Some time ago I received a request to speak at a Fair Divorce Forum at a local Leagues Club in Wollongong. When I first received this invitation, my inclination was to ‘not accept’ because I don’t believe that divorce can be fair. Life is not fair and neither is love. My good friend Jeff Dakers prevailed upon me to reconsider, and so I include the following excerpt from my speech given at the Fair Divorce Forum for our readers.
What does the team at the Dads4Kids believe about Fair Divorce? We believe that unfortunately there is no such thing because marriage is built from love and love is never fair. Famous author Ernest Hemmingway said, ‘Love is just another dirty lie . . . I know about love. Love always hangs up behind the bathroom door. It smells like Lysol. To hell with love”.
Ernest Hemingway seems a bit negative about love and marriage but unfortunately he is not alone Lord Byron said, “Though women are angels, yet wedlock’s the devil.” Zsa Zsa Gabor said, “Husbands are like fires. They go out when unattended.” Helen Rowland said “Before marriage a man will lie awake thinking about something you said. After marriage, he’ll fall asleep before you finish saying it.” Clint Eastwood sums it all up tongue-in-cheek, “There’s only one way to have a happy marriage and as soon as I learn what it is I will get married again.”
Marriage is based on an exchange of vows, which form a covenantal relationship in which everything you have becomes hers, and everything she has becomes yours. Children are born from the physical exchange of love between two people. The Bible calls it ‘two becoming one’. “Herein is the mystery. If two become one how can they be separated?”
When two pieces of wood are glued together under pressure, if you try to pull them apart, you will rarely get an equal split. Love joins two people together. Marriage formalises love’s union. Divorce not only destroys a marriage, but in the process it often also destroys those who are getting divorced. Each person has pieces of the other still sticking to them and that’s one of the reasons divorce hurts like hell and should be avoided at all costs.
In many ways the pain that children have to bear in acrimonious divorce is far worse because they are literally made from the timbers of their parents. To separate children forcefully from their own biological father or mother as the Family Law Court does is beyond comprehension. The unfortunate reality is that the process of suicidal litigation found in the family law court often hurts the children far more than anyone else. My voice here tonight is raised on our children’s behalf as the one’s least likely to be able to speak for themselves. I have experienced that sort of pain first hand which qualifies me to speak Having said that I would prefer not to be qualified on this issue.
Ovid said, “Love is a kind of warfare.” Pat Benatar sang, “Love is a Battlefield”. My subject matter for this forum was further qualified by the wedding of a young couple Daniel, & Tneal, that I attended recently. Neither Benatar nor Ovid’s words would have deterred Daniel and Tneal from embracing the death found in marriage as both die, and one mysteriously appears in the ultimate act of love.
Tneal said in her speech as she turned towards her handsome man in his white-vested suit, “I just want you to know that I love you with every bit of me, and no matter what, as long as we have God, we will get through anything.” Daniel’s response to Tneal was equally enthralling, “You are amazing honey, no matter how grim the circumstance you always fight back. You build me up when I am down, you help keep my feet on the straight path, you make me happier than I imagined possible. You have taught me to appreciate God’s wonders more. 4 years ago, or 50 million breaths ago we held hands for the first time. Three weeks later we talked about marriage for the first time. Eleven months ago I asked you to marry me. Today, tomorrow and until my last breath, with pure joy in my heart, and the Lord Jesus as our head, I want to breathe every breath with you and take every step with you. You are my one true love and you continually make my heart melt, skip a beat and be set on fire all at the same time. Tneal . . . I absolutely love you.”
Perhaps we should all take a lesson from Daniel & Tneal’s wedding. The reality is, we should all be aiming for better marriage not fair divorce. We will never have fair divorce because love and marriage are so all-consuming. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aim for fairer divorce especially for our children’s sake. Dads4Kids will continue to fight for fairer divorce laws, not because we believe in fair divorce, but we must ensure no one party gains through this painful act of self-destruction, whether they be man or woman.
Dads4Kids will continue to fight against the gross inequities found in the current child support scheme which encourages the failed sole custody model and continues to rob children of their fathers even to this day.
Dads4Kids will continue to fight against the proliferation of divorce and fight to encourage a process of better marriage. To quote from the introduction of Twenty One Reasons Why Marriage Matters, first published by Dads4Kids, “Marriage is an important social good, associated with an impressively broad array of positive outcomes for children and adults alike”. We must rally together as a community to fight for, not just fair divorce but better marriage.
Maybe the answer to our quest for better marriage is found in the wedding speech of these two young married lovers. We must ask the author of love, our Father in heaven to join with us in our marriages because as Tneal says, “With God we will get through anything.”
Keep love alive at all costs. Even when love is on life-support it can always be resuscitated. Use Daniel’s words to inspire you to scale the heights once again.
Yours for keeping love alive