Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ultimatums II

We went to counseling today. Earlier I had gone home, talked with her, told her I had three options for her.

Option 1: Return to our marriage. NEVER speak to this other man again. Quit your job. Dedicate yourself to letting the past go and building on a future together which is to last at least another 26 years, not until some shorter goal such as getting the kids out. NO MORE speaking harshly to our children. I consider what happened last night abuse and will not permit it. Try to love Jeremiah, and if you fail in that, at least convince him you do. Go to counseling. With me for our marriage, and alone to work through your own demons. Find the excitement in me as a man, honor and respect, and even fun, in and out of the bedroom.

Option 2: Divorce. We'll tally up our debts, compare them to our assets, and I will do what I can to keep the house. Make payments to you, pay the debts myself, whatever. I will finish raising the children. We may work out visitations, but the task is mine. I love these children. I will protect them from anything, including you. You will have your own life, I will work to rebuild ours.

Option 3: A separation until Jeremiah's legal issues are resolved and then a divorce. I will treat the separation as a divorce. Remove my wedding ring, separate you from the house. You will not be able to come and go as you please. You may not come over and play "mommy" to them. I do not trust you with them. Your statements to Jeremiah were abusive and will not happen again. Your statements about not sure if you believe in God to Isaac shakes his faith. I am the head of their spiritual development. You may hold whatever opinion you wish, but you will not assist them in questioning their faith. You may continue on my health plan for as long as the separation holds (J's legal issues are resolved) but if you need anything beyond that, sorry, but we will be going through a divorce and you will have to solve that on your own.

During the session Brenda confessed her unfaithfulness, her breaking of our agreement, her leaving, her returning, and the harsh things she said to Jeremiah last night.

The counselor talked to Brenda about her alcoholism, how she makes bad decisions because of it, even when she isn’t drinking. Even when she hadn’t been drinking for years, a “white knuckle alcoholic,” he said.

He asked me what I wanted to do. I read him the three options I have written here.

I told him I wanted the first option. He said that Brenda could not keep to that agreement. That she would stray, that we would be back in the same situation again. He said he could just about guarantee that she would break the agreement.

I felt pretty trapped.

“So, I must choose one of the other options? I don’t want to end our marriage. I want to help her, heal her. If she cannot keep to the choice of healing our marriage then I must go with one of the other choices.”

“There are other options, Will. Those are either-or options you have painted and your marriage will not survive any of them.”

I started to get a little ticked.

“So, what are you suggesting? That she and I go on living with her running off whenever she feels like it? I won’t do it. I can’t do it. I’m coming apart as it is. I’m not eating, I’m not sleeping. I won’t last much longer this way. I need to take care of myself I won’t be any good for my kids!”

“There are other ways to see this, other ways to help her heal and perhaps get what you want as well.”

He permitted a dramatic pause. I bit:

“So. Let’s see this rabbit of yours.”

“You can see Brenda as having an illness. That she cannot make good decisions in this condition. She is an alcoholic and whether or not she is drinking she makes choices based on it. You could have another sort of separation.”

“So, she moves in with him? We stay married and she runs off to ‘get well’ and does what she likes?”

“No, she gets treatment and finds some neutral place to stay. With relatives or something. Imagine she is in a hospital bed, unable to make choices right now. She is ill and needs healing.”

We all stopped talking for a few moments.

“I will stay,” she said. I’ll stop seeing John and I’ll quit my job.”

All of us exchanged glances.

“I’ll stay home, and I’ll quit my job, and I’ll get treatment.”

We spoke for a bit longer. Worked out some details.


Option 4: She breaks off all contact with this other man. She quits her job. She goes in for a psychological evaluation and they determine a real treatment, not just AA but a real treatment for the underlying causes behind her decision making and her alcoholism. We continue to go to counseling. I go to counseling. I give her space. I do not push her to be affectionate or pretend to be my loving wife. She stays here, in our home, and I back off, letting her work through her issues. I will try to find opportunities for her to get away for a day or two at a time, stay with a friend, perhaps someone fro our church or something, so she can have a little peace to sort through things.

I suppose it is better than the choices I gave her.

I suppose it gives me a little room to relax, this added distance between her and this other man, and it works on the underlying issues.

It isn’t all rainbows and fluttering blue birds, but it provides a better hedge around her than my plan and it provides her guidance for healing.

I’m not saying I am overjoyed with the situation. I am saying it is a place where I can see room for the Lord to work and perhaps heal what is broken in this home.

My gratitude to all of you for your prayers.


MMM said...

oh, DAMN this sucks.

option 4?

not sure. i can certainly relate to 1 though 3.

i will keep my vigil.

Ame said...

You have an excellent counselor, Will. Follow his wisdom. I know it's hard ... you feel like you've been pulled all you can be, then he comes up with another way for you to be pulled. I would get so exasperated with my counselor. But, in the end, I cannot be more grateful he worked me sooo hard. I have needed that with all that I've had to face as a divorced mom with my girls ... REALLY needed it.

God gives us sooo many opportunities to turn to Him; your counselor sounds like he knows this about God ... and like he knows what divorce really is.

bjk said...

The point of the journey is to want what God want MORE than anything....Larry Crabb


Judas Hate said...

The above, combined.

Praying, loving, wishing, hoping.


Amrita said...

If you are going in for Option number One then following your counsellor 's advice would be good. I feel so sad for Brenda. She needs help and healing, she needs to submit herself to God.Pray that something may touch her so deeply that she may break down at the foot of the cross.She is just resisting God.

May God break the stronghold of alchoholism in her life. She needs help in this area too.

Pray that she may not unload her bitterness on the boys, it will damage them.

Its a very serious situation Will.Hope you have people from church and friends to help you through this.In India family and friends would rally around.You need a lot of moral, spiritual and physical support.