Monday, January 21, 2008
Puzzle Pieces #3 - Marriage
Back at it - answering questions, and hoping to lump a few together so you don't all think I'm so rude as to completely forget you asked a question to begin with!

Several asked about marriage, before, now, and later. TNS (no link) asked how my husband and I met, after she was nice enough to say she thought we have a wonderful marriage (we do). Anonymous (no link) asked a much harder question regarding being married before, and how did I have the courage to leave and start over. What would my advice be to someone who was struggling with unfaithfulness on her husband's part, and the depression that results from that, while trying to hang onto the marriage? Karen, At Over the Backyard Fence, asked what goals Don and I have when we retire to Texas next year (that sounds scary!). (And hugging Karen's neck for asking for a signed copy of the book my mother keeps bugging me to write xxxoox). Deidre, at For Such a Time As This, asked why we chose Texas to retire, and finally Boomeyers (no link) asked where is my favorite place to go on a date with my husband. Whew!

I'll start with a disclaimer to Anonymous. I'm no counselor, nor the Holy Spirit. All I can do is share part of my story. My situation was not the one you are dealing with. I married for the first time at the ripe age of 19, he was 21. We were both from fragile backgrounds, so we weren't very well equipped to sustain a marriage. I think part of my 'having the courage to leave and start over' was being young, naive, not realizing how deep my choice would affect not only me, but my husband at the time, and our daughter, our families. I was unhappy, and at that time I would have said it was a marriage that would not work. Now at 52 and having trudged through 27 years of marriage with my husband - ANY marriage is hard work. My husband and I have a rich, wonderful marriage today, but it didn't just happen. It takes maintenance, even after all these years. We've hit some rough spots, we've raised three kids together, moved across the country and started over several times, had strained budgets, issues with family members, gotten sick of each other a few times, and chosen to continue to love each other even when we didn't feel so much like it. I really believe more situations than not can be worked through, prayed through, and counseling should be part of that work, together if you can, alone if he won't go.

I would never advise anyone to stay in a relationship that is abusive, whether that is emotionally, verbally or physically. I'd also never tell anyone to just toss out a marriage, but rather to remove yourself from the situation if you are in danger. I can't tell you for sure my stand on whether divorce is biblical. That's after studying it a bit too. Looking back and remembering the problems my first husband and I had, that went beyond our immaturity and background, I think we could have worked through much of it. I never would have believed that at the time, I just wanted the quick solution. A few years ago, when I struggled with depression myself, I went on medication but did not go for counseling. I've always been somewhat of a 'rock' and didn't want my husband to realize just how much I was struggling. My oldest brother died during this time, and still I didn't go. I should have. I can only imagine the pain you are dealing with from your husband's unfaithfulness, and would encourage you to reach out for help to another christian who is trained, not just some well-intending friend or relative. I'd caution you from discussing much with your family because they cannot be objective, and if you are able to save this marriage, they will have a hard time forgiving him, long after you have. If you can get your husband to go for counseling that's a step in the right direction, and shows he's at least willing to work on whatever is causing him to be unfaithful. God is the great healer, he can mend the worst situation.

Because my ex-husband is the father of my daughter I have shared very few details of why I chose to leave him. Each child should be able, as much as possible, to love and respect their parents, and I did not want to damage that. He and I are friends today, both of us are happily married and the four of us could go to dinner - that is a testimony to the healing God is capable of! I hated answering this because I'm sure I didn't give as good advice as I'd have liked to, later I'll realize I forgot to add something, so if readers out there have anything words of wisdom, please feel free to share in my comments.

TNS: My husband and I met at work. I was a secretary there (we called them that back then) and he began working there as a summer student, and eventually hired on full time as an engineer. We were friends for a few years before we ever dated, and the dating period was very short. We lived in different states and were spending a small fortune on phone calls and plane tickets. After I got a phone bill of $500 and had to sell stock to pay it, we realized it was less expensive to get married. I've told my husband for years that my goal is not to be a cheap date, but rather to be worth it!

Deidre: We chose Texas as the place to retire after considering many options. Don is from Colorado, I'm a Texas native. We chose Lake Palestine in Texas because we have two grown kids in the Dallas area. It made sense to us to move near some of them, rather than a neutral place, so hopefully we can all be together now and then. I love it when we're all together.

Years ago as we visited our parents, with wiggly bored kids, we decided we needed to retire somewhere that would feel like a vacation, rather than a beating, to them! All the men in our family are avid fishermen, and all play golf badly. We'll live in a neighborhood on a lake, with an 18 hole golf course surrounding the homes. Hopefully that will feel vacation-like to the kids! Lake Palestine is two hours east of Dallas where our kids are, and we think that's a good distance to have, for all of us. We can make the drive for ballgames, dance recitals, be there for an emergency, or for holidays. Our daughter, Leslie and her family will stay here in Pennsylvania, both she and her husband have very flexible schedules, and so we're hoping they will come for visits often. When we miss beautiful fall or snow we'll pack up and come visit Pennsylvania.

Karen, our goals for retirement? Don says he's going to sleep the first month, then we plan to take a Mediterranean cruise to celebrate his retirement, rather than have a party. After that we hope to get settled in our new community, find a good church where we can serve and worship. We'd like to be involved with Habitat for Humanity. We might take some short-term mission trips here in the United States. We hope to visit friends who have hung with us over the years. He and I both plan to relearn the game of golf, he wants to find out if the lake has a bass over 7 lbs in it, and I hope to spend some time writing in addition to all the other hobbies I already have. Sometimes I think I'd love to write a devotional-type book for women, but other times it just sounds like a lot of work. I'm definitely not the book-tour type. We're talking about seeing what petless feels like, and we hope to learn to dance, so we can kick up our heels a bit, since we think that's part of what retirement is all about.

Finally, Boomeyers asked where is my favorite place to go on a date with Don? It used to be a fancy restaurant, where I'd get all dressed up and have an evening away from the kids. I can remember budgeting $30 a month for us to get a sitter and go out for dinner and a movie. We went away overnight maybe once a year. Now we're at the stage in life where we eat out once or twice a week, usually spur of the moment, and we're gone more than we'd like to be. Home is usually our first choice of where to sleep. But a date? That would have to be camping in the woods in Pennsylvania, and hauling out our bicycles, riding the 11-mile trail that runs next to the river where we can watch white water rafters float by, then at the trail's end, when our rears are numb, we park our bikes, and head to the River's Edge Cafe for a quiet dinner on the porch. Eat all we want, then climb back on the bikes for the ride back. We try to do that once a year, and have never been disappointed yet.

If you made it through this, thanks for sticking with me. Next time I'll answer Gretchen (boundaries), Clemantine (urchins), Samantha (rebellion), Kelly (journaling as discipline) - they all have to do with raising kids, which I'm very thankful to say I'm done with! Then one more cleanup of miscellaneous posts should do it.


  posted at 2:51 PM

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