1205 L Sat 19 Jan 2002
I came across an interesting article from last week's The
Sunday Age. Here is an extract:
Six Stages of a Break-up
1. SHOCK: Stunned disbelief, often accompanied by numbness,
loss of appetite, a sense of everything being unreal.
2. ANGER: Anger at yourself and others. Can spread to anger
with the world, family, friends, job, life in general."What's
wrong with the world? Why can't you get any decent service?"
Often accompanied by aggression, shouting, irritability, insomnia,
excessive self-destructive behaviour, for example, drinking,
drugs, sex, and risk-taking behaviour.
3. SADNESS: Realisation of loss, overwhelming sadness. Often
accompanied by crying, rumination, depression and, again, insomnia.
4. BARGAINING: Attempts to bargain with lost loved one or
God, "If you come back, I will go to London/quit my job/stop
drinking". Or, "I promise never to do ... if you just
send her back to me."
5. ACCEPTANCE: Acceptance of current situation. Begin to reassess
life and goals. Take some responsibility for situation.
6. READJUSTMENT: Ready to move on in life. Willing to risk
falling in love again.
[By Amy Cooper and Zoe Johnson, from the Sunday Life magazine,
13 January, page 33.]
On www.livejournal.com there seem to be lots of people going
through this. I think its worth saying that just because labels
can be given to various stages does not make it less important
or any easier. While they describe stages of a breakup, there
could also be stages for "having an argument and getting
The approach of the Catholic Church works to avoid some of
these difficulties of the break-up. A few extracts from the Catechism
of the Catholic Church:
2353. "Fornication is carnal union between an
unmarried man and an unmarried woman. It is gravely contrary
to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally
ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education
of children. Moreover, it is a grave scandal when there is corruption
of the young."
2350. "Those who are engaged to marry are called
to live chastity in continence. They should see in this time
of testing a discovery of mutual respect, an apprenticeship in
fidelity, and the hope of receiving one another from God. They
should reserve for marriage the expressions of affection that
belong to married love. They will help each other grow in chastity.
1640. "Thus the marriage bond has been established
by God himself in such a way that a marriage concluded and consummated
between baptized persons can never be dissolved. This bond, which
results from the free human act of the spouses and their consummation
of the marriage, is a reality, henceforth irrevocable, and gives
rise to a covenant guaranteed by God's fidelity. The Church does
not have the power to contravene this disposition of divine wisdom.[Cf.
CIC, can. 1141.] "
2384. "Divorce is a grave offense against the
natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses
freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce
does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental
marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is
recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture:
the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent
2385. "Divorce is immoral also because it introduces
disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings
grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by
the separation of their parents and often torn between them,
and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague
on society. "
2386. "It can happen that one of the spouses is
the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse
therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable
difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful
to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one
who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid
marriage.[Cf. FC 84.] "
Of course there can still be break ups before marriage. There
can even be invalid marriages, which further complicates the
situation. But on the whole I think it would be a much happier
world if these teachings of the Catholic Church were more widely
Alain De Botton also deals with break-ups in "The Consolations
of Philosphy" -- in Chapter 5 "A Broken Heart".
I am looking forward to seeing the TV series, based on the book,
which starts on Sunday night.
Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 19 January 2002.