This past week we saw the demise of yet another marriage with the pending divorce of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. It was sad, amusing, sad, interesting, and again sad to read some of the comments from those whose lives revolve around the lives of others.
“If being two of the most beautiful people, having millions of dollars and a lovely family of children doesn’t mean you can make it, there is no hope for us (mere plebs) – (inserted by me)!” was just one of the many comments of the news of the split.
I find this sad. Sad that people have to live their lives dictated to by the lives of celebrities or at least feel that they have no options should celebrities not make it; Sad that they don’t have enough faith in their own relationships to hold together through all of the trials of life; Sad that they feel their comments can contribute to the situation they really know nothing about. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors? Who knows the real reason two people separate? What propels or compels them to terminate a relationship?
I don’t know. But I find it disturbing that so many married couples young and old are walking out on relationships. I don’t want to stand in judgement because we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and there goes me but for the Grace of God! Recently I heard the story of a lady who was married to a “wonderful Christian man”, ‘who beat the “crap” out of me nearly every day’. No one would believe her. I recently saw a Facebook Meme that says, “Over 3000 women had died since 9/11 but only 2 from terrorism – which one are we still talking about?”
Violence in the home is one of the biggest killers of women particularly, but not exclusively. We don’t really know what goes on behind closed doors!
I am not speaking in terms of this kind of violence. No woman or man should stay in a situation that endangers themselves and especially their children. However, I know that even those challenges of domestic violence can be worked through and a marriage stay together. My parents were one such couple. Dad was an angry man and I remember well the times he hit my mother and my siblings. His anger moods alone were abusive and terrifying. But Mum chose during those years of no government assistance to stay with him. She was committed to him and in his own way he was committed to her and us. I remember a conversation in his later years where he actually spoke lovingly of our family and how he had to provide for us all and to him that was enough to show love. He did change in his older years and mellowed a lot. He was a man who towards the end of his life, as a qualified counsellor, I could diagnose as having a paranoid personality disorder. This diagnosis earlier in life might have saved a lot of heart ache for our family. But my mother was committed to stay with him and as a believer in God she prayed often for strength to carry on and she nursed him right up until he died, with that strong sense of commitment and love, but not without tears. They were married for 52 years.
Why do I share this? As I stated I don’t think we should stay in dangerous situations but relationships aren’t always so easily compartmentalized – abusive, non-abusive. The point is, it is sad that in a relatively normal relationship, if there is such a thing, many people are giving up very early in the relationship. The struggles don’t end after you have lived with someone for many years. There seems to be a growing number of older people moving out and moving on after 25-30 years of marriage or even more. I remember meeting an older woman who had left her husband after nearly 40 years of marriage.
I don’t know if it is expectation or exhaustion that is the final straw. My mother was exhausted toward the end of her life. I can’t say she had a happy life but she did stick with her principles and persevered and she did miss him terribly when he died. Talk about complex! The older I get the less I feel I understand about life, love and relationships, which is why I go back to the Word of God as my guide.
It says, “Let not man pull asunder what God has put together.” It is Jesus’s comment to divorce. Asunder is such an old word but has the meaning of tearing in two, tearing apart, tearing in pieces. I don’t think that sounds like a gentle or amicable separation or uncoupling! It is bloody, messy and painful for all involved especially the children, but also the entire extended family not to mention the two parties involved.
The Father’s wish and plan was that we marry for life until death, but knowing the condition of the heart of man, that is not always going to be the case and He gave instructions for divorce in terms of infidelity. However, I have even seen marriages come back from infidelity, including my own, stronger than ever before.
There are danger periods that counsellors look for in couple therapy.
4- 7 years – The first few years of adjusting to the relationship. Children have most likely started coming too so this brings new dimension and perhaps issues to a relationship.
15-17 years – Children again! Teen age years are starting to add pressure to the relationship. Aging parents can start to become an issue too and add pressures. Finances and lack of intimacy create further stressors.
23-27 years – Middle age is upon the couple and they can start taking stock of where they are at, what and whom they have become or not become. A time of reassessing can sometimes cause couples to look outside the relationship for stimulation or more satisfaction. Children are leaving home and chinks that were covered with the busyness of life can become exposed.
And the newer period, 30 -40 years – The newer danger period where couples start to look at the other person and wonder what or whom they have spent most of their life with and ask was it worth it? They feel their lives fading and can feel that time is too short to be unhappy. Hopefully they are heroic enough to see the years to come as further time to stay with a person they can complete their life with and start to work on latent issues. We should be learning and changing until we draw our last breaths! Our later years can be better than our former years!
For the young ones out there newly married, I say, stay the course! It does get better. Not easier necessarily but better! Love grows deep where there was a shallow selfish initial love. The love grows to a caring, heartfelt, selfless love if two people are committed to each other and the marriage. For the older couples, hold the course. You are still able to change until the day you die. If you feel you are growing apart, find common ground and reboot the relationship on that level. Don’t grow weary in doing good, you will see a return on the harvest. Fight for relationships.
For those who have undergone the pain of divorce, I offer the thought that even God the Father, Husband, Lover, to we human beings, knows and understands the pain of rejection, betrayal, and being set aside for the love of others and “things”. We reject His efforts for intimacy and relationship yet He continues to love and forgive. My only advice comes from an old pastor’s wife wisdom, confirmed later by professionals, “Leave at least 2 years (the typical period of healing from grief) before you become involved in another relationship.” Divorce is spoken of as the “living death” as there is never a complete resolution of the relationship such as death, particularly if children are involved. To move on too quickly could lead to areas of life not being healed, and falling into similar relationship issues with the next person.
Stop following the celebrities and tv shows and movies for how to do relationships well. Look to older couples who have made it and find out just what they did or didn’t do. Look to the Word of God to find answers on how to deal with the challenges of two people becoming one! Not an easy task anyway you look at that! Pray – For wisdom and strength. Work – stay committed and work at the relationship. Nothing good was ever attained just because. It takes hard effort. Happiness does not mean joy! We don’t have to be happy every single moment of our lives. We can have a deep sense of joy without the trimmings of being “happy”, but we can also have some good times along the journey of life and learn to laugh a lot more together!
I know Paul and I have been working for the past 40 years to become a great marriage….We still are. We have come through many challenges and heartache but thank God for each other and for our God who has kept us throughout this time.
I recommend if you are having issues in your marriage, prayer, perseverance, counselling, and more prayer, can change your marriage to be the most exciting, loving one you can ever imagine..into old age!
Until next time