John Lilburne's journal about break-ups.



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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 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 back together".

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 adultery ...

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 accepted.

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.