Thursday, June 7, 2012

Unintended Consequences


Marriage is one of the most challenging endeavors most of us will ever undertake.  We will be measured.  We will be weighed.  And we will be found wanting.  What we do when we have been pressed will determine the course of our lives and the generations given unto our care.

Sir Knight and I have not walked the perfect, peaceful walk of marital bliss.  We have fought, we have been unkind and we have known the desolation of utter aloneness.  We have also loved and served and known the joy of complete oneness.  There have been times when we have been convinced that our only chance to find happiness would be going our separate ways.  But, by the grace of God, we have held our family together and we have learned a thing or two.  We have found that we have to love each other more than we love ourselves.  We have learned that we have to obey God's direction, even when it doesn't feel good.  We have learned that we are responsible for our own behavior, no matter how the other person is acting.  We have also learned that the price of ripping apart this family would be far too expensive for us to be willing to pay.

Divorce is the norm for the modern family.  People move from one spouse to the next, leaving a wake of destruction in their path, not realizing the real consequences of their decisions.

A number of years ago, a friend of mine divorced her husband of many years.  Without a doubt, he was a hard man.  He was grumpy, given to a temper and not particularly appreciative of my friend's efforts to be good wife.  Their place was not given the attention it deserved and their children knew only a distant, preoccupied father.  Oh, there were good times - jam sessions in the living room, filling an entire pew on Sunday morning, pressing cider in the fall and family dinners, but still, my friend was unfulfilled. As time went on, she became more and more dissatisfied with her marriage.  The more focused she became on her lousy marriage, the more her husband failed to meet her expectations.  Soon, she began making time for a "dear family friend".  He was a listening ear, a sympathetic, nonjudgmental sounding board.  Lunch dates became more and more frequent and before they knew it, divorce papers where served.

My friend became the poster child for divorce.  She was thrilled.  Her life couldn't be better.  Her new husband was attentive and kind - hanging on her every word.  He filled that empty place in her soul and gave her a new lease on life.  Her home took on the look of careful attention and her dress and manner reflected her new position.  Her life was complete - a new truck in the yard, new furniture in the house and a new man in her bed.  Life couldn't have been better.

But little by little, the children began to unravel.  Once, her kids had been well-adjusted home schooled kids who were secure in their life.  Suddenly, their father had been replaced by a man they didn't know.  Homeschooling was replaced with a classroom and their mother was replaced by a woman they hardly knew.  Their new "dad" completely remodeled their home, erasing any vestige of their former life and their own father was reduced to a mere shadow of his former self.  His life had been stolen.  Everything and everyone he held dear was gone and he was crushed with the knowledge that he wasn't man enough to safeguard his own family from invading forces.

While mom thrived, the children paid the price.  One child is wracked with a deadly disease wrought from poor lifestyle choices.  One child has sought love with any willing person only to be used and discarded.  Other children were self-destructing, making choices that would affect their entire lives and the lives of those around them.  All those lives - derailed in smoldering carnage.  These children represent the unintended consequences of the sins of the parents.  They are the bleeding, broken victims of their parents selfishness.

I am quite aware that this will be a less-than-popular post.  Truth often is.  I do understand how difficult it can be to keep a marriage together.  I know it can be painful, unfulfilling and seemingly impossible.  But, I know that the rewards for staying, for sacrificing, for loving, are immeasurable.  It will be hard.  Stay.  Do the right thing, even if your spouse doesn't.  Love your spouse more than you love yourself.  It will hurt.  It will cost you something.  Do it anyway.  Your life is worth it.  Your children are worth it.  Don't allow the unintended consequences of divorce to ripple through your life or the lives of your children.

Stay.  Love.  Stand in the gap between your family and the evil of divorce.  Don't fall prey to the unintended consequences of ripping the life from those that you love the most.  Love truly covers a multitude of sins.  Love each other like Christ loves you. Your children will rise up and call you blessed.

43 comments:

  1. No, I don't agree with you. Sometimes love isn't enough Sometimes the other person only takes and never gives. And that's not okay.

    "Without a doubt, he was a hard man. He was grumpy, given to a temper and not particularly appreciative of my friend's efforts to be good wife. Their place was not given the attention it deserved and their children knew only a distant, preoccupied father. "

    Enola, this "father" stole his own life. By your own account, he was preoccupied, distant and nasty tempered. That's not a father. He didn't take care of his home or his wife's needs. That's not a husband.

    These children could have just as easily thrived under the attention of a caring man. The damage was done by their "father". Their poor choices and lifestyles are a direct result of lack of self-esteem and self-worth.. . . which is a direct result of a lousy man who wasn't a proper husband or father. The toxicity of the marriage damaged the children.

