On the Topic of Divorce and Abuse in the Philippines
Yep. You read that right! But before accusing me of being a masochist, let me explain.
Below are the truths I wish I had heard from my Pre-Cana before diving into marriage, or at least re-affirmed with unrelenting passion.
1. Pleasure is different from happiness. “Pleasure cannot be sustained beyond the activity producing it.” — Matthew Kelly
2. Nothing in this life can make you satisfied. None. Zilch. Nada. There will always be a hole in your heart while you live in this world.
3. There will always be sufferings in life, no matter your state. Always. It is the great equalizer.
4. People will make bad decisions. Sometimes, on important matters in life like marriage. Bad decisions can be prevented or mitigated. But bad laws can encourage this bad decision.
With these truths, I say this statement: Marriage is not there to make you happy. Marriage is there to make you holy. And a holy marriage makes you happy. However, not even a happy marriage will make you satisfied because of #2 above. We each have an infinite hole in our hearts. Your spouse, no matter how good-looking, intelligent, faithful, holy, will never satisfy you. And you will not satisfy him/her either. Why? Because an infinite hole needs an Infinite Satisfaction (capitalization intentional). Material things and mortal men cannot do that. Imagine the freedom this can bring to marriage. It has definitely brought one to ours.
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” — C.S. Lewis
Sometimes, we cannot have a happy marriage because we made a bad decision. But the marriage can still be holy, even apart from each other.
Now let’s talk about divorce with this preface: I am for Legal Separation. Also, I know that there will be instances where annulment is the right decision (repeat after me, “This is NOT a Catholic divorce.”). If you are in an abusive relationship, DO NOT STAY. I repeat: DO NOT STAY. You need to get help getting away from that relationship and bring your kids. You need to report your husband because it is a criminal offence to abuse.
Should you divorce him? Here are two reasons why people will say “yes”.
1. He is abusive.
BUT WHY NOT DIVORCE? That is why you need to leave him and report him. There should be a way to bring your case to court. If this is hard to get, that means your government has failed women. In the Philippines, our law-makers might be so incompetent and corrupt that they’d rather push for divorce law (easier for them) than use their brains and resources to put up women’s shelters and an efficient, enforced judicial system.
And then, if you get divorced, that will grant him all the freedom to marry another and continue the abuse. And the cycle continues. If he cannot marry, then you have helped another woman avoid this traumatic situation.
2. I am not happy/My spouse is not happy.
BUT WHY NOT DIVORCE? If you think a person will make you happy, then all the more reason you should not marry again. Isn’t this belief why you made a wrong decision in the first place? That you thought your spouse can make you happy? That maybe he can overcome his addiction and abuse and both of you will live happily?
NOBODY can make you happy. It is time we realize that only one Person can make us happy. Only one Person can satisfy us infinitely. Not in this world. In the next.
I want to stress this: If you cannot find help in your abusive situation, your government and your parish have failed you. Yes, I am not excusing the Catholic Church in the Philippines. But the government pushes for divorce because it is easier for them than using the taxes that you paid for. Please don’t tell me this isn’t happening. That is so naïve.
Divorce makes young adults become less judicious, if at all, in finding a lifetime partner because it is easier to marry and divorce than to be judicious. Passions are always hard to discipline. It is human nature. There is a reason why the covenant asks you “…for better or for worse, in sickness and in health,” and it’s because “WORSE” is a possibility and “SICKNESS” (of mind, body, and spirit) is very real. If one cannot say yes to this, one should not marry. A mistake in choosing does not change the permanency of marriage (at least until death).
Lastly, if you are pushing for divorce because you tell abused women that “finding another man is THE only way they can start anew” then you are anti-woman (Feminists, shouldn’t you abhor this statement?). Saying that to be with a man forever is the only way to be happy is like saying there are no happy single parents. I will not even pretend to know that I can understand abuse because fortunately, I haven’t experienced it. But that does not mean I will not speak for truth. Because truth will not change when your circumstances change. And this is truth: Only God can satisfy us, only God can help us rise from the ashes.
“There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us
And the restless soul is searching
There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us
And it’s a void only He can fill”
— Plumb (Artist), God-Shaped Hole