Girl Talk: After Divorce

It hit me that we girls don’t talk a lot about something that happens when we go through divorce: people we used to be friends with stop talking to us.

I have been divorced for many years, but I can still remember when, after the divorce was final, how the friends I thought I had stopped inviting me to their houses, to their parties and picnics. Friends with whom both my husband and I had shared really precious times sort of, it seemed, erased me from their lives.

It wasn’t only friends, either. It was people like the guy who had been keeping our furnace and air conditioner in shape for years. All of a sudden, when I’d call him, he wasn’t available. No matter how many times I called, he never called back.

Needless to say, some of the people in the church regarded me as a sinful woman. I was a pastor, after all. How in the world could I be trusted to preach to my people, and even more be trusted to give marital and pre-marital counseling, when obviously, I was lacking in character and in knowing how to keep a man?

I couldn’t figure it out. Some friends who were divorced stop speaking, but more, it was friends, my lady friends, who were NOT divorced whose silence and distance puzzled me. Was it because I was now viewed as a threat? Were they afraid that my failure as a wife was somehow contagious, and that they would get “the illness” if they remained close? I only ask because years after the divorce, some of those friends, all of whom are now divorced themselves, have been gingerly moving back toward me, making contact.

Seriously?

As I have listened to women over the years go through divorce, I realize that it isn’t just me; too many women have the same story, but it would be great if we women wouldn’t back away from each other at such an awful time. It’s precisely at times like that, when your life is falling apart and the ground on which you’ve always stood falls from under your feet – no, more accurately, crumbles as you stand there, that you need your sister friends most.

I ached as I read the story of how the late Elizabeth Edwards, betrayed by her husband, was so crushed by his affair that she yelled at him in public and bared her chest, which showed the scars of breast cancer. How horrible for her to feel that depth of pain! I found myself wondering if her pain was exacerbated by friends who simply disappeared as she and her husband went through their pain, oh so publicly.

I don’t know what it is about us that makes us shy away from each other in critical moments, any more than I understand why we so often stab each other in the heart and/or back when it comes to getting a mate, but I can say that, during divorce, the friend who is real is the friend who sticks with  you through it all.

A candid observation …

Truth and Hypocrisy

I weary of ignorance and bigotry.

Today, I posted on Twitter that I am angry at Kim Kardashian for making what appears to be a mockery of marriage. Only 72 days ago, she got married in this over the top wedding, spending tons and tons of money ($20 million), only to announce yesterday that she is filing for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences.”

In my post, I shared that I was angry because marriage is sacred.

That prompted a response from someone who said he was confused. You see, I support same-sex marriages. I have seen same-sex marriages with commitment so deep that is seems almost palatable. From my vantage point as a Christian minister, what is most important is the keeping of vows said before God, not the sex of the people saying the vows.

The sacredness comes in keeping a vow made to God.

I have long said that too many people want a “wedding,” but not a marriage. A “wedding” is a 20 minute to perhaps one hour event; a marriage, however, is a lifetime.

People, especially girls, want “weddings,” because we love the fairy tale spirit and aura surrounding them. We want the white dress, the long train, the veil, and, of course, the gifts. I have seen so many people, and I am talking heterosexual people, plan and participate in “weddings,” only to abandon the marriage shortly thereafter.

What bothers me is the lack of commitment and the lack of respect for God. It is not unlike people putting their hands on a Bible in a court of law and swearing to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God,” and then sit down and promptly begin lying.

It makes me sick. That blatant disregard and disrespect for God is the same thing I see when people get married and promise God that they will be with each other, and stay faithful to each other, “til death us do part.”

Please.

It feels like Kim Kardashian only had her elaborate wedding as a publicity stunt. There seems to have been no intention of staying together with her new husband “for better, for worse.” She could have, and perhaps should have, had her wedding performed by a friend with no mention of God at all.

I am not saying that all heterosexual weddings are shams; clearly, that is not the case. But what I am saying is that a vow made before God ought to be sacred. I do not think that God would condemn a same gender-loving couple who married, promised God to stay married no matter what, and actually did it any quicker than God would praise a heterosexual couple who promised to stay together and had no intention of doing it.

I think what God honors is love between people. I think God honors people who take him seriously. Same-gender loving people are condemned by people, not by God.

I refused to engage in a conversation with my social media friend. I am not going to waste valuable energy in an argument which will go nowhere.

But at the end of the day, as I think about a God who demands an obedience which leads to a deep presence of integrity, I don’t think the Kardashian wedding boded well…any more than I think that people who despise gay and lesbian people because they are gay and lesbian sit well in the divine craw. I have no way of really knowing, but I would put my money on my opinion on this one.

That would be a candid…observation.

Our Most Sacred Institution – Really?

I find myself wondering why so many people continue to say that “marriage is our most sacred institution.”

Is that a fact?

Because it seems to me that marriage, far from being sacred, is one of the most disrespected institutions, at least here in America. I would bet it’s not all that sacred in other places, either.

The whole argument for marriage gained heat, of course, as opponents of gay marriage began to lift marriage between a man and a woman as sacred, put in place by God. That’s what makes it sacred.

