Friday 13th December 2019

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A Book Review… Healthy Marriages: Persevere In The Vows Made To God

November 24, 2019 Frontpage No Comments

By REY FLORES

Habits for a Healthy Marriage: A Handbook for Catholic Couples by Richard Fitzgibbons (Ignatius: 2019), 280 pages; paperback and e-book. Order at Ignatius.com, or call 1-800-651-1531.

In today’s throwaway culture, we are witnessing an increasing and alarming rate of divorce among Catholics. This is truly a grave scandal and tragedy. The one institution of society that all else is based upon can now be just some unimportant, frivolous formality and ritual where spouses who tire of each other can walk away, children be damned.
Thankfully, we have people like Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons who is the founder of The Institute for Marital Healing and the author of the new book, Habits for a Healthy Marriage: A Handbook for Catholic Couples.
“Justice prevents divorce,” says Dr. Fitzgibbons. He affirms that most marriages can be healed and in twelve chapters he discusses common pitfalls.
The Holy Sacrament of Marriage is the very foundation of family life as God designed it. It is nothing to take lightly, because this is a covenant not only between husband and wife, but with God Himself. When we say, “I do,” it means exactly that. Today’s modernist cancer which has spread inside the Church tells us that we can always say “I don’t” or “I don’t want to anymore,” once we decide that we no longer want to be married to our spouse.
It becomes a scandalous affair when children witness the breakdown of their family right before their very eyes. Children see their mother and father as the ultimate form of stability, safety, and security, so when one spouse decides that she or he longer cares enough about the well-being of their children, that becomes a lifelong trauma to that child or children who now find themselves in the middle of a nightmare where the rug of love, safety, and security has been yanked out from under them.
In this book, readers learn whether each brought weaknesses into marriage from their upbringing, or if the weaknesses developed during the marriage. It is not unusual for people to bring unresolved emotional baggage into a marriage, but that is no excuse for divorce. Instead of just giving up, couples should seek all the necessary counseling, therapy, and spiritual guidance available to them.
“The virtue of justice imposes on spouses the obligation to work hard to heal their marriage, to be loyal to their children’s need for a stable union, and to persevere in the vows they made to each other and to God,” says Fitzgibbons.
Young children and teenagers “should be allowed the freedom to tell a parent, ‘If you loved me [or us], you would work to save the marriage and the family’.”
Children are the collateral damage, the innocent victims of divorce. Instead of both parents demonstrating the incredible miracles of forgiveness and reconciliation, many move on to adulterous affairs, second marriages which have an 80 percent rate of failure, or may even slip into depression, addictions, and other destructive behaviors. They often then pass these behaviors on to their children.
Adult children of divorce tend to have a high rate of failed relationships themselves because of the trauma they experienced watching the breakdown of their family when they were children. Divorce is a scourge that affects generations ahead, condemning these future generations to lives of unfulfillment, heartbreak, and misery.
Outsiders, such as clergy, parents, siblings, in-laws, and family and friends, Fitzgibbons says, should also request that those wanting divorce should, instead, work on their marriage. He says a spouse in a marriage crisis should not confide in, or seek advice from, those who have embraced the divorce mentality.
The worst part is that many Catholics have adopted this modernist attitude that divorce is perfectly acceptable. I have had conversations with Catholics who have just exited Mass and received Holy Communion, but condone divorce as if it were a normal part of our Catholic culture. It may be the secular world’s normal, but it is a complete and total abnormality within the confines of the Catholic Church.
Many marriage counselors have erroneously adopted a modern psychological approach to marriage, in which “one’s primary obligations is not to one’s family but to oneself.” This is the ultimate form of pride, ego, and selfishness. When a spouse asks their husband or wife for a divorce, and there are children involved, they are completely disregarding what is best for their children, and instead choosing what they “want” over what God’s plan is.
When God puts two people together in the Sacrament of Matrimony, that isn’t an accident or a mistake. When God blesses this unbreakable union with children, that is when all bets are off, there’s no going back, the plan for marriage is set in stone and anyone opposing this is therefore calling God a fraud and a liar.
Fitzgibbons’ goal is to help couples improve their marital friendship and love. “By growing in the humility of self-knowledge and by practicing virtues with the help of grace, the flame of marital love can be relit and burn stronger than before.”

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(Rey Flores writes opinion and book and movie reviews for The Wanderer. Contact Rey at reyfloresusa@gmail.com.)

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