Midlife Dimensions


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Ezine April 2013

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Intense Integrity by Bill Farrel

One of the FAQ's in our Chat Room, that comes in lots of different forms, but is in essence the same question...

"Why should I hang in there when my

spouse is making such terrible choices?"

"Mywoman at computer husband drinks more than ever before and refuses to even come home three or four nights a week. How do I deal with this? What do I tell our children? It is so hard." 

"My wife keeps telling me she is so confused and doesn't think she loves me anymore. She seems to just want to go out and play with her friends rather than focus on us, or our kids. How do I keep hope alive when I see no progress?"

couple arguing in a car"I am pretty sure she has had an affair. I have had to go pick her up a couple of times because her drinking prevented her from being able to drive. When I try to talk with her about any of this, she just gets mad. How can I ever trust her again?"

"I found text messages to another woman on his phone. He is grumpy and critical when he is home. He is not the man I married, and I wonder where that man went? This one is miserable to be around. Why should I stay committed when there is nothing here that is making me happy?"

I want to admit right up front that this is one of the hardest personal struggles of life. We get married because we long to be loved and cherished by another individual who will commit to us, embrace us, and help us be better than we could be on our own. We long to have someone who will admire us for our strengths, accept us despite our shortcomings, and love us despite our deficiencies. Then when we are personally rejected by the individual who vowed, "…until death do us part." It is understandable that we become disappointed, disillusioned, and disheartened.

Conventional wisdom (that often comes from friends, family members, opinionated acquaintances, or that part of you that’s embarrassed and angry) will tell us to walk away, start over, and get on with our life. The actions of the wayward spouse are defined as selfish, abusive, manipulative, and harmful with the implication that this relationship doesn't deserve to be prayed for, waited for, or viewed as an abundant opportunity for personal growth. It is certainly easy to accept this kind of reasoning because the actions of a wayward spouse produce unprecedented pain and raw rejection. Questions flood our minds, and feelings of inadequacy hover around us, as we try to figure out why someone would turn their back on the person they chose to build their life with.

The tendency is to look for answers in the actions of the wayward spouse, which will typically lead to the conclusion to "move on". But, for the left-behind-spouse who decides to stand by their wedding vows and wait for their prodigal to return, there is a way to get through this time with dignity, and great personal growth. In these intense scenarios, the reasons for sticking with your commitment reside within you, and are not based on the actions of your spouse. Before you decide to walk away from a "lifetime relationship" – consider the following thoughts and options:

On your wedding day you vowed to love your spouse for the rest of your life. Now you have to decide if your wedding vows are a firm conviction, or just a ritualistic statement you made because that's what people say at weddings. Jesus challenged all of us, "All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’;anything beyond this comes from the evil one." (Matthew 5:37) The implication is that our words ought to count, and be reliable representations of what we mean. The daily choice, to live out your wedding vows is easy when the relationship is going well, and dreadful when it looks as if there is no way those vows will ever be reciprocated.
There is a special intimacy with Jesus for those who choose to maintain faithfulness in the face of rejection, criticism, and faithlessness. Jesus experienced all these over and over again and still chose to love us, die to forgive us, and grant us eternal life as a free gift. "He was in the world, the world was there through Him, and yet the world didn’t even notice. He came to His own people, but they didn’t want Him." (John 1:10-11- The Message) At His greatest hour of need, "everyone deserted Him and fled." (Mark 14:50) Even so, "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) We all walked away, despised and rejected Him, and yet He did everything that was necessary to create a path to a breakthrough. The relationship still requires that we respond, but He didn't wait for us to do His part. He didn't bargain with our decisions to evaluate His choices. He never based His actions on our attitudes. He didn't cave in on His convictions and say, "You can do whatever you want to me," but He also never gave up on the relationship. He courageously and tenaciously did what made it possible from His side to have a loving relationship – and then He waited. When we choose to do the same thing, He fills the empty space in our heart with His perfect peace, a hope that transcends circumstances, and contentment that surprises us. You will find strength from within that will help you to hold your head up and face the world.
More than any other relationship, marriage is transformed by breakthroughs. "'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:31-32) A relationship between a husband and wife is a living picture of the Gospel of Christ. In a relationship with Jesus, a person can go from darkness to light, being lost to being found, a place of enmity to a place of friendship with God in a moment in time. In the same way a marriage relationship can go from troubled to growing, or contentious to cooperative, in a very short period of time. The heart is remarkably capable of forgiveness and restoration under the right circumstances. The problem, of course, is that none of us know when, or if, it may happen. We must therefore decide if we are willing to patiently wait for what we cannot predict.

I believe we all agree that integrity is an important character trait in our lives. The intense integrity that says, "I will do what I have committed to do even when it isn't producing the results I desperately want in my life," requires special grace from God. Yes, the path you’re choosing to travel seems intimidating, but God is faithful and will provide every bit of spiritual, emotional, and mental strength you need to overcome the obstacles and live without regrets.

As you consider how this information applies to your life, may God give you wisdom and power beyond your own. As you consider how this affects the lives of those you love the most, may God's softening influence deeply impact their lives.

Midlife Help:

Marriage on the Rocks? Try Again!
By Bill and Pam Farrel

Is Divorce a Positive Solution for a Troubled Marriage?
By Jim Conway

Should I Try to Reconcile with My Mate After We've Split?
By Jim Conway

 The Finisher
by Jan Kinne Conway

If you are tired of the ho-hum of life, or if stress has gotten you down, pick up this book to pick up your life.


Warning - Read at your own risk!
Your life will never be the same!

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