    That said, these children could have as easily flourished. Why didn't they? She didn't get out soon enough. They don't have trust or respect for men in their life. The damage had already been done.

    And yes, I'm a step-parent, although I came into the situation several years after the divorce. While mom was out running around, I baked birthday cakes, attended games, conferences, etc etc. You would have thought she could have found a bit of time to attend her only child's graduation.

    Some "parents" are not much more than biological donors.

    "Everything and everyone he held dear was gone and he was crushed with the knowledge that he wasn't man enough to safeguard his own family from invading forces."

    If they were so near and dear, she would still be there. You can only beat a chained animal so many times before it will turn on you.

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    1. I can certainly see both sides, but I totally agree with mdoe37. My sister has consistently made the decision to stay in a loveless marriage to an unchristian man because she doesn't believe in divorce. Her children, while not as bad off as those in the story, are nonetheless struggling in life with low self-esteem and low morals. The last time I talked to my sister she confessed that she should have gotten out of the marriage 15 years ago and gotten her children away from the terrible influence of their father. It takes two to make a successful marriage. Everybody has disagreements and trials, but how you work through them makes a huge difference. One partner trying to live a Godly life will (generally) not be enough to compensate for the example and influence of the ungodly.

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  2. AMEN! You can't change anyone but yourself, do what is right no matter what it cost you , you will sleep so much better at night and your children will respect you for it.

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  3. I am in a Bible study course looking at the schemes and deceptions of Satan upon mankind. Many are the deceptions put upon us, but you have just written of one of the most destructive. One quote from the book we are using describes the basis of our struggle in this life.
    "Satan being fallen from light to darkness, from felicity to misery, from heaven to hell, from an angel to a devil, is so full of malice and envy that he will leave no means unattempted, whereby he may make all others eternally miserable with himself; he being shut out of heaven,makes use of all his power and skill to bring all the sons of men into the same condition and condemnation with himself."
    You have just described one of the eternal miseries wrought upon mankind to affect generations.
    To find remedies for the deceptions of Satan please lookup and read "Precious Remedies against Satan's Devices" by Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) It will change how one looks upon all that occurs around us and if we are serious about defeating these kinds of destructive actions give remedies to help toward a purposeful life.

    City Dude

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  4. I agree w/ Mdoe, the "father" wasn't worth a crap...from what you wrote above, and it is better to remove oneself and any kids from that type of relationship. I am very firm about couples staying married, unless there is emotional and/or physical abuse involved, not to mention any drug, alcohol, or other strange/weird addictions. Should the mom continued to homeschool? Yes, and she failed them miserably in that area. By placing them in the public school system, she probably did more damage to them then by leaving their father.

    dkswife

    dkswife

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    1. What were we worth when Jesus gave his life for us?

      Enola

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    2. I didn't see that one coming, Enola.

      I actually was married to an alcoholic, who hid that problem very well before we were married. I apparently was the only one who didn't know it. I walked the day he raised a fist to me. .. he didn't connect, didn't have to. I got the message loud and clear. As well as when he informed one of my male co-workers to "smack her if she gets out of line." Should I have stayed? And prayed and taken my beating like a good girl?

      I just celebrated my 25th year of being divorced about a week ago. I'm only in my late 40's now. I really have never wondered whether I did everything I could have. I've honestly never looked back. How dare a husband raise a fist to a wife. I don't come from a family where divorce is normal and this was a bit scandalous at the time. Thank heavens, no children.

      By the way, he is still an alcoholic.

      I think God has also given us responsibility, particularly when you are given children. My maternal grandmother stayed with grandfather who was a mean, abusive drunk. My mother came out relatively okay, her sister did not fair as well. It is a mother's duty, when God blesses her with children, to protect and nurture those children. That's also a father's responsibility. I don't believe that blind acceptance in a situation is God's plan. Maybe its a test of faith to see if you were truly worthy to be bestowed those gifts of children.

      We're supposed to love the sinner, we don't have to love the sins. We are to forgive, it doesn't say we have to allow repetitious behavior. As an example, let's say the father beat the children. You may love him, you may forgive him. . . but it would a really cold day before I ever allowed him to lay hands on those children gain. I can't see the Lord finding fault with that. Frankly, I'd burn before I'd allow someone to harm my children.

      While this man "filled the pew" on Sunday, was he Godly in his interactions with his family? Was he a good steward with the gifts the Lord gave him? Sitting in a pew on Sunday no more makes you a Christian, then sitting in your garage makes you a car. His actions spoke loudly.

