My earlier post, No-Fault Marriage, offered my thoughts on societal attitudes toward marriage. Not long after writing that post, a friend of mine (in the 43rd year of her marriage) received word that the divorce [her husband sought] had been finalized.
This didn’t come as a complete surprise to my friend; still, it was stunning for her to realize this organism — of which she had been one half for nearly all her adult life — had officially been declared done … kaput … fini! Even though she’d been preparing herself mentally, the finality of it hit her hard.There were no custody issues, the division of property had been addressed somewhat rationally, and whatever details remained were being handled soberly. Voilà! Is this what cultural elites identify as the “amicable divorce”?
A brief aside: why would anyone be amicable when the basis of the marital bond (till death do us part) calls down divine intervention to sever?!! Years ago, a women’s magazines (can’t remember which) ran a monthly column titled “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” At least at that time, saving marriages was recognized as a worthy goal! (So quaint and totally yesterday, right?)
So back to my friend. Even faced with the knowledge her husband cavorted with other women, her knee-jerk reaction wasn’t to retain a divorce lawyer. Her intent was to honor her marriage vows, despite what many folks saw as “just cause.”
Living in the era of “no-fault divorce,” the desire to stay married carries little weight when one spouse decides — unilaterally — to pursue divorce. Consider the experience of this NY woman who tried to prevent her husband from divorcing her. The divorce eventually took place; the woman’s efforts (noble though they were) only postponed the end result.
My friend didn’t want a divorce, wouldn’t have filed, but her husband of 43 years wanted “to get on with his life” (i.e. see other women … though he was already doing so). For my friend, moving forward in her [unchosen] life now means coming to terms with an unavoidable conclusion, as she told me: everything I’ve done up till now is meaningless.
It must be hard not to think in those terms. I urged her to frame her future via other metrics. A divorce decree cannot / will not obliterate the marriage vows she and her husband exchanged before God and the assembled witnesses more than 40 years ago. As far as it is in her power to do so, my friend will continue to honor those vows.
When her now-ex-husband has a medical emergency (as he has in the past), she will be the one who holds his hand and administers meds. She will continue to hear his complaints about a thousand matters on which she had previously warned him, preventable situations that have now come to pass. She will be his solace, his beacon, his helper, as in the past — because he is woefully incomplete without her.
She has been called to faithfulness. She has the option to remain resolute in pursuing faithfulness. There probably will be few rewards (this side of the Pearly Gates), but her daughters and grandchildren will watch and know. And her ex-husband will eventually comprehend (though perhaps at death’s door?) how thoroughly and undeservedly he was loved.