If divorce is a pure fiction, what should a person (esp. a married woman) do in the case of serious and chronic abuse? Or some analogous and equally grave situation?
Separation of bed and board is morally permissible in these situations. Separation does not involve a breaking of the bond. Separation is simply a physical, financial, emotional distance necessary for the welfare of one or both spouses.
Because separation is not the breaking of the bond, the separated parties remain married. They are married until the death of one party. Thus, each is called to remain faithful to the marital vows. That entails keeping oneself free from emotional friendships with the opposite sex. In so remaining faithful to their vows, the separated spouses witness to Christ’s fidelity to his Church despite the unfaithfulness of individual shepherds.
Where does Christ allow separation but forbid divorce? Next post or two.