      I'm wondering, Sir Knight is a really stand up kind of guy. Did he approve of the husband's character in regards to this family? Just by looking at him and what I see here on your blog, that's not the type of behavior he approves of.

      I don't know exactly what went on in that home. Very few just throw out a marriage on a whim. And its not my place to judge. Might have been alot worse than you knew, or not. As long as she's made her peace with the Lord, that's all that counts. That's between her and God.

      I can tell you from my past employment that children who are left in unhealthy environments end up damaged. Some can pick up and move on, many never do. They simply never get over it and keeping a dysfunctional family together for the sake of the children certainly doesn't make it better.

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    3. I am not condemning you. Sir Knight would not condone this mans actions, nor would I - heaven forbid! His wife was not without blemish either. She did not make her peace with the Lord, she has forsaken Him. I did not write this to condemn every person who has divorced. I understand. I empathize. I KNOW how hard the walk is. I am just exhorting people to fully understand that there will be consequences. Our children do bear the full brunt of our decisions. And you quite rightly note that damage was done to the children during the marriage - however, the complete destruction was accomplished through the divorce.

      I do not claim to know every persons situation, I only can speak for my own, but I do know that we have to be willing to walk through the muck. I know that we have to be willing to obey God even when the cost is great. We are all damaged goods, but through life's bad circumstances we can learn about God's great love.

      Enola

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    4. We are worth nothing until we live for Jesus. I already know that answer and thank Him everyday for my life and what He has placed in it. "Walking through the muck" does not mean to continually put up w/ someone else's garbage. Honestly, I think I blame the lady more for having children w/ a loveless man. Obviously, he had no real feelings for her, and she still chose to have kids, knowing how he was. Sounds like a couple of real whiz bangs.

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    5. Enola I didn't take it as a condemnation from you at all. Absolutely not! You simply don't have that kind of spirit. You folks are great and enjoy your blog so much. I was putting a face on a situation like this. I live in a very small town and still, 25 years later, get an occasional crack about my marriage and divorce. Talk of the town after all these years, imagine that!!

      What I like is that you opened the can of worms! Because not only does it speak to the situation of divorce and what pain it can cause a family, it can also give voice and strength to a person in a bad situation who might feel that they are the only ones going through this. This debate may either snap someone into line OR it might alleviate guilt for having to quit. Debate and difference are a good thing!

      I will guarantee it takes two to tango in this. Sometimes its a poor choice from the start and sometimes people change too much over time.

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  5. Amen Sister!
    The wife and I have had our troubles but by God's Grace we have stuck it out and are more in love than we ever have been after 21 years of marriage.
    It is hard work, and Satan loves nothing more than to break what God has joined and blessed.
    Enola, you nailed it. Selfishness is the wedge that most often drives us apart.

    Thanks for your post, and for what you do in His name.
    -Jack

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  6. Wow! Very true words. I am the daughter of such an example. Only, I chose to take the opposite path. My hudband and I have been married 23 years this month. They have not always been easy years. But there are more great ones than bad ones. I love him with all my heart. We have both been believers our entire life, not that we always walked with God. But 5 years ago my husband was called into the ministry. Our hearts and lives are very full! Not that we don't still have bad days, who doesn't? But we are so blessed! I pray for families that they would see the sin in divorce. Thank you for sharing this hard topic.

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  7. What a great post. My husband and I both come from divorced homes. When we went to get married, a minister told us he would not do our ceremony, because we had three strikes against us from the start. (we both came from divorced homes, we were young-18 & 22-, we were from different faiths) We vowed when we got married that we would never divorce and do to our children what our parents did to us. We have had a lot of work to keep things together, at times we have wanted to just throw in the towel. It would have been a lot easier to quit, but we have stuck with it. We thank God that He has never given up on us too, as many times as we have failed Him. In August, we will celebrate our 32nd anniversary.

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  8. I agree with your premise to do "as much as you can to live peaceably".... but I think you need to lay the consequence of most of this mess on the husband. If he is a shadow of his former self, it is his fault, not the wife's. If his children are messed up, I put MOST of the blame on him, and their own choices, not the wife's.

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  9. I agree with your premise to do "as much as you can to live peaceably".... but I think you need to lay the consequence of most of this mess on the husband. If he is a shadow of his former self, it is his fault, not the wife's. If his children are messed up, I put MOST of the blame on him, and their own choices, not the wife's.

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    1. I am most certainly not defending the man. I believe that sometimes separation is the only answer. However, I don't think that means find a new husband, live only for yourself and leave the children to their own devices. I think we are responsible for more than our own lives. We MUST put our children before ourselves. I am merely pointing out that there are consequences for our actions and we need to weigh those consequences before making choices.

