Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 57: DIVORCE

Dear brothers and sisters: Good morning and thank you for attending our weekly Awakened Living Study Program. My name is Alaye Soteme and I will be your host. Our topic for today’s Study is DIVORCE. May we focus our full attention on this study for the lessons of life because knowledge is POWER, knowledge is SUCCESS, knowledge is FORGIVENESS, knowledge is WISDOM, knowledge is ENLIGHTENMENT and knowledge is AWAKENED LIVING.

All quotes relating to GOD are interpreted in a Universal sense; in other words our use of the word GOD does not refer to any religion, cultural Gods, saviors, or created Gods. GOD is the underlying ESSENCE of the Universe. GOD has no chosen people, GOD has no Sacred Text and GOD has no Sacred Place! The Universe is the Sacred Text, the Universe is the Sacred Place and all creatures are Testaments of GOD! 

Further you are here to look at life from a different angle. You are not here to follow what others have put in place be it their religion, their Gods, their sacred texts, their beliefs or their way of thinking. You are here to share your LIGHT with the world.  The beliefs of our ancestors are our liabilities. Our challenge is to look at life in ways that promote interdependence and destroy all forms of discrimination including racism, tribalism, nationalism, nepotism, fundamentalism, fanaticism, favoritism, exclusivism, chosen people and racial superiority. 

Lastly, none of the quotes here is absolute or written in blood. They are all human thoughts and ideas based on their experiences and according to their levels of consciousness. The Awakened Living Study Program is a platform to study what others have said and improve on them. Do not for any reason use the quotes as mantra for life because you are the LIGHT!

Opening Meditation
You may offer an appropriate prayer before reading, discussing and reflecting on the famous quotes and the Sacred Texts verses. You may use the following prayer:

O LOVE who pervades the universe, we thank you for this opportunity to learn. We pray for LOVE to manifest amongst us to guide our readings, discussions and reflections. We specially pray for peace of mind and save us from all distractions and concerns of the world so that we may receive the lessons of life for our guidance and the transformation of our lives. Amen.

The Study Leader may make announcements at this time. Welcome new members, recognize birthdays or anniversaries; make an award or recognize a contribution; announce Circle of Life successes. This is also an opportunity for anyone to share an experience, give thanks or make a request for special prayers.

Opening Thoughts
The leader or an appointed person will stand and read the opening thoughts. The opening thoughts explain the topic of discussion. You may use the information below or explain it in your own words.

Divorce is one of the life-altering experiences that could happen to any couple or family. It often culminates into starting life all over gain depending on the life skills of each of the couples. Quite often couples settle into their areas of expertise during marriage and when divorce happens they find that they do not know how to handle some of the contributions of the other partner. These things could be as simple as cooking, budgeting, filing taxes, driving, doing the dishes, grocery shopping or paying bills. After the divorce one person may move to a different house or apartment or even be homeless and in all these cases you need to learn how to live with yourself if you solely depended on your partner when you were married. The wise thing to do in any situation in life is to learn to be self sufficient because you don’t know what may happen in the future: if it is not divorce, it could be the death of your partner.

It is also worth noting that sometimes divorce does not make sense. Couples are so cut up into having their way that they forget about the LOVE that bound them together in the first place. They operate on an emotional level and tend to rationalize their actions. How can a person that you have loved for say 5 years, 10 years or 20 years become so bad that you couldn’t live with the person anymore? What happened to your commitment and your beliefs about love, tolerance, understanding and compassion? This is not to imply that there are no real good reasons for divorce. There is no doubt that sometimes people change and do things that undermine the happiness of a partner and sometimes people make choices that threaten the union. Thus in such cases divorce could be a reasonable option but by all means avoid operating on an emotional level when seeking a divorce. Determine what you want, make sure that you are safe, gauge your future happiness and involve the family members before filling the divorce papers.

Famous Quotes
Take turns to read the famous quotes and discuss what you have learned from each quote.  Please give credit to the author of the quote and as an assignment for presentations each person may choose an author and find out more about the author to share with the group during the next session.

