Excerpts from “Torn Asunder.” Editor Margaret Harper McCarthy
- Posted by Mary's Advocates
- On March 2, 2017
Torn Asunder: Children, the Myth of the Good Divorce, and the Recovery of Origins.
Imprint: Humanum, Pontifical John Paul II Institute Series
Editor: Margaret Harper Mccarthy
Publisher: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Grand Rapids, Michigan. 2017
See book review on my blog HERE
by Margaret Harper McCarthy
p. 4. Essentially, what has happened in recent years is the unsettling of the “good divorce” doctrine in a nutshell that doctrine held that a divorce was better than a “bad marriage” for children, provided the divorce was a good choice one in which the parents refrain from any public conflict, and divided their children and affection equally.
The “Homelessness” of Divorce.
by Lisa Lickona
p. 17. Two possibilities remain for the child of divorce. One is the “bubble wrap method”: wrapping and forgetting, keeping one’s memories in check with diversion and distraction. The other is to face the wound that is really there and discover the Love that continues to hold one in being.
p. 18. Again with the full awareness of the difficulties, I propose this starting point of the healing of the children of divorce: a cry that pierces the heavens, that seeks the One who is our true origin.
The Tragedy of Divorce for Children.
by Paul Sullins
p. 23. many family scholars argue that the the negative outcomes of divorce for children ar not due to the marital dissolution itself but to the corresponding loss of financial and emotional support children receive.
p. 28. It is clear from the data already presented that, as Hopkins family scholar Andrew Cherlin has recently acknowledge, “Children whose parens have remarried do not have higher levels of well-being that children in lone-parent families, despite the addition of a second parent.” Returning to a married state with a new spouse for one or both of the parents does not restore the benefits of intact marriage to their children. The main reason for this is that the move from a single to a stepparent family i s yet another major disruption for children.
p. 29 — a “marriage-go-round” in Cherlin’s suggestive phase.
p. 38 the desire for permanence is deeply ingrained in the human search for sexual intimacy…. The elemental trauma of divorce, then, leads to the loss of trust, not only in other persons, but in the ‘coherence, continuity and dependability’ of one’s social world. For the child of divorce, the ‘social world is no longer secure, and she is left with the perplexing question whether it ever was, or could ever be truly secure.’ On this understanding, the effect of divorce on a child is best described as a loss of being, an impairment at the level of his or her existence.
Biological Effects of Divorce on Children.
by Vicki Thorn.
p. 42. Those men who had experienced the divorce of their parents before age 18 have three times the likelihood of suffering a stroke than those men whose parents remained married.
Children of Divorce: Conflicts and Healing.
by Richard Fitzgibbons
p. 53. A number of research studies are now demonstrating that from a child’s perspective there is no such thing as a “good divorce.”… the negative effects of divorce on children couldn’t be avoided merely by the parents being cooperative.
p. 55. A study of 886 minnesotans who filed for divorce showed that not being able to talk together was identified by 53 percent as one of the major contributing factors to the decision to divorce. The other contributing factors were growing apart, cited by 55 percent, followed by insufficient attention and infidelity (34 percent).
p. 55. In my clinical experience the conflicts that most often lead to divorce are insecurity and selfishness in husbands and loneliness and selfishness in wives.
p. 56 Dr. Wright, a sociologist at the University of Central Florida, concluded, “The counseling profession is trying to help you through the divorce, not help you repair the marriage.” In that sense, he stated, “marriage counseling is often more like divorce counseling.” … Additionally, marital therapists regularly embrace the “psychological” view of marriage where the primary obligation is not to one’s spouse and family but to one’s self alone.
p. 59. Most, importantly, children, family members, and friends can encourage their parents to grow in the virtue of justice, which consists in the constant and firm decision to give their due to God and neighbor, and in this case spouses and children. … Catholic children of divorce can also suggest that their parents try to trust the Lord more with their sacrament of marriage, as it is His love that ultimately support their marriage. … Relatives, friends, and clergy too should consider making the same request, reminding the spouse seeking divorce of his/her marital vows, and the need of children for their parents’ stable union. .. They can also suggest that the couple consider seeking marital therapy from mental health professionals who do not embrace the psychological view of marriage.
