Medveds take Town Hall: I begin with a question for everyone…

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National Review’s Jay Nordlinger (left) moderated his animated speakers

I was pleased to team with my husband Michael a few days ago for a joint appearance, at Seattle’s Town Hall, moderated by National Review’s Jay Nordlinger and sponsored by the Discovery Institute.

Billed as a wide-ranging exploration centered around each of our new books, we weren’t sure where the moderator’s questions would take us. Michael’s The American Miracle: Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic includes twelve episodes crucial to the forming of our nation– so bizarre they were immediately hailed as the expression of a Higher Power. My book, on the other hand, reveals the forces pushing even happily married couples toward divorce, dismantles the arguments exiting spouses offer, and empowers spouses to reclaim and revitalize their relationships.

The only part of the program we could control was the five minutes each of us were given to describe our books.DSC08981

Michael headed off the evening dissecting the only three explanations possible for the mind-boggling events that allowed our nation to form and thrive:  1) that Americans cruelly wrested the country from its inhabitants, and exploited slave labor to claw its way to existence (then why weren’t societies that were even more cut-throat anywhere near as successful?), 2) that luck and coincidence conspired to work in our nation’s favor (but a pattern of happy accidents is still a pattern!) and 3) Someone has a plan and a purpose for which America is, as the founders all agreed, an instrument. The logical conclusion is that we are blessed to be part of such a worthwhile and lofty project.

It’s always tough to follow Michael Medved, whose perfect prose, on radio and especially while mesmerizing a live audience, build to a perfect crescendo.

So I started with a question: “Who here knows somebody who’s been divorced?”

The audience chuckles as everyone raises his hand.

And that’s my point–that divorce is so ubiquitous and has scarred so many that preventing it, and gaining the skills to weather inevitable challenges and assaults to relationships will change the essence of our lives, our communities and our entire culture.

Instead of seeing marriage as the beginning of adulthood, now a generation that suffered through their parents’ divorces feels they’ve got to get their own lives in order–with grad school, job experience and living on their own–before the serious commitment of marriage.

And even then, many young people don’t trust their marriages will endure. I’ve heard wedding vows where the couple pledges to stay “as long as our love shall last.” I’ve heard fiancees confide that while they hope their marriages will be permanent, they’re well aware they “can always get a divorce.” This is the legacy of no-fault divorce and a generation  normalizing split-ups. This is a me-first culture (got an iPhone?) that rationalizes putting their own temporal feelings above their children’s futures, mouthing the falsehood “children are resilient.”

The moderator, National Review Senior Editor Jay Nordlinger, asked each of us a handful of questions plucked from assertions in Michael’s and my books, and then the audience let loose with their objections, queries and observations. In all, a lively, uplifting and intellectually challenging occasion.

So–what is the commonality between our nation’s founding and our marriages? It could be that in successful marriages, just as in the ongoing flourishing of our country (despite the peculiarities of current events) God’s Hand is evident. Nearly every couple sees coincidences in their coupling, just as our national leaders could discern times and events where a special force carried them through. It is a sensitivity to this larger plan and the many privileges and blessings we enjoy that enriches our daily experience and allows gratitude to over-ride the difficulties of life.

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Our good friend, Discovery Institute founder Bruce Chapman, made us laugh with his introduction




My music-expert husband’s new fave CD

Pedrag Rachmaninov cover art

I happen to be married to a somewhat well-known person. After TV stints as CNN’s film critic and 12 years hosting “Sneak Previews” on PBS, for the past 21 years Michael Medved’s been hosting a 3-hour-long nationally syndicated radio show, from a studio at his affiliate station here in Seattle.

He’s incredibly knowledgeable about history and politics, arising each day at 6 to read five newspapers and then drive to his office where he peruses several more. He’s in the midst of writing his 14th book, which is about divine providence in American History, second of two volumes, this one covering from the time of Abraham Lincoln to the present.

Lots of people know all that about him, but few realize he’s a polymath, expert in many, many more subjects, including art and especially classical music.

Step into his den, his writing room, and you’ll not only see a wall of books, but two walls of floor-to ceiling shelves housing thousands upon thousands of classical music CDs. Despite all that, he scours the catalogues of Naxos or Arkiv, companies that must make very little profit specializing in obscure classical recordings. My dear husband’s stealth self-indulgence in the wee hours is to frequent classical music sites and find new releases at bargain prices. The relish with which he announces a fresh discovery equals the delight expressed upon hearing we were to have our first child.

