Sunday, October 14, 2012

Unclear lines in marriage

What do you do when you want out of your marriage? If you think you made a terrible mistake, married for the wrong reasons, or married someone and discover you have differences you can't live with? 

Like, for example, you knew when you got married that he drank once in a while, then come to find out he drinks all the time. 

Or you knew when he got married that he had bad credit, but thought it was as a result of just one mistake or issue, and then come to find out he is  a chronic over-spender? 

Or, another really devastating discovery: come to find out he's emotionally attached to another woman, even though he claims he's not having an affair. You confront him about her, but he insists she's just a friend, and won't give her up.

I faced one of these scenarios shortly after getting married, 13 years ago. I thought I made a terrible mistake. The good news is, we are still married, and more in love than I could have dreamed back then. The hard new is, it was hard. Sometimes it's still hard. He still has issues. I still have issues. The "big problem" is STILL a big problem. I wish could say that it goes away; that after faithfully praying, and trusting God, God delivered us.

In a way, I suppose he did deliver us, but not by taking the problem away. He did it by taking us THROUGH the problem. We're still going through, though the tunnel has gotten lighter and less scary.

But there were moments when I wanted out. It was too much. It was too hard and it hurt, and things got darker, not lighter. 

I have been thinking lately about unclear lines. The Bible is very clear about divorce; God hates divorce. But what about separation? Or what about intervention? When do you resort to these drastic measures?

A strong emotional attachment can lead to an actual affair. But there are degrees of attachment. The other woman might be an emotional crutch, someone to lean on during a hard time because he hasn't learned yet to lean on his wife or things are currently too hard in the marriage to lean on each other, but otherwise he has little interaction with the other woman. How do you determine where "the line" is crossed? When you should go from praying (and maybe asking a few other trusted friends to pray with you) about the matter to seeking active help (such as intervention)?
How do you tell the unclear line between a man who is making unwise and selfish financial decisions, to when it has reached this point in 1 Tim 5:8 where "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever"?

I think we need to pray very hard over these unclear lines. Too often our own hurt gets in the way, clouding our judgment. "Well, his unwise financial choices have hurt me"or "when he sends texts to this woman, how can I trust him?" The "me" and the "I" get mixed in there and make us so hurt and angry that we want to push him over "the line". 

I think, if we honestly and humbly pose these questions to God, He will answer us. "God, has he crossed the line? I will keep praying for him, for us, but in the meantime should I do something else? Should I seek help/intervention for him, for us? Is there something I need to change about myself first?"  

You know a change is needed in him, but we can't force that change. Many times even with intervention other people can't change him. That leaves two options: leave him or stay and trust God to change him (and often while you are trusting and waiting, God changes you too in the process).

Of course this is all very easy to write about, but very hard to do. It is really amazing sometimes when we are hurt very bad how HARD it is to pray, how anger chokes all thoughts of prayer right out of us or makes us feel our prayers are utterly ineffectual. Satan is out to destroy marriages, and he will deceive you to think it's a waste of time to pray. Or why should you pray when obviously he isn't? 

Sometimes Satan might even get you to think prayer just makes things worse. Have you ever prayed about a tough situation and things seem to get worse before they get better? You have to keep going THROUGH the darkness before you see the light at the end of the tunnel.  

The most important thing of all is to remember that you, yourself, YOU can't do this. Jesus can, if you give it to him. Sometimes you need to come to the most basic prayers of all, "Help me!"  "Make me willing to be willing to pray." "I can't keep going. Pick me up and carry me the rest of the way."

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