Does the Shape of Families Shape Faith? Challenging the Churches to Confront the Impact of Family Change.
by Elizabeth Marquardt, Amy Ziettlow, and Charles E. Stokes.
p. 68. New findings also challenge the idea that teaching congregations how to have a “good divorce”- in which the parents stay involved in the child’s life and minimize their conflict with one another – offers much of a panacea. In one study, grown children of what might be called good divorces, where divorce ends a low conflict marriage (approximately two-thirds of divorces) often compared poorly even with those who grew up with unhappily married parents.
p. 82. The most fundamental problem – and the greatest source of suffering – occurs at the level of their very being. .. [q]uestions such as “Who am I?” and “How can I be at all, now that the people who are responsible for my very being are no longer together?” shape the inner lives of children of divorce.
p. 85. [c]hildren are harmed more by divorce if their parents had a low-conflict marriage than if they had a high-conflict one. If parents have a low conflict marriage and then a low-conflict and amicable divorce, children may be more inclined to lose confidence in the institution of marraige itself than if the parents engage in destructive behaviors before and after the divorce. In the latter case, the failure of the parental marriage can be blamed on the parents themselves rather than on the institution of marriage. Conversely, if nice people with good relationship skills cannot make a marriage work, then there is little reason, this line of thinking might go, to be optimistic about having a good marriage yourself.
p. 89. Congregations host a significant, once-in-a-lifetime rituals such as baptism, confirmation, graduation Sunday, weddings, funerals … …. can produce anxiety because children of divorce parents can anticipate… their own internal conflicts. [t]hese rituals still hold stress because the split worlds of the child of divorce will collide. Children of divorce must negotiate when version of themselves to be, the mom-version, the dad-version, or something else.
The Loss of Family as the Loss of Being: Divorce as an Ontological Wound.
by Andrew Root
p. 100. Often what is most difficult for children living through divorce is that the divorce radically changes the way the young people live their lives, because their world has changed; and following Heidegger, we can see how much this change reaches all the way to the ontological level… However, when the one who moves to another place is her father, the one responsible for the origins of her own being, the one who maybe shares her eyes, a nose, hair color, or personality traits, this sends shockwaves back to her own being. It is Dad’s function in this world to be with her, for she comes from him and cannot know herself apart from him.
The Child as the Guardian of Being.
by Antonio Lopez.
p. 123 When they exchanged vows, the spouses entrusted themselves to each other by receiving each other from the one who makes them and their love be. “Place,” therefore, does not simply mean the home where the child lives and grows –which itself is also expressive of the spouses’ mutual indwelling. Rather, the parents’ unity of love is the place which the constitutive relation of the child with God, which defines a person of the child, is established. When parents divorce, children lose their place in being, that is, they are at a loss in relating to the love that gives meaning to the unity of life. This loss, however, is not ultimate because the source (both the parents and God, who is ultimately responsible for the parents’ and children’s coming to be) cannot be deleted. Nevertheless, losing one’s place in being radically puts into question life’s meaning, that is, the unity between oneself, others, the world, and the divine source of all that is.
United We Divide: The Convergence of Law, Politics, Theology, and Daily Life in the Production of No-Fault Divorce.
by Ryan C. McPherson
p. 135. As the logic of no-fault divorce ran its course, marriage—the lifelong union between husband and wife for the bearing and rearing of offspring—all but ceased to exist in the eyes of the law. Formerly considered the fundamental unit of society, the family no longer function as such. In its place, a swarm of isolated individuals competed, through their attorneys, for rights to property, child custody, and child visitation; and those competing individuals could include not only biological and adoptive parents who once had been united as husband and wife, but also “de facto parents” and “parents by estoppel” who had cohabited–whether as opposite- or same-sex partners with one of the original spouses or parents. The no-fault revolution has not only severed the lifelong bond between husband and wife but is also ruptured the natural linking between parent and child.
p. 140 [T]he liberal-progressive-socialist-left has similar intentions for matters of marriage and sexuality as the conservative-libertarian-capitalist-right. Both extremes in the political spectrum reject the notion that family is a fundamental unit of society substituting either the individual (libertarianism) or the state (socialism) as a guarantee of prosperity. Consequently both sides welcome the ascendancy of no-fault divorce and same-sex marriage.
p 148. While conservative Lutheran church bodies such as WELS [Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod] continue to distance themselves from the more liberal ELCA [Evangelical Lutheran Church in America] on the issues of women’s ordination, homosexuality, and abortion, it appears that divorce and remarriage are now handled similarly on both ends of the so-called conservative-liberal spectrum the prevailing principle is that no conscious should feel burdened with a community of love…. It is no longer divorce, but rather its condemnation, that is become taboo for all.
