Haven't Done It Yet
I know that for those of you who have followed my story here, I must seem awfully indecisive. I guess I still struggle to determine whether all of what's happened in the last 18-24 months is justifiable grounds for leaving. Actually, I saw some signs of disordered thinking in my wife as long as we've been together, but it's gotten severely worse over the last 18-24 months. Many of you who have followed me here (and under the much longer thread "She Doesn't Trust Me") know the ups and downs of everything I've tried. Right now, we are in a state of "cold war." She hasn't made any new, weird allegations toward me. Some days, she seems to be really trying.
But she hasn't allowed me to touch her, or move back into the room with her (heaven forbid we actually think about sex! Which quite honestly right now is the LAST thing I'd want to do...both because we have so little trust between us and I'd be afraid that she'd later claim marital rape or something). She hasn't said "I love you" to me since that damn ill-fated camping trip last July.
This is a situation that just cannot continue.
And yet, I still struggle so hard to make the break. Partly because I was raised in a faith tradition that says divorce is absolutely forbidden except for unfaithfulness. (Well, sometimes exceptions are made for abuse, too)
I've been reading a book called "Not Under Bondage," by a woman named Barbara Roberts. She teamed up with a lot of Christian theologians to explore the cultural context and the original language of a lot of the Biblical verses about divorce. In essence, her conclusion is this: God has always recognized that there are basically two types of divorce; treacherous divorce and disciplinary divorce.
An example of a treacherous divorce would be a guy who meets and falls in love with a younger woman, and then finds some excuse to divorce his wife for a "newer model." This is the kind of divorce that God condemns.
A disciplinary divorce is a divorce that is entered into because a spouse has had an affair, or been abusive, or has abandoned the family. Roberts makes a very compelling case that abandonment is not just limited to physical leaving; a spouse can "abandon" his or her family emotionally, and can also mistreat the other spouse so badly as to drive them away. Even though the innocent person is the one who actually leaves, the abusive partner who made life so miserable that the other one actually left could really be regarded as the "abandoner" because of the unreasonableness of his or her actions.
Roberts relies on a lot of theological scholarship and her book has page after page of footnotes, including a historical review of Christian literature through the centuries on this difficult subject.
She has made a very compelling case for me.
So, I want to ask those of you who know my story.....if I were to leave my wife, would I be engaging in a "treacherous divorce?" I don't believe I would, but I also know that denial is very strong in people who are seeking their own seflish ways.
I want to submit a few facts for your consideration:
Even though my wife was the first one to mention the idea of divorce out loud, I have sometimes secretly wished for one. Perhaps it was in the midst of some of her more unreasonable behavior. But up until my wife voiced the idea herself, I never even permitted myself to think beyond a "what if?"
But once my wife voiced that she herself had also considered this, the idea began to grow in my own head. I'm ashamed to say it, but I started wondering "So if my wife does leave me, what would my life look like then......?"
When we were in counseling, I tried to do what the counselor told us to do. However, it seemed as if every week my efforts were being short-circuited because before I could apply the techniques or principles we learned in the last session, it seemed as if some new outrageous thing would happen at home. So we would spend the next counseling session digesting the new development instead of trying to make progress on our old stuff.
I'll admit that I am part of our marital problems. I'm not always as sensitive as I'd like to be. When I am tired and stressed, I sometimes forget to be as empathetic as I should be. I have a knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. I'm a bit of a klutz. I'm doing better at getting organized, but I spent a lot of my life as a "messy." I'm doing better in all those areas, but I'll admit that at times my wife's anger was not without cause (perhaps her anger was overblown considering the magnitude of my "offense," but there was still at least a kernel of truth in her complaint against me).
Last July, on our ill-fated camping trip, on the night that the accusations started, my wife told me at one point, "I'm trying to work with you in counseling, but I'm afraid that we're not going to make it......." Then to cap the weekend off, she quit saying "I love you" and agreed with her mom and dad when they forbid me to ever come see them again.
So during all this time, when I was feeling so much rejection from her and her family, and when I was receiving almost daily messages that "I don't think we're going to make it....," I started imagining myself free of this daily pain.
Don't get me wrong. I've never cheated on her (been tempted to a time or two, but never took the bait). But I have started playing the "what if" scenes in my head. I've wondered if maybe there might be someone out there who could love me without having all the personality disorder baggage. These thoughts make it confusing to discern my own true motives.
My best friend is a Christian psychologist...I admitted all this to him the other day. He said there's an important distinction: My desire to be free of the pain and to start my life over again is a RESULT of the loss of a relationship with my wife. It's not the CAUSE of it.
And that is true. Until the past December, I was really trying hard. After my wife completely blew off our anniversary (a week before Christmas), I just mentally and emotionally quit trying. And I feel guilty about that, too. But to try so hard for so long and to not only see no progress, but to actually be blamed for things and accused of things I didn't do, was just a bridge too far.
So here's where I am: I believe that in a truly abusive relationship, the innocent spouse has a right to divorce. Even if the two partners are Christians (because if there's true abuse that is unrepented of, one of the partners isn't really living as a Christian should). I don't believe God calls His children to endure abuse (and that includes psychological abuse).
So I have now confessed some of my darker, innermost thoughts. I sometimes feel as if I have mixed motives. Her behavior toward me at times is definitely emotionally abusive. But in my desire to be free of my pain, I've also unintentionally started looking forward to starting a new life. And I feel guilty about that, as if I've given up too soon.
Is my desire to have a "new life" a sign that I am dealing "treacherously" with my wife? Or is it the end result of enduring years of emotional abuse and outrageous, BPD-like behavior?
I am asking those of you on this board who know my story best to be scathingly honest with me....if I leave my wife, will I be engaging in a treacherous divorce, or a disciplinary divorce? Am I justified to be thinking about leaving my wife over all that's happened?
Please be brutal with me. I want to know if you think I'm off base here. Because I truly believe I need to leave. But I also know that the human heart can be very deceptive and that it's possible to even deceive yourself.