especially to women.
“Even in the early 1960s,” sum up social historians Steven Mintz and Susan Kellogg, “marriage and family ties were regarded by the ‘human potential movement’ as potential threats to individual fulfillment as a man or a woman. The highest forms of human needs, contended proponents of the new psychologies, were autonomy, independence, growth, and creativity,” which marriage often thwarted. The search for autonomy and independence as the highest human good blossomed with the women’s movement into a critique of marriage per se, which the more flamboyant feminists denounced as “slavery,” “legalized rape,” and worst of all, “tied up with a sense of dependency.” “From this vantage point” Mintz and Kellogg note, “marriage increasingly came to be described as a trap, circumscribing a woman’s social and intellectual horizons and lowering her sense of self-esteem.”
“Slavery”? “Legalized rape”? How could anyone think of marriage in such terms? Let’s travel back to the 1960s and ’70s and listen to the feminist drumbeats. And keep in mind that, like much of what was being preached and written about with religious zeal in those days of cultural revolution, even the most absurd ideas had a way of magically morphing into public policy a few years later.
First, let’s be very clear about what we’re looking at – pure rage, an all-consuming hatred of men, and often a hatred of God as well.
If you think I’m exaggerating, go read their writings for yourself. You will be shocked at the depth and intensity of anger, the kind one associates with deep personal violation or trauma. Indeed, in some well-known cases, feminist leaders report having been sexually abused as children or beaten by a violent husband. Apparently, they have concluded in their blind anger that all men are predatory beasts and molesters, and thus are determined to save their fellow women from the “slavery” and “oppression” of family life.
Most people who lived through the ’60s remember the militant feminists and their angry speeches, demonstrations and bra-burnings. But when this spectacle left the front page of mainstream consciousness – along with the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, long hair, LSD and the rest of the ’60s psychedelic cultural revolution – did America just go back to “normal”?
We had been transformed. Today, a generation later, we debate issues like cohabitation, divorce, same-sex marriage, civil unions, polygamy and the redefinition of marriage, seemingly oblivious to the fact that marriage as a fundamental institution of civilization was crippled back in the late ’60s and early ’70s with the advent of no-fault divorce.
Although radical feminism has always been too strident – and frankly, insane – to be embraced by the American public (though it is to this day a powerful molding influence on America’s college campuses), its core agenda has mysteriously become our reality.
The same thing happened with abortion, the No. 1 cause of feminists today. The public has never accepted the radical pro-abortion agenda – national polls repeatedly show barely 25 percent of Americans embrace unfettered abortion-on-demand at any time, for any reason. Yet that radical agenda is the law of the land in the United States today. In the same way, the feminist movement – from the “mainstream” variety that pushed women into the workplace to the man-hating radical variety that demanded an end to marriage and the mainstreaming of lesbianism – has succeeded in turning its agenda into public policy.
Look at what its purveyors wanted: to persuade women to be ashamed of their roles as homemaker and mother and to set their sights instead on the workplace; to institute no-fault divorce; to make lesbianism an acceptable alternative to heterosexuality; and most of all, to “free” women from marriage. They scored big-time. The question is: “How?”
While feminism was relentlessly driving the family apart from the sidelines, what on earth was the mainstream thinking? After all, it was state legislatures and judges and governors, not militant lesbians, that actually tossed out the powerfully binding civil-marriage contract by instituting no-fault divorce.
Wallerstein describes the seduction of “mainstream” America:
Up until 30 years ago marriage was a lifetime commitment with only a few narrow legal exits such as proving adultery in the courts or outwaiting years of abandonment. American cultural and legal attitudes bound marriages together, no matter how miserable couples might be. Countless individuals were locked in loveless marriages they desperately wanted to end, but for the most part they had no way out. Then, in an upheaval akin to a cataclysmic earthquake, family law in California changed overnight. A series of statewide task forces recommended that men and women seeking divorce should no longer be required to prove that their spouse was unfaithful, unfit, cruel, or incompatible. It was time, they said, to end the hypocrisy embodied in laws that severely restricted divorce. People should be able to end an unhappy marriage without proving fault or pointing blame.
