I am estranged from my new husband. Our arguments (pre-wedding, honeymoon and marriage) escalated to abuse. He smokes pot all day, is addicted to porn, is irrational when upset and lacks spiritual faith. I question if I was ever in love. He loved my child and supported us (with illegally earned cash). He calls constantly, crying to see me. I am happier alone, but my son misses him. I am afraid to make the wrong choice. I have a history of troubled relationships, so I wonder if I brought this on myself. We filed for divorce but have not signed. Am I bound to this marriage because I said vows under God?
Oh, sweetie! You’ve picked an interesting moment to be afraid of upsetting God. Did the desire to please God go underground while you and your husband were courting, engaged and planning the big fiesta? Perhaps your need to please yourself by getting married at any cost overpowered the warnings? Drugs and porn and abuse! Oh my! No shared values! Ay ay ay!
In most fairy tales, the characters are transformed before they set up household. Marriage is only a happily-ever-after enterprise if you have realistic expectations (much lower than the culture sets you up for) and if you do internal work through therapy to release unhealthy behavior patterns. If you have a history of troubled relationships, you owe it to God, yourself, your child, your family and the planet to get help. The wrong choice is the one that perpetuates unhealthy patterns. After all, do you want your son to be like your husband?
With faith, perseverance and support from friends and therapists, anyone who wants to change does. If you both choose marriage, then live separately but stay committed to your vows while healing. That means it’s Al-Anon and Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE) for you, and Narcotics Anonymous plus Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous for him. Also, go to therapy individually and as a couple. Find a church where you both feel welcome. Volunteer there for service projects. Nurture a circle of friends who tell the truth, even if it hurts your feelings.
If you end the marriage, these steps still apply. You reveal love of God by being a woman of integrity, peace, justice, compassion and service.
Let me respond to the lady planning a move to the South or the Bible Belt to find a single, Christian black man [”Should I stay, or should I go?” SN&R Ask Joey, June 10]. I just had two years of hell after leaving here for the same reason. There is a stigma associated with being a Californian in the South. My situation improved slightly when I revived my childhood “New Ahlins” drawl. I lived in Tennessee and Louisiana and stayed for a time in Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas. Tennessee still has segregated neighborhoods and schools. Louisiana’s rule is unspoken: “You stay on that side of town; we’ll stay on this side.” Plus, bureaucracy is terrible, and the hypocrisy of the Christian Church is the worst I have seen. The South sucks if you are accustomed to being treated as a person. In California, people are rude because that’s their personality, not because you are black or white or female. Finding a good Christian man is difficult in the South because older unmarried women are considered outcasts. Please tell “Should I go” to stay.
A friend who had not seen that column just told me of her plan to move to the South to find a man. Frankly, I have considered moving, too. Now I wonder: Are we raising boys so that they are attracted to becoming men whose lives are steered by values centered in God? If not, all who are single and searching must adopt a greater responsibility to shape future generations.