[I need to emphasize right at the beginning of this post that what I am about to say is subject to being over-ridden by personal revelation and is not meant to be conclusive in every situation - even though I am going to write in more absolute terms than normal for this blog.]
Encouraging divorce is a difficult subject, especially in a society where "irreconcilable differences" is used as a common justification and means, in many cases, nothing more than "we stopped trying and drifted apart". Active, systematic abuse, however, adds an element that changes the entire discussion, in my opinion - even (and, I believe, especially) in the case of temple sealings.
The tendency to stay in a "less abusive" relationship that truly still is patently abusive because "he wants to change" and "I still love her" (or "for the kids") is a bad tendency, as bluntly as I can put it. To me, "desire" doesn't cut it in cases where abuse has been a real and serious problem. In those cases, actions and actions alone are key. He can say he's trying to change until he's blue in the face; what matters is if he actually is changing. If she still is extremely emotionally abusive and/or physically/sexually abusive over an extended period of time, she's not changing enough to warrant staying together.
As an example, albeit in a situation where marital divorce wasn't the issue, I once counseled a family in which some adult children were living with their elderly mother. All were emotionally and verbally abused by their father/husband before he died. It was a terrible situation, and I told them in no uncertain terms that they needed at least to consider the option of splitting up and healing individually before trying to live together again. Frankly, I didn't think they would be able to heal while they were together - and that feeling was most intense while I was praying about them and their situation. There just was too much accumulated baggage at the time when they were interacting with each other - baggage that exacerbated or perhaps even created real emotional disabilities. Counseling was needed desperately, but even that was compounded by the years of learned and assimilated behavior triggered by their constant proximity.
Again, this is a difficult topic to address adequately, especially in our current culture of general permissiveness and lack of accountability, but I believe it is important to be able to allow for those situations where divorce really is the best option.
Latter-day Saint Images, 1939
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