Abandoned but faithful. Because marriage is indissoluble

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Abandoned but faithful. Because marriage is indissoluble
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I don’t give up this concern and struggle because the marriage I’m in has been sealed with the sacrament. As we know, there is no sacrament of parenthood, family or divorce, but there is a sacrament of marriage and being a sacrament it is to last until “death do them apart.” The marriage covenant is between three people: two spouses and God. It is God that blesses the sacrament to connect the spouses who invite Him to their marriage during the wedding ceremony – says Robert Łajewski, the leader of the Białystok branch of the Community of Difficult Marriages Sychar in an interview with Adam Białous.


You have experienced the drama of your marriage being broken up?

My wife and I come from Białystok. We are both Catholics. We met at the University Chaplain Centre. Which, as it could seem, was to be a guarantee that nothing threatens our marriage. Ten years after we had gotten married we moved to Warsaw. This is where our son, now 9 years old, was born. However, instead of getting stronger our marital relationship started to weaken. Especially when after our son had been born we stopped praying together. Finally, we became completely separated. We haven’t been together for 7 years now.


But you don’t give up and still believe that your sacramental relationship can be saved? 

The charism of the Sychar Community can be expressed in one sentence: “Every difficult marriage can be saved”. I believe that our marriage can be saved as well. Therefore, I don’t agree to a civil divorce, for example, although my wife has been fighting for one in court for 5 years now. Jesus said: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” There are no such obstacle that would make spouses coming back together impossible, if both of them want this, of course. It turns out that even children born in extramarital relationships, a lover, parents, parents-in-law or any other family member cannot be an obstacle for the spouses to get back together. 


Do you know examples of spouses getting back together after a long time of living separately, far away from one another? 

I know many such examples. Even in our Białystok branch of the Community, which has been existing for only 3.5 years, there are already nine married couples who got back together. A very strong testimony to the spouses getting back together is a story of Ania and Andrzej who live near Warsaw. They tell the story of their marriage during our retreats. Recently, before Christmas, they told it in a Catholic broadcast in TVP1.


After three years of marriage Ania left her husband, Andrzej, and got involved with a colleague from work. They have three children together. She started to convert when her oldest daughter was preparing herself for the First Holy Communion. Then she painfully realised that by committing the sin of breaking marital vows she couldn’t receive the Holy Communion although she wanted to very much. She went through a spiritual transformation. After some time she met her husband by accident, although we know that in God’s actions there are no accidents. Since then the spouses started to get back together although it wasn’t easy. 


Ania decided to break up with her partner whom she has three children with and Andrzej left her partner whom she has one child with. They did it and after 13 years of living outside their marriage they started to live like a married couple again. Before they split they hadn’t had any children together and at the moment they already have two. They also raise their children who were born in their extramarital relationships. This and many other similar stories of overcoming a deep marital crisis have been presented in the book entitled Sychar. Ile jest warta twoja obrączka (Sychar. How much is your wedding ring worth) by Anna Jedna, the leader of the Sychar group in Poznań. 


I can also say that 3.5 years ago I initiated the Sychar group to be founded in Białystok. Our spiritual guide is Father Doctor Józef Kozłowski. He is also an apostle of families. Our community demonstrates the value of an indissoluble sacramental marriage. We do not accept divorces. The main objective of our activities is to help those who go through a marital crisis and are on different stages of this crisis. 


What is the road to overcoming a crisis and spouses getting back together? 

The beginning of this road is to start converting, at least by one of the spouses, to God. I had such a spiritual awakening. I found the Sychar Community. The first stage in the process of changing the way we look at the current situation is a kind of spiritual mourning which made me accept the situation. It lasted eighteen months. After this time I accepted the fact that I was no longer with my wife and my son, that I was not with my family. This is how it is now but I hope it will be different in the future and that we can still be together one day. 


During the eighteen months of my mourning I was not able to turn a radio on. I wasn’t able to listen to music. However, with time, when I took part in workshops, meetings and retreats organised by the Sychar Community, my thoughts and feelings changed. Such a breakthrough was my participation in the “Fundament” Ignatian retreat. Since then I have been seriously working on improving my relation with God, which, as I realised only then, was very poor. It was also at that time that I started to realise what I had actually promised my wife during our wedding ceremony in church. How valuable it was. I’m responsible for my part of the vow. 