1 In every marriage more than a week old there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find and continue to find grounds for marriage. Robert Anderson
2 Divorce isn't such a tragedy. A tragedy's staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce. Jennifer Weiner
3 People do not get married planning to divorce. Divorce is the result of a lack of preparation for marriage and the failure to learn the skills of working together as teammates in an intimate relationship.   Gary Chapman
4 There would be fewer divorces if men gave as much loving attention to their wives as they do their cars and jobs. Vikrant Parsai
5 The remedy for most marital stress is not in divorce. It is in repentance and forgiveness, in sincere expressions of charity and service. It is not in separation. It is in simple integrity that leads a man and a woman to square up their shoulders and meet their obligations. It is found in the Golden Rule, a time-honored principle that should first and foremost find expression in marriage. Gordon B. Hinckle
6 If you have been divorced, you know it hurts - especially if your marriage had lasted many years. Whatever the circumstances of your relationship, and whatever the nature of its ending, there is always grief and regret - perhaps regret over the ending, or perhaps regret over not ending the relationship sooner - or perhaps both. Nonetheless, move past the grief and regret. No matter how painful, divorce, like all endings, opens the door to new beginnings.  Jonathan Lockwood Huie
7 "When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us." Helen Keller
8 “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.” Unknown
9 “If you really love something set it free. If it comes back it’s yours, if not it wasn’t meant to be.” Unknown
10 More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse. Doug Larson

Sacred Texts Quotes
Take turns to read all the sacred text quotes and discuss what you have learned from each quote. In your discussion compare and contrast the quotes. What did you learn from the similarities and differences? What quote inspires you? What life lessons did you learn from the quote? Please give credit to the sacred text during your reading by mentioning the name of the text and where the quote could be found. 

 1 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge..  Christianity: New Testament, Hebrews 13.4
2 When a family declines, ancient traditions are destroyed. With them are lost the spiritual foundations for life, and the family loses its sense of unity. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 1.40
3 The lawful thing which God hates most is divorce.  Islam. Hadith of Abu Dawud
4 It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. New Testament, Christianity: Matthew 5:31-32
5 The husband receives his wife from the gods; he does not wed her according to his own will; doing what is agreeable to the gods, he must always support her while she is faithful. "Let mutual fidelity continue until death;" this may be considered as a summary of the highest law for husband and wife. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 9.95, 101
6 Where there is no sense of unity, the women of the family become corrupt; and with the corruption of its women, society is plunged into chaos. Social chaos is hell for the family and for those who have destroyed the family as well. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 1.41-42
7  Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” “What did Moses command you?” he replied. They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”  “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied.  “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.  And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” Christianity, New Testament: Mark 10:2-12
8 Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. New Testament, Christianity: Luke 16:18
9 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. New Testament, Christianity: 1 Corinthians 7:39
10 Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Judaism, Tanakh, Genesis 2:24

Teaching Story
The teaching story is a story, a parable or thoughts related to the topic of discussion. An appointed person will read each story and the group will take turns and discuss. What does the story mean to you? What did you learn from the story? Did the story add anything new to the topic of discussion? How has this study enriched your life?

Once upon a time Joe and June lived in Oxford as husband and wife in a beautiful home. They loved each other very much and people often talked about their commitment to each other. They did everything together including shopping, camping, fishing and travelling and they were never tired of each other. One day Joe and June had a discussion about what to send to their family friends, Tim and Tina for their 25th wedding anniversary. They agreed on a set of plates. Later Joe checked out the most appropriate gifts for a 25th wedding anniversary and decided on his own to buy a silver piggy bank as the gift. Joe put $1000 in the piggy bank, wrapped it and sent it by priority mail to Tim and Tina.

Later that day June asked Joe if he had shipped the gift to Tim and Tina? When Joe told June that he sent a different gift June felt that her contribution was neglected and if that is the way Joe would be treating her she would prefer a divorce. Joe tried to explain why he didn’t go with their choice but June would not listen. Instead she accused Joe of not really caring for her and said that they were through and that she would sleep on a separate bed beginning that night.

