Dr. Wall continues his series on living as married roommates vs. living as husband and wife by looking at just a few of the consequences of divorce. Married roommates too often divorce without ever learning really how to love. He suggests, maybe, just maybe, we should learn how to REALLY love while we are married.
Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
Since January 18, 2010 on this blog I’ve been explaining the two ways marriage goes: living as roommates or living as husband and wife (to see a list of these blogs click here). How you treat each other depends on which trajectory you go. My point all along has been, if you live as roommates and divorce, this is really a tragedy, because that means you divorced without ever having experienced being married! Let’s QUIT living as roommates while we are married and start living as husband and wife and IF we do that, we’ll enjoy our marriage and we won’t have to pursue divorce. We wouldn’t even want to pursue divorce.
But no. You are hellbound to divorce. You try to convince me that you are candidate. You point out to me (and if your roommate spouse is in the room to him or her also) all the reasons why this is your only course of action. I try to convey, ever so gently, that this is all a matter of the heart, that the choice lies in your will, your will to move from a roommate to a husband or wife. You say your spouse will never change. You say you will never change. You’ve reached the end of your rope. You cannot try anymore. It’s too hard. You are done. You won’t live that way anymore. Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. Done.
Hey, you don’t have to convince me.It’s your life.You have to wake up and look yourself in the mirror.Every day.For the rest of your life.
You say you’ll find someone else. There’s someone out there who will actually love you for you. Someone that you could actually love! You pine for this. You long for this. But look: You can’t have a spouse that treats you with dignity and grace you don’t deserve unless you treat your spouse with dignity and grace he or she doesn’t deserve (a key character trait of husbands and wives). Since you are planning to divorce because you were NOT able to love your spouse with the dignity and grace he or she doesn’t deserve (and not surprisingly, your spouse has difficulty loving you with dignity and grace you don’t deserve), what makes you think that you will EVER be able to love someone with dignity and grace they don’t deserve? Well? Where are you going to get the wherewithal, the gumption, the tenacity, the perseverance, the sticktuitiveness, the do or die inner strength and resources to treat someone like that? Where, where, where, where, where, where, where?
You AREN’T. You ain’t gonna take no crap, remember? You ain’t gonna live that way remember? Life’s too short. You’re NOT gonna be treated that way. So you dump your next spouse at the least little provocation, because you haven’t a clue as to how in the world to love somebody with dignity and grace when he or she doesn’t deserve it. You only know how to love someone when you are treated nicely. So the only time you can be happy is if both you and this imaginary, illusive, but-you-are-absolutely-certain-you-can–find-someone-out-there-who-will-really-love-you-you-know-love-you-for-you future spouse are both doing awesome. Otherwise, if anyone is having a bad day, well, then, the whole thing implodes on itself.
Divorce doesn’t teach you anything good.
It teaches you how to protect your butt.
It teaches you to not trust anyone.
It teaches you to suspect everyone’s motives.
It teaches you to withdraw or get demonstratively mad if you are slighted. If you withdrew in your first marriage, you’ll get all demonstratively mad in your second. If you got all demonstratively mad in your first, you’ll withdraw in your second. Or if you withdrew in your first, you’ll withdraw even more in your second. Or, if you got all demonstratively mad in your first, you will get even more demonstratively mad in your second. In your third marriage you’ll be confused, because by now you’ve probably tried both being demonstratively mad and withdrawing and neither works. You’ll be at a loss as to what to do now. You could try talking about it without getting upset, but that would require you to have a servant’s heart, and you ain’t gonna take no crap, remember?
It teaches you to just give-the-hell-up.
It teaches you to bear grudges.
It teaches you to nurse wounds.
It teaches you to hold people at a distance, because you don’t want to be hurt anymore.
It teaches you to be selfish, because you THINK you gave before and look where it got you.
It teaches you to look out for you. I have to meet MY needs.
WOW! Some kind of a wonderful spouse you’ll make. You’re a catch! Sign me up, BABY!!
STOP IT!!! JUST STOP IT!
Humble yourself before God. Bow on your knees and bend your stiff back. Break your back if you have to, you stiff-neck of heart! You’re divorcing and you’ve never ever learned to love. You’re divorcing and you’ve never learned to love someone who doesn’t deserve to be loved. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE STATE OF YOUR HEART. NO ONE ELSE.
A broken and contrite spirit I will not reject, saith the LORD.
A broken and contrite spirit. There’s not a marriage in the world that couldn’t use a little broken and contrite spirit. We’ve had enough arrogance already.
I’d hoped you could learn that without having to be divorced.
Look. I’ve done this awhile. Here’s a guy who came to see me five years later after he was in therapy with his wife. He was having an affair at the time. He said I told him back then, five years earlier, that he was a selfish prick. I said, I’m sorry. I didn’t know I said it quite that way. He said he agreed. He was a selfish prick. He said, Bing, Bing, Bing, Bing, Bing, Bing, Bing. You were right. You warned me. You told me this would happen. I didn’t listen to you. And then he told me the sad trajectory of his life since he chose his affairee and rejected the wife of his youth. HE’D REJECTED THE WIFE OF HIS YOUTH. SPIT HER OUT. You think God’s gonna look lightly on that? You think you can go back on those vows you said before God and make light of it and it’s no big deal? You think? You think? You think? You think? You think? You think? You think? His affairee chewed him up and spit him out. That’s how this works, people!
And he sat on the edge of the couch in my office with his head in his hands and his elbows on his knees and he sobbed and wept, a broken and contrite spirit.
Even his kids wanted nothing to do with him. Because he’d rejected their mother, THE WIFE OF HIS YOUTH! THEY TREATED HIM THE WAY HE TREATED THEIR MOTHER!!! HE TAUGHT HIS KIDS HOW TO LOVE!! YOU CRAP ON PEOPLE, PEOPLE!
For my money it’d be worth it to try to figure out how to love my spouse NOW with dignity and grace even though he or she doesn’t deserve it. Because, frankly folks, I don’t deserve it either.
The first blog in this series summarizes the various ways couples live as roommates instead of as husband and wife:
In one of Dr. Wall’s earliest blogs he looked at the difference between real love and feeling love:
In this next blog Dr. Wall rants about the myth that divorce is a step toward happiness:
Many people divorce because of a depressed mood. Dr. Wall proposes that we choose our mood by choosing our behavior. He offers a few examples of how to improve the mood in your home: