What to Do When "For Worse" Means Mental Trauma
- Monday, July 16, 2012
Waiting on resolution was not easy, and we made significant changes to make things work. Honestly, I still get frustrated with Mindy’s limitations. Right or wrong, I feel like because she is limited, I am limited. And I don't like being limited. But of course, man rejecting limits was the precursor to a fallen world (see Genesis 3:1-7). And on a broader level, until we can admit that not only are we limited, but spiritually broken, we will not allow ourselves to experience Grace.
Was divorce an option?
One year after Mindy’s accident, we visited her neurologist, and he mentioned a shocking statistic: over 80 percent of marriages where a spouse has a head injury end in divorce. Although a few people asked how I was able to live with Mindy during our situation, I never considered leaving her. She had a similarly debilitating condition the first time I attempted a PhD, and my academic advisor suggested divorce, but I didn’t take that advice seriously then either.
My fidelity was not because of my superior character. I suspect some of my commitment was due to growing up in a single-parent home and knowing: a) I did not want that for my children, b) Mindy couldn’t take care of herself if I left, and c) in spite of her personality changes, excessive sleeping, and often glassy-eyed stares, there were still moments when I could connect with the person I married. After a year, I looked into her eyes one day and could see that she was “back.” We still have struggles related to her injury, but at least I can interact with Mindy again. Not being able to interact with the woman I pursued, dated, and married was the hardest part of her injury. It's also the most hopeful part of her recovery.
So all this talk about vows implies a question: when is divorce an option? I don’t have an easy answer. The Bible’s commentary on divorce basically goes like this: divorce is bad (cf.Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Malachi 2:16; Matthew 19:1-12; 1 Corinthians 7:10), yet it is allowed, sometimes (Matthew 5:31-32; 1 Corinthians 7:15).
That was a gross oversimplification that lacked nuance, but it was also an accurate summary.
I know divorce is bad. I grew up in a divorced home. I've seen what it does to everyone involved. I've spoken at single-parent events, and I have listened to their stories (by the way, there is never a "pretty" single-parent story). So just because things are bad does not mean divorce is a good option.
Interestingly, the Bible contains a few examples of "bad" marriages. Personal fulfillment does not seem to be the goal of a biblical marriage. Consider Hosea who stayed faithful to a faithless prostitute. And of course, there’s Christ’s command and example: love the unlovable/love your enemy (especially as observed in Romans 5:8).
So does that mean divorce is never an option? Again, the Bible makes allowances for divorce, but it is never the ideal. We live in a broken world, and that world includes broken marriages. Personally, I’d advise a person whose physical safety is at risk to get out of the relationship. If your spouse “goes crazy” and decides to leave, well, there is not much you can do about that either.
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