for release Friday, April 25, 2003
by Melodie Davis
Better and Worse: Readers Write
Recently I wrote about commitment in marriage, and hanging in there even through difficult times. The insights provided by readers are worth sharing because they offer many additional real life experiences and perspectives. Ben (all names changed) wrote of his wrenching decision to separate: "My wife and I were a perfect match for each other. She is very much in need of being pleased and I strive to make people happy at every turn. We worked well together. Unfortunately sometimes the problems are so extreme that you can't even repair what seemed to be a good fit. My wife has a horrible personality disorder resulting from abuse as a child, which has basically destroyed our relationship because it continues to be unresolved and she has no desire to resolve it. I think the pain of resolution is too much for her to deal with. After almost 15 years of putting all the effort into making it work, you finally run out of gas. I have considered that death would be a much better course on occasion because the pain of holding my marriage together finally got to be too much. "I can't put my children through it any more either. Their mother loves them dearly but doesn't always treat them lovingly because of her disorder. It was a very difficult decision for me to follow this course but at least my girls will be able to relax half the time when they are living with me.
"The pain of knowing my wife's improprieties and her untruthfulness has nearly made me lose my mind. To this you finally have to say, enough is enough. I still love my wife but cannot longer deal with the pain. If she is ever willing to change I am willing to hear her out. I pretty much agree with what you wrote but I wanted to give you my side. Sometimes you just can't go on."
This story helped me once again be less judgmental towards others and see things from the point of view of one going through extremely difficult issues.
However, Brian felt I didn't go far enough in my challenge to hang in there. "As a recovering alcoholic and addict, I thank God that my wife ... did not leave me during my years of active addiction, but instead [prayed]." Brian then challenged whether alcoholism should be a good reason for divorce. "To my knowledge, drug or alcohol addiction is not a [biblical] reason for divorce. Only adultery is. If you give folks the impression that there are other reasons why divorce is okay, it seems like we are opening up the floodgates more, rather than closing them down. ... Anyway, I just want to encourage you to tell people 'Don't quit before the miracle happens.' By God's grace, I have been sober over nine years, and God has restored my relationship with my wife and children." One single young man responded, "As a single person anticipating marriage someday, I find it pretty sobering that the national divorce rate is 50 percent. It's even more sobering that the divorce rate among Christians is virtually the same. We live in a culture of convenience and individualism, and that has removed the stigma of divorce. I worry that it could happen to me. But it has also made me take marriage seriously. That is the beauty of mutual love; there are not guarantees, even if one is married."
Finally, two from women who have struggled but share their stories of triumph and committed love: From Becky: "I married a wonderful man but he had a problem with alcohol. I didn't realize how bad until we married and it became worse. So many times I started to give up but I had a grandmother who loved God and me with all her heart and as I began to ask God for help, slowly I began to see changes. It wasn't easy but seven years ago he became a Christian and has been sober since that day. Thanks for reminding me all I have to be grateful for." From Grace: "My husband and I have struggled through 37 years, and there were a few times I didn't think we'd make it. But neither of us left because we were committed to making our marriage work. It has worked and we have three kids (two of whom have divorced) and seven grandchildren. I can't tell you how glad I am that we stayed together. I would have blamed my kids' divorce on my own failure, but I know that we have left a legacy of success in marriage. We are not perfect but we love each other and most days are good. We have reaffirmed our commitment to each other over and over, for better or worse."
The bottom line is that no one looking on can know the pain, the complexity, or the multi-faceted "sides" to the issues any couple is facing. However, counselors, pastors or friends who are good at listening can help sort things out. And while there may be times when "worse" threatens sanity and life itself (as with the first story), there are also many couples who should be encouraged that changes can happen. Don't give up too soon.
For a free booklet, "Creating A More Loving Marriage," write to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
NOTES TO EDITORS: text = words; end material = 105 words
We would appreciate it if you would include the "Globe Syndicate" bug at the end of
©2003 by Globe Syndicate, all rights reserved.
Return to Another Way