Friday, April 24, 2009

From this day forward...

The thing that keeps playing in my mind is my friend’s statement that she deserves to be happy, and that this marriage is not making me happy. Her announcement of the marriage ending deeply saddened me because she and her husband were good together, and they were in love at one time; but she has always restlessly sought happiness, and so has he.

Ironically, we all seem burdened with two human traits that make it difficult to survive: on the one hand we bury our great disappointments with life – especially with the frailty and flaws of our fellow humans and even more so with those humans who are supposed to love us – and on the other we have this unreasonable expectation and hope that somehow it will be all different with a different person. It does seem to be on the one hand, a refusal to engage with the flaws, and on the other, a denial of the universality of love’s frailty. That is, human love. Is it any wonder that so many people scoff at the good news preached about God’s love, when they have nothing to gauge that by?

As Vietnamese bishop Francis Thuan learned, during his 16 years of imprisonment (nine of it in solitary confinement) on trumped up charges, struggling against no matter how inhumane, unfair and injudicious the treatment at other’s hands, only ends up making the knots tighter and the imprisonment more despicable.

The only real way to freedom is through Jesus Christ: “When every former security fell away that I felt I must concentrate all my life on the one thing necessary, on what is solely important.”

And his prescription is the same as Pope John Paul’s: “Let every moment of our life be, the first moment, the last moment, the only moment.” That is, we must deal with the moment, and not the outcome of other’s actions.

Or as Dr Phil might have put it, is your reaction (to this imprisonment of the soul, of the body, of the mind, of the heart) “working for you?”

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)!