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Linda63
01-20-2004, 07:33 PM
I am a forty one year old female, and at this point of my life I find myself in a crisis of faith.
Almost seven years ago, my husband of nineteen years suffered a massive stroke. This has left him with severe brain damage. He has been institutionalized, for the past five years, and his condition degrades yearly. I visit him several times a week and sit with him. He has no reaction to my presents or touch, just a blank stare and a consistent rocking motion in the chair.
I live in England and have had no support of my family, to help me deal with this. I was able to cope with this at first, but I am now finding it much more difficult.
I would very much like to have my life back, and I know in my heart my husband would want this for me too.
I have always been a Christian. As of late I have doctors and lawyers telling me to go with my life, while my mother in-law and my minister are hanging the “for better or worse” guilt trip me. I feel in a way this stroke is taking two lives instead of one.
I want to laugh and feel alive. I miss conversations and dancing, and yes intimacy.
Does all this make me a bad Christian?
To be quite honest another man has come into my life, an old friend that I went to university with. I so look forward to our days together, when we go to lunch then walk in the park and talk and I smile and I laugh
He has been a total gentleman in understanding my situation. However he has made it clear to me that he would like to take our relationship further. I can think of nothing I would like more.
I will always look out for my husband’s interests and needs, I have no desire to abandon him. I just feel that I need so much to turn the page on this to save my life or my sanity.
My husband is a man of math and science. He thought the whole concept of god as a convenience for unanswered questions.
I am not sure I share that concept, but I feel that god is understanding and merciful.
If am to be judged for wanting happiness, that is a judgment I may well have to take.
:(
Linda

opacis magi
01-20-2004, 07:45 PM
I'm sorry to hear about your husband.

You don't want God to 'own' your life. You are here to make yourself happy.
The moment you let God take over like this, things turn bad.
If you feel you are emotionally ready to engage in another relationship, I say go for it.

Also I must say I'm not a christian, but the idea that you have to either believe in God, or you have to make yourself miserable, well, that kind of God I do not want. Live life to the fullest.

Good luck.

Voyager
01-20-2004, 08:10 PM
I cannot imagine a god worthy of your worship who would want you to destroy your happiness while not increasing your husband's. I assume from your post that you will continue to visit your husband, which he might still understand. That should not prevent you from getting support in they way best for you other times.

As a man who has been married for over 25 years I can assure you that if I were in your husband's position I would not want to prevent my wife from finding what solace she could. If your preacher objects, perhaps you can tell him that God himself should tell you directly if you are doing wrong.

My best wishes to you.

sibyl
01-20-2004, 08:45 PM
Your husband would want you to be happy, your friend wants you to be happy, and most importantly God would want you to be happy. Don't let people guilt you into a life you don't want to live.

Just because you are staying happy doesn't mean you have lost your love for your husband. I think you've made it more than clear just by having these thoughts that you love him. But ones loss shouldn't be another's.

Rashak Mani
01-20-2004, 09:59 PM
I can't figure why anyone would deny you seeking hapiness... though I do think discretion is the better part of valor. No point showing off too much your new found BF.

dangermom
01-21-2004, 06:44 AM
I am very sorry for your tragic situation. I don't pretend to understand how hard things have been for you. But I think I'm going to be the dissenting voice here.

If you are the sort of Christian who believes that God commanded people to keep sexual relations within the bounds of marriage--and it sounds like up to now you have been--then this may not be a decision you will truly feel happy with. I do believe that God wants us to be joyful, but we are also asked to be patient through trials, endure suffering, and hold out for the rewards that come from obedience to the commandments, which may not be immediate. Some of us have to be very patient indeed, and find our happiness through relationships that are not romantic. I personally do not feel that "God wants me to be happy, therefore it's OK for me to break the rules when I really don't like them" is a good argument for true happiness. I, at least, have always found that it leads to more regrets than joys.

I would advise you to give this an awful lot of thought and prayer, and perhaps to meet with your religious leader (or more than one), before you take this relationship to a place you may regret. Taking your time about a serious step like this can only be a good thing, IMO, and your friend should be understanding about that. Perhaps there are solutions you have not thought of to help you find support and friendship. And finally, I think this situation is far too complex and personal for you to take advice off a public message board. Good luck with whatever decision you make.

Meatros
01-21-2004, 07:57 AM
My beliefs aren't very similar to yours, but I'd have to say that you should move on. I wish your husband the best and I'm sorry to hear of your circumstances, but I think your husband's wishes would be for you to be happy. I know those would be my wishes if I was ever debilitated in such a manner and my wife had another chance at happiness.

You only get one shot at life and you should be happy.

