Here’s a sign of a marriage that has hope: they are honest about their pain. I can deal with the phone call from a relative or a friend who asks for an ear about a troubling time in their home. In fact, I have two stories to share, both a few years past.
First was a call from a dear friend as she was driving out of town. She had left her husband and children. She wasn’t planning on coming back. She was on her way to visit an old high school friend in another state. A guy.
Within 20 seconds of the phone call I saw where this was going.
It was a desperate call, but it was bluntly honest. How refreshing honesty is to hear, and I cannot tell you how thankful I am that she reached out to me. I was able to divert her drive to a long, tearful talk at a coffee shop. She poured out her pain and her frustration and her regret, and we worked through some fundamental issues with her marriage. It turned out okay in the end. She went back home. Today years later, her family is intact, the kids are happy, and the marriage is good. Not perfect (is anyone’s?), but not shattered.
Compare this to the second story of a different friend. No phone call, but a de-friend from FB, ignored emails, silence (she and her family lived out of state). Chris, a friend of her husband’s, called to inquire and found out that she left her husband and children for (you guessed it!) an old high school fling. Marriage shattered. The father carried on and is making the best of his family today (his children are absolutely beautiful people!), but no thanks to my friend. We never did reconnect, but I hear she’s full of stories of how “difficult” things were in her marriage.
Here’s the kicker: I never would have expected it before. Hers appeared to be a perfect family. She was lying to me for years. Though there were battles going on inside herself, she felt the urge to keep those battles secret, hidden from her friend, and replaced with a totally different presentation that was so far away from honesty. I felt the betrayal her husband and kids felt.
There are real problems with marriages. I get that. But the first step to healing is to be honest with the reality of those problems. Pull one of your close friends in and share the honest reality of your problems. If you are considering breaking the bond between you and your spouse without seeking help, you are continuing to be dishonest.
And another thing: pull in a friend who will be an advocate for marriage, not someone who will encourage you to “break free” and get a divorce. Of the two examples I gave, the first was much more honest than the second. She reached out to someone she knew would try to heal her marriage. I’m not sure why my second friend totally de-friended me (she was previously a close confidant of mine), but I suspect it was because she knew I would be an advocate for her marriage. She chose the affair. One a true and honest friendship; the other a continual dishonest walk in a lie. There is no freedom nor is there a future in the dishonest path.
If there is an inner battle going on with your marriage, pause. This is your life. Be honest, seek help, and start to heal. Feel free to forward this message to the friend who chose to confide in you.