I firmly believe he now treasures that child even more than his CDs, but children can at times bring frustration, and nothing uplifts and delights Michael Medved so consistently as unearthing a most stereophonically excellent classical disc. When phoning home from the office to hear the contents of that day’s mail, he becomes most thrilled learning a coveted CD has arrived, followed by receiving a substantial check.

Today I awoke to find my husband tackling his day, especially bouncy. He was twinkling in a way inconsistent with mornings like this one, socked-in by wet, dreary fog. He made a gleeful announcement:

“Today there was finally a review posted for my favorite CD!”

Me: “Really? What?”

“Yes, the Predrag Gosta Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances!”

He was prancing.

I certainly remembered that recording, as he has been swooning since it arrived a couple weeks ago. It is indeed a masterpiece, recorded so beautifully you’d swear the orchestra was in your living room, at least if you have a carefully-curated stereo system (as my husband can proudly demonstrate). And Predrag Gosta? Who has ever heard of him? Michael fairly glowed when he dug up that one–a conductor so obscure that Arkiv Music must have sold, oh, two copies of the recording with the London Symphony Orchestra (also featuring Mussorgski’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” with the Rachmaninov; Release Date: 07/29/2016, Label: Edition Lilac, Catalog #: 160530).

My bouncy spouse urged me to immediately look up the review on my smartphone, and I obliged. The review was stunningly effusive yet heartfelt, spilling with superlatives, and I urge you to sup at its table:

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  ( 1 Customer Review )
 Glorious Demonstration of High Art, Peerless Sound June 20, 2017
By Michael M.
It’s hard to know which deserves more praise in this extraordinary release: the deep, detailed, remarkably resonant sound and its peerless demonstration of recording technology, or the passionate, richly romantic conducting that gives new glow to two tired war horses.
I’d never heard of Predrag Gosta prior to this disc and knew nothing of the Edition Lilac label under which it appears. I suspect this may be some specially-funded vanity project to highlight Gosta’s conducting skills and if so it’s a smashing success.
The Rachmaninoff sizzles and sparkles, with every detail exploding with passion and new life. Music that can seem tedious and over-wrought in lesser hands here sounds spontaneous, heart-felt and, where appropriate, subtle and cunning. The powerful brass of the LSO shine with special sheen and double basses have never thrummed with more authoritative impact. The Mussorgsky is also a knock-out- comparable to the justly celebrated classic recordings with the Chicago Symphony and Reiner or Giulini. Altogether, an unexpected triumph. Don’t miss this dazzling gem!
     I was duly impressed, and suggested if he mentioned the recording on his show, Arkiv would receive a surge in sales for that disc.
     “Yeah, the number sold will jump from two to four.”
     Well, take it from me–you’ll never get a bad recommendation for classical music from Michael Medved. And the more people who gain the enjoyment and spiritual high my husband has received from this music, the happier our world will be.

CBN interview urges unhappily marrieds to stick it out


A June, 2017 television interview with Diane Medved by CBN’s Paul Strand reminds couples that long-term consequences of a split are far worse than addressing the bad feelings of the moment–and those painful feelings will likely improve anyway if you stay put. Below is the accompanying commentary.

It’s Time We Start Shouting “Don’t Divorce!”

Paul Strand

WASHINGTON—Psychologist Diane Medved has written a book whose title shouts out a command: “Don’t Divorce!”

That’s because most divorces end up doing a lot more damage than people expect and don’t often bring the solutions, peace and comfort they hope for.

She told CBN News one absolutely stunning fact that should give any couple pause: research shows that if troubled spouses will just gut it out and stick together through the tough times, a few years down the road, three-fourths of them reveal their marriages have become happy. Three-Fourths.

From ‘Do Your Duty’ To ‘Do Your Own Thing’

Medved stated there’s been a sea-change that’s led to a divorce culture. America’s gone from the World War Two era “Do Your Duty” generation to  “Do Your Own Thing” Baby-Boomer, Generation X and Millennial generations. People have become such consumers, that they believe their happiness and satisfaction with a product – even if that product is a spouse – matters more than anything else.

We also now live in a PC culture where everyone feels its verboten to judge anyone, so few people are willing to tell their friends or loved ones, “Don’t Divorce!   You’re going to do a lot of damage to a lot of people.”

Good for the Kids? Don’t Believe It

Medved told CBN News this is especially true of children. They aren’t as resilient as divorcing couples want to believe. Their splitting can cause deep trauma for their children, steal the kids’ innocence and leave them more likely to divorce themselves, or even fear to wed because they feel so unsure their marriage will last.

And nowadays there’s even a whole divorce industry that’s grown up that pushes troubled spouses to give up their marriage because there’s a lot of money to be made when they do split up.

But Medved’s book is filled with many ways husbands and wives can work out their differences, change their attitudes and gain skills to make their marriage thrive.

In fact, the sub-title of “Don’t Divorce” is “Powerful Arguments for Saving and Revitalizing Your Marriage.”

It’s Not a Consumer Product, It’s a Family Project

Medved knows from her own life how to keep a marriage strong as she’s been married for three decades to nationally-syndicated radio talk show host Michael Medved.

The psychologist recommends people look at marriage more as a lifelong “family project” rather than a relationship based on feelings. Feelings will morph and change, but a vow and commitment can be a rock-solid foundation on which to build a lifetime together.


Why No One Regrets his Divorce

“Why No One Regrets his Divorce” seems a peculiar statement coming from the author of Don’t Divorce. Isn’t the basis of my book that lots of people regret their divorces, and so there’s good reason to prevent it?

Divorce Recovery Group members making lemonade

However, I’ve learned that already-divorced people–especially those for whom the experience is still fresh and painful–react strongly even to the two simple words on my book jacket.

Within a single Divorce Recovery Group, some get defensive: “You can’t tell me what to do. You have no idea what I’ve been going through.”

Some get angry: “How dare you foist your values on me!”

Some get irritated, motivated by guilt: “I had an opportunity, and I took it, because that was what I needed right then.”

And others are more sanguine: “Maybe I could have made my marriage work, but if I’d stayed, I never would have gotten to the point where I am now.”

Even people whose spouses dumped them, who suffer years of disorientation and emotional agony, tend to look back and know that their ordeal was required because of deep flaws of their partner, perhaps abetted by themselves.

Here’s the punchline: After the fact, hardly anyone regrets his divorce because psychologically healthy people take lemons and make lemonade. They look at the psychological growth they’ve experienced, and realize that the path to that growth may have been grueling, but the outcome is a higher awareness, a better place.

The big “however,” though, is that going through the divorce, and in most cases, the prelude to the divorce, was horrible. It is to minimize the miserable prelude and eliminate destructive and demoralizing divorce–for the partners and a host of friends and family, and most of all the children–that I wrote Don’t Divorce.

Don’t Divorce is for married people who might need a boost through a rough patch so they can repair problems and keep going.

One of the most encouraging parts of my book describes research on spouses who rate themselves as “unhappily married.” When surveyed again five years later, two-thirds in one study, and three-fourths in another, say they’re “happily” or “very happily” married. In other words, if couples just have the strength to resist the pro-divorce pressures around them, and affirm their commitment, they’re likely to rebound and find satisfaction in their marriages once again.

Couples in the midst of strife or stress also need to know what they’re in for if they do break up, because that can also motivate them to rebuild the relationship in which they already have a huge investment.

I’d be worried about already-divorced people who wallowed in the woe of divorce for extended periods of time. Certainly if abuse, addiction or abandonment occur, a divorce may be appropriate and inevitable–and even then usually brings sorrow and mourning. But then there’s healing, and an important part of that is to view the path to your present state as worthwhile, because it’s from this new vantage that you can envision a brighter, more aware future.

Recently I gave a talk in Los Angeles, and an attendee approached me afterward. “You may not remember me,” he noted after introducing himself. “I was your client for marital counseling about 20 years ago.  I think about you often,” he said, “because though my ex and I did get a divorce, it was you who taught me how to be a better husband, and I’ve been applying it with my current wife for 18 happy years.” He was grateful because though it had been too late to salvage his first marriage, he turned a difficult episode into a pathway to development.

My message to married couples is that you don’t have to suffer a divorce to find happiness. Instead of applying energy to dismantling your marriage, put the same amount of effort into fixing your divisions. The results will mean the world to your children, and can make your world one with far less to regret.

Children are not resilient!

You hear it all the time: children will get through all sorts of emotionally difficult experiences because they’re “resilient.” But are they?

Sheryl Sandberg raised the issue this week in a New York Times op-ed taken from her book,“Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy” (with Adam Grant).

Childhood is precious and worth guarding. (This was me and my brother in our backyard.)

She shares my observation that children are not naturally resilient, despite the oft-repeated assertion, and she describes ways she encourages that skill in her 7-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son since the sudden death of her husband two years ago.

You see evidence of kids laid low by painful circumstances all the time. Sophie, aged 4, reverted to diapers when her parents split up. Jason, 7, refused to go to school, clinging to his mom, when his dad left for a tour of military service.  Twins James and Mark, 9, increased their brotherly conflicts when their mom took a full-time tech job. Such negative reactions to major changes are so common among children, we expect them. Yet even as we tend to these sad responses, we continue to say off-handedly, “kids re resilient.”

In my book Don’t Divorce: Powerful Arguments for Saving and Revitalizing Your Marriage, I note that resilience means bouncing back to a former shape, and yet after a big blow—like parents’ divorce, but it could be any crushing event—children are ill-equipped to regain their previous equilibrium.

Children aren’t born with social skills—they’re simply primed to survive. They’ll do what they must in order to handle setbacks, but how they do that is not an innate resilience—it’s the flailing of a drowning man. The childhood task is to understand the world, and through experience and inculcation, learn the skills to navigate it. When a frightening event happens, kids can’t just summon some store of “resilience” that’s poised, ready for use.

You may have heard the bromide, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” Yes, enduring family upheaval may, after the trauma, cause some children to emerge stronger (and others may withdraw, or become fearful). But what caring parent would subject her child to the part that nearly “kills” him on the prospect that the child might be fortified for a subsequent ordeal?

Some events, like the death of a parent, aren’t a matter of choice. But most major shifts children endure might be mitigated or avoided if parents placed highest priority on family stability. After a trauma, a youngster can never recapture his former state of childhood innocence—he becomes hardened and cautious lest he suffer again.

In Saving Childhood: Protecting Our Children from the National Assault on Innocence, my husband and I write about the fragility of a joyful childhood, and the diligence with which parents must guard it. Our publisher chose to put this excerpt about an interchange with our then-young daughter on the back of the book jacket:

Last year on Shayna’s eighth birthday, our guests serenaded her over the cake, and our delighted daughter beamed. Toward the end of the day, she came over to Michael to cuddle. “I want to say goodbye,” she said sweetly and solemnly.

“Why?” Michael asked with some surprise.

“Because,” Shayna explained, “after today, you’re never going to see a seven-year-old daughter again.”

And of course, she was exactly right.

Assuming a child can absorb a hardship without permanent impact ignores that children are building their outlooks with every experience, every day.

Dr. Anthony Scioli, author of Hope in the Age of Anxiety, says building resilience relies on hope, a sense of mastery and attachments. When kids face situations like parental loss or divorce, relocation, or a major jolt from family routines, they lose attachments (or opportunities for them) and lack the control over the situation to feel mastery. In the face of events they find hurtful or confusing, their hope is shattered.

In other words, family disruptions prevent children from becoming resilient, and undermine what limited resilience they may have picked up.

What can loving parents do? First off, when making family decisions, remember that the most beneficial climate for your children’s development offers security, consistency and optimism. One of the points I make in Don’t Divorce is that staying in a low-conflict marriage (and two-thirds of divorces occur in low-conflict homes) “for the sake of the children” is a noble, laudable choice.  That’s not to say that spouses should keep suffering, but that maintaining a stable home for the children you love can be a worthwhile motivator to address problems rather than call it quits.

Reassuringly, in studies of couples who deem themselves unhappily married, three-fourths of those who stick it out report five years later that their marriages are happy or very happy. Viewing your present differences as a “rough patch” or finite problem to solve can remind you of the long-term significance of your marriage.

In making other choices—moving to a new home, taking on more work—consider how brief and precious these years of childhood are. What household upgrades or amount of added income is worth the impact your decision will have for your children, and the loss of time you’ll have to enjoy and influence their upbringing?

And when circumstances force major adjustments on children, don’t assume they can just sail through. Instead, minimize the amounts and types of changes they’ll face, and keep constant any grounding influences you can.

