Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Dissolution of my Deceptively "Godly" Marriage

My first marriage, if nothing else, was most certainly a learning experience.

I learned that the hard limits I had drawn as a teenager in regards to marriage were complete crap. Wedding vows sound great… romantic… promising… but at the end of the ceremony, they’re just words. There’s no regulator standing by to make sure that each person abides by the unwritten rubrics of marriage, or the insouciantly spoken wedding vows… there’s only trust... Trust that you will love and protect each other as long as you both shall live.

The problem here lies in each person’s definitions of the words “love” and “protect”.

I found out very quickly that he and I defined those two words, those two actions, VERY differently.

For 2 years I believed everything he said to me... about me. I believed I was worthless without him. I believed I was stupid. I believed I was ugly. I believed he was the only reason I had for living. I believed that no one liked me.
Please keep in mind, that the person I’m describing (this version of myself) is long gone. She doesn’t exist anymore. This is simply a recollection of my past, not a documentary of the present.

Anyway, there were times after verbal and emotional thrashings that I literally could not stand anymore. I’d find sanctuary in my bathroom, the door locked, and a knife in my hand. I’d cry to God and implore him to get me out of my life. I told Him, “Dead or alive, I don’t care… I need out of this.” For an instant, peace would grab me and I’d let go of the knife… once again holding onto hope that things would change.

I had become so good at pretending nothing was wrong, that he and I were happy and in love, but with every false smile, the hatred of myself grew. The only source of happiness in my life was volunteering at my church’s youth group. Those kids were the only streak of light in my life and I adored every single one of them.

I lived in such a fog of deception for 2 years until the day I dared to defy him and he finally dropped the guise of the good Christian husband everyone thought he was, and punched me in the back of the head. In the instant it happened, when my sunglasses flew off my face from the impact, I knew that was my opportunity to change everything. I didn’t even cry. I whispered to myself, “Thank you, Jesus”.

It took my father sending me a pamphlet from a counseling center about abuse for me to realize that I was a victim… and had been all along, not just when he hit me.

I went through the pamphlet, checking off the things I was experiencing, the pamphlet qualifying each into categories… financial abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, spiritual abuse… the only one I couldn’t claim was sexual abuse (thank God), because he never wanted to touch me. (I have my theories about that, but I’m just going to keep those to myself.)

To make a long story short (and I will go into more detail about the sequence of events at a later date) I got the courage to leave. And I decided that I needed to tell people that abuse comes in all forms.. not just physical. I had believed for 2 years that the only excuse to leave a marriage is physical abuse. I think God knew I believed that and he allowed it to happen to get me out of there.. I never would have left otherwise, and I probably would have ended up committing suicide.

After my eyes were opened, I realized how ridiculous that belief is. My husband had broken the sacred institution of marriage long before he hit me. He vowed to honor me, protect me, love me… and as far as I can remember, he never did. In fact, he unashamedly did the opposite. I gave him chances, more than he deserved, but he refused to change. I know now that I should have left long before he hit me… God would have been okay with that. What everyone else thought, oh well… the ones that mattered got over it, the ones that didn’t… good riddance.

I know that there is scripture after scripture about divorce… that if a woman remarries while her husband is still alive, she is an adulteress. To be honest with you, I don’t know what’s right or wrong according to scripture. I believe there’s a lot of room left for interpretation. I do know, however, that my God doesn’t want me to live in fear and deception for the rest of my life. My God doesn’t want me in a marriage that would have led to me taking my own life.

1 Timothy 5:8 says, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” This, for me, is more than enough justification for my decision. When my husband chose to abuse me, he blatantly denied the faith. He acted against the word of God… period.

And as far as God hating divorce… I believe He does. But, I believe He hates it only because of the pain leading to it. I do not believe that divorce is an unforgivable sin. I do not believe my being divorced has put me at odds with God. Honestly, I believe my divorce saved my life. I know every situation is different, but I'm just telling you my beliefs. The Bible constantly refers to " marital unfaithfulness" as the only acceptable motive for divorce. People assume that means sexual unfaithfulness.. but, does it actually say that anywhere? I don't think so. To me, "marital unfaithfulness" means that the marital covenant has been broken in some form. My husband was unfaithful to me... he hit me, abused me emotionally, forced me to live in fear so I would be submissive... there is NOTHING remotely righteous or Godly about any of that.

D.L. Moody put it very plainly, "A man ought to live so that everybody knows he is a Christian… and most of all, his family ought to know.”

It doesn't matter what your family looks like on the outside, to other people... what matters is what's happening when the doors are closed and window shades are drawn.

But, now onto the good things. Going through all of this helped me to learn what a good marriage is really made of. When I finally met the right man, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was it. We've been together 6 years now and I'm still excited about what our future holds. We laugh ALL THE TIME, we never argue, we encourage each other, we just flat out love each other... and it's awesome.

All the pain I experienced in the first marriage helped to make this one better than I ever imagined it could be. I don't regret anything I went through (I'd never want to relive it either..). I'm stronger now because I know who I am. I was forced to find myself after the divorce. I promised myself I'd never be a victim again... that I wouldn't be naive again... and that I'd listen to my parents when they tell me not to marry someone.. (another helpful hint: always listen to friends and family when it comes to your significant other.. hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20).

Most importantly... don't worry about what other people say... you need to take care of yourself. Keep your eyes open, look to heaven and be aware of your situation, whether it's good or bad. Living in ignorance (blissful or otherwise) has never done anybody any good. And finally, pray. When nothing else is giving you the answers you need, pray. It really should be the first thing you do. God always hears you when you cry out to Him, however unconventional your prayers may be. He wants you happy and excited about life. You deserve it.

Supporting Scriptures:

Genesis 18:19 "For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

Proverbs 11:29 "He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise."

Matthew 5:31-32 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”

1 Corinthians 7:15 "But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace."

Colossians 3:18-21  "Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged."

1 comment:

Lindsey @ A Pear to Remember said...

I am so grateful you wrote this. I have married friends who not until three years later did they admit to years of hurt from their spouses---in some cases, physical. I have other friends who still live in denial about the potential of the spouse's substance abuse.

I am blessed to be in a remarkable marriage, and I often think God made this so my husband and I could lift up our friends who are hurting. Thank you for sharing your experience, and for the insight so I can better recognize those who need that extra support and love.

I am so happy to hear you found love!