by Bishop Peter Stasiuk

Divorce is a major problem in our society. Researchers say that the difference between a good marriage and divorce actually lies in communication. Happy couples communicate a lot and very well. They listen to one another, confirm the other person, use soft words, express appreciation, compliment each other, have a physical attraction to each other and affirm one another.

It would follow then that the absenace of these positive elements would indicate trouble in a relationship and sign posts of a possible divorce or separation in the couple’s life. But there are more concrete signs of trouble and they are all within the field of communication.

It all starts with hostile words, accusations, and harsh or violent behaviour. Constant criticism which includes blaming, fault finding or attacks on a partner’s character are certainly the beginning of trouble in the relationship.

Criticism leads to contempt which shows up as a lack of respect for a person’s dignity. Name calling, put downs, sarcasm, swearing at each other and mockery are further signs that a marriage is heading for trouble.

The next logical step, researchers say, is defensiveness. When this happens a person denies their partner’s statements. They go on to say that they find no fault in their own behaviour. It is not their fault but the other persons’ fault. Some people claim to be totally without blame. One, as it were, is an angel, while the other person, is the devil.

What usually follows is that people go quiet and silent. They refuse to indicate that they are listening to what their partner is saying. Some will even get up and leave the room when an argument starts. They may reason that they do not want to make a situation worse. The problem is that not only is a fight avoided, but the wife or husband is as well. The marriage itself is avoided.

Some couples do realize that their marriage is in trouble so they attempt to repair the damage. That is good, but unless they do it properly, usually with the help of a marriage counsellor, these good desires do not succeed.

Marriage is based on Christian principles. God must play a role in the marriage itself and also in the repairs of marriage if it gets into trouble. Marriage problems are already an indication that God and his love have been excluded from that particular marriage.