For example, maintain the child’s surroundings—the familiar room, the usual routines and the caring adults who form his world. Talk to your children about the changes around them, and suggest ways they can see at least some differences in a positive light, while acknowledging the downsides and resultant feelings. Put yourself in your child’s shoes, and share how you imagine you’d feel if confronted with the adjustments your child must make.

The good news is that children can learn how to handle adversity. “Positive Psychology” guru Dr. Martin Seligman runs a program at the University of Pennsylvania that teaches resiliency, which is one of several coping skills necessary for well-being. Other school-based programs focus on adapting to change and awareness of emotions. But such courses exist because children aren’t naturally capable of rebounding after a blow.

Sheryl Sandberg describes the ways she fosters her children’s expression of feelings, and maintains the memory of her husband. With experience, time and practice, assisted by caring adults, children can become better at processing and responding to hardships thrust upon them. But when you hear someone justify a major family shift with “the kids will be okay—children are resilient,” do those youngsters a favor and find out more.

Reviewer explains why Catholics negate all divorce

The excellent review reprinted below by Dr. Hilary Towers from the Catholic publication Mercatornet calls Don’t Divorce “a welcome respite from the anthology of divorce apologetics lining the shelves of most public libraries (and many offices of marriage therapists) in America today.”

Her one area of disagreement regards her Catholic faith. She discusses the Catholic view that marriage is a permanent state that is not subject to divorce, even in the extreme cases I detail in my chapter “When Divorce is Necessary: How to Know When to Quit:”

“Roman Catholics remain married in the wake of civil divorce. Divorce and physical separation may be necessary in order to secure legal entitlements or ensure physical safety. But none of this means the marriage is over, or ‘failed.’ Or that the time has come to ‘give up.”’

In this I must respectfully differ with Dr. Towers on theological grounds (I’m an observant Jew), and based simply on practical reality. When the partners have a legal divorce and cease all connection, Catholic doctrine holds the marriage has not ended or failed, while Protestants, Jews and most other religions accept that in some (ideally very rare) cases, divorce occurs. Read on for Dr. Towers’ support for the Catholic view.


Don’t Divorce: A clinician’s no-nonsense view of marital abandonment.

Hilary Towers | Apr 21 2017 | comment

Ruth was married to Joel. Sylvia was married to Christopher. The two couples were the best of friends until Sylvia and Joel had an affair. Soon after Ruth discovered the betrayal of her husband of 15 years, Joel

“took his suitcases to his parents’ house. Still living on the property where he grew up, they had a separate-entrance guesthouse that Joel took over…Joel lived in his folks’ guest house rent-free for three years.

“Seven years after the two divorces, Sylvia and Joel finally did get married.”

Quite understandably, Ruth suffered from “deep depression” while “Christopher carried a hatred for both his ex-wife and former friend.”

But although Joel’s parents “were shocked by their son’s disgraceful behavior” they “felt an obligation to support him.”

Thus concludes one of dozens of true stories of marital abandonment in Dr. Diane Medved’s latest prescription, Don’t DivorcePowerful Arguments for Saving and Revitalizing Your Marriage.

A clinical psychologist who has worked with troubled marriages for over two decades, Medved takes a no-nonsense, clear-eyed approach to the “divorce momentum” (her phrase) that characterizes our age. Her book is a welcome respite from the anthology of divorce apologetics lining the shelves of most public libraries (and many offices of marriage therapists) in America today.

Don’t Divorce: Powerful Arguments for Saving and Revitalizing Your Marriage | By Diane Medved | Regnery, Mar 2017 | Hardcover 256 pages | ISBN: 1621575217

The work is also unusual in that it is not primarily a broader philosophical, religious, or data-driven case against divorce (although it includes elements of each). Instead, Medved speaks in her capacity as a clinician to two subsets of people in non-abusive marriages: those who are seriously contemplating divorce but who remain open to the idea of putting it off, and those whose spouses are threatening divorce.

“If you’re determined to leave…you may behave civilly, but you have erected a cruel barrier to the pain and hurt of the one left behind. The spouse executing a ‘chop and run’ divorce has severed the emotional connection that once bound the family. If that’s you…I’ve spent much of my career helping the one you’ve emotionally abandoned.”