The prevailing climate of opinion was that divorce would allow adults to make better choices and happier marriages by letting them undo earlier mistakes. They would arrive at an honest, mutual decision to divorce, because if one person wanted out, surely it could not be much of a marriage.
These attitudes were held by men and women of many political persuasions, by lawyers, judges, and mental health professionals alike. The final task force that formulated the new no-fault divorce laws was led by law professor Herma Kay, who was well known as an advocate for women’s rights. In 1969, Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the new law and people were jubilant. It was a time of hope and faith that greater choice would set men and women free and benefit their children. Within a few years, no-fault divorce laws spread like wildfire to all 50 states. People all across the country were in favor of change.
“But,” adds Wallerstein, whose groundbreaking work involved a 25-year study of children of divorce, “what about the children? In our rush to improve the lives of adults, we assumed that their lives would improve as well. We made radical changes in the family without realizing how it would change the experience of growing up. We embarked on a gigantic social experiment without any idea about how the next generation would be affected.”
Why did Reagan, a champion of family values, sign the nation’s first no-fault divorce bill into law? He was shattered when his first wife, actress Jane Wyman, filed for divorce. Although it was Reagan’s growing anti-communism that alienated wife Jane – she complained in her divorce papers that “my husband and I engaged in continual arguments on his political views” – she accused him of “mental cruelty,” since divorce laws in the 1940s required a charge against the other spouse of adultery, extreme cruelty, willful desertion, willful neglect, habitual intemperance, felony conviction or incurable insanity.
As son Michael later explained in his book “Twice Adopted,” “Even though listing grounds for divorce was largely a formality, those words were probably a bitter pill for him to swallow.” In signing California’s no-fault divorce law, said Michael, “He wanted to do something to make the divorce process less acrimonious, less contentious and less expensive.”
But Reagan later regretted the decision as one of the worst he ever made, as divorce rates skyrocketed and divorce conflicts and legal costs remained “as ruinous as ever,” Michael added.
Looking back at America’s decades-long divorce “experiment,” Glenn Stanton, Focus on the Family’s marriage expert, sums up its results. While adults suffered terribly, children “fared even worse,” he said.
Many saw the innocence of childhood evaporate the day their parents announced the divorce. Others described being “scarred for life.” They told countless stories of being crippled by anxiety, possessed by anger, disoriented by confusion and immobilized by fear of total abandonment. Their behavior, grades and physical and mental health plummeted. They were different children. In fact, they didn’t see themselves as children any longer. Divorce forced them to become adults, even before they became teens. We now know these children carry these problems cumulatively into adulthood.
Contemplating the stupendous amount of pain, deprivation and trauma we so jubilantly and foolishly invited into the national family a generation ago – during which time we overthrew most if not all of the rules we had lived by for centuries – we must ask ourselves: What happened to America during the 1960s? I mean, what really happened?
What exactly was this mass seduction that we call “cultural revolution” that overtook America during that tumultuous period? I have yet to hear a really good explanation for it.
It seems a combination of powerful factors – like planets that rarely align – all came together during that particular period and ushered in a transformation the American mind.
One factor was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It was to the ’60s generation what Sept. 11, 2001, was to today’s Americans – a national shock beyond all other national shocks. It signaled the end of America’s innocence, of the ’50s world of “Leave it to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best.” The handsome Camelot president – he and Jacqueline were the closest thing to royalty in modern America – had his brains blown out on national television.
Like everyone else alive then, I remember where I was – in my eighth-grade science class. It was right after lunch and the teacher walked into the classroom and said: “I suppose you’ve all heard Kennedy was shot.” My first reaction was: “Kennedy? He must mean the boy in our class named Kennedy.” It didn’t occur to me that it could be our president. Presidents weren’t assassinated – just as married couples didn’t get divorced. Assassinated presidents were people like Lincoln and Garfield, but it didn’t happen in America now, I thought.
