PSYCHOLOGY

Twice Divorced Ruth Graham On Refusing To Stay In Loveless Marriages Despite The Divorcée Stigma

Date January 29, 2019

No matter what hardships befell the family of America’s best-known preacher, Billy Graham, they have always endured them with grace and taught others to do the same.

Twice Divorced Ruth Graham On Refusing To Stay In Loveless Marriages Despite The Divorcée StigmaGetty Images / Ideal Image

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Ruth Graham (b. 1950), Billy’s third child, wants you to know this: If there’s no higher purpose in your suffering, you don’t need to stay and endure it.

Ruth’s failed marriages

Ruth married the man she loved and thought he would be her companion for life. They had children and their marriage seemed great on the surface, but after almost 20 years with the man, Ruth found out he’d been unfaithful for a long time.

She tried to salvage the marriage, not least for the sake of children, so she and her husband went through months of counseling. Sadly, it didn’t work, and Ruth realized her marriage was irreparably broken.

In an interview with Glenn Beck, she recalled her family wondering why she couldn’t stay and forgive her husband. “In our church, adultery is forgivable – divorce is not, at least it wasn’t back then,” Ruth told Glenn. She would be the first divorced child in her family, and she feared it would damage their reputation.

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Feeling unhappy and unloved, Ruth divorced her husband and moved to a different town, where she met a man who she thought was wonderful. Lost, lonely, and needing a firm shoulder, Ruth married the man but “within 24 hours, realized it was a mistake.”

Ruth’s new husband threatened violence, and fearing for her safety, she just left. She got into a car and headed to her parents’ home.

How Ruth’s father reacted

During the long drive to her parents’ home, all kinds of thoughts were swirling in Ruth’s head. “What am I going to say to them? What are they going to say to me? What about my children? What kind of example have I been to my children?” Ruth recalled thinking.

She feared her parents’ anger, especially her father’s. After all, her parents had told her to wait before marrying that man and she didn’t listen. But when Ruth got out of the car, there was not a hint of condemnation in her father's expression and voice. He simply embraced her and welcomed her home. “It was a wonderful picture of a father’s love for a broken child,” Ruth said in another interview.

What Ruth thinks about divorce now

Since then, Ruth’s view of divorce has evolved. She’s come to think that if a marriage is making all parties involved miserable and there are serious grounds for divorce, leaving is the best thing to do. She wrote in her column on BeliefNet:

Marriage is not necessarily for our happiness alone but as an instrument for spiritual growth and development. It is a sacred covenant that should never be broken. That is His ideal. It is our ideal. But we do not live in an ideal world.

I believe legitimate grounds for divorce are: infidelity...no communication, emotional isolation and not supporting the family; and abuse which can be physical, emotional and verbal as well as neglect.

Ruth’s interpretation of divorce totally makes sense. There are times when a marriage can and should be fixed, but there are also times when there’s no point in staying.

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