“Do you know what my husband said to me yesterday? He said I needed to decide whether I wanted to be married or single.”
I almost choked on the water I was chugging down as we took a break between tennis games. Seven tennis buds and I were fighting the blistering heat to squeeze in three sets, and one of the players suddenly decided to spill.
Alana wasn’t someone I was particularly close to, but having been a tennis acquaintance for over a year, I was aware of her fiercely independent nature. I recalled a few weeks prior when she appeared for her regular tennis session rather than attending her only child’s 5th grade graduation ceremony.
“I don’t see why we have to make a big deal about something that should be normal,” Alana had said. “Besides, my son won’t even miss me – his father and grandparents are there.”
And now it appeared as though her marriage was in danger, but Alana didn’t seem at all distressed. The rest of us simply stared at her, stunned, as we silently placed ourselves on the wifely end of that ultimatum she’d been given and began to feel the devastation of loss.
A feeling that Alana apparently didn’t share.
“I won’t tolerate anyone telling me what to do. If he wants a divorce, he can have it. I’ll just get a boyfriend. Or maybe two.” Alana wiped her pretty face with a towel. Slim and athletic, she looked ten years younger her 43 years. No, she wouldn’t have any trouble getting a boyfriend. Or two.
“We’ve been married 13 years and I’ve always had a back-up plan. Separate finances, my own car. I kept my house in my name when he moved in … just in case.”
And then, while we were still absorbing this info, she hit us with the biggest zinger of all.
“I know how men are. You have to treat them like crud. Then when you’re nice to them, they wag their tails like happy little puppies.”
I felt as though someone had poured a bucket of ice water over my head.
“But don’t you care about your son?” asked one of the other tennis players. “What about him?”
“He’ll be fine,” Alana assured us – and herself. “We’ll just split him right down the middle.” With this Solomon-esque statement (although I’m pretty sure she had never read that biblical account), Alana made a cutting motion with her hand right down the center of her body.
I must say Alana’s callous attitude about her family shocked me. Especially her philosophy of marriage. I know she’s not a Christian, but what kind of relationship creed is that? You treat men like pond scum and then when you’re finally civil to them, they’re thrilled by the wonderful surprise. What???
Contrast that self-centered, “it’s all about me” attitude with what I consider the Christ-followers’ marital creed, Colossians 3:12 -13 (NIV): Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Sure, like Alana, we all get annoyed with our spouses at some time during our marriages (we just hope it only lasts hours instead of days or weeks!). What would we do without compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and especially patience when the going gets rough? Those spiritual qualities that can only come from the Lord when we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel?
As astounding as Alana’s confession was, it certainly made me think about my own marriage and renew allegiance to the creed I choose to live by.
How about you? What’s your creed?