Syndicated author and lecturer Cal Thomas, interviewed in 1994 on C-SPAN’s “Booknotes” program about his book “The Things That Matter Most,” was asked about a newspaper column he wrote entitled “Children of Divorce.” The title and idea for the piece, he said, came from an airline stewardess whom he asked if there was something she could do to help a little girl seated across the airplane aisle from him, crying her eyes out. She replied no, that they saw “that kind” all the time, and about all they could do was make them comfortable. When asked what she meant, she said that the little girl was one of a large number of children shuttled back and forth between divorced parents who didn’t want the responsibility of the marriage or the children they had brought into the world, committed only to pleasing themselves.
After moving to Jacksonville, Ark., in 1983, I was listening one day to a talk show on a Little Rock radio station. A discussion was in progress between callers and the host about some of the causes of divorce in the U.S. and some of the problems connected with it. I felt someone needed to say something about the priority of commitment in marriage. Calling the program, I made a brief comment, then hung up.
A little later, a woman called in and told the host she thought what I said made a lot of sense, and he should have me on the program as a guest. Never having been one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I took advantage of the opportunity. I called the host off the air to let him know I was available. He invited me to come, and I did. After the program began and the host had introduced me and revealed why I was on, I talked briefly about the importance of commitment in the marriage relationship. Several calls were received, and it seemed like a worthwhile hour. But one call toward the end of the program from a rather irate listener suggested that I was doing a great injustice to the listeners in my emphasis on commitment by oversimplifying the problems in the marriage relationship, and that, basically, I didn’t know what I was talking about!
I’ve thought about that occasion several times over the last 10 years. I came to the conclusion that, in spite of the caller’s failure to understand, and the fact that complicated problems do deserve more than simplistic answers, it is still true that commitment is of primary importance, not only in the marriage relationship, but the home in general.
In my next column or two, I want to point to a number of things about the importance of commitment in the different relationships in the home: husband and wife, parents and children.