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  10. It's interesting how many people jump to the worst case scenario - physical/emotional abuse, alcoholism, etc. Yes these things are real, and lots of people go through them. But those situations are the exception.
    I used to work for a divorce mediator, and I never saw one case like that come across the desk. I did see a lot of selfish jerks (of both genders). I saw a lot of emotionally tired people who were just giving up (of both genders). I remember my boss trying to explain to a client that "He's an A...hole" is not grounds for divorce in our state." And 9 times out of 10, the person who was acting out and giving legal grounds for divorce (by leaving or having an affair), the one who looked like the "bad guy" on first blush, was the one who had been putting up with all kinds of manipulation, selfishness, criticism and emotional games for years, long past the point I could have taken it.

    But what about the idea of working on your marriage? If we are all grownups and responsible for our own behavior and seeking our own happiness...why not seek a way to make the marriage better? Don't just "shut up and take it" till you can't take it anymore - fight to fix it. Fight the problem, not your spouse. I think we have a big problem in our society that people don't really get support for staying married, for looking for solutions. Any time you stick two sinners in one house, you are going to have problems, but there is a stigma against asking for counselling and support. We need more safe places to get advice and tools to make our relationships better, rather than just putting up with unhappiness until we snap.

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    1. Ellen, I love everything you just said. Amen.

      Maybe the couple in the story above could have saved their marriage if they had had a safe place to communicate their needs and desires to each other.

      I definitely think they BOTH need to take blame upon themselves, however I don't think WE as outsiders have any right to judge their situation. Instead, we can look to society as a whole and place blame on a society that values pretty fun things that come easily over hard fought and honest things that require sacrifice and hard work.

      From there, we can take this story and this lesson and apply it in our daily lives. Work hard for the things that matter to us. Love deeply through our actions and our words. Never take those things that appear to come easily for granted, because we never know when the easy things can turn into hard things for lack of care and attention.

      A marriage is between a man and a woman and God. It's hard (if not impossible) to avoid placing judgement completely, but that's when we need to stop ourselves and ask ourselves WHY we're judging. WHY we don't just feel compassion. WHY we need to find answers to their problems. Turn inward and see what is convicting you to react to the situation the way you are reacting.

      And learn from it :)

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    2. Ellen, I totally agree. The divorces I have seen have been because people "fell out of love" had "irreconcilable differences", etc. None of these are biblical reasons for divorce. They wanted to divorce because they were too lazy to work at it. Work starts before the marriage happens and continues until death parts us. It is a day in and day out responsibility. We can't give up the moment things get tough.

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  11. Good post, Enola. My husband and I have been married for 9 years, we have 4 children (ages 1 to 7) and a 5th due in October. My brother-in-law just began his 2nd marriage. His first one ended when his then-wife told him, "I still love you, but I'm not IN love with you anymore." What an immature notion!

    The thing that changed my perspective on marriage is a book called "Sacred Marriage." The subtitle: What if God designed marriage to make us HOLY more that to make us HAPPY? That idea changed my life and my attitude.

    Marriage is not supposed to be some beautiful, romantic dreamland where all your wishes and wants come true. It is dirty, hard work, but through that work, our Creator sculpts us into the beautiful vessels He sees in us. Marriage is a COMMITMENT to something greater - to allowing the Father to use us in a new way, to help shape our spouses and children. When you don't see change or improvement in your spouse, it's sometimes hard to remember that YHWH doesn't always just CHANGE someone. And He might not change your spouse. He may USE YOU to change your spouse. And I think that is a great honor. An even greater honor is when He uses my husband to change ME. Our Father cares enough about each of us to take the time to guide us! It just amazes me.

    If I can't make my earthly marriage work, why would the Messiah possibly want me in his? So, I'm milking this marriage for everything it's worth! I'm learning as much as I can now, so I am prepared for that amazing marriage to the King! :-)

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    1. Anon 12:03. Well said... Marriage is to make us more holy, not happy!! Excellent thought!

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    2. That book, sacred Marriage, is sitting on my bookshelf. I think I need to go read that tonight- thanks for mentioning it!

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  12. Divorce, the breakdown of the family, the breakdown of society, rampant sin, all of these are consequences of living life without a daily relationship with Jesus Christ. We can look at situations, we can think we understand them, but for the people living those situations, they are trying to fill a longing for relationship that no man or woman can fill. They are trying to fill the whole left by lack of a daily relationship with Jesus Christ. You want the country to be strong preach Jesus Christ, you want families to be strong preach Jesus Christ. You want marriages to be long lasting, preach Jesus Christ. Without Jesus Christ the stories will grow, they will become worse, they will be the norm. Without Jesus Christ in the lives of men, women and children decisions become worse and individuals put their own desires over the needs of loved ones. It's a sad thing to see people live life without Jesus Christ, it just as sad to see them destroy their life and those of others in the process.

