The point of this article is the stigma that comes about for those individuals who do get a divorce by making comments such as “divorce is not an option”. While I completely understand the sentiment behind those comments (mainly because I used to say it all the time in our marriage), it also implicitly (though unintentionally) implies a condensing attitude that even though divorce wasn’t an option for us, apparently it was an option for someone else.
The fact of the matter is that there are a myriad of reasons for individuals getting a divorce. They could have been in an emotional, physical or sexually abusive relationship. They could have been in a relationship where their spouse constantly placed their family in danger or harm due to various addictions or habits. Or they could have simply been rigorously fighting for their marriage just to have their spouse all of sudden just walk out on the marriage. Maybe they were at fault for their divorce, or maybe they weren’t but the fact of the matter is we simply don’t know nor is it any of our business to know. Ours is a responsibility to love and support these individuals who have gone through a very traumatic and tough situation and not to try to pass speculative judgment as to why they are divorced.
It’s easy for those of us who have not been divorced to say that such a stigma doesn’t exist. The problem is that we simply can’t understand because we’re simply not in that situation. I cannot tell you how many e-mails we have received from divorced individuals talking about how hard it was for them to attend their meetings at church. Those who know me know that I’m one of the biggest champions of not having a victim mindset and I almost always send them an article I wrote almost a year ago talking about these types of situations. The article talks about regardless of how others treat you, you cannot allow them to dictate how you feel when you go to church (here is the article that talks about my experience with a high councilman in a ward I attended when I was younger).
That being said, we need to do everything we can in our power to make people feel more comfortable at church and not creating these stigmas or stereotypes in our wards. Whether it’s with divorcees, older individuals who have yet to get married or whatever other demographic that could fall into a “category”, we need to do what we can to make these individuals feel part of the fold and one with the saints.
Ultimately when it comes down to divorcees, it’s really none of our business. What is our business is to love and help support each other in this journey of life. We all will have times where we need the help of our family, friends, ward members and neighbors to get through the extremely tough experiences that we all face in life. Let us be there for those who may find themselves in this difficult situation and not turn their mountain climb into their own personal Everest.