Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Un-Valentine's Day

I didn't notice an expiration date
or an estimated shelf life
attached to this thing called

Marriage.

Where 5 out of 10 couples for whatever reason, definitely state "It's over." "My marriage is over."

As if it were a 3 act play or a football game.  Or say, "I'm done," as if it were dinner or homework.

Our cellphone contracts are held in higher esteem than our marriage covenants, and are more feared of breaching, than the sacred vow, the bond,

----The Knot ---- 

untied  like a common shoelace these days.



 At what point do we decide that it's over and hopeless? And how do we know that the struggles, tears, arguments, sleepless nights,  disillusionment, emotional pain are not common to all couples?
We are fraught with flaws as individuals, so why would we ever expect perfection as a couple?

Does the mere thought of divorce mean we must? When our humanity rudely interrupts, is it time to jump ship, walk out ? Or to stay committed to each other's emotional, physical and spiritual wholeness.

Is not that all part of it? The learning, self-examination, the honing, the fire of of refiner, the hammer of the black smith, the chisel of the sculptor, the facet slice of the jeweler, all making the two of us a thing of beauty and glory.

We run from the discomfort of what will do us best and make us pure and attractive and loving. Like the author of "Sacred Marriage" said: What if the purpose of marriage was not to make us happy, but to make us holy?

The substance of self-sacrificing marital love does not curdle like cream, or rust like tin, or crumble like sand, or dissolve like jello.

"It is over" infers a built-in obsolescence, an unknown time clock (bomb?) ticking away toward a predestined demise written in invisible ink on the marriage certificate, like a date-stamped label.

Holy Bond Expires: --/--/----
Discard Spouse after --/--/----

The truth is, many of us made it happen. We neglected the garden. We spent too much time serving ourselves instead of our spouse. Pursuing our own interests instead of theirs. Building our name, because family and love wasn't enough. We stayed up late instead of sleeping with our spouse. We did Girls'/Boys' night out instead of Date night. We did too many things alone instead of together, because we love ourselves more than our spouse. Or we fell in love with another.

But we phrase it in a way that skirts individual responsibility for the failure and puts the blame on the idea of marriage, as if it were removed from human cause and effect, inanimate and detached.

Culture has almost romanticized Divorce, ironically. It's popular to be unattached and free again. There are Hallmark cards and t-shirts proclaiming  new-found singleness and availability.


We forgot the vows:

for better or worse
in sickness and health
for richer or poorer

...till death...

More than  a promise, business contract or handshake,  social agreement, an RSVP. The sacred covenant was meant to hold a little more water than the simple
'yes'.

Yet we accept it without question, but not without grief, when the respected author or the beloved songstress or the revered pastor  go and say it. Say their marriage has ended.

My father used to say, Divorce doesn't solve anything. I get it now. It just removes the problem from our four walls. But the issues get worse usually and follow us all  the days of our life. What a rude awakening that they don't go away just because our spouse does. And an even ruder awakening when the second marriage adds even more problems of a  blended family and relational baggage.

Long time friend said she was going through it but didn't recommend it. If parting is so painful, why proceed? Somehow the present struggle of a crisis marriage feels worse than the anticipated severance. What we don't know is that it feels like muscle ripped from bone. Muscle ripped from bone. Excruciating. I've literally seen twice-married couples sob in remorse that more effort wasn't made to save the first marriage. Sometimes it's hardness of heart, which I have felt acutely and know is lethal to love.

 I don't judge.

 It          just           makes        me         really           sad.

What is the framework for dealing with substance abuse and mental illness in a home? My utmost empathy to those dealing with these dilemmas. I have no advice, but to pray they can bear the lonely path they walk. It's the trivial reasons that are so boggling, like 'finding ones' self' or that illusive happiness. What a burden we place on our partners when we expect them to be God, the only Source of our joy and happiness. And what unnecessary disappointment we bring upon ourselves.

Barring abuse and infidelity, can we believe in the power of God to revive the lifeless? To bring a second wind to the tired. Spark and spring and light to love.

It can be renewed.

It could happen.  We've forgotten that He is the God of the impossible. The One who hates divorce because of the perpetual suffering it brings, can certainly supply the means to sustain and save a marriage. But, somehow the Divine is made impotent in the face of those human words, "It's over." We deem them more absolute than His truth and stronger than His capability.

Why not say right back, "No, my friend, it's not?  It's not over at all."

But it may take time and
trust and
forgiveness 
waiting and
forgiving
and agonizing change
and forgiveness.

And it will be so worth it.

No spoilage date. No expired contract. No inherent end.

Who wants an Un-Valentine's day anyway?






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