What does your involvement with the Sychar Community give you? 

I joined the Sychar Community in Warsaw 7 years ago. I received a great support there. I was made to feel that I’m not alone with my suffering. I felt understood because the community consists of people in the situation similar to mine. I also got the answer to the question that had been bothering me – what can I do in the face of our deep marital crisis. Being in the community I realised that I have no influence on what my wife does and what decisions she makes with regards to our marriage but I can do a lot in this matter. I can be true to our wedding vows which I took in front of God. I can look after my own growth, mainly the spiritual and intellectual one. First you have to fix up yourself to have a good relationship with others. 


The Sychar Community gave me many tools needed to continue this growth. It offered meetings, which usually take place once or twice a month, as well as retreats, conferences and materials which teach me how to behave in the situation I’m in. They helped me to stop beating myself up about such destructive questions as: Why did it happen? Why do I have to go through this suffering? Instead, I asked myself a constructive question: What was the reason behind it? Looking for the answer to this question I became convinced that I have to work a lot on myself, on my faults and on my being a husband, a father and a man. 


Being a husband, a father and a lawyer do you believe that a divorce is a solution that has negative effects? 

One hundred years ago or so people would not shake a hand with a person who left his or her spouse. Such a person lost the ability of honour. It was unthinkable. It was only changed by the introduction of divorce to the legal system which in Poland happened a few decades ago. For a long time there has been something like a divorce mentality in social thinking. When there are any difficulties in a marriage spouses go to court to get a divorce more and more often. They do not fix their relationship, they don’t work on it but they end it. It is why at the moment, if both parties agree to get a divorce, a judge in a district court breaks up a family which lasted for a few, a dozen or several dozens of years in 15 minutes. 


Such matters as alimonies, parental authority, contacts with a child, child care or custody are decided in a nota bene family court. Besides, the name “family court”, which in fact generally doesn’t encourage rebuilding, cementing and fixing families and relationships, but rather breaks up and destroys families, to say the least, may sound misleading. In its adjudicating it is not important how much children, the main victims of divorces, suffer. 


The negative effects of divorces are very far-reaching and may influence even the next generation called adult children of divorce. Inability to form permanent bonds, increase in crime, mental disorders and illnesses, social disfunctions, suicide, broken marriages and other dramas are only some of the effects of a divorce. 


These are the results of long-lasting researches conducted in the USA by Professor Judith Wallerstein. She published them in her book entitled Unexpected legacy of divorce. The results of her researches clearly indicate that the worst thing that parents can do to their children is to get a divorce. In the Polish law there is a significant legal contradiction as far as divorces are concerned. I’m saying this as a lawyer. Article 18 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland talks about the protection of marriage. At the same time, divorces, which break up and destroy families, are legal. A family is insufficiently protected by the law. And it must be known that the number of divorces is constantly growing. In 2016 there were more than 180,000 weddings and more than 64,000 divorces. In big cities like Warsaw the ratio between divorces and marriages is 44%!


Isn’t the institution of separation a better legal solution for many conflicted marriages who want to get a divorce in court?

Separation is a much better solution and it could be efficiently used by the majority of married couples who want to break up. The institution of separation exists not only in the civil law but also in the canon law. Separation gives room and time for sorting out some conflicting situations between spouses. Couples can then live together without taking any steps of passion and feeling very negative emotions which usually accompany a deep marital crisis. Separation is also good in the situation when one spouse has a strong and destructive addiction, is aggressive or simply not mature enough to be in a marriage or a family.


Aren’t you going to give up fighting for your marriage? 

I don’t give up this concern and struggle because the marriage I’m in has been sealed with the sacrament. As we know, there is no sacrament of parenthood, family or divorce, but there is a sacrament of marriage and being a sacrament it is to last until “death do them apart.” The marriage covenant is between three people: two spouses and God. It is God that blesses the sacrament to connect the spouses who invite Him to their marriage during the wedding ceremony. 


Thank you. 

Adam Białous


DATA: 2018-01-23 12:01
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