Rod Barks

Today’s society sugarcoats pain of divorce

August 24 must have been a dreary day for Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren, marked by weariness, regrets and heartache.

It was the day after their divorce.

Oh, the media couldn’t have reported such emotions. Experienced souls, however, know all those feelings to be true. Shadows are more pronounced, pain shifts — from sharp and stabbing to a relentless inner ache. Such is the fruit of divorce, irrespective of the size of bank account or athletic prowess.

This is called an execution of divorce.

Tiger and Elin’s statement presented a positive spin to the public: “We are sad that our marriage is over and we wish each other the very best for the future.” (SP, Aug 24, 2010) In reality, at least one of the partners was probably wishing the other a long slide down a dull razor blade.

The petition for divorce claimed “…the marriage was irretrievably broken.” Broken sounds so much better than betrayed, implying it happened by accident; like dropping a glass that shatters. In reality, marital demise is not a single, tragic event, but rather a series of choices that leave the relationship in shambles. Those ill-advised choices usually involve communication breakdown, neglecting home-fires and the eventual transfer of devotion to an individual outside of the marriage.

Statistics indicate that the Woods/Nordegren fiasco is far too common with 38 per cent of Canadian marriages ending in divorce. But the truly shocking aspect of the numbers is that they no longer shock us. “Just one in three,” we say, “I thought it was 50 per cent.”

Like one who becomes numb to bloodshed and murder through repeated media exposure, we are a society that has become impervious to the devastation of divorce. Some would even go so far as to say, “Come on, it’s normal.”

Friends, it may be increasingly normal, but it’s not OK. We fight cancer of the body because it leads to untimely death. How can we do anything less with this relational cancer we call divorce that likewise leads to pain, depression and even suicide? Enough is enough.

My heart aches for the unwilling participants of divorce, for children no longer living with Mommy and Daddy, for the spouse left behind who believed and hoped and prayed — to no avail. They sob to sleep, only to awaken an hour later to stare at the ceiling, haunted by thoughts of what could have been. It’s strange how the words “for better for worse” can mean radically different things to two people who attended the same wedding.

The initiators of the action are generally not evil, just misinformed, having been told by society that it’s normal to fall out of love, to grow apart.

But hear this day that there is a higher and better way. If couples need to fight, fight for your marriage. If you need to shout, do it in front of a counselor. If you need help, look to God, the worker of miracles and the one who still proclaims that “nothing is impossible for one who believes.”

Think long and hard before choosing the way of divorce. Recognize that society has deceived far too many for far too long, promising short-term relief for the “small” cost of pain, disillusionment, frequent financial hardship, grief-stricken children and the tendency to simply repeat mistakes in the context of another relationship. Don’t be conned by sugar-coated statements like, “it’s best for all concerned” — even if those statements are coming from the rich and famous with names like Tiger and Ellen.

Rod Barks is a Saskatchewan pastor and can be reached at

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