Medved’s attempt to reach spouses who would “chop and run,” is a worthy effort and much-needed resource not only for spouses themselves but for advocates who have their true well-being in mind.

Families, friends, clergy, and therapists can exhibit authentic care by holding accountable a son or daughter, a parent, a best friend, a sibling, or a client who has gone astray. To do so means resisting the urge to look away from, or justify, the narcissistic behavior at the core of so many divorces today.

The book is chock-full of reasons to avoid what one researcher calls the “bystander response” to divorce:

“Relatives and friends who don’t want to get involved in your marriage may just step back and do nothing instead of intervening. Siblings, friends, and families of a divorcing couple offer the excuse that a marriage is private.”

In a culture where steps taken to ensure fidelity in one’s own marriage may be considered “sexist,” the task for those who wish to rehabilitate lifelong, monogamous marriage may seem a steep uphill climb – and it surely is.

But one concrete step each of us can take is to reach out to errant spouses in our own lives, in a spirit of true charity to every person involved. We can help him or her embrace the difficult but urgent (and entirely possible) task of repentance, marital reconciliation, and family renewal.

To employ a Catholic buzzword: we can accompany our friend back to the truth of his or her vocation.

Alas, as Medved correctly observes in a section on the high likelihood of peer pressure to leave a spouse for any reason at all (often exerted through Facebook and other social media): “In a culture that overwhelmingly accepts divorce, you’ll have to seek out advocates for the tough job of rebuilding…Beware well-meaning friends!”

The chapter entitled, “The Ruinous Ripples of Divorce,” in particular, is a must-read for anyone still unconvinced of the profound influence of one’s social support network on the decision to keep or break a marriage vow.

From my own perspective as a developmental psychologist who studies marital abandonment, especially as treated within the Catholic Church, Don’t Divorce is limited in one key respect that should give Catholic readers (especially clergy and parish ministry leaders) – and others who hold the marriage bond as binding – pause.

The main issue is the theological and ontological “lens” through which the matter of divorce – and perhaps more importantly the nature of marriage itself – is viewed. Medved’s perspective, that of an observant Jew, is similar to that of many Protestant denominations. Marriage is a sacred covenant ordained and sustained by God, which can be legitimately broken for good reason. In other words, although permanence is to be desired and sought after, marriages can and do “fail,” and sometimes should “end.”

In a chapter called, “When It’s Time to Give Up,” Medved lists at least five scenarios in which “life with another becomes so depressing and punishing that after years of wear and disintegration, the marriage has to end.” These include one spouse’s unwillingness to change, to respond to communication, or to seek therapy. Interestingly, the “chop and run” abandonment scenario which appears so prominently throughout her book is also included.

The problem, of course, is that this list alone represents the reasons for so many divorces today. American civil divorce (as Medved highlights time and again) does not require the consent of both spouses. One spouse can shatter the other’s 20 years of emotional, psychological, spiritual, and financial investment in marriage and family life in a matter of weeks.

So, what to do? If the answer remains divorce in these scenarios, it seems to me we haven’t made much progress in our goal of reversing the divorce momentum. Somewhere, sometime, even victims of infidelity, abuse, emotional abandonment and unilateral divorce must refuse the culture’s call to “move on,” stand firm in their stations, and keep their wedding bands on.

Here is the real dilemma from my vantage point, the significance of which is currently being played out for all the world to see in Catholic and non-Catholic media alike. Roman Catholics remain married in the wake of civil divorce. Divorce and physical separation may be necessary in order to secure legal entitlements or ensure physical safety. But none of this means the marriage is over, or “failed.” Or that the time has come to “give up.”

This sacramental reality, which flows directly from the Church’s understanding of marriage as a reflection of our relationship to God Himself (Who never quits on us, or pronounces our relationship with Him failed) is not an arbitrary rule designed to lock the married faithful into a life of misery.

Among other earthly and spiritual benefits, the theological view of marriage as permanent is the surest safeguard available to maintain our own sexual integrity in the midst of carrying a very heavy cross.  The temptation to “move on” in the midst of marital strife before and after divorce is strong and unfortunately (as described above) encouraged by many peers who are misguided in their efforts to help.

Perhaps most importantly, spousal fidelity during times of marital crisis also serves to protect the children involved – not only from the physical and psychological risks associated with moving on to new partners, but the risk of future divorce itself.

