I was talking to my best friend, Mary, yesterday. She wanted to check in and see how I was doing since we hadn't really been able to touch base since everything happened.
I explained the situation and, as usual, she gave sound logical support. Good thing I fell in with the chick who grew up to be a trained psychologist, huh?
Anyway, in speaking with Mary, I found myself coming to a very clear understanding of how I was handling my husband in this situation. Some folks have suggested I lay off bringing up my emotions to John given the precarious situation we find ourselves in. My mother wondered if I might be pushing too much... some of you wonderful readers suggested via e-mail / commentary that I might want to reign back my expressiveness... even Mary thought it might be a good idea to "get myself sorted out" before attempting to wrangle the Elephant in the Room between John and I.
However, let me assure folks that I haven't really been pressing the issue with John. I've brought it up in tiny bits and pieces. We've spoken about Myla three times. Once when I told him I was sure I was pregnant. Once, a few days later when I told him I was sure I had miscarried. Finally, I spoke of her when I told him I'd named her.
The longest of these conversations was the first. That lasted about 10-15 minutes and it consisted of me explaining the changes in my body that assured me I was pregnant, him going off about a vasectomy and how another baby would be the implosion of his world, me countering with all the wonderful things a baby would bring, and finally his acceptance that he'd be a good father to this one just as he is to Vince.
The second conversation was less than half that time. After a day of the cramping and nausea, I realized what was happening and told him. He said, "I don't want to say I'm happy, because I know you're upset, but I'm honestly relieved."
Even though it hurt to hear him say that, I understood his point of view and didn't hold it against him. However, I couldn't really say much more to him on the subject given how incredibly emotional I was. He left me to my tears and I left him to his video games.
Finally, the night I spoke to him of her name was the shortest of all. Two, maybe three minutes.
Each of these conversations was difficult for me to start, difficult for me to have, and difficult for me to walk away from.
But I realize in my conversation with Mary that I did it both for myself, and for John.
For John? How, you ask?
Remember that 3 Part Series I did involving my mother-in-law? Secrets Aren't Secrets Forever was the title I went with. Brief synopsis, John had ignored his mother's prodding for more grandchildren for YEARS. Finally, she took matters into her own hands and asked me directly. I then handled the conversation John couldn't and eventually explained to John the importance of NOT ignoring situations in the hopes they go away.
The best way of handling problems is to work THROUGH them.
Well, what you readers don't realize is that not even one week later, he did it again.
We were out with one of his clients and his client asked us when we'd be having more children. John PROMPTLY walked away from the table we were at, knowingly leaving me in an emotionally vulnerable position. However, I took that opportunity to model proper behavior for him. I called out to him, "John, wait a minute." He stopped, hung back, and listened to me respond. After we left the client's presence, I explained that it felt terrible for him to leave me stranded in such a way, ESPECIALLY after we had just had a conversation about how to handle these questions since they're so hurtful to me. He acknowledged I was right and resolved to use my response as a guide for next time.
"Next time" occurred about two weeks ago. He proudly came home and said, "Another client asked about me having more kids and I actually answered him. I handled it!" Then he proceeded to tell me the conversation which, to me, proved he COULD learn if someone was willing to patiently teach him a strategy outside of "IGNORE."
So as I was talking to Mary, I pointed that out to her. She felt he might've been too stuck in his ways to get past his "Ignore" defense. However, as his wife, I feel it's my job to help him develop beyond such a juvenile response. So I've brought it up in tiny snippets so that if he ever feels ready, the door is open for him to look at this situation from a different perspective - one that isn't drenched in the culture of death.
As I was thinking more on my conversation with Mary, magazine covers kept popping into my head. They looked a little something like this:
Notice that every single one of them has a headline about sex?
We've all seen these magazines. Cosmo isn't the only one guilty of it. However, this particular screen shot served my purposes.
Women are CONSTANTLY bombarded with how to express themselves sexually by getting men hot and bothered, by feeling sexy, themselves, and by being vocal about what she likes and doesn't like in the bedroom so that both partners come away feeling "satisfied."
Barring the stupidity of most Cosmo-type trash, they do have one thing right - women need to express themselves (and their likes and dislikes) if they're going to have a fulfilling sexual relationship with their spouse.
