Marriage is ordained of God and is so important to our spiritual and temporal well-being. Ancient and modern day prophets have provided important council on marriage and divorce. Here is a wonderful talk given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks on divorce.
I love how Elder Oaks speaks out of such love and concern for us. He is not saying divorce is absolutely wrong. We know in certain circumstances it is the right thing to do.
When I was 20, I was married in the temple. It lasted 18 months. It was a volatile relationship from the beginning. I should have known better but I was young and thought things would change. I have to be honest, I was devastated when he told me he wanted a divorce. I thought we would be married forever. It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. Was divorce the right thing to do in this situation? I don't know the answer to this, but I do know if it wasn't for this experience, I never would have gone on a mission and I may have never met the man I am married to now and have been married to for 22 years!
President James E. Faust gives some counsel on the decision for divorce. He gives a three-part "test" for those seeking to determine if ending a marriage is justified.
- Prolonged difficulties- "Only prolonged marital difficulties should lead a couple to contemplate divorce." President Faust sustains that a determination of just cause for divorce requires a substantial period of problems, time for potential change to occur, and an unrushed, careful decision.
- Apparently irredeemable relationship- This means that there appears to be little hope for repairing the marital relationship. This determination requires that sincere and sustained efforts have been made to understand and fix the problems.
- Destruction of human dignity- The relationship has deteriorated to the point that it threatens to destroy the dignity of one or both spouses. This means marital problems have become serious enough over a period of time that an individual begins to lose his or her sense of worth.
In my situation, I had a prompting that I should not marry my first spouse, a few weeks before the wedding. As I look back I wish I would have listened to that still small voice. I can't change it now, but I would recommend to young people that are considering getting married to always pray about it and listen to those promptings. You can save yourself a lot of heartache and pain if you listen.
Just to clarify, I am not saying my marriage now has been a bed of roses. We have had our ups and downs. Marriage isn't easy, and there are times when I want to throw in the towel. We both have to constantly work at it and be patient with each other. We are working at it every day and I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who is guiding us and cheering us on.
Here are some wonderful books that I recommend for those who may be at the crossroads of divorce to give them perspective and guidance.
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (Gottman & Silver, 1999)
The Divorce Remedy (Davis, 2000)
Covenant Hearts (Hafen, 2005)