The only natural death a marriage may suffer is the natural death of one of its partners.

Every other death of a marriage is unnatural.

Divorce announces that marriage’s unnatural death.

The divorced marriage was put to death.

Murdered.

And the divorce itself plays one of two roles in the killing: Either it is the weapon and kills, or else it is the funeral that follows sooner or later an earlier murder. Divorce in the first role is a sad act of sinning. Divorce in the second is a sad necessity. In the first it makes a corpse—O Cain! O Miss Lizzie! In the second it buries a corpse and must, ere it stinketh.

Sometimes divorce is heinous, then, and an outrage.

Sometimes it deserves our pity and our deep condolence.

Always it publishes a private murder.

What has died? The life of a marriage. But what is the life in a marriage? Listen: It is not the love there. Within a marriage, even within the healthiest marriage, love comes and goes; it is one day very good, another day gone altogether. The love between husband and wife is a blessing upon both; but even it dies for awhile, the life of the marriage continues, love may return again, there being a place for it.

So what is the life in a marriage? It is the active relationship between the partners. When a marriage begins, there are three beings in it: wife, husband, and this relationship between wife and husband. It is distinct from them both; it is nourished by them both and feeds both of them; its body, its being, its shape is the vow that the partners made to one another in the beginning and that they maintain throughout; that promise brings it to birth. God witnesses that promise and says, “Yes, it is good.” Then the partners keep that promise alive, precisely as they would keep alive ...

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