I am standing in front of him, my fists clenched. I feel frustration in every pore, every cell. My blood pressure is on the rise. Pulsating. Throbbing. Everything is crashing down around me, and I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. Sometimes a day just seems to bring more than one has bargained for, this day being one of those kinds of days. A day of near regrets, approaching hopelessness; too close to madness and my unravelling, for this girl’s liking. When one is left wondering “why” and “what if”. Left wondering “what next?”
It is easy to cast blame, especially when an equally strident man stands in front of you looking an easy target. This, a true showdown, will for will, an eye for an eye. At stake, as always, is the validity of the commitment to these: home and family. Vows and covenant promises. Unconditional love. Our future. Us.
We both have a lot to lose. And a lot to gain. The choice is ours to make.
It has been said that in any marriage, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is finding grounds for marriage. Everywhere I look these days, I see the signs of marriage breakdown. Facebook. Television. Literature. Real-life. Marriages are failing, divorce is winning. It is difficult to find anyone anywhere whose life has not been affected in some way by the damage of marital breakdown.
Marriage is hard. It is difficult to co-exist with someone on the best of terms. People are tricky. We all come into marriage with a story, with baggage. And as we travel life’s uncertain path, with the spouse of our choosing, life does not get easier- it gets harder. More murky. Trickier to navigate. There are more pitfalls. And quite by sudden, there comes a day when we wake up and realize that our spouse is not quite so charming anymore. Not quite so exciting. Not quite what we want anymore.
Because we’ve also changed. In some of the very same ways in which they have changed.
Two less-than-charming, not-quite-so-exciting, not-quite-so-likeable individuals who have changed in very similar ways often find it too hard to continue trudging along the same pathways. It is easier, and sometimes more sensible, to part ways. Following pathways easier to navigate. Less constricting. More manageable.
But what if these marriages did not succumb to the ‘d’ word? What if couples stepped back from one another and realized this. That the individual with whom they share their life is more than a problem. They have a story; they are a face, a soul. A mystery. For some of the best gifts in life come inside the least promising packages. And each is a person with a compilation of life experiences and baggage equally as weighty and intricately balanced on a tightrope of responsibility as is the other’s. They are still the man or woman they always were, just slightly damaged, slightly jaded, slightly broken. Possibly, a person in need of compassion and forgiveness. Possibly, in need of second chances. In need of unconditional love.
What if we all loved like this:
1 Corinthians 13
New International Version (NIV)
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
What would the grounds for divorce be then?
I realize that some marriages must be nulled, for safety and sensibility and for the general welfare of all those involved. But not without first having given grave thought and consideration to the grounds for marriage. And to the price we pay for throwing it all away.
For it is the grounds for divorce that must be proven beyond doubt. And not the grounds for marriage.