It was a major psychic shock. And shock has a strange way of opening people up to new ideas – and not necessarily good ideas.
Then there was the Vietnam War. From an ideological point of view it was arguably one of America’s most altruistic wars, as we were there to stop the spread of communism and had little to gain ourselves. But the war’s actual execution by America’s leaders was incompetent and disastrous, as Defense Secretary Robert McNamera later famously admitted. The nation was polarized and intensely emotionalized over the controversial war.
Powerful emotion also has a strange way of opening people up to new ideas.
Then there was the rock music invasion from England. What started with the Beatles, Rolling Stones and other groups immediately exerted a powerful hold on America’s youth and soon introduced and sugar-coated the psychedelic drug subculture – “Turn on, tune in, drop out” – which was, in turn, energized and unified by opposition to the Vietnam War.
A primary effect of mind-altering drugs is that they open people up to new ideas – maybe that’s why they’re called “mind-altering.”
And then, most devastating of all, there was widespread confusion among America’s churches and churchgoers over God. Time magazine’s infamous 1966 cover story, “Is God Dead?” shockingly quoted top church leaders expressing anxiety and uncertainty over Who God is, or even if He is. With America’s traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and moral standards in doubt or disrepute, alien philosophies and beliefs readily flooded into the vacuum – paganism, occultism, channeling and New Age practices of every conceivable sort.
Similarly, without a godly paradigm – whereby we comprehend that man’s only true freedom is to be a servant of Heaven, rather than a slave of Hell – our whole concept of freedom was transformed. This naturally opened America up to a torrent of “liberation” movements, from sexual liberation to women’s liberation to gay liberation. In America’s morally weakened and confused state, even the most radical and alien ideas exerted an immensely powerful influence on the national mind and mood.
As if all this wasn’t enough, there was something else at play – something seldom mentioned in polite circles out of fear of ridicule. And that is the issue of communist influence. We didn’t just get high on LSD and fall off the cliff during the 1960s. We were pushed.
Hard as it may be to believe today when communism has been so thoroughly discredited, back during the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s many people – including some well-known Americans – actually believed Marxism was a good thing. There was an ideological struggle going on in the world, and the seduction of communism was in its heyday – including in the United States.
During this time, the Soviet Union was engaged not only in its very public military and scientific buildup, but also in massive espionage and infiltration. And, as the public record undeniably shows, the USSR had direct ties with the Communist Party USA.
The entertainment industry was one area targeted by the Communist Party USA, which had been active in Hollywood since 1935. Headquartered in New York, the CPUSA had decided to wrest control of the entertainment industry – and therefore of what Americans would see in their movie theatres – by taking over Hollywood’s labor unions.
“By the end of the Second World War, [communist] party membership in Hollywood was close to 600 and boasted several industry heavyweights,” reveals Peter Schweizer in his celebrated book, “Reagan’s War.” “Actors Lloyd Bridges, Edward G. Robinson, and Fredric March were members, as were half a dozen producers and about as many directors.” (Some, it should be noted, later renounced their Communist Party affiliation.)
It was none other than Ronald Reagan who took the leading role in throttling this attempted communist takeover of Hollywood when, as head of the Screen Actors Guild, he very publicly and courageously opposed them. It marked Reagan’s entry into the world of politics – and the anti-communist mission he would complete 40 years later when, as president of the United States, he took the central role in engineering the end of what he himself had aptly called the “evil empire.”
But back in the era immediately preceding the 1960s, there had been many communists infiltrating America’s government and institutions. Without a doubt, America came under a direct revolutionary assault – pushed primarily by avowed leftists of every stripe – during the 1960s. Most U.S. college campuses were swept up in the revolutionary fervor, and leftist propaganda and agitation were everywhere. Believe me, I know – I was there.
When all these various national assaults and traumas hit the nation at once – an unpopular war, presidential assassination, music-and-drug cultural invasion, a massive erosion of faith – the anti-America subversion that previously had existed below the surface of society seized the moment and burst forth into open rebellion.
