It could have been any day at my CPA firm. It could have been any divorce client. Today it was Suzie. Yesterday it was John. Tomorrow, who knows? The reason always seems to be the same: "We grew apart." And with those words, the death of a marriage is pronounced.
While my job as a forensic CPA for divorce litigation is to give an account of the marital estate, I cannot help but look past the numbers for the cause of the marriage's death. I cannot help but mourn the devastation left by this epidemic that has killed half the marriages in this country.
As I look into Suzie's eyes, I sense that she has long passed the mourning stage. The light of love that must have glowed brightly at the altar has been extinguished. Whatever injustices she has suffered or believes she has suffered have been enough. What is left in my office is a woman who is hoping for a better day.
Beyond my office walls begins the slow and torturous dismemberment of another family. Suzie's husband answers the door. A nameless man asks, "Are you Joe ________?" When he nods his head, the bearer hands him the papers confirming the marriage's prognosis of death that can no longer be ignored. The door shuts with an air of finality that replays in an endless loop in his mind. He falls to the ground, asking God how he could let this happen. Joe is helpless to undo what has started. Will Joe be looking forward to a better day?
Beyond my walls are Suzie's children, who are becoming the subjects of a parenting plan that may ultimately be decided by a judge who will never meet the children. Questions of where the children will live and spend their Christmases and weekends will become battleground. They will be required to live in two homes and possibly with strangers their mom and dad will date or marry. Will the children be looking forward to a better day?
The scariest part is that, left to ourselves, any of us, at a low a point in our marriages, could be Suzie. I doubt any us have not, at some moment in time (secretly or admittedly), found ourselves staring at our spouses, wondering why on earth we ever agreed to spend our lives with them. When tough times come, what will keep us from converting that thought to the action of giving up? What steps can we take to avoid becoming like Suzie?
Understanding the Garden
Before we can learn how to avoid becoming a Suzie, we must first understand what's wrong with the idea "We grew apart." Are we plants? No. In marriage, we agree to be gardeners. The plant is love, which, when tended, bears fruit. When we marry, we vow to tend the garden … to love, honor, cherish … remember? To have a healthy, beautiful garden, we must fertilize and water continuously. We must be alert for weeds and eradicate them early, before they choke out the love.