Book Review
When Divorce Is Not An Option

Dr Gregory K. Popcak
Sophia Institute Press
ISBN 978-1622821884

Book coverIn the light of the Family Synod and the controversies surrounding it, this is the right book to come out at the right time. Dr Popcak shows us that it is not enough to prevent marital breakdown. Marriages need to be joyful and loving relationships. Marriage is good for spouses and it is good for children.

Dr Popcak is the founder and Executive Director of Pastoral Solutions Institute. He has a wealth of experience in helping people through difficulties in marriage and it is therefore not surprising to see that this book is practical. Couples need to develop certain virtues that will enable them to overcome difficulties in marriage or prevent them from happening in the first place. For example, different people respond to stress in different ways and they need to be identified.

There are reasons why marriages can fail. Dr Popcak distinguishes between those who are solution focused and those who belong to the misery making mindset. Marital problems tend to be associated of course with the latter. The chapter on self-regulation shows us how to manage emotional states and be solution focused.

There are eight habits or virtues that help married couples stay together. They are the rituals of connection, emotional rapport, self-regulation, a positive intention frame, caretaking in conflict, mutual respect, learning from mistakes and getting good support. There are certain rituals such as prayer and meals together that bring stability to family life.

The Church teaches that just as faith is based on reason, so there can be no conflict between faith and good psychological insights. But unlike secular psychologists, Dr Popcak does not rely on psychology alone. That is why there is a chapter on "Marriage and the Cross." The joys and sufferings of married life can be brought to the Cross because, in the Catholic understanding of things, there is a sacrificial nature to the sacrament of marriage.

This is a splendid resource especially for married couples and for those who care about marriage.