Love Endures All Things: The Role of Forgiveness in Marriage.
by Andrew J. Sodergren
p. 170. To truly forgive requires the humble willingness to acknowledge one’s own pain and the empathy to acknowledge that of the other.
p. 171. Christ shows us that to love someone truly, implies the willingness to forgive in the face of an offense and that this willingness is more potent than any evil in the heart of man.
p. 175. To add further clarity to the notion of forgiveness, authors in this area contrast forgiveness with other related concepts, some of which are frequently confused with forgiveness. First is the issue of forgetting … Other important concepts distinguished from forgiveness include condoning (or excusing)… A few other misunderstandings of forgiveness also need to be clarified, some of which involve partial truth. One of these is the notion that time will heal the wound. In this regard people who have been hurt speak about moving on or letting go. … Finally it is important to distinguish forgiveness from reconciliation… Reconciliation, as the restoration of a relationship, requires the involvement, goodwill, and cooperation of both parties. Reconciliation requires that forgiveness be both given and received. This involves contrition on the part of the offender and a willingness to make amends on the part of the offended. Boundaries also need to be renegotiated well trust is gradually rebuild.
p. 178. Furthermore it is common for offended individuals to mentally replay offensive over and over again, thereby strengthening the negative assessment of the offender as well as their unwillingness to forgive
p. 182. The third phase of the Enright process model of forgiveness is aptly named the “work phase.” This is where the person does the difficult internal work of letting go of anger and hurt and replacing them with goodwill and beneficence toward the offender. Some key aspects of this phase include learning to see the offender and the offense in a new way. It means gaining a more complex, complete, and/or nuanced view that leaves space for the humanity of the offender. It is helpful to consider the larger context of the hurtful actions such as the various external and internal pressures that may have contributed to the offender’s behavior. Considering the various complex perceptions, feelings, and needs that may have been operative in the offender at the time of the offense helps to re-humanize him or her.
Sacrifice and Happiness: Approaching an Authentic Therapeutic Response to Married Couples in Distress.
by Margaret R. Laracy.
p. 192 When husband and wife-to-be arrive at the day of their wedding they generally are not expecting or intending that their Union will one day end in divorce.
p. 193. The therapeutic enterprise is aimed at healing and when spouses or couples present with marital problems, the apparent goal is to mend a broken relationship. Given the deep fractions in many marriages, however, therapists often assess whether the marriage is working or workable, rather than focusing on marital healing from the start. This pragmatic starting point can leave therapist to support or even recommend a decision to divorce. It is rarely made explicit in the therapeutic milieu that the “yes” given by spouses in their vows and the desire for lasting love lead inevitably to sacrifice in married life.
p. 194. To sacrifice is to accept the frustration of one’s own immediate interest or instinct for a greater good. In the context of relationships, sacrifice entails the recognition and affirmation of another person over oneself, in an act of love.
p. 206. The first aspect of a more authentic therapeutic response, then, is to become aware of this parallel process and avoid succumbing to it by embracing sacrifice with and for one’s patience. It is demanding for a therapist to affirm the permanence of a marital bond and the necessity of sacrifice in marriage. … Affirming the inextricability of the marriage bond for the good of the spouses called me to forgo the easy path of passive collusion in the breakdown of their marriage and opened me anew to this husband and wife, and to the mystery of their relationship with each other and with God…. Our task then, is to be willing to look at it, bear it, help the patient bear it, and respond accordingly. Our own difficulty in the face of sacrifice can cause us to collude with the couple’s own implicit or explicit attempt to run from it. Helping spouses learn to love and so move toward their desire for love requires a love that does not calculate. It is rarely said that the therapist need to love their patience, to love them enough to suffer for their true good.
Hedging One’s Bets: Courting Divorce.
by Margaret Harper McCarthy.
p. 218. America would embody the now international modern self, who has put an end to tradition, elders, custom– in sum, the past–and for whom only the future, and a constant changes it introduces, counts…. Modernity would habituate us to the idea that the common experience of alienation one has with one’s closest relations–prodigal sons and daughters, neglected parents, divorced parents–are “natural” and that in the end we don’t really belong to anyone, and no one really belongs to us. In some we have come to think that the tenuousness of these relations are as they should be.