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  13. I know this woman. She is an amalgam of many women I've come to know through the years-my friend, my neighbor...me.
    I rejoice that she has escaped a man who isolated and abused her psychologically and emotionally (and other ways no one is privy to in a marriage but God).
    I pray for her children to work through the pain of living with a man who thought of no one but himself...as I'm sure their mother does daily.
    I feel shame that those who call themselves Christians condemn her rather than find out how to help and pray. That the church made the marriage more important than the soul that Jesus loves. That there is an assumption that she doesn't know her Lord, or love Him...or talk to Him. That she doesn't grieve for her past marriage or her children. Or that she doesn't pray for them constantly.
    No one knows her life away from their own.
    Of course you will see what pleases you. There are pleasant times, even within an abusive marriage. And an oppressed and unloved woman can put on a good show when she's around others. She doesn't want to lose their respect and community too. But then it gets worse...and she can't hide her pain anymore.

    I know my God and King, and I know this woman is His beloved daughter who has been impugned and derided and misunderstood. I know she didn't choose a car and furniture over her children and her marriage.
    I know she was frightened and desperate to get away from her oppressive husband before her soul and spirit were crushed.
    I know her children will come to the real truth as they try and cope with the memories of what their father did to their mother.
    It will take time, but God will restore the years the locusts have eaten away from this woman and her children.
    The truth is indeed hard. And this is truth.
    God will do His work to get at the hard heart of the man who failed his wife and children. He may, or may not...depending on the free will of the man who broke his wife's spirit and held his children away from him.
    God has already helped this woman learn what love and marriage are meant to be.
    He is not judging her. He wants her happiness AS WELL as her holiness. With God both these things are not only possible, but desirable.
    That her children reject God now, does not mean they are rejected. They are loved. They are sought. There is healing...down the road.
    The conjecture on whether their parents' divorce was the cause of their bad decisions cannot logically be inferred without knowing their hearts.
    It could just as easily be said their behavior would have been worse if their mother had not gotten away from their father...or any number of scenarios. Isn't is sufficient to know they are in pain? And rather than blame this woman, or use her suffering as a twisted tale of caution to make our own choices look so very pretty...maybe Christians could offer love.
    I hear it covers a multitude of sins.
    God Bless,
    Julia

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    1. Bless you, Julia. This is what I meant in my comment - nobody should have to choose between suffering and blowing up their house. Where was the church supporting that wife so she was not isolated? Giving her a safe place to talk about what she was going through? Where was the church holding that husband accountable for his role in the household? Why did she feel like she needed to "put on a good show"? Where was the church when these people were children or teenagers, teaching them what married love shoudl look like, so they would know right from wrong in the way they treat each other? If we want strong, intimate marriages we need strong, spiritually close relationships within the church.

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  14. Selfishness is never good, regardless of the circumstances. I do believe, however, that staying in a bad marriage is damaging to children and to the individuals involved. My parents had a very bad marriage, but they stayed together because my mother believed in her wedding vows and she was a strong Christian.

    I came out better than my sister did because I had my grandparents to rely on. My Dad's parents were nice people, although their son wasn't, and they lived across the street from us. My mom's mother lived with us. They had all passed over by the time my sister was twelve, she was six years younger than I was. She's on her fourth marriage and her children are a mess.

    I left home after graduation and got married young. We will celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary this year. It was a very bumpy road for many years and I almost left many times, but like my mom I believe in my marriage vows and I really do love my husband. I walked with God from a young age and the vows I took were very serious to me.

    My husband is now a strong believer in God and wants so much to walk a Godly life; this has not always been the case, although he was always a decent man and a good provider. He has thanked me many times for not giving up on him and for my prayers and example. Does this always happen, no, and when it doesn't people shouldn't stay together. Damaging one's soul and walk with God is very serious. If this is the case, then a person should leave without regret, but follow the guidelines outlined in the Bible for such instances.

    Love is a choice, as are all things in life. Love and hate are very closely related and, often, simultaneously felt. Most often, however, I've observed that the love is for the person and the hate is toward someone's actions. People can cross the line in life and love can be so destroyed as to never recover.

    The Bible allows for separation and divorce, but not remarriage if one is divorced and their former spouse is still living. I believe if someone's life is in danger, their health is in danger, or their children are in danger, they should leave. Abuse comes from several areas; emotional, mental, and/or physical. No one should abide abuse - no one.