However, if we need to be upfront about our sexual desires, how much more upfront must we be about our emotional and spiritual ones?
Or do those not count?
I say they count just as much (and more) than sexual desires. So if society is telling women they need to coach their men into being better lovers, it should be telling women they need to help men be better listeners, supporters and friends.
In fact, that's what a marriage is. It is a husband and a wife consciously helping one another develop into more mature, loving human beings. It is our JOB to coach one another through times of confusion, discord and strife, even if we're not entirely sure of the way ourselves.
So I'll keep on keepin' on with John, just as I'm sure he'll keep on keepin' on with me. I'll keep chugging along trying to teach him coping mechanisms that exist beyond ignoring issues, and he'll coach me into being a more financially sound adult.
Thus, even in the midst of my own struggle with grief, I find it necessary to push him just far enough to see past his own "comfortable" perspective. I don't push him enough to have him run for the hills, but I push him enough to widen, even a smidgen, his own comfort zone. In doing so, it widens my own comfort zone because I'm forced to confront my own dislike for emotional confrontation. I am forced to make myself vulnerable to him, and even though he's not the most delicate with me right now, I can see that he's making a good effort.
And again, I love him for trying. At the end of the day, that's all I can really ask - that he loves me enough to try.
Photo Credit: Randy Glasbergen
Short answer? No. Truthful answer? No, but I was tempted. No doubt he was, too.
However, we were lucky in that neither one of us wanted to give up Vincent-time. Plus, I think we both knew that separation inevitably leads to divorce in most cases. Thus, we stuck it out even though we probably would've preferred having our open eyes spat into repeatedly.
Pardon the imagery, but I want to make it perfectly clear that our choices were far from easy. We definitely chose the difficult road, and for those of you serious about salvaging your marriage, you're going to endure similar frustrations when you refuse to take the coward's approach to handling the army of issues that has invaded your marriage.
Remember, this is war. You need to fight in order to defend and/or reclaim what is yours. You can't very well do that if you're not together.
So no. For as much as we were both tempted to be rid of one another, we stuck it out because we knew that was what was necessary. Again - it won't be a picnic. It really won't. But in the end, it was necessary for us because it both forced us to physically face our problems on a routine basis, and it also gave us time to practice loving and respecting one another as individuals again.
This is one of my favorite photos of John and I. It captures perfectly the happiness, love and joy we felt that day.
So when did this bliss begin to deteriorate? When, exactly, did our marriage begin to suffer?
I think that's an impossible question to answer. As every couple knows, you don't marry a perfect person. You're not a perfect person yourself. Thus, the union of two imperfect people isn't going to be the most perfect thing in the world.
We both came into the relationship with baggage. At the onset of our relationship, we accepted the baggage happily. His ridiculous quirks were endearing to me, and I believe all of mine were the same to him.
Somewhere along the way, however, we allowed selfishness and arrogance to cloud our perception.
When I think back, our marriage was suffering a very long time. We were married young, so we were admittedly immature in our handling of things. It takes time and patience to learn how to make a life together with and for each other. There are no owner's manuals - you gotta figure it out yourself.
So if I had to pinpoint a time frame, I guess I'd say a few months before Vincent was born. We were more than a year into our marriage and I was beginning to put pressure on John to keep his end of the bargain regarding children. I had acquiesced to waiting a year, and there we were, a year and six months later, with him refusing to even speak of children let alone attempt making them. As a result of this frustration, I burned with an intense resentment of him. I blamed him for my unhappiness, and as such, I treated him very poorly. I didn't realize it at the time, of course, but my resentment came out in a stunning array of belittling, nagging, cold shoulders, refusal of sex, and pretty much any other "female weapon" you can think of. I was very likely the worst wife in the universe, and it all stemmed from the hurt I felt over being lied to.
He had promised children after a year, and he went back on his word. A part of me hated him for it, and that part of me was allowed to fester and grow, blinding the part of me that loved him and coaxing my mind to blow every perceived failure into a mountain that weighed heavily against him.
How could any man stand up under such crushing weight?
