I went in to see a patient yesterday I've been caring for the last few days. Normally, he has a wife and daughter right there with him, a wife who proudly announced they had been married for 61 years. He was antsy to go home, although since he is really weak from his illness he needs to get some rehab before he can. I asked him the usual questions about how he was feeling, do my doctorly thing, and then we started chatting about his life. He fought in the pacific during WWII, and then was in Korea. I talked about my own granddad who also fought in the pacific. We were have a fairly breezy conversation about his life in the military which I could tell he had loved judging by the gray "high and tight" haircut he still wore.
In the midst of our conversation, he suddenly starts talking about his wife. And how once she told him she wanted a divorce. He started to tear up as he told me that the only reason she decided not to was because he told her she couldn't have the kids. Then he told me that she had some years ago kicked him out of the bed and told him to get his own bed. I was mentally reeling from the abrupt change of tone in the conversation. I am still often surprised by what people will tell me as their doctor, and felt overwhelmed by all the emotion and hurt that suddenly came tumbling out of him.
Being married 61 years is an amazing feat, but long is obviously not the same as great. I know that every marriage has ups and downs, and that in the course of such a long time, each partner is going to do things they're ashamed of, things they will look back on 15 years or 30 years in the future and cringe. A marriage is, after all, two sinners joined together. I guess I used to think that the main goal in marriage is longevity. I personally believe that divorce, except for a few legitimate cases, is wrong. Hearing this man pour out his sorrow yesterday made me want so much more than just having a marriage that lasts.
I want a union that glorifies the God who redeems us.