    I found it interesting that your friend's husband filled a pew with himself, his wife, and his children, but did not fill his heart with God's Torah or His Word, or live a Godly life. Obviously, from your evaluation of the situation posted - he was one of those people who do things for show and aren't real. It seems he reaped what he sowed.

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    1. "The bible allows for separation and divorce, but not remarriage if one is divorced and their former spouse is still living..."

      Amongst other texts, Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 explains that God allows for divorce on the grounds of adultery. In this case, the choice of divorce, and subsequent remarriage if there was one, would not be sinning in God's eyes.

      It doesn't mean that adultery has to end the marriage but it's an option that God-fearing folk can consider knowing they are free of God's judgement.

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  15. Dear Enola,
    A very courageous blog - especially in this culture of throwaway marriages and the "What about me?" self-centered generation!
    It is a challenge to each of us to look at marriage (and divorce) through God's amazing Word. He gives us the guidelines and instruction for both.
    I guess first we have to decide if we believe the Bible is 100 percent His Word. That He actually means what He says AND that we are called to do what He says. We are so used to trying make God's Word fit our thoughts and what seems right to us in this culture. (There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12)
    His Word says this about divorce: The Pharisees came to Him and asked if it was lawful for a man to put away his wife to tempt Jesus. Jesus asked the Pharisees what Moses commanded. They said Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement and to put her away. Jesus answered saying, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife: And they twain shall be one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. Whosoeverr shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. (Mark 10:2-12)
    But what, you ask, about abuse - shouldn't one leave? Again God's Word says - And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. (1 Cor 7:10-11)
    So God's instruction does give us a pathway to follow. The pathway, though, is not guaranteed to be easy or bring happiness. (I must have missed where is says you will be happy in the Bible)
    His Word also tells husbands to love their wives and wives to love their husbands. I can't seem to find where the Bible says to love your husband/wife if they are nice to your or always treat you well. I did read, however, that I am to submit to others and to serve others.
    To borrow a thought from you, Enola: My understanding is that the Christian walk is to become more and more like our Saviour Jesus. Jesus' walk on earth was neither full of happiness or one of comfort. Instead it was fill with struggle, revile and suffering. I'm thinking there should be some of the same in our walk.
    Just one more thought. The definition of love in the Bible says in part - Love suffereth long ......... (1 Cor 13:4-7) Hmmm - must be some suffering in love.
    Thank-you for your post. It reminds me that God's way is not the easy way but it is the right way.

    Married 44 years filled with struggle, joy, victory, defeat and still growing - based on a choice to stay and slog through the mire. It is so worth it.

    Grace T.

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  16. Just a quick note to say that the grown children make their own choices and will be held accountable before God for their choices in life. Regardless of what their parents did or did not do, the children will have to live with the consequences of their actions (good or bad) both in this life and in eternity. Children grown up and in adulthood make choices that define who they really are. I have seen some great public school (and homeschooled) kids that excelled in life and I have seen some not so great homeschooled (and public schooled) kids that made terrible choices and had to live with the consequences of those choices. I have see great God-fearing loving parents lose their wayward rebellious child to evil and I have seen children from horrible homes who you "knew" would end up in prison or worse, become loving parents and excel in life. The difference is in that 'little' thing called free will and a direct intervention of the Holy Spirit. That's the only thing that can change man's heart.

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    1. God is the ONLY ONE who can change a person's heart...You are so right on here...We raised our children to be respectful, God fearing children(fearing meaning in awesome respect and love)...Our son's are not walking in the fear of the Lord, but in rebellion...Hubby and I have been married 30 yrs. today12 June)and we have had hard times, good times, doubtful times and we are together today through it all because of our Love for Jesus and what He did on the Cross for us....God truly cna change people's hearts when they open their hearts to Him through the leading of the H.S.
      Thanks for sharing what you have...
      Love from NC

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    2. I wrote something in response to your reply, but lost it...So, this new comment....YOU are so right and I thank you for your comment.
      Love from NC

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  17. A very timley post! I have been reading the book The Catholic Girls Guide by Father Lasance. This morning was about the family in particular the wife and her duties. There was a story of a married couple, the woman faithful to her God and her duties and the husband was astray, it suggests something along the lines of bar drinking with his buddies every night. The husband would always boast to his buddies about his faithful wife and made a wager with them that they could show up at midnight and his wife would feed them a meal if he asked her to. So they took up the bet and when they got to his house the husband sent the maid to wake up the wife and tell her to prepare a meal for his friends. She indeed rose up and cheerfully greated them as if it was mid-day instead of mid night and served them a wonderful meal. The husband's buddies asked her how she could treat them so kind when they arrived at such a late hour without any warning. She said "Gentlemen, when my husband and I were married, we were both living in sin. It pleased God to arouse me from this state. My husband is still walking in the broad path, and I tremble for his future fate. Were he to die in his present condition how sad would be his lot on the other side of the grave! Therefore it is my duty at least to make his life here below as agreeable as possible."

    The husband was so impressed that he changed his ways and became a more holy person for his wife's example. Your comments about how your friend grew discontented with her husband and that issue grew until the final outcome of divorce made me think of this story I read this morning. What two different ways to treat discontentment! And what two totally different outcomes! I'm a convert to the Catholic faith and come from a broken home myself. I'm one of those unintended consequences though my husband saved me from the mire!

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  18. I don't at all doubt how your family has/is working for all of you, and I congratulate you, all of you, in finding a walk that helps your walk in Faith and your walk as a family-

    That said, I'm at home, the eldest, having witnessed a couple holding on to these ideas of what they wish the other were, and furious with the other partner in the marriage for having 'failed' at their expectations. I can't answer for how their faith lines up with their actions, as it isn't my place. But I do know that 60% of the family is in therapy, and on medication. Myself and my father believe that medication and therapy may help the short-term, but it isn't what either of us are cut out for, being believers in hard work and toughing it out.

    I think sometimes people join in matrimony for all the wrong reasons, not looking to a higher calling for their union, and rush into things. They fake it for oh-so-long because it's what's expected of them, and over the last 16 years I've become aware of and watched a marriage crumble. Divorce papers have already come up and been rejected at least once, and both parties are holding on purely for the sake of finance.

    I guess what i'm saying is that there are matches made in Heaven, and unless you KNOW it's right by divine intervention, stay away from it until you're called, because a union may beget children that aren't strong enough to learn from their parent's actions, and thus perpetuate the cycle.

    Personally, I'm waiting until it's obviously right.

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  19. Being Catholic, I think of Saint Monica in situations like this. She is the mother of Saint Augustine. Her parents gave her to a pagan for marriage. Over time he became so impressed by her examples of charity and piety that he was baptized. She is worth studying.

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  20. Yes, yes, yes! My husband and I have been through some hard times in our marriage, and fortunately, they had nothing to do with alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc., and everything to do with being selfish, unwilling to forgive...again and again and again, quick to get angry, not acknowledging that each partner is 200% responsible for what happens in the marriage--whether it's their fault or not. We are still working on these things. Selfishness is all it takes; things can get to a truly awful pass with just that. I'm so glad we did not get divorced when the going got tough because now we and our daughter are reaping the rewards.

    That said, I too, have a friend. She does not "believe in" divorce. She spent longer than I could have being longsuffering in the face of verbal abuse--alcoholism, cussing,name-calling, being told she was stupid and always messed everything up, blowing up in front of the kids and telling them she was all of the aforementioned things, accusing her of unspeakable and totally implausible things like infidelity, hiding the fact that he earned double what he told her and allowed her only cash on an as-needed basis with no access to bills or bank accounts, even telling her straight up to shut up while they were intimate so he could imagine other people. And this, sadly, was a "pew-filling" man. She put up with it for the time she did (6 years sporadically and 1 year intensely) because she was trying to do what she feels God asks her to do up to a reasonable point. When she became sure that it wouldn't get better by being peaceable and staying in the same house, she moved out so they could continue to work on their problems, but from a position where he couldn't continue the abuse. She went to her church, and they have supported her and were willing to help them with counseling. He chose not to attend the counseling and only apologizes for "failing to control his family better". He shows no desire to have her and the kids back at home or work on the problems. He has not contributed financially to the children's maintenance in a year. (Meanwhile, the church has helped her financially.) He's showing that he's not a believer in reality. The Bible discusses that if one partner is a believer and the other isn't, stay married and the non-believer may be sanctified through the believer. But if the believer wants to go his or her way, that's fine. She plans never to remarry, but unfortunately, certain legal aspects make it unwise to simply remain de facto separated, in order to protect oneself and one's children. For example, if she were to be seriously injured, her "husband" would retain authority to make decisions over keeping her on life support, feeding, etc. (á la Terry Schiavo).

    I do believe that God hates divorce because, almost always, it's ugly and represents a definitive despair of a given set of relationships (husband/wife and parent/child). I don't think that means it's never called for. It's sometimes the lesser of two evils; that doesn't make it good. It's not my job to condemn someone's choice in this regard--far be it from me!--but if we truly love others and we truly believe divorce doesn't make problems disappear and frequently exacerbates them, then we can't sit by and encourage them if they rush into this situation as a first, second, or even third recourse. All to be communicated lovingly, which is always the trick when we feel passionate about something, isn't it?