Looking back, one has to wonder just how successful the radical left was in subverting key American institutions, including government, education, entertainment, the press and the churches.
It’s hard to say for sure. But it’s very sobering to realize that today, America’s colleges and universities are absurdly to the left of the mainstream. In fact, just about the only place in the world you can find real, bona fide Marxists any more is on American college campuses, where they are insulated from reality as tenured professors. Same with radical feminists, who also tend to be socialists. The National Education Association, which “represents” America’s public school teachers, is a leftist organization, as are the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.
Oh, by the way, maybe it’s just a coincidence, but guess what Lenin (Vladimir, not John) did right up front to facilitate the communist revolution? He broke up the family by instituting de facto no-fault divorce, as celebrated Soviet expert Mikhail Heller explains:
It is significant to note that one of the first things V.I. Lenin did when he came to power in the Soviet Union, after the revolution in 1917, was to have passed what amounts to our no-fault divorce statutes.
Lenin, and later Stalin, determined that in order to maintain control of the people it would be necessary to completely destroy the family and restructure it.
Thus, on Sept. 16, 1918, a law was passed whereby one could obtain a divorce by simply mailing or delivering a postcard to the local register without the necessity of even notifying the spouse being divorced.
This statute, along with the communist encouragement of sexual immorality during marriage, approval of abortion, and forcing women out of the home into the workforce, accomplished its purpose of destroying the Russian family.
Unlike Lenin, who had guns, gulags and storm troopers to enforce his will, America’s revolutionaries, including the radical feminists, had no means of forcing their anti-marriage and other agendas on society other than the force of “moral persuasion” – or to put it more aptly, angry intimidation. Unfortunately, people who aren’t strong and sure of their own beliefs simply cannot withstand the demands of unreasonable, angry intimidators. They give in, they compromise, and even start to adopt the bully’s views as their own – to keep the peace.
That’s what happened in America.
‘Let no man put asunder’
When a man and woman are married – one of the most joyful days of their lives – the officiating minister traditionally seals the wedding ceremony by warning the rest of the world to keep their hands off: “Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder.”
Yet, no-fault divorce laws – which by making divorce so easy have deprived couples of much-needed protection of their marriages during periods of conflict and anger – represent an unimaginably broad and destructive policy of government “putting asunder” those whom God joined in holy matrimony.
So, while men and women need to approach marriage with a mature, spiritual paradigm, it’s also critical that the government wake up and learn from the sad legacy of its no-fault divorce laws: a generation of broken homes, broken promises, broken spirits.
Marriage is too important, too wonderful, and too challenging to have the odds stacked against it due to short-sighted and pernicious easy-divorce laws. Enlightened legislators and other leaders must revisit and re-fashion America’s divorce laws so they serve to preserve marriages, not dissolve them. We must once again realize that marriage really is meant to be forever.
By the way, one last note about my grandfather, Paul M. Paulson. He was an uneducated man, a poor tailor who immigrated to America for a better life, and who barely knew his arranged bride on his wedding day. But decades later, he would credit the success of his marriage to “seeking constant guidance from above, because we both love God and assume woman is a gift of God [to man] – the most important gift after God’s son.” Grandpop believed that if couples feel this way, they will regard each other with sufficient love, respect and determination to make any sacrifice necessary to preserve the marriage partnership. His favorite Bible verse? “And above all things, have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Another “poor tailor” – Motel (pronounced “Mottle”) the tailor in “Fiddler on the Roof” – immortalized these same sentiments in song when the reluctant patriarch Tevia finally agreed to let Motel marry his firstborn daughter, Tzeidel:
Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles,
God took a tailor by the hand
Turned him around and, miracle of miracles,
Led him to the promised land!
When David slew Goliath (yes!),
that was a miracle.
When God gave us manna in the wilderness,
that was a miracle, too.
But of all God’s miracles large and small,
The most miraculous one of all
Is the one I thought could never be:
God has given you to me.
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