It’s so hard to be stuck in a loveless Marriage. It’s so hard to wake up every day, day after day knowing your spouse thinks you’re not good enough. It’s so hard going through the motions to get through the day while your concentration is scattered and your attention is elsewhere. It’s so hard dreading the moment he walks through the door with the long hair that doesn’t match yours on his shirt and smelling like the other woman’s perfume. It’s so hard dreading the moment you walk through the door after a hard day at work to find the house a mess and your wife nagging about whatever it is you didn’t do right today.
It’s so hard going to bed each night to lie next to someone you can’t stand anymore. It’s so hard to lie in the darkness wondering how you made such a mistake and how you can get out of it. It’s so hard to silently, desperately lie in the darkness searching for a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card to release you from the bonds of the marital prison your trapped in.
But what’s even harder is cashing in that card because that card does’t really exist. There is no real Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card in Marriage. There is just the divorce card and, divorce costs a fortune.
Divorce costs financially in attorney fees and court documents and days missed from work. It taxes your health as blood pressure rises and statistics show married people live longer. It taxes society as schools provide emotional support for children from broken homes (yes, that means yours!) and academic support for kids who can’t concentrate and who leave homework at the mom’s house or dad’s house but never at their house. It costs your children who no longer have a safe place called home for all their stuff but have a parent who chose his own happiness over theirs, who chose to lean on their resiliency over his own.
Divorce costs your soul. You may or may not go to Hell for divorce, but Hell is real and you will be held accountable for choosing selfish actions over sacrificial ones, for turning your back on your vows.
If you think it’s hard to live in a loveless Marriage, you have felt nothing compared to what divorce will make you feel at least temporarily. Many cling to the idea that divorce is an escape, perhaps temporarily hurtful, but, in those dark moments while lying in bed next to someone you can’t stand and wishing you were with another, the idea of imposing temporary pain is justified and excused.
Their own darkness blinds them to the permanence of divorce though. It’s true. The intense, life altering, earth shattering, agonizing pain of divorce is only temporary, but scars live on and the phantom pains are triggered without warning by a song on the radio, a movie scene brought up at a party, or a family vacation.
Living in a loveless Marriage is hard. Divorce is hard. It seems there are no options, but there are!
Divorce is marital suicide, a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The intense pain of divorce is temporary, but the effects of divorce are permanent. What too many people tend to not realize when caught up in a the pain of a loveless Marriage is that loveless state can also be temporary. Just because your Marriage is loveless today and was yesterday and last year and the year before that, and seemingly for years on end, doesn’t mean it has to be loveless forever!
You have the power to change your Marriage!
What happens when you are stuck in a loveless Marriage?
On your wedding day, you promise to Love, Honor, and Cherish your spouse until death do you part, but when you struggle day after day, you remember those words that were said to you, but forget that you also said the words.
You think of all the good you do for your spouse while ignoring the bad or the thoughtless. You stop looking for ways to Love him as he needs to be Loved and make it about how you want to love. Your love is rejected and so you build a small wall around yourself against the pain and against your spouse. Eventually that wall blocks your view and all you can see is what is within – you and your needs.
Life becomes, not about the Love you have for your spouse, but about the Love you are not getting from him. You stop taking risks because you fear rejection, mockery, ridicule – and that is hard! Besides, things may not work out. They usually don’t in situations like this and what a waste of effort, how humiliating your display of love would be!
But when you made your vow, you were called to do differently. You were called to Love even in those hard times, even in the darkness when you knew there was little Hope of Love being returned. You are called to cast your net again.
Sunday’s Gospel shows Jesus approach the disciples and get into their boat to preach. When they’d heard what He’d wanted them to hear, He told them to cast their nets again.
The disciples had already had another long day of fishing with no results. They’d been out hoping to catch a bite, even working through the night, with not even a nibble to reward them. They were tired, disheveled, rejected, discouraged. They must have thought Jesus a lunatic.
Cast their nets again?
When stuck in a loveless Marriage many feel the same. I’ve tried with this person a million times, a billion times, countless numbers of times. She is just unlovable or I just don’t feel the same anymore. If I’m going to find love, I’ve got to leave and look elsewhere.
The Bible is very clear on this. Marriage is forever. You are not to look elsewhere. You are not to give up. You are not to sink into a self-satisfying misery of martyrdom by claiming things like, We are together for the children.
Your spouse is your partner, the one you vowed in front of family and friends and God to Love, Honor, and Cherish unconditionally and sacrificially. You are called to cast your net of Love around this person and around your family even when you’re certain your net will come up empty.
But casting blindly produces few results. You must first invite Jesus into your vessel and listen to what He has to say, hearing His entire message about how to Love and then trust, not in your spouse or in yourself, but in your Savior when casting your net again.
When Jesus is done with His message, He does not tell the disciples to stay where they are. He doesn’t tell them to keep close to the shore, to not take a risk, to stay where they can get away quickly if things don’t go as planned.
He tells them to go out into deep water to make the effort, to work harder even though they’ve been up all night and are exhausted. He doesn’t tell them to switch boats. He doesn’t tell them to try a new lure. He doesn’t tell them to change what they are fishing for.
Jesus simply says, go deeper and cast again.
If you are struggling in a loveless Marriage or, if all Hope seems lost and you are divorced without an annulment, you have not been given a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free-Card. Instead, you have a net of Love and are told to listen to the message of Jesus and then to go deeper and cast again and again. Eventually, with the Lord’s help, you will, in one form or another, find your net full.
You never go wrong inviting Jesus into your vessel and when acting in Love.
And for those who are divorced with an annulment and thinking of dating again, wondering if Love is worth the risk, wondering if you dare cast your net again? Only you and the Lord can answer that, but I would encourage you to first invite Jesus on board, to listen to all He has to say before sailing, to keep Him with you for the entire ride and listen to Him the entire time. By all means cast your net if He tells you to, but wait for the right waters. Do not change your bait by cheapening yourself. Do not lower the value of your haul by lowering your standards instead of patiently lowering your net.
Love is possible even in impossible situations, but you must invite Jesus to command the ride and never give up casting your net in deep waters hoping to find the fish He intends you to keep.
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