I knew that our local Centacare’s Marriage and Relationship Education Unit was involved in a big conference last week, but I didn’t know what it was or who was their guest speaker. Although I am not a “marriage educator”, I would have loved to have heard the presentation by Dr Bill Doherty of the University of Minnesota at the Marriage and Relationship Educators National Conference held here in Melbourne.
Their press-release says that:
Dr William Doherty, of the University of Minnesota, challenged 202 participants to get involved with the marriage movement. “We need to dispel the myths about marriage in society today,” he said. Dr Doherty specifically identified five common myths about marriage:
1. It’s foolish to get married without cohabiting.
2. It’s best to wait to get married when you are financially secure.
3. If a marriage gets rotten it never gets ripe again.
4. If your marriage fails your children really want you to find another romantic relationship because they want you to be happy.
5. Men aren’t interested in relationships.
I would have loved to have heard him flesh out his rejection of those five myths.
I looked up his website here, and it looks like good stuff. My eye was especially caught by the chapter from his book on “the unnecessary divorce”. That really spoke to me in my experience. Although Holy Mother Church has found that my first attempt to contract marriage was “null and void”, and although I have since found the love of my life and rejoice in my family, I am able to look back at my own divorce and say “It wasn’t necessary”. It could, with the will to overcome the difficulties, have been prevented, and – who knows? – perhaps even a “null and void” attempt at marriage could have become a valid and fulfilling marriage. I will never know. Life took a different turn. But one thing that I have learned is that divorce is a “cure” that is in some senses worse than the “disease”.
According to this website, Dr Doherty “grew up in a large Irish-Catholic family in Philadelphia, where, he says, “marriage was forever.” Cathy and I have both been through divorce, and we both know (and assure our children repeatedly) that our marriage “is forever”. Any troubles we face, we know that the cure is to be found IN our marriage, not apart from it. Our marriage text was “Let love and faithfulness never leave you” (Prov 3:3).