Monday, June 2, 2008

Marriage - the Good, Bad, and the Ugly

Over the past two years, several of my good friends have decided that they were "done" with their marriages, and happily divorced and moved on. One of them is still single. Several others have recently remarried. In all of these cases, the biggest reason for the divorce? Husband and wife were either mutually sick and tired of one another, or the wife decided that she had put up with her husband "being a jerk" for long enough. I don't think adultery has been involved in any of these divorces. Mostly, it just comes down to a lot of years together with a lot of accumulated irritations, bitterness, and grievances.

Having watched my own parent's less-than-ideal, yet very committed marriage of close to three decades, I know that marriage isn't always beautiful and romantic. I know that sometimes its hard and ugly and long and that some days staying together seems far more insane than finding separate worlds to live in. But I've watched their marriage and many others, with lots of commitment and work and prayers and tears become... not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but vibrant testimonies to the grace of God.

Visiting with one of my friends as her divorce was being finalized, I asked, "So, what would make you reconsider? It sounds like your husband doesn't really even want this to happen. And what about your little boy?"

She defensively sat up a little straighter and emphatically said, "It's about time that I did something for ME for once! I've been walked all over for nearly ten years while he's been complaining about depression and burying himself in his job. I'm done. I just don't care anymore if it's good for him or not. My husband hasn't made me happy in a long, long time. He wants to save our marriage, but he doesn't have any idea of what I need. And I'm withering away with nobody looking out for me. Frankly, I don't care if he's going to change now. He's not the guy I thought I married and I've bent over backwards to try to help him. I'm ready to find someone that won't take so much work. I've finally decided that it's time that I just stand up for myself and do what I need for ME."

She followed through with the divorce then found a "new" man - one who assured her that maintaining relationships is his top priority. (His other 2 wives walked out on him, claiming that he wasn't meeting their needs, so I don't know if I believe him... Maybe he's changed a few things...) Maybe this marriage will work, maybe it won't. That's beside my point.

My friend isn't a Christian, so she sets the rules for herself (for now -- she'll find out differently some day). So, I can't really fault her in thinking that making herself happy is the chief end in life.

But for my Christian friends who have recently decided to throw in the towel on their marriage of 10 or 20 years... and give up because they were tired of another sinful human being who isn't considerate, unselfish, loving, or helpful... I am appalled.

I know.
I haven't walked a mile in their shoes.

I know.
I've never even been married and don't know half of the heartbreak they've encountered.

I know.
I'm unqualified to write about a subject of which I know so little.

But, a few of these situations have brought me to my knees over and over again, begging God for wisdom. He always pointed me back to His Word reminding me that the facts are very plain. He's not okay with forgiveness being over after seven times or even seventy times.
I have been reminded that even when our heart would like to tell us that truth is whatever fits the situation, the Word of God has not changed.

Although I prefer to be non-confrontational and "mind my own business" in these situations, a couple of times the Lord has prompted me that it was my duty to do more than pray. It was my duty speak up in love. I've tried to do just that.

I recently penned a letter to a dear, dear Christian friend who told me that she was "so done" with her husband of several decades and contemplating remarriage.

As one who has experienced the mercy of God in great measure (haven't we all?!), I hoped that the themes of forgiveness and redemption would call her back to reality, and that she would give her marriage a second chance. I apologize for the length of the post, but I hope that it's worth your time as well.

1 comment:

Laurel said...

Well worth the time, Mary. I appreciate you sharing. You're so right. It's not easy; it's not always pretty and sweet. But through God's grace, we can have victory. And know you know how Blessing #6 got her name. :-)