I was listening to a radio show that broadcasts out of Atlanta and is now also carried in the Indianapolis area.
The Bert Show
I've been listening for a couple of months now and generally like the show. They talk- it's a team of people and they discuss personal situations, current events, and so on. They share their opinions and such. They have a phone line where people can call in and have their voice disguised in order to seek advice on a personal problem. Sometimes, those situations are truly odd circumstances. Sometimes, it's pretty light hearted or embarassing. Sometimes, it's a really hard situation.
This morning, I got angry.
A woman called in. She's been married to her husband for 15 years. They have an 11 year old daughter. She doesn't love her husband. She thinks she never loved him. They only have sex 2 times a year and it's out of her sense of obligation. She doesn't want to go to counseling because she thinks it won't change anything.
They encouraged her to seek therapy. I applaud that.
They then went on to convince her that a divorce would actually be a good thing for her daughter. Because the 11 year old needs to see that mom is strong and confident and seeking happiness.
15 years ago, she married someone she doesn't love. She waited 4 years to have a child with the man she doesn't love. And now she wants out and a set of radio show personalities did nothing but confirm that her heart is in the right place.
Will they call her daughter and explain it to her? Will they step up in court and testify at the custody hearing? Will they mediate the school activities and family events where they have to figure out who gets to be there?
It's no secret that this is a subejct I feel passionately about. I also don't keep it a secret that I've been through a divorce.
There are times when divorce is the right thing to do. An abusive situation, an addiction situation. I come from a divorced family and I believe my mom made the right decision in her divorce- he was a deadbeat, a loser, a slacker (and continued to be so and still was when I tracked him down as a young adult).
But I see so many situations where the adults in the marriage just give up. Where there is no specific wrong going on, no one is being mistreated, no one is being abused or neglected.
In the situation on the radio show, she even said that her husband knows how she feels and still stands by her, still loves her. He's a good man, a good father, a good husband. She just doesn't feel all romantic and smooshy with him- even though she chose to marry him and have a child with him aafter 4 years of marriage.
Instead of automatically encouraging people to divorce because we think that's what it means to support a friend facing divorce... what if we tried to help them salvage their marriage? What if we stepped up and supported them and also tried to help? Maybe it' none of my business... but when there are kids involved, they need a voice.
What if one of those radio personalities had reminded this woman that there was some reason why she started dating this guy, why she said yes when he asked her to marry him, why she made vows and said "I do?" What if someone had reminded her that there is something inside of her that has kept her in this marriage for 15 years? What if they gave her a plan to really dig in and seek answers inside of herself instead of telling her it's ok to run away?
What if a friend would say to her, "Something attracted you to him all those years ago, something made you say yes. Something has kept you in the marriage for 15 years. You can't just htrow it away without giving everything you have to fight for it. I know you feel tired and run down and unhappy right now. But if you walk away without truly fighting for it, you'll end up regretting it someday and won't be able to do anything about it. He knows what you are going through so ask him to be your partner and help you with this. Commit to 6 months of personal therapy and in those 6 months, concentrate on what it is that has kept you in the marriage. Don't focus on what you want the end result to be. Focus on what is inside of you. Your daughter has had this family as her world for 11 years and to smash it apart now isn't fair to her. Instead of saying the words "I'd do anything for my daughter," put those words into action. This is your chance to take a bullet, step in front of the train, do anything for her. Yes, it will be hard. But I'm your friend and I'm here for you during the process. Your husband is here for you during this process. Don't quit without giving it absolutely everything you have first."
I know I have that kind of friend in Christy and in others. I know that I can be that friend to people in my life. I hope you have a friend like that in your life, too. I hope you're willing to be that friend to someone else.