In early January of the next year, I learned I was pregnant. It was a happy accident, of course, and John quickly changed his tune. He went from being anti-children to boasting to his friends and family of the great father he couldn't wait to be. I, in turn, forgot instantly the resentment and hatred because I'd been given the child he had promised. I also gained the doting father I knew he'd be.
So for a time, all was well. We spent months blissfully happy in our preparations for Vincent. Even in the weeks and months after Vincent was born, our marriage seemed poised for perfection and all ill-feelings were barely a memory.
However, babies are not cures for failing marriages. All of the issues John and I had pushed aside in anticipation for Vincent came rushing back after a spat of sleepless nights and ruptured schedules. Those resentments, those feelings, those unspoken thoughts of anger - they all erupted to the surface as the days dragged on after the novelty of a son wore off.
So after about a year and a half of enjoying the happy marriage we once shared, things took a volatile turn for the worse as old ill-will seeped to the forefront of our escalating arguments. I'd accuse him of shirking responsibility and he'd accuse me of being boring on account of staying home with Vincent all the time. He'd tell me I was becoming someone he couldn't recognize and I'd tell him it was because he was too wrapped up in his own immaturity to realize I was what "growing up" looked like.
This sort of ridiculousness spun out of control. Neither of us wanted to take responsibility for our part in how miserable we were making each other. As a result, we kept taking digs at each other where we could. It was a terrible way to live since we were constantly looking for ways to spite the other.
It was this constant barrage of belittlement that John first brought up the word "divorce." We were arguing and he basically stormed out of the house while yelling, "I want a divorce."
I knew he was saying it out of spite and anger. That didn't lessen the heat of the knife that sliced into my heart. However, the pain of that outburst only fueled my venomous response. I would simply hurt him more than he'd hurt me. I'd make sure he knew never to speak in such a manner to me again.
And I could. I'm much better with words than John is, so when I aim to inflict pain, I do it to maim, butcher and bleed. Every word, every glare, every insinuation was triple charged with disgust, hatred and pride. I made sure he understood exactly how little I thought of him. I wanted him to feel just as low, just as unwanted, just as disappointing as he'd made me feel.
Looking back now, I can easily see how vicious of a cycle this was. Obviously the more I went out of my way to make him feel miserable, the more he went out of his way to do the same.
So yeah - we were struggling with this sort of poisoned dance for about two years before we finally buckled down and put an end to it.
Just as you can. If we were able to stop the cycle of vitriol, you can too! If ever you find yourself looking to wound with your words, keep in mind that the damage really will just come back to inflict triple the pain on you once again.
He and I learned that we were using language to hurt one another - to get the other to feel the pain we each carried. Since I hated talking about feelings (believe it or not, I LOATHE describing how something makes me feel until the issue is far enough behind me that I can look at it almost clinically), he felt his only recourse was to make me experience what he couldn't share through words. I, in turn, forced him to do the same because I simply didn't know how to express my feelings in any other way.
Once we understood this about each other (and this is where lots of kicking and screaming came in), we made the effort to kick the habit and focus on positive communication.
When you post something as private and gritty as your marital issues online, expect to get a lot of follow-up questions from folks attempting to make sense of it - especially when they can't help but compare their situation to yours in an attempt to "litmus test" the viability of their own marriage.
I'm okay with this. Fostering communication is why I posted my experience to begin with. I've been getting many of the same questions, and I was almost afraid that I'd be known as "the divorce blog" as opposed to a "Catholic" one. That's a terribly selfish and unfounded notion on my part, and I apologize that it took a personal friend verbally smacking me upside the head to realize it. Even if I do become the "divorce" blog for a while, I'm still helping folks out which was my original intent all along. God's work is God's work regardless of the form it takes. Thank you, Jen, for reminding me of that.
Next, I'd like to thank those of you who messaged, Facebooked, or e-mailed. It takes a lot of courage to admit you either were, are or fear being in the same boat. I appreciate your open and honest sharing. It's helped affirm my decision to continue blogging about such a personal part of my life.
Finally, I have to admit I'm really surprised by the number of men who wrote in - thank you, gentlemen! I want to highlight your contribution for a very specific reason:
Ladies, your husbands care very much about you. They, too, have the same fiery drive to keep your sacramental union together. Acknowledge that they, too, are hurting and vulnerable. They, too, are confused and unsure of how to proceed.