Children of divorce whose parents remarry or cohabit have a substantial risk of divorcing as adults.  (Note: for a powerful treatment of the ontological consequences of divorce for children I strongly recommend the newly published “Torn Asunder: Children, the Myth of the Good Divorce, and the Recovery of Origins.”)

None of this stands as a criticism of Dr. Medved, who herself spends much time refuting the fantasy of divorce and remarriage as a “fresh start.” It is rather an opportunity for Catholics, and others who may share the Catholic view of marriage, to reflect with pride and hope on the Church’s steadfast teachings. For the Church’s position on lifelong marriage is one of hope precisely because it leaves open the possibility of marital reconciliation.

Early on in Don’t Divorce, Medved describes with some fascination a rare breed who actually believe in the indissolubility of the marriage bond:

“Did you ever meet someone who holds that marriage lasts until death, no matter what? Someone who would stay married even in unsatisfactory circumstances? There are such people, and there used to be a lot more of them.”

Indeed, they are called Catholics. And with some encouragement to rediscover and embrace their Church’s ancient wisdom on this matter, we may see their numbers rise again in years to come.

Dr. Hilary Towers is a developmental psychologist and mother of five children. Her work in behavioral genetics appears in a variety of academic journals and books. She writes for many popular publications and speaks frequently on the subjects of marriage and spousal abandonment, especially as those issues are treated within the Catholic Church.

First grandchild: what that says about a marriage

My husband Michael and I have been married for 32 years, which seems impossible because I don’t feel I’m 32 years old yet.

But when your baby gets married and then does something astounding, like have a child of his own, it’s tough to deny you’ve got some years behind you.

IMG_4056I’m in the midst of promoting my new book, Don’t Divorce: Powerful Arguments for Saving and Revitalizing Your Marriage, and often hosts of the several radio interviews I’m doing daily will ask why people should stick it out through tough times.

Part of my answer is…Julia Rose. That’s the name of my new…tough to say it…granddaughter. Now, you can say that plenty of divorced people have grandchildren, and I’m sure they’re as tickled as I am with their sweet little offspring. But nobody can share the joy of this new little person better than the partner whose commitment and constancy brought you to this point together.

Together, couples who have lasted a generation share a special bond, because they continue to form the basis and model for their child’s parenting–which is the parenting they accomplished together, whether imperfectly or not. The mere fact that they–we–now look at each other incredulously, realizing we were instrumental in the existence of a new family, is a reward directly derived from our tenacity.

We made it this far as a team, and that is gratifying in a way that validates and confirms the joys and difficulties we’ve experienced.

When couples are angry, disgusted, bored and betrayed, they look at the “greener grass” as enticing, with two erroneous assumptions: that they’ll find a much better romantic partner, and that the problems they’re now mired in will be over if they just end the marriage.

Well, my divorced psychology clients told me that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find…another bunch of frogs. When you come to a second marriage, you’re carrying with you all the “baggage” that makes joining with you complex–relationships with children, financial complications, professional expectations–and then you have to agreeably mesh all that with the same or more baggage lugged by a potential partner. Not so easy, especially because older and “wiser” divorcees tend to be pickier about who they choose. They don’t want to blithely slip into another flawed relationship.

As far as solving the problems plaguing the marriage, perhaps some bugaboos will be removed–usually replaced with a raft of new problems if children are involved. You can never divorce the other parent of your children, who you might have to see several times a week if you share custody. And if your kids are grown, you’ll always have those awkward family occasions where the kids will have to choose between you. Christmas at Mom’s and Thanksgiving at Dad’s? Both of you walking your bride down the aisle? And the complications with blended families radiate out from there.

When the blessed event of a grandchild happens, rather than sharing those moments with her together, you’ll take turns (if things are amicable). Or perhaps one or the other grandparent will end up more of a ghost figure, removed from the scene.

After staying together 32 years, my husband and I have a lot of happy memories (most captured by my incessant photo-taking) and a few tough times and trials. But that’s brought us an unshakeable bond and a deep satisfaction that can only be created via endurance and time. That’s how you fashion a soul-mate, which research shows is the number one desire Millenials have for their marriages.

A traditional Jewish blessing for a new couple is that they live to see and enjoy their grandchildren. That’s wonderful in itself, but the blessing is in enjoying them together.