We believe in the value of marriage and desire to promote its growth and reconciliation wherever necessary and possible. Although we recognize that all marriages cannot be “saved”, we believe many more could be with preventive or crisis intervention. We believe marriage partners from time to time need to ask for help and support and that to do so is a sign of strength, not weakness. We believe in the value of professional counseling and advocate it. We also believe in the value of support and encouragement of “wounded healers” who know our pain, who do not judge us, and who support our efforts at reconciliation.
When marriages are in serious trouble, we acknowledge the legitimacy of separation. We recognize that it can at times be therapeutic and at others times is mandated for one’s safety and/or well being. We do not believe, however, that separation has to inevitably lead to divorce. Separation is sometimes a cry for help. Separation is always a critical time and as such should be treated with crisis intervention. Actually, separation can be the place where true reconciliation can begin.
While we realize couples who are separating need to see a lawyer to understand their legal rights and protect themselves, we advocate the use of a mediator wherever possible to work out the details of the agreement. We believe that mediation is more congenial, less threatening, less adversarial and therefore has the most potential for reconciliation.
As with any serious matter, early detection is preferable. Therefore we believe in publicizing the early warning signs of marriage troubles and promoting early intervention.
We believe marriage represents an enormous investment and a spiritual journey. We believe divorce is painful, expensive and never really ends. It is to be considered a last resort for resolution of marital difficulties. We are convinced that reconciliation is in the best interest of both spouses and their children, if there are any. We encourage all avenues be exhausted before a divorce is finalized. We believe reconciliation is very hard work but no more work than a divorce; that it is painful but no more painful than divorce. We observe that most couples who think they have “tried everything” have usually tried the same thing over and over.
We eschew “false reconciliation” which is no more than a denial of reality and/or one partner doing all the giving and calling it reconciliation. We believe reconciliation, worthy of its name, is based on mutual respect, reciprocity and flexibility in a relationship and urge a minimum of 3 months professional counseling before a couple reunite under one roof. True reconciliation cannot be rushed or faked.
We believe a healthy marriage needs work daily. Work on a marriage ideally is on the part of both partners. If, however, one of the couple is unwilling or unable to work on their marriage at a given time, we support the partner who cares and is willing to work. However, this partner must understand that the work to be done is his or her own. Spouses must be willing to work on themselves, not their partners. Rather, we can change ourselves and “ask God to bless it”. We believe that people can and do change. We have seen it happen to ourselves and our own relationships. We believe that change on the part of even one partner can sometimes free the other to change.
We encourage and support both or even one partner to ” stand on the line of reconciliation”** for a period of six months after a crisis has been identified in their marriage. We encourage them to slow down, consider all options, grow and learn. However, we do not advocate that one person hold up a relationship forever. It takes two to make a marriage work and we acknowledge that there are no guarantees. Therefore, there are no failures for those who have tried. And the growth one experiences through the support group will prepare them well for any eventuality.
We believe in sharing what has worked for us and how we have grown. Still, we recognize no one’s situation is exactly like ours and no one completely understands another. Therefore, we will share what we have learned but will not tell others what to do. We will challenge them to grow but acknowledge that each person is ultimately responsible for his or her own life.
Finally, and foremost, we believe in God and his desire and power to heal marriages. We acknowledge our powerlessness to change our partner and our dependence on this God of our understanding to change us. We surrender ourselves daily to His counsel and our partner to His will.
©Copyright 1988, Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse. All rights reserved * J. Allen Peterson, from Myth of Greener Grass, ** Jim Talley, from Reconcilable Differences