Unification News for May 1997

Children are Forgotten Victims of Divorce

Haven Bradford Gow
May, 1997

In the United States today, 1.2 million couples divorce each year; 700,000 marriages involving children dissolve every year in this country. The U.S. now has the highest rate of divorce in the world today: one in two marriages culminates in divorce.

A young woman recently sent this message to columnist Ann Landers: "A man who engages in extramarital affairs teaches his sons that this is OK behavior. A woman who stays with an unfaithful husband teachers her daughters to do the same." A good father, added the letter writer, "remains faithful and demonstrates to his sons what it means to be a good husband. A good mother does not condone...bad behavior from her husband."

According to Dr. Archibald Hart, a psychology professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and author of Helping Children Survive Divorce (Word Publishing), children often are the forgotten victims of divorce. He says divorce is damaging to children because:

*It signals the collapse of the family structure; and the child starts to feel alone and frightened.
*The divorce creates conflicts of loyalty in the children; children often feel pulled by love and loyalty in both directions.
*The anger and resentment between the parents, which is so prevalent in most divorces, creates intense fear and anxiety in children.
*Divorce represents to children the loss of many important things such as home, school, neighborhood, church, friends. Deep depression often is the result of this painful loss.

What, then, are the ingredients of a happy, good and enduring marriage? In his book of enduring wisdom and significance, Three to Get Married (Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ), the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen pointed out that faith in God and the development of a spiritual and psychic bond are essential elements of a good, happy and enduring marriage. He observes: "Marriage involves a soul, a mind, a heart, and a will as much as it involves reproductive organs.... The union, therefore, may be described as psychosomatic, in the sense that it affects the whole person, body and soul, and not merely the lower part alone." When Archbishop Sheen says three are needed to make a marriage happy, good and enduring, he is talking about a husband, a wife, and God.

Please reflect on the observations of the following persons who know from first-hand experience what it takes to make a happy and good marriage:

Edward Pang, a Good Samaritan and member of the Chinese Christian Mission at First Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi, points out that he and his wife have been married for 64 years, and that their happy and enduring marriage is "a gift from God, truly a miracle." He notes that his marriage of 64 years is the most remarkable and wonderful achievement of his life in that he truly has been blessed by God with someone who has shared for 64 years the problems and sufferings as well as the joys of life.

Jerome Sit, a prominent businessman and member of the Chinese Christian Mission in Greenville, MS, says: "After my wife and I got married, we went home, and the first thing I did was to take her hand and then we together got down on our knees and prayed to God and asked Him to bless our marriage and guide us through life. We also asked Him to help us be good parents, too. It takes a great deal of humility and love and religious faith for a marriage to endure."

Simon Zhou, a dedicated and loving family man in Quincy, Mass., readily agrees with the sentiments expressed above; he declares, "No matter how much money you have or how many material goods you possess, you cannot buy a happy, successful and enduring marriage. Good marriages have more to do with the spiritual side of life and faith in God."

Willie Williams, justice of the peace in Chicot County, Arkansas, says: "In my career as a justice of the peace, I have married over 3,000 couples. Before I agree to marry them, I ask them important, basic questions. I ask them: Do you believe in God? Do you both have religious faith and attend church together? Do you really love one another enough to stay married with one another for a lifetime? Are you mature and responsible enough to be a husband or wife and bring children into the world?" Justice Williams adds: "For a marriage to be happy, successful and enduring, both partners must agree on the good and important things of life such as how to treat other people, whether or not to believe in God and how to conduct oneself as a good, moral human being. People getting married must realize they must work together as a team, make sacrifices and be unselfish. And without God and religious faith, there is no strong foundation for a good marriage."

Rev. James Toney, a Baptist clergyman and scholar in Eudora, Arkansas, declares: "Before you get married, you must test the spirit of the other person; if you talk to your girlfriend about spiritual, religious matters, and there is agreement, then you have a good basis for marriage. The sexual, physical side of marriage is not as important as the spiritual. If you both have faith in God and spiritual love for one another, you can work out problems together and make a marriage last. God has blessed my wife and myself with 50 years of marriage and with several beautiful children; it pays to follow the teachings of God and the Bible."

Joseph W. Gow, a dedicated and loving father in Illinois, says: "It takes trust, love and faith in God to make a marriage work. If you met your wife in a nightclub, you can expect her to be a certain type of person who needs to go to nightclubs all the time. If you met your wife in church, and God blesses your marriage, you have a good chance to make the marriage last."

Clearly it takes three persons to make a marriage happy and enduring: a husband, a wife, and...God.

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