As the perpetual bachelor among each of my circles of friends, I’ve witnessed just about all of the best and worst that relationships have to offer. As the guy that sits back and watches, I’ve had the unique opportunity to see the full life cycle of a lot of relationships. I’ve seen relationships begin as two people have a love that blossoms and they become annoyingly sweet with one another. I’ve seen relationships grow and flourish under difficult circumstances. I’ve seen relationships collapse and crumble under their own weight.
At times it can be inspiring to watch as friends seem to make all the right decisions with each other. These are the rare people that actually make me slow down and rethink my stance on the ridiculous notion of soul mates. It’s equally as inspiring to watch two people who seemingly have nothing in common battle against the odds and prove the naysayers wrong by working hard and making a relationship work. On the other hand, it is incredibly heartbreaking to watch as two people can move from a place of love and trust to a place of complete disdain and hatred.
I’m trying to wrap my head around something, so bear with me. Over the last couple of years I’ve watched a marriage slowly and steadily decline. At first, on the surface, things looked okay. But as I got closer and scratched that surface, I saw that one half of the relationship fought hard to do what she believed to be the godly thing in order to hold the family together, despite the way she was being treated by the other half of the relationship, who remained blessedly ignorant of any wrongdoing on his part.
Eventually, after so many years of fighting for unity, it looked like one half was ready to give up. I watched, as it looked like the other half finally realized that he had been making the same mistakes over and over again for years and was ready to turn himself around. He looked as if he was prepared to become the kind of husband and father that God had expected him to be. And while he did, in fact, change his behavior with his children, his actions and attitudes toward his wife remained stubbornly harsh and controlling. The change in his life that he claimed to be from God seemed, really, to stem from a place of fear: fear of losing control; fear of losing his family.
I have watched over recent months as this man would sit down with anyone who would listen and plead with them. He would cry to them. He would convincingly tell them that all he has ever wanted was reconciliation with his wife and to save his family from being torn apart. Meanwhile, at every turn and every opportunity, he would throw his wife under the bus. Every word and every action from this man toward his wife has been filled with hate. These are not the actions of a man who wants to reconcile his marriage in a godly manner. He’s a man who has refused to take responsibility for any of his own actions, but instead chooses to blame others for the path that he’s been on.
I know what the Bible says about divorce. I know that Malachi 2 specifically says that God hates divorce. But how can I sit by and look at this as a black/white issue where there is simply one way that’s right and one way that’s wrong. There are so many shades of gray involved here that it would make your head spin. How can I sit back and tell a friend, who has been mistreated and abused emotionally and psychologically for years, that divorce is wrong? How can I tell her that this is what God wants for her life, that no matter how bad things are, she needs to stick it out? I can’t, in good conscience, tell her that staying and living a miserable life and being treated as a sub-human is the right way to go here.
I’m at the end of my rope. As a friend, I have a really difficult time sitting back and watching as someone I care about being treated unfairly and unjustly. I feel completely inadequate as a friend to continually offer platitudes and prayers, but there’s really nothing else that I know to do in this situation. Anyone out there reading this, if you know of some way to help a mother who seemingly has no options and no choices of her own, then your thoughts and your prayers are appreciated.