That all being said, I'd like to take a moment to answer a few of the questions that cropped up. I'll answer them as best I can based on personal experience, but keep in mind these responses are purely subjective. Since many of these questions are more in-depth than one or two sentences, I think I'll do a brief series to take them one at a time. I want to devote proper time to each in the hopes that those of you following along get the answers you're looking for.
So far, the list of questions is:
1) How long was your marriage suffering before "divorce" was mentioned?
2) Did you ever contemplate separation in lieu of divorce?
3) Was it because of your desire for more children that he wanted to divorce you?
4) Did his family treat you any differently once they found out about your marriage issues?
5) What sort of things did the psychologist have you do?
6) What was a session like (how long, formatting and expense)?
7) Did your friends who knew ever recommend divorce?
If you don't see your question up here, it's likely because it was more personal in nature and needed a personal response (and will probably get an e-mail from me in the coming days). I'll do my best to answer these and any other you throw my way. :) Thanks so much again for all your messages and support. <3!
I almost cannot believe a year has passed. I think it's because I'm in such an entirely different place in my life. When the bells rang to welcome 2013, it almost seemed they were for me.
At this point last year, my marriage was ravaged. We were both depressed, incredibly bitter and mostly unhappy with our lives. Everything from work to friendships to our personal lives seemed to be dead set against us finding any joy. So to look back and realize how far we've come... what a transformative year 2012 has been... it's mystifying. It's like I'm looking back on someone else's life.
2012 was the year John and I pulled each other, many times kicking and screaming, into loving one another again.
You see, no one tells you this during marriage prep courses. No one mentions the all-out war you sometimes need to wage in order to build and maintain a relationship that seems so easy to new couples. They say marriage is hard work, but they don't tell you that this particular brand of hard work has the ability to take you to your deepest breaking point, smash it into a billion pieces, and then introduce you to the even deeper breaking point you didn't realize your other breaking point lived in fear of.
So 2012 was the year we confronted those breaking points. It wasn't pretty. In fact, it was terribly cruel, ugly and painful. I’m still not entirely sure how we survived such a traumatic reconfiguration of our marriage. I attribute it to the prayers of those who understood the heartache. They were the likely source of strength the two of us unwittingly fed from as we endured the agonizing process of cleaning house and facing the truth of our own destruction.
Most people are unaware that there were tremors unsettling our nest. I’ve always kept such things very close as I don’t believe there is benefit in airing dirty laundry to family or friends. I never uttered a word to my family as I didn’t want them to view John in a negative light. I also didn’t want anyone worrying over my relationship when there were more pressing things to keep them occupied.
So I turned to my spiritual director and my best friend. The only two people who knew the full extent of the emotional agony I endured, I held nothing back from them. I was candid, frank and colored. I would spit fire one moment only to fall into a river of tears the very next. I also poured myself into writing. Venting to my two trusted confidantes and banging out article after article on my keyboard – those were my coping mechanisms. Some folks might be upset to hear I didn't turn to them with my emotional tidal wave. May it suffice to say that voicing that wave to one person - let alone the two I chose - was difficult enough.
I’m still not entirely sure what John did. He eventually told his family. It was a huge mistake – and he fully admits that now – but I don’t fault him. His family dynamic is vastly different from mine, so while I was afforded the distance necessary to keep my personal life adequately private, he was not. I know he vented to his friends a bit (because it had the direct effect of once close-friends pulling away from me), but again… I understand he needed to cope in his own way.
We mucked along in this awkward venting dance, but it was a temporary fix (if one can call it a fix at all). We knew we needed to seek professional help, and John surprised me one day by agreeing to see a counselor. He even came up with a list of folks he felt would be good. We found one we liked and began to see him twice a month.
We only went a handful of times - not because we didn't like him (in fact, he was great) - but because John and I had really committed to trying to work things out ourselves. All of the advice the doc gave us were things we were already accustomed to doing. He helped us tweak things a bit so we didn't keep hitting the same walls over and over again, but it felt good that a professional was able to walk us through some of our darker areas and point out that we had, in fact, done a lot more for ourselves and each other than we had taken credit for.
