It was 25 years ago today that my wife and I split up: 10-24-86. My friend John drove his little Datsun pickup out to our 5-acres in the Black Hammock. We loaded most of my worldly belongings into the truck’s bed, and I left our little dilapidated mobile home on Stone St. and that era of my life behind forever. It was after work on a Friday. Today is Friday, 10-21-11. We got together on a Friday, Halloween 1977. October has been an eventful month in my life–a time of passages.
Friday, Oct. 10 was the last night my wife and I spent together. The following day she said she was going over to New Smyrna Beach to give a riding lesson and might spend the night at her client’s home. I was clueless. When she didn’t come home by Sunday evening I was worried but had no way to get in touch with her. She stayed away for the following week and communicated with notes left on the fridge while I was at work. When I finally saw her that weekend she said she’d been thinking things over and that she wanted a divorce. It was the first time in our 9 years together that the d-word had ever been uttered. With my mouth I said, “I don’t want that.”– but the little voice in my head said, “Run like hell, she’s giving you your freedom.”
Things did not go well for me in the final two years of the marriage. I was tired of the almost daily emotional beatings, the name calling and tongue lashings. I was tired of her moods and her explosive temper. I was tired of sharing a bed with someone who gave no affection. But this isn’t meant to trash my ex-wife. She has her side of the story too.
I know its in scripture that, “God hates divorce.” But God hates adultery too and an adulterer was part of our Saviour’s genealogy. So I think God uses divorce too even though He may not officially “like” it. I think sometimes that it’s part of His kingdom-building program. God’s economy is something we can at best just dimly comprehend.
At times I wonder about what my life would have been like had we stayed together. That fantasy never ends well. Though my wife was a Christian, she was incredibly damaged by a childhood of abandonment and emotional neglect. I was maybe the one man in a million who could help mend those wounds. Sometimes I think God put us together for that reason. But what I had to offer wasn’t near enough. Ultimately she fell back into self-punishing and self-defeating behaviors–as well as the controlling and manipulative strategies that helpless children acquire, and that make an adult-child’s life dysfunctional. I understood that about her and made lots of allowances. Forgiving was easy. But sometimes I feel like I gave up too easily, and I feel guilty. Yet I know in my heart I never stopped hoping and praying that things would work out–and right up to the end I believed that they would.
Had we stayed together, I doubt that I would have written four books and traveled to Europe three times. I doubt that I would have had something resembling a ministry, gone on mission trips and taught classes at a church. I suspect that if I’d grown at all it would have been quite differently. My wife and I exchange letters a couple times a year. She has grown too, but though a Christian, she remains a strange and tormented person. In some respects the past 25 years have not been easy. The loneliness of my life has been oppressive at times, but that has caused me, a naturally shy person, to reach out in ways I never could have imagined. And because of that I have been blessed immensely. Hopefully, some others have been blessed by my efforts as well.