The past few weeks, my men’s group has been digging into the topic of marriage – how to have and maintain a great, Biblical marriage. It’s been difficult to attend each week because there’s not too much of the discussion I feel I have the right to take part. I am legally both a widower and single. In fact, this year, was the first year, I filed as “head of household” on my income taxes. So, for most of the discussion, I process what we discuss through a historical lens…”when” I was married. As much as it can be awkward, I hear what we are talking about; I’ve been digging into the Scriptures and into the book we’re reading, “The Meaning of Marriage” (Tim Keller). For both, I don’t feel as awkward as I do…well, hurt. No, not hurt because I am over and over again smacked with the reality of my singleness, but because over and over again I have these epiphanies of why Jaime and I struggled in several areas of our marriage. And, you know what’s been hurting the most about that? I have those epiphanies…those moments of truth making sense….those moments when everything clicks….and I have them alone. I am not able to sit next to her, look into her beautiful brown eyes and say, “I get it! And I am so sorry!”
That common expression, “the truth hurts” more than readily applies, in this case. The truth is, Jaime and I, at times, were very selfish people. I’m not talking about the things we did for one another or for others we cared for. I am speaking about those moments when we argued or when we focused on our hopes and dreams, and did so without any care besides what was best for our individual selves. It’s no secret that Jaime and I had one of the worst times in our marriage, right before her illness. For both of us, the starting point and the continuation of the conflict was about our selfishness. Both of us believed what we had done and said was right and we weren’t about to let the other person say any different. This went on for months. Thankfully, it ended in time for the two of us to apologize for the ways we had disappointed and hurt one another. I would be in a completely different place had Jaime and I not had that reconciliation and a recommitment of our love for one another.
That healing did not take place because there were tears or because the two of us were absolutely afraid of the uncertainty of what we were experiencing. Each of us looked one another in the eyes and shared how hurt we were. We addressed each hurt, each stinging disappointment, cried together, and for the first time in our marriage shared sincere apologies. Ignoring the problems, yelling about them, blaming the other person, being dramatic, and/or storing anger for future retrieval had not worked—and it never will for any of us…no matter how justified you feel. The truth does hurt. But it also heals.
“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32