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divorce: when enough is enough?

Rabbi Ari ShvatIyyar 19, 5777
132
Question
Lists of rational reasons to divorce can be found. Some of them are rational some are not. Still a chance is to be given to a spouse to change if he or she made any mistake. What if the spouse makes the same mistake all over again? They seem to promise and mean it to change but they fail. The spouse who is hurt, continues to loose time, nerves, money, etc... How to know when is time to divorce? I know this is broad, and there are mistakes and mistakes, but can you please tell me when divorce is mithzvot?
Answer
It's very difficult to give advice by "long distance", especially without hearing both sides and feelings, and without knowing the details regarding children, extreme offenses, intimate relations, etc. In general: it’s true that when there’s no mutual altruism, then patience, forgiveness and teaching should be practiced at least from your side, because you can only directly control your actions, but your spouse can definitely be influenced indirectly, by seeing, appreciating and even copying your tolerance and efforts. Nevertheless, there is a limit how much one can remain in such a situation, if the other partner refuses to grow. The “Living Torah” is very practical and knows that there are egocentric people, who rather than mirror and learn from their altruistic spouse, prefer to exploit their niceness, and it would be tragic and impractical to be locked into such marriage with no way out. God, in His love and mercy, has a huge “selection” of various challenges, and life is a lot more complex than “reward and punishment”, like children think simplistically that the “deserving” have it easy and the bad have it difficult. A loving Father may sometimes give a better match, or easier challenge, after the person may have previously failed (or not…). Often, the person/s at fault may learn from their mistakes and act differently in the next match. Obviously, every case is different, but divorce is always seen as a last resort, and the norm is that even difficult situations can and should be improved through altruism, patience and effort. Why wait to do so in the next match, but rather start immediately with the present one, to re-kindle the original attraction. There are almost no mistakes that can’t be changed.
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