But nature has a way of rising again, and in a strange ways. … In this light, it is perhaps not so ironic that it is the children of divorce who, on the basis of their “experience of deprivation”–and against the many attempts to convince them otherwise–are putting their fingers on something more original–more natural–than the tenuousness between parents and their children. It is they who are putting their fingers on the necessary link between our identity and our origin (in our parents).
p. 225. The companionate marriage is a “pure relation”…. The “companions,” that is, are fully formed individuals who are financially and psychologically independent, bound by nothing other than their emotional state. They will not, in other words, be giving themselves (and their independence) over to each other, entangling themselves economical or otherwise, in a common work. They will live in a house together but not make a home much less a neighborhood.
p. 226. The kind of relation undergirding the new “relationship system” is one between two solitaries, who now, with respect to each other are separate, independent, interchangeably “equal” selves, on the same commuter train, and always preparing for separation once again.
p. 227. [T]he androgyny that has defined our relations with each other for so long, has already led to a marked awareness of our loss, with women today less happy than they were three decades ago, notwithstanding the “benefits” according to a recent 35-year study.
“To Be Fond of Dancing Was a Certain Step towards Falling in Love”: Relearning Courtship from jane Austen.
by Elizabeth Kantor.
p. 254. Cohabitation is only the most extreme example a sort of reductio ad absurdum of the sliding-instead-of-deciding relationship style, which has gobbled up virtually all the territory once occupied by courtship. Virtually every “relationship transition or milestone” today is a kind of “ambiguous” quasi-commitment which inevitably piles on “constraints” that make it more difficult to leave a relationship that has been established without “deliberation”–and also more difficult to turn their relationship into a happy marriage.
p. 259. [Courtship rules] could protect women not just from premarital pregnancy and the ruin of the reputations and their marriage prospects, but also from emotional attachment to men who weren’t attached to them. The rules made it more difficult for couples to end up in the miserable half-committed state that we have seen some representing cohabiting couples stuck in, but that it is also quite possible for couples who stopped short of living together and even far short of sexual intercourse to find themselves suffering in.
As the Nation Goes, So Goes the Family: Liberal Political Theory and the Decline of Marriage.
by Jeanne Heffernan Schindler
p. 268. [L]iberalism’s anthropology has been hugely influential on the thinking and practice of Western culture and, arguably, on America in particular. One finds its influence wreaking havoc on marriage law beginning forty years ago when California adopted the nation’s first no-fault divorce statutes. … [W]ith the Advent of no-fault divorce, a marriage could be dissolved unilaterally by appeal to “irreconcilable differences,” and what had been understood as a “right to remain married” was not trumped by a new “right to divorce.” … [T]he problem of casual divorce and family breakdown is not simply a matter of current law–as if tightening up the legal framework would suffice–but rather penetrates American law and politics all the way down to its philosophical roots. What is required to counteract the divorce culture, then, is an alternating anthropology, a different vision of man that can serve as the wellspring for a fundamentally different view of marriage, family and political community. Catholicism offers precisely this alternative. Man as Made for Communion. The difference between the solitary, anxious, self-protective individual of the social contract and the Catholic vision of man appears in high relief in the first chapters of Genesis which reveal a simple but revolutionary anthropological fact: man is made for communion.
p. 271. Recall that a liberal anthropology is at root atomistic, which accounts for the basic suspicion of human relationships at work both in its political theory and its conception of marriage and family. Binding ties to another–citizens, spouses, child–threatens one’s autonomy; hence the need to render all such relationships contingent.
More Than Mere Will: The Grounds of Fidelity
by Nathan Schlueter
p. 272. Doubtless there are many causes contributing to America’s fidelity problem. In this essay I would like to explore two. The first is liberal democracy, which, by placing individual rights at the center of its understanding of justice, indirectly encourages attitudes and habits that makes fidelity more difficult to understand and to practice. Liberal democracy alone, however, is not fatal to fidelity. The trouble begins when liberal democracy comes into contact with romanticism. Romanticism is an infection of the moral imagination that is particularly flattering to the worst attitude and habits of liberal democracy. …. Romanticism is an infection of the moral imagination that is particularly flattering to the worst attitudes and habits of liberal democracy.
p. 274. Americans tend to act as though they are essentially separate and independent from all social, historical, and legal (and what has become most pronounced in their own time, biological) ties.
p. 275. The concept of the autonomous self … finds its most common expression in the claim that the self is prior to the good. In other words, the self does not choose things because they are right and good, things are right and good because they are chosen by the self.
p. 280. As experienced, romanticism is characterized by and identification of the ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ self with heightened emotional intensity, usually in the form of desire. The romantic actively seeks to create and sustain moments of strong passion, and experiences the demands of enhanced desire as a promise of happiness and a source of moral obligation more important than any prior obligations or conventional constrain… In reality however the emotional intensity that the Romantic takes as a sign of authenticity is based upon an illusion.