Thursday, December 12, 2013

Of All the Worthless Marriage Advice.....

I've been seeing this article appearing on my Facebook feed for the last week or so.  The article didn't seem particularly interesting on its own merits, but several people who were studying to work in ministry posted it, so I figured it might have some merit.

Boy, was I wrong.  This story has no redeeming value.  Let's dive in....

Short Synopsis of Plot: This story is written in first person through the eyes of the Husband.  One day, he asks his Wife for a divorce.  The Wife wants reasons.  The Husband's only reason is that he has fallen in love with Jane.  The husband drafts a divorce agreement that night that gives the Wife the house, the car and 30% of his business.  Wife rips it up and spends the night writing her own agreement.  She will grant the Husband a divorce in 30 days if he acts normally for the next 30 days so as not to mess up their Son's exams.  Also, during that time, Husband must carry his Wife from the bedroom to the front door every day for the next 30 days.  (It's the reverse of carrying her over the threshold.).  Husband agrees.  He carries her every day.  Carrying Wife causes Husband to look at her again, appreciate how much she's given up for him, notice that she's lost a lot of weight, causes intimacy between them to grow (by the sixth day!), and causes Husband to realize that he doesn't want to divorce his wife. Son rejoices at how happy his parents are.  Husband breaks it off with Jane, buys Wife flowers at the store and brings them home.  He finds Wife dead in her bed.  She'd lost weight because of advanced cancer - which he missed because he was so busy with Jane.  Husband regurgitates saws about valuing marriage.

I'm not really sure where even to begin with this.

Everyone's marriage goes through rough bits. The married couple in this story never discuss the real problems in their marriage.  Are they bored?  The Husband seems to be, but he never talks to his wife about this.  What are they going to do to revive their relationship?  The carrying shtick will get boring too...or would have if Wife didn't die.  (Honestly, the Wife's death is an excellent example of Deus ex machina as a way to hide giant plot holes.)

The Husband is such a hackneyed portrayal of the Callous Husband that I've got nothing to add.  Self-centered jerk realizes he's a jerk and loses everything.  Rochester in "Jane Eyre" was a much better portrayal of Callousness.

The Wife is the best stereotype of the Martyred Wife that I've read in a long time.  Her husband doesn't love her any more.  She suffers cancer silently for her last weeks on Earth to spare her husband the embarrassment of being seen by society and their son as the jerk he is.  How poetic.

 The problem with this is that the Martyred Wife is as toxic to their relationship as the Callous Husband. She refuses to confront her husband's withdrawal from their marriage.  She HIDES a cancer diagnosis from him. (Seriously!?!? WTF.) She concocts a weirdly passive-aggressive ritual of dumping her out of the house...for 30 days.    She couches all of this in protecting their son rather than than working on their marriage.  Under the guise of protecting her marriage, she does NOTHING to prepare her Son for her impending death.

Wife is not a heroine; she's a manipulative self-centered jerk like the Husband.

I feel terribly sorry for the Son.  He's a pawn.  Husband and Wife don't seem to think of him at all.  Wife is worried about him doing poorly in school due to the stress of a divorce. Apparently, the stress of losing a parent to death - suddenly and with no advanced preparation - isn't much of a worry for Wife.  

Here's some real advice: 
  1. Talk.  Talk to your spouse.
  2. Get professional help.  A good therapist might have helped this couple realize that they both had deep-seated issues that need immediate help.

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