A SHATTERED MARRIAGE
The tragedy of seeking contentment out of human relationships is illustrated by Molly and Allan.
They started their marriage with the highest of hopes. Molly had been a very lonely, unhappy person who had fled from an unhappy home and was living alone.
Allan came from a home broken by a divorce. He was an independent person who did as he pleased. Molly liked his happy-go-lucky manner.
A WHIRLWIND COURTSHIP
Their courtship was brief–-a few months of whirlwind dating–then marriage and a happy life together (they thought).
It took only a few months for them to discover that marriage hadn’t changed either one of them. Allan continued his independent ways, going and coming as he pleased–-just being himself. Maybe he came home straight from work, maybe not.
When he didn’t, he was confronted by a predictably cold, untouchable, angry woman. After listening to her tirades for a while, he would become increasingly disgusted and end up leaving the house, shouting at her.
They stuck it out for eleven long, miserable years–-with Molly griping and complaining all the way. Allan just ignored her and continued to go his own way.
Finally, Allan announced that he was moving out, leaving the two children for Molly to worry about. Soon, he moved in with a girlfriend.
As Molly told me her story, it was obvious that she was desperate. Her hands doubled into fists. Her voice shrilled. The tensed muscles in her face distorted her good looks.
“He comes home once a week to see the children,” she told me. “We have a boy, age nine, and a girl almost eleven. All week long I have to fuss with those kids. Then on the weekend, here comes Allan. He’s relaxed, smug, and happy. It really burns me up.”
If Allan is relaxed when he comes, it doesn’t last long. Molly furiously berates him with all the hostile words she can think of.
“EACH WEEK IS LIKE WAR”
Each visit ends the same way. Allan finally blows up. The two of them start shouting at each other, even hitting each other.
“Every week is like a war,” she told me. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t want a divorce. I want my marriage back. But I can’t stand the sight of that man.”
By now, I suppose you have already taken sides and perhaps wonder where I stand.
Obviously, Allan is doing wrong. Even in our permissive society, very few people would condone his living arrangement with his girlfriend–especially when he is still married to Molly. The Bible is crystal clear on this:
You shall not commit adultery (Deuteronomy 5:18)
But Allan insists that his wife’s behavior is driving him into his girlfriend’s arms. Because he says it, however, doesn’t make it true. He is clearly wrong.
When Molly storms around the house filled with tension, hostility, bitterness, and hatred, she surely isn’t hurting Allan or his girlfriend. They aren’t there. She is alone, hurting only herself.
All this is going on underneath her own skin.
Molly insists that Allan causes her condition. If he would shape up, she would be a pleasant, responsive, happy woman. Because she says it so fervently, however, doesn’t make her right. She also is wrong.
Allan and Molly had two problems, not one.
- What to do about the marriage.
- What to do about themselves.
Before anything could be done about the marriage, they had to do something about themselves. Allan refused to come to me for counseling, but Molly came back.