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  21. You hit the nail on the head with this post. My husband and I will be married 5 yrs in July and it hasn't always been a bed of roses but we have stuck through the bad times and rejoiced in the good ones. God was good to us and gave us a child the first year of our marriage and that gift has been the glue that kept us together at times. Divorce isn't an option for us for many reasons but there were days that the only reason was our child and her future. Thanks for speaking the truth and reminding people that it's not just about them.

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  22. Life IS just like a bed of roses, full of thorns and fertilized with lots of organic fertilizer. But when you get a rose , very worthwhile!

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  23. My first comment. I read your blog often. I believe your motivation to write this was God attempting to talk to me. Yesterday, my wife went berserk because I decided to leave after yet another fight. I am not one to be able to stand in a house with a person who spits on you and call you less than a rat for any reason. I just have to leave. Any way I had to work in a different town and leaving a little early was good. My wife has serious issues, serious. And I simply don't trust her to tell the honest truth. I manage as much of the children's lives as I can while working two jobs, and do what I have to do to keep myself together. And I think of divorce a lot. I really, really think often about just doing something to live a better life. But I will tell you this. It is a very small chance in today's culture that you can prevent the biological parent from seeing children. Unless there is some really sick stuff going on. If I leave, then what? So, what I do is watch the passion of the Christ (the Mel Gibson movie). I keep looking at that movie and remember that I could not say that I could go through that willingly for nearly any thing. I would try to avoid that to my utmost ability. However God is not asking me to go through the Passion. The Passion is what he went through for the love of a bunch of ungrateful children. My Cross to bear, which was _my choice_ is to try and do my utmost to be a decent father, and a decent husband (which I struggle mightily). So today, I will leave a little early and return home again and try and pick up my cross with as much love as I can muster.

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  24. I agree that sticking together through better and worse would be my choice. My husband and I have been married almost 24 years and we've had our struggles, but we're in it for the long haul.

    What I believe is that if divorce is the only option left, then that woman should have dedicated the rest of her life to her children. At least until they are well and able to live healthy lives on their own.

    My two cents, for what it's worth.

    Keep up the good work Enola!

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  25. I read this the day after becoming so thouroughly disgusted with my spouse that I began to seriously contemplate checking out the grass on the other side of the fence. There are no children in the picture, but the rending you spoke of that is too high a price always kept me in line before. Last night I began to think that staying put might be just as "expensive". With your post, God nudged me back in line. I'll go home tonight without dallying on that other side of the fence. Thanks for being faithful!

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  26. "I guess what i'm saying is that there are matches made in Heaven, and unless you KNOW it's right by divine intervention, stay away from it until you're called..."

    You have hit the nail on the head.

    I started out my adult life as an unwed teen mother. I was messed up and on a bad path that included two boyfriends, the one I wanted but I thought didn't want to marry, and the one that wanted me and wouldn't leave no matter how many times I broke up with him, but I knew deep down wasn't right for me. I ended up pregnant again and didn't want to be a statistic anymore, so just before the baby was born,I married the one that wanted me more than I wanted him. (RED FLAG FROM GOD #1) Our marriage was a fiasco of adultery on both sides (we deluded ourselves and called it "open"...ooo how hip we were). (RFFG#2) He ran around with strangers and I couldn't let go of the other man that I truly wanted. After the baby was born it was clear that the man I married was not the father. Neither was the second child I had after marrying the wrong person.(yet more red flags that I was on the wrong path) Those red flags were not something I saw in the rear view mirror. I just kept ignoring them and the path just kept getting worse and worse, and more and more sinful. I traveled down that sin strewn path for 5 years of marriage to the wrong man, before the man I had always felt was the right one told me he wanted to marry me and raise OUR kids together. Right there I decided to get out of the wrong marriage and into the right one. God found a way to strip off all of the old social encumbrances that were holding me back. He stripped away unhealthy relationships that fostered my old lifestyle left and right. It was awful and painful while it was happening but the outcome has been so beautiful. Our family has been knit together, the children and I have been pulled from poverty in a roach infested trailer to a stable home and enough to get by, the children are doing well and are loving and fun people. My children are being raised by their mother and THEIR father who love them, not just A father.

    Divorce made it possible.

    We forget that marriage and divorce are tools on this earth that both sides of the eternal struggle between God and Satan can use. There is not a thing on this earth that Satan can use that God cannot, if he chooses to, and the intended soul is listening and moves accordingly.

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