So yeah, having spent over a year battling the demons of our marriage, I look back and almost cannot believe that the same marriage is now back to being happy, satisfying and loving - maybe even moreso than when we were first engaged. I'm incredulous, really.
This is the reason I felt the urge to post my experience online. No one likes to admit their marriage isn't perfect. No one in their right mind wants to admit that their spouse wanted to divorce them. I sorta hate the fact that this is going to be out there now with people judging me or John one way or the other for whatever ridiculous things they'll conjure up to judge us on.
The end result is something important enough to highlight, though. I see several of my friends (now that they're marrying off) coming to terms with the fact that marriage really does suck sometimes. For as amazing and wonderful as this vocation is, there are some seriously challenging and downright terrifying aspects of it that make you think you're slightly insane for having ever said "I do" to begin with.
I'm here to tell you that even through the most terrifying and horrible moments, you can and MUST fight for your marriage.
Every time John brought up the "D" word, I'd let it roll right off me. I never for a second gave divorce a thought because I simply do not believe it exists for us. When you can show me the seam that binds two souls united at the altar, I'll show you divorce papers. Until then, the only recourse is war.
So I went to war.
And I told John I was going to war.
And all of you out there who love your spouse but feel the pressure to divorce mount against your sacramental union - you must go to war.
And that is how it must be in a marriage. If your relationship is of any worth - if there is anything of value there (and there must be... you married one another once upon a time after all), you will wage war to defend it... even if you must defend it from yourselves.
That is precisely what John and I did. I explained to John that I would never - NEVER - sign divorce papers. He, exasperated, asked me why. I told him the truth. For as much as I sometimes wanted to punch him repeatedly in the face, I still loved him. For as angry and as bitter and as resentful as I sometimes felt towards him, I would always still love him. I would always be able to see the good-natured humor in him. I would always respect the responsible and hard-working man he is. I would always see the light of love in how he raises our son. Thus, in my mind, divorce can never be an answer. I was confident that one day we'd look back on this miserable point in our lives and be better for it.
And ya know what? He needed to hear that. I knew it all along, and I assumed he understood it, but no. He needed to hear that from me. He needed to hear me lay it all out there - to place myself out in such a vulnerable, honest position. I think it was then that he realized we had something to fight for after all. It wasn't just a "Gina's being a stubborn Catholic who doesn't believe in divorce." It was Gina being a stubborn wife who doesn't believe in throwing away a husband of value.
So night after night, day after day, tearful yelling session after tearful yelling session we somehow reached a fuller understanding of one another and our needs. We were no longer the same people we were 8 years ago. We had changed, and we needed to recognize that, appreciate it, and nurture each other in all new ways. We needed to learn about one another again and in trying - really, truly trying - we little by little learned to love each other again.
And it's been quite the experience.
So to those of you facing down what seems to be the barrel of a divorce gun I say there is hope. Be the hope for your marriage if you wish to see it succeed. Pray, pray, pray and work towards finding the common ground necessary to build from again. 2012 was our year. Make 2013 yours.
Banana? Of COURSE I want a banana.
That's right. I got "The Look."
Ya know... the one you get when the person you're talking to says something that you're supposed to understand on some innate, personal level?
It was a look that said, "C'mon, Gina. You're married. You've got a husband. You know how much it sucks to always have a man around."
I was absolutely dreading it. I didn't want to laugh them off and join in the man-bashing they were so keen to take part in. I also didn't want to ruin the dynamics for the rest of the day by telling them that the only reason they were having this "yay divorce" session was because they were still - after 10 and 6 years respectively - attempting to get past the fact that their divorces STILL hurt and weren't as rosy as they kept trying to convince themselves they were.
But that look was like a line in the sand. I saw the line. I understood it for what it was. Crossing it meant I'd be on their side. I'd be a woman who understood just how much being married sucked. I'd be in their club - the one reserved for angry vent sessions about men and all the things they do to make women miserable.
If I stayed on my side, however, I'd be the enemy. I'd be the naive, young and pompous twit who rode her high horse around the world because I was too stupid to understand that in a few short years, I'd be joining their ranks. And then... oh... staying on my side of the line would ensure their constant vigilance for the day I'd wake up and find myself alone and miserable. They'd both be waiting to pounce on my broken, bleeding heart with a victorious "I told you so, now come with us so we can tear into men together again!"
