Some days, I feel more like a priest than a lawyer, as people step into my office and confess all their sins, or those committed by their partners. Of course, unlike a priest, I cannot absolve them of all these acts, which have turned their home into a House of Horrors. All I can do is help them plan an escape.
The tell-tales signs that it is time to go are always the same: (1) a loss of respect and (2) lack of trust. Without these 2 pillars, love will come crashing down like a house of cards. Interestingly enough, the actions that lead to the demise of a marriage are always the same, and can easily be summed up as the 7 Deadly Sins, which Pope Gregory the Great identified as follows:
You don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate how these sins (defined by the Pope as offenses against love) would poison any positive feelings you may have once felt towards another human being. The Pope actually ranked them in terms of severity (with #1 being the worst), and the rank correlates with the degree of fixation an individual exhibits with him/herself and a corresponding decrease in concern for others. In today’s vocabulary we would say the more narcissistic someone is, the less likely they will be to maintain a loving relationship, and that is in fact proving to be the case with the divorces I see every day.
While I firmly believe that most people are not totally self-absorbed or corrupt, it does seem that as we climb up that socio-economic ladder and amass power, we face increasing temptations. These days, it is very easy to become focused on your individual goals and lose sight of the world around you– especially for those keen on joining the ranks of the top One Percent. (For those interested in a glimpse of that world, and how it is no picnic, I highly recommend the documentary by J. Johnson “One Percent.”)
Staying on top can become an obsession, and it is easy to see how the higher you climb, the greater the fear of falling. Coping with stress is a skill that must be practiced daily, and unfortunately most go for the quick fix of numbing the pain with drugs and alcohol or other reckless acts. They don’t see this as a path to self-destruction.
Little did I know back in 1995 when I watched the movie “Seven” with Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow that I would be stuck dealing with these Seven Deadly Sins on a daily basis. The fact is these 7 transgressions are not always so obvious or severe, and they can certainly vary widely in degrees. But, overtime they create a perfect storm, and if you ignore the initial warning signs, that storm will destroy your love and tear down your home.
Not a sermon, just food for thought.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.