But when I look at marriage in this society I don’t see sacredness. Rather, I see a mockery and manipulation of the institution. Mockery because it seems that fewer and fewer people have any intention at all of being monogamous, and manipulation because people manipulate marriage for their own gain.

The sad situation involving former NFL quarterback Steve McNair and his girlfriend Sahel Kazemi got me to thinking, once again, or more accurately wondering, why anybody continues to say that marriage is sacred.

McNair was married. He had four children. And yet, he was shacking up with Kazemi, giving her lavish lifestyle that her youth could not really even appreciate. All bets are that they had a passionate relationship, full of furious and glorious sex, and that he cemented his “love” for her with money and gifts. Kazemi was smitten, and decided she wanted him for her own … but then, (and I am just surmising), McNair probably pulled out the “m” card, and declared he loved his wife.

No divorce. You were just a fling … and Kazemi probably snapped.

I wonder if she knew she wasn’t the only girlfried, according to the most recent news reports.

Then there’s Gov. Sanford, and all the other politicians who in the last few months have had their infidelity exposed. Almost every one of our so-called heroes have been unfaithful if history may be believed. Franklin Delano Roosevelt may have been beloved to scores of poor people, but to his poor wife, he was unfaithful.

So, tell me. What is sacred about marriage?

Young people want to get married in church all the time, and the first question I ask is, “why?” To be married in church, to say promises to each other before one’s God, surmises an intention to keep the promises. And maybe some people do …but it seems to me that after the wedding, the reality of being married seeps in and people forget their vows.

One person doesn’t seem to be able to satisfy the sexual appetites and the love of being in love for far too many people.

So, why get married? Joy Behar has been with her boyfriend for years. They have said no vows. Oprah Winfrey and Stedman, again, have been together, but have not said vows. It seems that for them, their relationship is sacred and special and important.

I do not think marriage is sacred. I think it should be sacred, but it is not. The idea of marriage being sacred is an ideal. If it were really sacred, infidelity would not be so rampant.

I would rather have a good relationship than a horrible marriage any day.

And that’s a candid observation.

Are Affairs No Big Thing?

I found myself a little taken aback by my thoughts about Gov. Mark Sanford’s admission of an affair.

I was kind of …non-plussed.

I mean, I felt bad for his wife and children, but I found that in terms of his having an affair, I just wasn’t angry. It’s almost like my actions were saying, “oh well, boys will be boys.”

From the time I can remember, older women would tell us younger girls that men “play around.” I remember being puzzled by it and my mother saying to me, “Susan, there are some things that just are.” I was appalled, but my mother kind of implied that it was the lay of the land, and that women learned to deal with it.

“All married women have to deal with it,” she said.

So, though I hated the thought, I grew up thinking, believing that “playing around” was just what boys and men did. As I thought more about it, I began wondering why any society or culture would insist upon monogamy if everyone knew that some people had no intention of keeping that promise.

I ached for Elizabeth Edwards and Hilary Clinton and women I know personally as their marriages caught the infidelity virus.  Because of so much infidelity, I am not sure I even believe in marriage anymore.

So, that’s where I was and am as concerns affairs. I thought it was admirable that Gov. Sanford didn’t lie about being in an affair, but I was really mad at him for another reason.

What was the deal with the lies about where he was? How dare he lie to his staff, his wife and children, leaving them all to scatter and try to figure out where he was? And when he said he’d been in Argentina to see his mistress, all the steam in my ears rolled out.

The audacity!  I found myself fuming over the selfishness of it all. How could he not care about how it was all goin to pan out? Did he think at all about his boys? I heard that he left no contingency plan in place for his state, had something happened to him. So, if something had happened that needed his attention to governor, he didn’t care anough about his office and the duties he swore to uphold?

When the United States Congress wanted to impeach Bill Clinton because of the Monica Lewinsky incident, I didn’t agree. He had shown poor judgement and questionable morals but he had not done anything illegal. He had broken his wife’s heart and disappointed his daughter, but in terms of the oath he took to uphold, protect and defend the United States of America, he hadn’t done anything wrong.

But Gov. Sanford’s situation is quite different. He left his role as governor, not saying anything to anyone. Nobody is sure if he used public funds to travel to Argentina, this last times or the times before, but it is clear that he sublimated his role and duty as governor to his sexual and romantic pursuits.

Where is the outcry? Where are the scores of people demanding his impeachment?

When I feel the passion rise about the governor reneging on his public responsibilities and duties, and feeling next to nothing about his affair, it gives me pause. Could it be that we as a society are so used to “scandals” and “affairs” that we no longer care? Are marriage and” family values”as important as we make them out to be, or are we blowing hot air?

It seems that we are on a slippery slope when it comes to marriage and affairs. In one sense, we are the harbingers of morality, and on the other hand, we let breaches of morality go too often without thinking too much about them. I find myself wondering if the majority of people who heard about the Sanford affair were enraged about it, or just sort of blase.

It would be a bad thing if for us affairs are just no big thing.

That’s a candid observation.