That pause - it only lasted a moment. It felt like forever because I fully understood the war I was about to wage by speaking the truth of my feelings. I was trying to calculate the words and what effects they'd have so I could do the least amount of damage while still conveying my point.
"I can't really complain about John. My marriage isn't perfect, but I'm pretty sure I'd be up Crap's Creek sans both paddles without him. He's a good guy. I'm happy to be 'chained down' with him. I even got a cute kid out of the deal."
Chained down is their term, not mine, but I figured I'd hit home the point that even though I understood their feelings, I didn't share them. I then tried to buoy the response with our shared love of children - their living reminder that once upon a time, their marriages were good, too.
Unfortunately, it didn't work. Go figure.
As I had anticipated, I was immediately seen as the enemy. What did I know? I've only been married 5 years. That's all honeymoon. Just wait until he gets that 7 year itch. I'll see. And when I do, they'll be there with margaritas and cyber-dating for me to chase off the self-loathing.
After that stellar session with the Cynic's Crystal Ball, they physically turned their backs to me and continued their husband / marriage bashing.
Our culture is replete with these Divorcee Clubs. Every divorced woman gains automatic entry while every other woman is assumed to simply await the day they, too, become part of the club - because even if you don't divorce, you'll still know enough about men to think they're generally terrible.
I get that sometimes it's fun for girls to get together to poke fun at the guys. I partake of it myself. However, I tend to limit it to slight jokes that don't actually call into question my love for my husband or my appreciation for my marriage vocation. I'll roll my eyes at some of the more ridiculous things his mind wanders off to while I'm trying to have a conversation about Honey To-Do's, but his eyes are probably rolling just the same as my eyes glaze over when he starts talking about football.
There are inherent differences between men and women. I enjoy poking fun at the stereotypes or even pinpointing some of the more ridiculous highlights that John and I play out in our marriage. I don't like the conversations that devolve into hating on ex-spouses for the sake of hating on them. Venting is one thing, but when you start bragging about how awful he was and how much better you are without him (several years AFTER the divorce), the entire conversation just comes off as pathetic.
Ah well. I hate those situations. I never know how to properly extricate myself from them.
Divorce shouldn't be something we strive for. It also shouldn't be something we accept as joyous celebrations. Again - as Dom so rightly put it, divorce is a terribly painful, life-altering act that defies the very act of God who brings forth the union of two souls.
Now this entry was not to say that all divorces were created equal. This is not delving into abusive relationships or marriages that took place when there was something fundamentally wrong with the couple. This is more about negative trash-talk than divorce itself. It's more about glorifying what is essentially a terrible thing in order to overcompensate for the desecration and destruction one feels at the hands of such a travesty.
My prayers are with all of those couples who have experienced divorce. They are with all married couples who daily struggle to take the hard road of their vocation. May we all be granted the strength to find the Will of God in our lives - and in our spouses.
I've been sitting on this post for a week now. Actually, it's been brewing for longer than a week, but last Wednesday really sparked up some irritation regarding a few divorced women I know and their overt "We're awesome because our ex-husbands are evil people" pride.
I was at a meeting that devolved into a debate over our deacon's homily the previous weekend. I'd gone to a different parish that weekend on account of being sick (I missed my normal mass by an hour), so I was all sorts of curious to know what the hullabaloo was about.
Apparently our deacon preached about the sanctity of marriage and decided to use his God-given vocation to state, unequivocally, that homosexual marriage goes against the Law of God, and that to participate in such unions is a mortal sin. He also delved into the murky area of divorce and why those who sought Communion with the Church after such civil proceedings were dealing with mortal sin. Considering so many people are unaware of this, it's important to teach these things from the pulpit every now and again (especially with divorce rates being as high as they are).
I must've had the most confused look on my face. At first I thought the person relaying the "problem" was joking.
I actually said, "So people are upset that he's speaking the truth?"
I looked over to my council-mate who gave me the same stunned look of confusion I knew I was wearing. He said, "I was there. I heard the homily. I have no idea what the problem is, either."
