If I had $1 for every time my mother said to me, “I know he’s your father but…” and then proceeded to share with me very intimate details of their lives and their marriage and of my father to me, I’d be a very, very wealthy woman today. I first asked her to stop when I was a teen, she ignored me. I asked again in my early twenties, she ignored me. And even after she divorced my father when I got back from honeymoon, and she had now remarried, she still continued to slate him. Until eventually my husband stepped in and said enough. Only then did she listen.
The sad thing is I grew up with this very negative view of my father, and when they got divorced, I got to know a very kind, down to earth man. His only problem was that he was just a man – I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, but he was just human. He wasn’t the monster I was led to believe my entire life.
And the result: as Sarah K says, I am now closer to my dad than my mom. I can’t be close to her – I can’t trust her. Not only did she promptly divorce my father after I came back from honeymoon, but realising that all the years I believed badly about him were based on lies and selfish perception, means I can’t be close to her (for example she used to tell everyone he was a raging alcoholic – strange how I never, ever saw him drunk or drinking to the point of getting drunk). And it is sad, because I think every daughter should have a mother they can rely on and be close to when they have children of their own.
I have never bad mouthed my husband in front of Baby Girl – and I pray that I never will. Whatever issues I may or may not have with him are issues for me to deal with. And I hope and pray for the strength to always remain true to that.
This was a comment I posted on Sheila Wray Gregoire’s post about not using your kids as an emotional outlet. And as I was thinking about this, I realised that honouring your marriage goes up and down: you honour your marriage before God, and you respect your husband because God commands us to. You love your spouse to the best of your ability and you live a Godly marriage to the best of your ability because this is what God has commanded us to do. It doesn’t matter what your spouse does – you are not responsible for them. You are responsible for you.
But, honour also goes sideways. You honour your husband and your marriage, because no matter how bad things are – you want to have that good marriage. And badmouthing, and disrespecting your husband, and whatever else you may want to do, is not going to get you that good marriage. And then, one day, you will be held accountable for your thoughts and deeds on this earth.
And finally, you honour your marriage before your children. And this is the crux of my message today: I have lived this. I had my poor dad bad-mouthed in front of me at every possible opportunity. He was not a perfect man, by any means, he can be grumpy and selfish, and self-absorbed. But, he is just a man. He definitely was not the monster I was led to believe.
And what my mother did was to rob me of any opportunity of having a relationship with him, of trusting him, of letting him let me down – because of what he had done… Instead he let me know because of what she said – he didn’t even get the chance to do anything.
You see, at the end of the day, no matter what was going on between the two of them, it wasn’t my place to know the detail thereof. He was never abusive, drunk, squandered money, gambled, or anything like that. The details of their marriage should have remained between the two of them, for them to sort out. But, I became my mother’s confidante, her best friend, her companion – all from as little as I can remember. She would hate to sleep in the same bed as my dad and so she used to come sleep with me. No matter how I asked her to stop. Don’t get me wrong, nothing untoward ever happened, it was just completely inappropriate. I was put in a position of replacing my dad for her, when I should’ve just been a little child – playing with dolls, and building forts.
I grew up too quickly.
And through no fault of my own.
So, honour your marriage – to God because God commands you to, and to your children, because anything less will damage them and your relationship with them, and their future relationships, for the rest of their lives.
Your children didn’t ask to be born, and they didn’t ask to be born into a tough marriage – and I know its hard – but find a counsellor, a trusted friend, a pastor that you can talk to. Save your children from years of heartache.
Honour your marriage.