Friday, April 24, 2009

To Have and To Hold

I just got off the phone with a long time girlfriend who tells me her marriage is dissolving, and she has been having an affair for the past two years. While I do understand that she’s felt frustrated with trying to get her husband to pay attention to her, I also know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the infidelity news.

And she’s not the first. In the past month or two, I have heard of the split up of four other relatively good friends. In one case, the husband had been addicted to office affairs, and had even been blackmailed by one of his past flings. In the other two, the husband had left for another woman. So the stats are right on one thing – this happens 75% of the time with men, and 25% with women. And the final one, he left not for another woman, but to be away.

In my own case, I keep holding on, but when I get to the point where I am ready to throw in the towel he makes a turnaround. Some friends say he seems to enjoy having me dance to his tune. Others say essentially the same, but add that it’s just his personality to need to assert his power to leave anytime (which he’s been threatening to do for 22 years, and never does).

The conversations with friends always revolves around how does this affect the kids. Is it better for them to have parents staying together even though it’s pretty clear there’s little love, or is it better if mom and dad move on -- either alone or to someone new -- so that they can stop exposing the kids to impotent relationships. I’m married to a man whose parents stuck together and their horrible relationship may have caused him to be virtually incapable of making a commitment (he did this kind of thing with girlfriends before me so I know it's a trend). And yet, my children are doing quite well, all things considered. And I am doing fairly well myself -- we are amicable (most of the time), and I do work I like. Except for occasionally feeling suspicious that he is having an affair, my emotional life is pretty consistently calm. (Though this could also be due to having cut myself off from feeling.)

Anyway, I’d love to hear from others what they have to say. Because I don't have the answer(s)!


Angcat said...

Glad to see you're posting again.
This post makes me think of my mother-in-law. She's an old world Italian, with unshakable faith in Jesus, and a heart to serve that never gives up.
She's been married to my father-in-law for almost 50 years and has served and loved him with ferocity. Anyone who knows him, understands that this has not been an easy road for her.
He has softened over the years and become somewhat less critical, but she has determined to give up her life and rights for her spouse and children no matter what.
He has not been a believer either, but as the years have drawn him close to 80 he's also softening to His Voice.
She reads scripture to him when he allows it.
Essentially she's an evangelist in her own home.
I've seen her stand at the sink and shed tears of pain over how her sons and husband have treated each other, but she has a determination to do God's will that astounds me.
She is completely and utterly committed.

She tackles adversity with the understanding that this is an opportunity to go deeper and suffer with Jesus.
Not a popular concept (even in Christendom) in a world that says "make it stop hurting."
We don't want pain, persecution or adversity. We want the soft, feel good gospel that tells us God only wants good things for us and we should have everything and instant healing from all afflictions.
The only problem with that is that it's a seductive lie.
We are sanctified within and through our painful experiences, and some of them are lifelong.

I love the sequel to Hinds Feet on High Places, called Mountains of Spices. In it Hurnard finds those treaures in the shadows, that are meant to transform us into His image.
Imageo Dei.

Surely we can walk out His will, in His strength, and leave the next generation something firm to hold onto in the storms of this unstable world.

I'm not in your situation. Life sure isn't a garden of roses a lot of the time, but there's so much good too.

God bless you.

Cardinella said...

Hi Angcat,
Just happened to see your post, and thanks for visiting!

And God bless your mother in law! I've heard of many situations like this, where the one spouse (often the wife, but not always) has prayed for the other to move forward into a relationship with God, and it does occur at the end of life. What wasted years, though, both for the unbeliever and the one who has waited patiently. In my case, not so much wasted years of my own life, but the waste of not having my children see a truly committed marriage. But perhaps they will see the value of patience (and I am not a patient person in most things).