Any justifiable reasons for divorce?

11/19/1987 During the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to talk to many men and women who have been or are divorced. Unless a person has had the experience, I think it is difficult to understand the adjustment and transition from being married to being single once again. And sometimes well-meaning friends, family members, neighbors and relatives make the task of adjustment even greater.

Making the decision to divorce is difficult enough. There are long periods of deliberation whether to stay in the relationship or to get out of it. And the alternatives are not always distinctly either positive or negative. Sometimes there are combinations of both. But eventually a decision has to be made. Either we are going to stay married and perhaps work to improve it, get out of it by divorce, or live on, as one counselor has noted as “married singles” in “quiet desperation.”

By now most readers of this column know I’m highly committed to stable and satisfactory marriages. That includes my own and those of others. When troubles occur I firmly believe that married couples should do all in their power to work toward reconciliation and also a more satisfying marital relationship. I think this is usually the case, not only for the couple, but for the children often involved.

But the pervasive question still remains for those considering divorce and all other married couples. Is divorce justified? An experience I once had comes to mind.

When I was teaching at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. I was invited to speak at a women’s luncheon in the community. At the conclusion of my remarks I asked if there were any questions. There were one or two. Then I was handed a note scribbled on a napkin which read: “Dr. Barlow, if I am in an irreparable marriage where divorce seems impossible, which is the best alternative? Suicide or murder?”

I read the note out loud and the room became very quiet. We all realized the woman who wrote the note was serious and everyone became interested in what I would say. I also wondered.

Finally, I suggested that no marriage relationship is worth a human life. Whenever a human being is assaulted or life is frequently threatened, I question the value of staying in the relationship. Divorce seemed to me to be a viable alternative to either murder or suicide.

Before sitting down, I also suggested there were probably other justifiable reasons for divorce but  only those in the troubled marriage could make the decision. They are the ones who ultimately will abide by the consequences of what is decided. They are the ones who will have to live with, or without, their marriage partner.

Deciding to divorce is usually a long, difficult decision. There are sometimes those who rush into it prematurely and perhaps even unnecessarily. But there are also those who give the decision careful and deliberate consideration. We as family, friends, neighbors or relatives may not agree with someone else’s decision to divorce. But once the decision is made, those involved need our friendship and understanding.

When do you think divorce is justified?


  1. Many yrs ago Dr Barlow wrote an article in the Deseret News and mentioned he had spent hrs on his knees petitioning the Lord for answers as to when divorce was appropriate. I never did see a continuation of that article and the insights he received. Would love to know what answers he received.

  2. I was not happy until i met Dr. Esu through his email: because my husband has left me and never had the intention of coming back home. But just within 48 hours that i contacted Dr. Esu my marriage changed to the positive side, At first my husband came back home and since then my marriage has been more peaceful and romantic than ever before... It could be of help to you as well .


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