Seeing that he could not have a sensible conversation with his wife Joe decided to keep quiet and kept quiet for about three days. When June was having her lunch on the fourth day Joe went to her and apologized for his lack of consideration but June told him that they were through and he should not waste his time trying to change her mind because her mind is made up. At this point Joe didn’t know what else to do. He still loves his wife and wants to remain married to her and does not want another woman.  He thought about inviting their pastor to mediate but Joe was too proud to let another person into his family affairs so he decided to talk to his wife again during dinner.  As June ate her dinner Joe sat by her side and said: If I were to choose between you and a rich beautiful woman I will always choose you because as far as I am concerned you are the richest and the most beautiful woman on earth! And that was how Joe saved his marriage!

Till Death we Part
I have written extensively on saving your marriage if you are considering a divorce but I am also aware that marriage as we know it today is based on two major false beliefs. The first belief is that marriage is ordained by GOD. There is no truth to this belief because it is humans who choose their partners and the choice is mostly based on attraction. Further a man or a woman could be attracted to many different people at the same time. That he or she chose one of these people does not mean that the choice was ordained by GOD. If marriages were ordained by GOD we would not have many divorces as we have today. I think GOD has nothing to do with the choices we make in life. 

The second belief is that marriage is a permanent contract or "till death do we part." For starters there is nothing permanent on this plane. The phrase "till death do we part" could even rob many people of their happiness because they got stuck in a relationship that they want out. There is no doubt that many people go into marriage for the marriage to last a life time but it might not happen. Thus instead of insisting on permanence we can put in some flexibility in our marital contracts.

No doubt there are many marriages that last till the end of the lives of the partners. But the question is were they really happy? If you are in a relationship because of your religion, your culture or your family connection but you are unhappy is it worth it to continue to stay in such a relationship? One can remain in an unhappy relationship based on personal reasons but by all means let it not be because of an external factor like your religion or your culture and let it not be "because of the children". Your religion or culture does not know how you feel in your relationship  and it is unhealthy to raise children in an unhappy environment. 

Shadows of Divorce
Divorce could be a mutual affair but the aftermath of divorce could still be devastating. Each of you has lost something: you have lost love, support, companionship, and friendship. You may feel lonely and begin to wonder what has happened to your life. Some immediately try to have a relationship but I think that is not advisable when you are still grieving. Let the grieving process run its course before you think about relationships or not.

After the Shadows
Divorce gives you another opportunity to live again and it could be exciting. Knowing that all you have is you could be also be liberating. It is an opportunity to take good care of yourself, do the things that you have always wanted to do, set new goals for your life like travelling or going back to school and learning toward a new career or fulfilling a passion. Divorce could put back you wings to enable you to fly as far as you want to go but learn from the experience and enjoy your life.

Closing Meditation
The closing meditation presents the highlights of the Study.  The highlights should include among others what you have learned and what aspects of the study are worth noting. The leader or an appointed person may share the closing meditation. You may use the thoughts and information provided below but I encourage you to use the contributions of the participants and current relevant information.

Our closing meditation centers on how to deal with marital problems. Misunderstanding in any relationship is not unusual so the challenge is to get to the bottom of your misunderstanding by finding out directly from your partner. Here are some suggestions to help you to save your marriage:

  1. Goal Clarification: When there is a misunderstanding it is often difficult to determine exactly what you want but this is the precise moment to clarify your goals. What do you really want? Do you still love your partner? Do still want to remain married to your partner? How will a divorce change your life? Are you prepared for the change? How will your decision affect the members of your family? Do you really care for the happiness of others or are you only concerned about your own happiness? These are legitimate questions to consider before you do anything and it is advisable to consider them with an open and compassionate mind.
  2. Two-way communication: At the beginning of your misunderstanding it is possible that both of you are talking on an emotional level. Each is trying to state why the partner is wrong and none of you is actually listening to what the other is saying. When this happens it is all right for you to just keep quiet and not talk back irrespective of whether what is said is true or not. At a later time when the emotions have died down go to your partner and apologize for your contribution to the misunderstanding. But if you think that you have not done anything wrong you can always invent something just to start a conversation. In course of your conversation you can ask: “What is happening to us and what can we do to get back to how things used to be?” “We were so loving and happy!” Listen as your partner offers suggestions and do not try to contradict what your partner says. Promise to do something that could improve your relationship and do it immediately.
  3. Forgive and Forget: Forgive each other as soon as you reach an understanding. There is no doubt that forgetting something that hurts you is not easy but you could walk through the issue by replacing it with the good times you shared in the past. You could also use a mantra each time you feel hurt. Some have said that there is magic in the mantra so they look for popular mantra and use them. Personally I think the magic is in your heart and not in the phrase so you can choose any mantra that relates to your present situation and repeat it as often as possible more especially when you feel hurt. I usually encourage my family members and friends to use the following mantra: Love of GOD, Peace of GOD, Power of GOD, or Health of GOD. It really doesn’t matter whether you believe in GOD or not but if the word GOD offends you, try changing it to LOVE because essentially that is what it is. In this sense your mantra could be Power of LOVE, Peace of LOVE, Health of LOVE and so on. I usually repeat the mantra in threes like Power of LOVE, Power of LOVE, Power of LOVE –Breathe-Power of LOVE, Power of LOVE, Power of LOVE-Breathe….etc.
  4. See a marriage counselor: If everything failed and you are sure that you have reached the end of your relationship you can see a marriage counselor before you actually say goodbye. These are trained professionals who could help you to see something that you have not considered and that “something” could be the magic that saves your marriage. If you do not have the fees for a marriage counselor you could try your pastor, minister or a family member.

You may accept gifts and donations at this time for the work you are doing. It takes effort, time and money to put the Study Program together so I encourage attendants to give. An appointed person may now pass the donation bag. The leader may bless the gifts after the donations.

Closing Prayer
Always close your Study Program with a prayer or an affirmation. Pray for guidance and direction during the week. Pray for everyone present. The leader or an appointed person may offer the closing prayer. You may use the sample prayer if needed.

O LOVE who pervades the Universe and who resides in us
We thank You for Your presence during our studies and reflections.
May these studies bear fruits within us for our good and the good of our environment.
As we go through our day to day activities may You guide us and protect us.
And bring us here again to continue your work for your glory. Amen

You may serve refreshments after the Study. This is a time to relax and socialize. Get to know the people in the Program with you and I mean really know them well. One of the secrets of success is connection so I encourage you to know the people around you. The host may decide what to serve or he or she may ask the attendants what they want for refreshments before each Study Program.

Talent Contribution
You may now entertain the group with your talent in music, songs, dance and poetry including playing musical instruments. This is also a good time to share some Awakened tips for the benefit of the group

Circle of Life
The Circle of Life depicts different aspects of your life. You are at the center and the different aspects radiate outwards to form a circle as long as they are in harmony. You can pinpoint an aspect of your life at any given time and find out if you are in harmony with the rest of the circle. If an aspect needs improvement you may have an uneven circle. Your challenge then is to work on the area that needs improvement in order to keep it in harmony with the rest of the circle.

There are 12 aspects in this version of the Wheel of Life including Health, Spirituality, Family, Relationships, Education, Mission, Finances, Work, Play, Personal Development, Environment, and creativity. Take time to answer the following questions and begin to work on the areas that need improvement.

1. Are you healthy?
2. Do you have any bad habits like drinking, smoking, pornography, fast foods, etc?

1. Are you spiritual?
2. When was the last time you meditated, chanted, affirmed or prayed?

1. Do you have a family?
2. Are you happy with your spouse, children, and parents?

1. Do you have friends?
2. Are you happy with your friends, co-workers, boss?

1. Do you have a degree?
2. When was the last time you read a book?

1. Do you have a mission statement?
2. What is your life mission?

1 Are you financially stable?
2. Do you have any debts?

1. Do you have a job, career?
2. Are you happy with your job, career?

1. Do you play regularly?
2. When was the last time you played with your friends, children, spouse, parents or pet?

Personal Development
1. Do you lose your temper often?
2. When was the last time you took a class on human development?

1 Are you happy with your environment?
2. How are you reducing pollution?

1. Are you sharing your creativity?
2. When was the last time you wrote a poem, painted, sang, danced, or played a musical instrument?

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