Divorce is not easy on anyone. In Jesus day a woman would be considered untouchable once married and then divorce. The reasons for divorce were petty and had nothing to do with a woman or man choosing to leave for their own safety. What we really need to pay attention to is this hardness of heart.
Hardness of heart has led us to interpret divorce as a sin. Even when we have no choice, maybe our heart wasn't hardened, but the final decision didn't rest with just us. Or maybe we left for reasons of personal health and safety. Too often this passage and the one like it in Matthew have been used to force people to stay in unimaginable circumstances and there lies our own hardness of heart.
The virtues of forgiveness, community, and family are wonderful. When both people want to learn and change and grow together. A hardness of heart in this case is when one person does not want to do the hard work and leaves for something easier to deal with.
God hardened Pharoahs heart so the people could go free from an oppressive situation. One where they were not full members of community. Hardening our hearts is something we do in tough love as we try to help someone we love with addiction or a behavior that cuts off family and community.
In Mark these conflicts with the Pharisees are strategically placed. It is what leads their hardness of heart to arrest and condemn to death Jesus. Jesus wants us to be aware of our hardness of heart when it hurts others. Women who were divorced in the ancient world had no way to make money or get food unless they were forced into prostitution. Hardness of heart caused suffering for the whole community.
Being sensitive to these places is essential in discipleship. We should be a part of building healthy and whole communities as best we can. This means being honest. Maybe this is why for the third time children are brought in. Children are brutally honest and full in their love and openness. They don't cut off people unless someone really hurts them. May we be able to open our hearts in love and to build healthy and full communities.