I heard a story the other day about a couple who are teetering on the edge of a divorce. What holds them together is the number of ‘years’ they have been together… They marvel that they have stayed together for 30+ years, but the last 10 or more years have been with intense angst, ignorance of each other and living almost completely separate lives. They work in separate towns, they spend their time separately with their adult children and they don’t sleep in the same bed if ever they are in the same house together.
Are the number of years spent together truly a testament to a happy marriage? Or is it a life sentence of Christian morality that is vowed ’till death do us part?’
He’s been having an affair for a number of years now, of which his wife has just found out. After all the yelling and cursing at each other, he did admit to it, but she decided that he has a sex addiction and he needs psychological help to stop it. He told her that the affair was not only sexual, but emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual, even told her how much he loved the other woman. But she didn’t want to know his feelings for the other woman, only told him that she would help him in any way to save their marriage… which is admirable in it’s own way… but essentially, she needs to stay, as she couldn’t survive financially.
The problem now lies in the fact that there is no trust between them. How do they rebuild that trust? They have to do extreme lifestyle changes, including changing jobs to always be at home together, traveling together, spending time with friends together, EVERYTHING together to rebuild their bond and marriage. But their needs are different… he’s physically active, she’s a home body and isn’t able to do what she once could. He’s actively involved with helping the community on a government level, she’ll be caring for the grandchildren at a moment’s notice. But is that what they both want? Are they prepared to lose the part of themselves that makes them individually happy to compromise and create a shared life again when they literally have nothing in common, except their children?
He’s agreed to see a counsellor, possibly they both will. They both want to make it work, even though there will be a number of years of no trust, no affection and no real friendship between them as they go through the torture of what has happened.
I don’t understand why people put themselves through this when they truly have out-grown each other. They can embrace the joyous times they had in the past, but move on independently to create a life of happiness individually. Who knows, they may get back together after all the hurt and sorrow is over when they meet again at one of their children’s weddings, a grandchild’s birthdays or other family occasion, but for now, to dig up what’s not working and dwell on it, resent each other that they aren’t in the same place right now and live under a dark cloud of unhappiness is not the answer.
We have one life… we all need to live it to the fullest. If someone doesn’t complete you, then it’s time to find what does. If it’s time by yourself, if it’s time with a new partner or if it’s time with your children and grandchildren, then that’s what you need to do. The number of years that have past aren’t important, it’s the number of years you have left in you to embrace life that are.