Smashed Promises

Yes, you promised. You both did. And you meant them. You really, truly did.

Life was supposed to be happily ever after. Good jobs. A nice house, with nice cars in the garage. Two or three well behaved kids who made good grades, played sports, and participated in dance and music recitals. They’d grow up, go on to college, find great careers. They’d get married and have their own kids, and soon you’d be grandparents, and enjoy your retirement years together with your kids, their spouses, and your grandkids. Probably somewhere warm and sunny.

But then life happened and although you both meant well at first, and were sure nothing could tear you apart, something changed. Something happened. Things happened. Bad things. Dangerous things, even.

Financial indiscretions. Alcohol abuse. Drug abuse. Infidelity. Affairs. Lies. Screaming arguments. Storming out of the house and not returning until the next day. Verbal abuse. Broken furniture and holes in walls. Sometimes even physical violence against you. Incarceration of your spouse for any number of serious reasons.

You tried. Many times. He asked for forgiveness; you gave it. And gave it. And gave it again until the words were just that. Words spoken just to stop another argument.

But you both had promised. And promises are never supposed to be broken, right?

You still have a few framed pictures sitting around from that day so long ago when you both promised each other before your families, your friends, and most importantly before the Lord, that you would love and cherish each other in sickness and in health until death do you part. You both looked so happy.

Who knew how things would eventually be?

You both believed those promises you made that day, and meant every word of them. But what happens when the death that parts you is the death of the marriage, the death of the love, the death of respect and trust, and not the death of your spouse?

I’ve said it before. Marriage is hard. It’s not to be entered into lightly, or on a whim, or without seriously talking it over and knowing what you’re getting into. It’s a lot of work.

But sometimes, no matter how hard you try, the marriage just can’t survive. There are lots of reasons. Sometimes only one partner is willing to try, and it takes both partners to be totally committed to make a marriage work. It usually involves a serious change in lifestyles and actions. And sometimes, unfortunately, even with both partners trying, it just won’t work any more.

And that’s beyond sad. It’s a tragedy. But look at the reasons I listed for these failures. They’re serious reasons. You may even still love your spouse, or the person your spouse used to be, even after some of those situations have been uncovered.

But sometimes love just can’t fix it all. And sadly you have to move on.

Does that make you a failure? Not at all. Does it make you sad? It should. It’s never a happy occasion when a marriage truly cannot continue to exist.

But as long as you know you did everything you could, you can still pick up the pieces of your life and move on, knowing you gave it your best, but the circumstances you found yourself in were too profoundly difficult, and sometimes too dangerous, to allow you to continue.

Yes, you promised, but sometimes there’s no other solution. For your own safety, and your own mental, and sometimes physical, health, sometimes you just have to let go.

And know that there’s something better on the horizon.

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