A close friend of mine is going through a difficult separation/divorce right now. She just called me, in tears, to tell me the "latest" thing that her husband has done. They were both at my house when I left from work today, reading the Ensign. I didn't think that was a great idea to be together, but I wasn't going to say anything.
She is so lonely and it is killing her. She has never been on her own before. She has another male friend, and while they are just friends, she has had a hard time coming back to Madison and leaving him behind. She almost returned today to him; but I'm glad she called me and told me she decided to stay in Madison.
Her husband told her that she had a choice; she could either get back together with him, or he would go and tell the bishop and anyone else concerned that she had left him for another man. Basically, he's telling her it's him, or she is going to lose her church membership, her friends, her green card...everything. I am so boiling mad right now at his gall. She says she still loves him, and told him she'd think about it. But as she told me all this the growing horror in my head shouted WARNING! WARNING! No man who loved her would treat her like this. Just to take advantage of her when things got difficult, parade around and call her and tell her he's seeing other women, and then return and ask for her back, but by threatening her. This is NOT love. This is cold manipulation and selfishness on his part. How dare he.
I remember that night in October when they came over and he had gone off his meds and willingly left the hospital. I sat there listening to him talk, and my friend was crying and begging him to return to the hospital -- for his own good. He refused to listen. I then implored with him, and I felt the spirit while doing so, for him to reconsider going back. "If you love your wife, if you love her, you will do this thing for her. She only wants you to be happy and healthy." He refused, and I was so upset. I watched her crying on the floor, and I turned to him, and pointed at her. "Look at what you have done to her, this woman you say you love! She is my best friend, and you have wounded her. You are allowing your marriage to fall apart, only because of your selfishness. Please, please don't do this to yourself or to her."
Of course he didn't listen, and I knew then and there that his will was more important than that of his wife. He wasn't even willing to compromise, as she tried to suggest an alternative so that both of them could be happy. Oh, it upset me so much to see her cry. It upset me so to see him so nonchalant, and his refusal to even pay heed to his wonderful wife. He didn't even know what he had in front of him. He had love..he had a woman who would do anything for him, and stick by him, but he refused it. He gave her up because his desires were more important.
And now he pulls this. But it gets even worse. Their bishop allowed him to go to the temple last week, yet he tells my friend that she will stand accountable before the Lord for not being willing to make her marriage work. This upset me too, because my mother heard the same thing when she was going through a divorce. Her branch president seemed to believe she was supposed to sit there through physical and emotional abuse, and possibly allow him to eventually start in on their children, all for the sake of what? Years later when my mother told me this, I read to her from a talk one of the prophets had given, and told her that she had done the right thing.
Now I can't tell my friend that...because her husband hasn't physically abused her. But emotionally he has. Plus the games he has played, and he has broken their marriage covenant. What else is she supposed to do? She doesn't want to go through this divorce. She's miserable! Everything is crashing around her; not only her relationship but her entire life. She can't even seek solace from her own ward. She has been praying and asking for guidance..and she will do what the Lord requires of her. She is scared to death of being alone, since she never has been, and she has been breaking out in hives and been really physically sick. And it seems as every day passes, something worse happens.
I wish I could do more for her. I gave her some advice that has helped me through my own trial, and it seemed to help a little. I suggested that she first of all, thank the Lord for all her blessings, and to name them each one. I also suggested that she thank the Lord for this trial, and recognize that he believes in her and has faith in her that she can get through this. Then as I continued talking, I realized I was saying things that were helping both of us deal with our own situation. The Lord does not require more from us than we are able to handle. He loves us so very much, and only wants to bless us and wants us to experience true joy. Nothing worth it is easy. Now I couldn't tell her what her future held, just like I can't be sure about my own, but I did tell her what I am sure of; through obedience to the Lord's commandments, and through exercising our faith and gratitude, we are assured of something even better. Maybe she will get back together with her husband, but it will be better than before. This trial will only strengthen their love and their determination to work together. If not, there is someone better out there for her...someone who can give her the love and the peace that she so readily deserves.
After she went upstairs, I sat there and then I started crying. I guess I have been holding a lot in, and it's been difficult. I feel so much for her, and it has helped me to put my own problems into a clearer perspective, yet I know that we are both experiencing some of the very same feelings. I'm not afraid of being alone, I have done it for 8 years and I don't mind it so much, but I'm afraid of losing my Father's promises. I'm afraid of the consequences of my own stupidities and sins. I'm afraid of the free agency of others. During my Visiting Teaching appointment today, we discussed something similar to this. My partner mentioned a profound quote she read in an interpretation of Dante by Anne Perry..."We are not punished for our sins, but rather by them." I think back to my serious sins from a few months back and I recognize the truth in this statement. I really do. I do know what it is like to feel Godly sorrow. I am grateful, though, for the experience. As I had been told long, long ago, my trials would help me to develop a deep desire to be obedient and follow the Lord's commandments. This is so true. I have made not only sacred covenants with the Lord inside of his holy temple, but I have made a personal covenant to remain pure. I now know I will succeed, because my trials have taught me well. My sorrow has taught me. I now have a testimony of this, and I know that while I will yet be tempted in the future, I will not succomb to the temptation. I didn't know this before, but now I do. I will also not allow myself to be the cause of temptation to others.
I reminded my friend that she is not being punished. She hasn't done anything wrong in her case. Despite what her bishop said, who obviously doesn't know the whole story, she is only doing what she has to do. She isn't the one who broke their covenant; he is. She must remember that.
Now she must remember it more than anything, as she tries to deal with making the right decision based on what the Lord wants her to do; not based on her loneliness or fear of the unknown. I'm glad I can be there to help in any way I can, but I only wish I could take the burden from her. It breaks my heart to see her suffering so.