This is something I’ve been meaning to share with you for awhile and a heartbreaking blog post shared by a lovely and similarly hurting friend this morning reminded me it was time.
One of the hardest things about going through a divorce, especially in a community that (rightly, I think) places a great deal of emphasis on the sacredness of marriage, is being The One Who Couldn’t (Wouldn’t?) Make It. And often being the cheated-on spouse who tried multiple times to glue the marriage back together isn’t really any consolation. Because other women have forgiven at least that much and put their husbands back on the path to redemption by the strength of their meek and loving hearts so maybe you just didn’t trust God quite enough or practice quite enough submission to rescue the situation.
For every heartfelt “I have tried and tried and there’s nothing left for me to do” story there seem to be 5 more along the lines of “yeah, we went through that too but I stopped nagging and did better about shaving my legs so now my husband loves Jesus because God always fixes a situation if you just believe and pray and love” (ironically Diana Ross and the Supremes are singing “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” in the background as I type this). For the record, I believe in the power of prayer and love and competent counseling and that God can work in and through any situation. I also believe that people do stupid selfish things with real consequences which don’t necessarily get cancelled out just because one half of the relationship does their (admittedly flawed and very human) best.
This isn’t just a rant, I promise.
It has a point, which is this – a Christian woman going through a divorce is often made (whether from outside sources or just the voices inside her own head or, most commonly, both) to feel like she has terribly failed herself, her church, her husband, and Jesus by allowing her marriage to end. And those who have suffered infidelity are no exception, because they just have the special opportunity to show Christlike forbearance. You fix yourself, you love him into recovery, or you suffer in silence like a second Mother Teresa, because those are your only options. And if he leaves, you wait for him to change his mind and come back.
I have no animosity toward a woman trying with all her might to rescue her marriage right now. For the first few years, I was that woman. If that’s you, fight on. And for women who have fought through tough times and now have a genuinely healthy and loving marriage, I’m unbelievably happy for you. What a reward for what I know through experience to be an extremely painful and at times unending amount of work. Those are your stories and they are powerful.
This is mine. No sudden change of heart, no fairy tale ending, no “oh this is what all that work was for” revelation. Just a lot of hard, tearful work and the hard, tearful consequences of not having it come to fruition in that relationship.
There is so much more to be said, but today’s point is this: your divorced/divorcing friend likely feels like a disappointment. So if you’re looking for something to say to them, here’s a great one.
You are not a failure.