This was met with the response of "Deacon Strong (as henceforth I'll call him) needs to learn to be more politically correct. You don't just alienate a bunch of parishioners by throwing that stuff in their faces all the time. He didn't need to talk about marriage at all. It was pointless, and he upset a lot of people. A LOT of people."
Now, you need to understand the dynamics of the table at this point. I was sitting at the head with our pastor, a great and wonderful priest. He was relatively silent at this point since I think he was genuinely trying to understand the complaint being lodged. On one side of the table, there were a few council members who seemed to agree with the complaint being lodged against Deacon Strong. On the other side of the table were those of us who were confused that there was a complaint at all.
How strange is that? We all ended up sitting in such a way that we actually split ourselves down the middle regarding supporters and not-so-supportive supporters of Deacon Strong ('cause everyone loves Deacon Strong - just not that particular homily).
Anyway, still being completely confused, I pointed out the fact that all of the readings for that weekend were, in fact, about marriage. Of course his homily would reflect that. Of course he would want to talk about the sanctity of marriage in light of those readings. Him speaking the truth in light of the readings is not "throwing it" in anyone's face.
Plus, I've heard enough homilies between he and our pastor... that would've been the first peep I'd've heard from either of them (from the pulpit) regarding homosexuals marrying / divorcees lining up for Communion. So to accuse Deacon Strong of "throwing it" in anyone's face is absolutely LUDICROUS.
I then pointed out that we were in the middle of the 40 days for Life event that's been pushed by the Bishops. Marriage is considered the foundation for life. It is through marriage that the gift of life is supposed to be given to the world. It is through marriage that this gift can be fostered and nurtured into another vessel of love which can continue the cycle of love through marriage and subsequent children. In fact, to hit home that point, many parishes throughout the country were doing special blessings over married couples during the Mass.
So yes... again... MARRIAGE WAS THE POINT OF THE HOMILY THAT WEEKEND.
After pointing that out, the response was "Jesus didn't come to condemn anyone. We need to love everyone as God made them."
I immediately retorted with "Jesus came to DIVIDE. And He did! He said some really hard things that got a whole lot of people angry. In fact, it's why He ended up dying on a cross."
And to her credit, the woman lodging the complaint was simply trying to do her job as a council-member considering there were "lots" of people upset with the homily. I wasn't upset with her so much as the fact that people were getting this up-in-arms over something that EVERYONE KNOWS.
Catholics don't believe in homosexual marriage and we don't believe that divorce is copasetic in the Eyes of God. As this entry so clearly expresses, divorce is a painful, messy business. Homosexual unions very obviously undermine the sanctity of true marriage. These are basic truths of our faith. They shouldn't come as surprises to folks. I mean, do people feel as though the Blessed Mother's virginity is thrown in their faces every week (considering it's part of the creed and all)? So when these issues of homosexual unions or divorced Catholics come up once in a blue moon, why all of the sudden the theatrics with storming out of the church or declaring yourself an Evangelical?
You have no right to act surprised, offended or indignant that no one told you about this part of the faith.
I'm all for walking out the door when you come to terms with the fact that you don't believe in what we preach. But attempting to vilify the person who is telling you what you already know simply because he's saying it out loud and not pretending like the Church teaches something different?
No no, good friend. Methinks you're at the wrong party.
And what finally solicited this particular entry was the fact that one of the women at the meeting took this opportunity to glory in her role as a divorced Catholic.
I've heard jokes in passing on several occasions, but I typically keep my mouth completely shut when it comes to folks talking about their ex-spouses. I, like most people, I'm sure, steer clear of that topic like it is the Plague.
However, the joke was timed to coincide with the bragging of a different woman altogether. This woman is someone I speak to often. She divorced about 10 years ago and was - that very morning - bragging about how she was so glad to be rid of her husband, how much better she was doing without him, wishing him nothing but misery, and touting herself as free and able to be with who she wanted, do what she wanted, and not care one way or the other. Oh, but isn't it so great to be divorced???
She was doing this with a mutual friend of ours, another divorcee. I was in the room, and was by default assumed to be part of the conversation. I simply kept my mouth shut. Both women were gloating about their freedom and how much it sucked to be married to such terrible men. Then they turned their attention to me - silent little Gina - and I got exactly what I'd been dreading.
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