Linda63
01-21-2004, 06:40 PM
I would advise you to give this an awful lot of thought and prayer, and perhaps to meet with your religious leader (or more than one), before you take this relationship to a place you may regret. Taking your time about a serious step like this can only be a good thing, IMO, and your friend should be understanding about that. Perhaps there are solutions you have not thought of to help you find support and friendship. And finally, I think this situation is far too complex and personal for you to take advice off a public message board. .

I appreciate your answer and respect your view. I have spoken to several religious leaders about my situation, and have received different responses
Some have told me god is understanding and a devoted Christian life is one that not one everyone can live, as it is extremely demanding. They told me that they give sermons every Sunday to groups of people where most of them by far, are not devoted Christians, and have no plans on becoming so. Does the church cast them out or shun them? Of course not, they are embracing Christianity, at a level that is comfortable to them.
Others are far more demanding .They tell me this man I have as a friend is a product of the devil tempting me to stray from my faith. This talk angers me greatly and makes me question my faith even more. This man ,an electrical engineer, a single parent who lost his wife in a auto accident 7 years ago, who raised two children ,put them through university?
He is kind and understanding, and to even infer that he is in league with the devil is a terrible injustice.
I think the thing that bothers me most is the more time I spend with devoted Christians the less I feel I want to be one. They are condescending, judgmental and lack perception and understanding. I spoke about this to a PHD friend of mine at the university and his reply was “devoted Christians love to suffer, it makes them feel righteous. Don’t fall into this game, no form of worship should make a person unhappy”
I am a Christian, and I will pursue my religion on a level comfortable to me, and no one else.
My husband and I talked about things like this years ago. He told me he didn’t want any life support systems and not to grieve my life away. He said he had few regrets in life and if it ended tomorrow he was satisfied.
So my problem is keeping a promise to my husband who I promised to love and obey, or keeping a promise with god of “till death do us part “
Your right this is decision for me to make, however I do thank they kind people for replying to my post. Their views are greatly appreciated.
Linda

FriarTed
01-22-2004, 12:30 AM
First off, prayers for you & your husband...

From your OP, I guess it's fair to assume your husband isn't coming out of this.
You are being as faithful as you can be, but for all practical purposes, any interaction between you both is over.

I'm a conservative Christian, VERY anti-adultery, and I really could not consider you pursuing a relationship with this friend to be adulterous. Whether or not you should is for you to decide. I don't think God will whack you for it tho. You have kept the "till death do us part" promise- alas, this death is taking longer than usual. The only thing I will urge you NOT to do is break with your faith in God/Christ, Bible reading & prayer & some form of Church-fellowship (maybe not the one you are presently attending, however).

Blessings to you.

FriarTed
01-22-2004, 12:33 AM
One more thing that I hope helps~

If your husband had also had faith in God/Christ, and your situations were reversed, would you want him to happily pursue another relationship before you physically expired? I would probably guess so & that you would consider his vows to you & God as fulfilled.

Aeschines
01-22-2004, 01:31 AM
I wish you blessings in this time of trouble. And also the happiness you long for.

I am sorry that things have turned out as they have for your husband. This must truly be painful for you.

There is no book of rules to tell you what to do, and no God will punish you for whatever you choose to do.

I believe in the law of karma: what you send out will return to you. This returning is not due to someone's having determined that you deserve it; rather, it is due to a force as natural and impersonal as gravity.

We are always free to disregard the consequences and do what we choose. But the return is inevitable. Nor can anyone say with precision precisely what actions will cause what kind of return.

But if Love is your guide, true concern for others, in general you will do what is right, and your actions will not cause you negativities. I do not think it is wrong to love more than one person. I do not think it is wrong to love this new man.

Continue to love your husband in the ways that you can; love your new friend in a way that you feel is right.

Prayer is also good: I pray to the beings of Light, Goodness, and Power. There is always someone out there listening!

emarkp
01-22-2004, 02:50 AM
Let's start with the last line:
If am to be judged for wanting happiness, that is a judgment I may well have to take.Where is the debate here? Are you asking for advice? Are you asking for a moral judgement? Are you seeking expressions of sympathy? What precisely motivated you to post here and in this forum?

At any rate, you have presented a false dichotomy--that you are either to be unhappy and taking care of your husband's needs first, or be happy and be with another man, divorcing your husband. Yet people can be happy alone, or happy serving an unresponsive spouse. Married, able-bodied people can be unhappy, etc.

I have to say that my read of your post is that you've already decided to pursue a more intimate relationship with this other man but you don't feel comfortable with that decision, so you're looking here for rationalization.

Ask yourself some questions about this:

You've described "for better or worse" as a guilt trip. Did you make a vow that included that? Or included "in sickness or in health"? How would the situation be different if your husband were simply travelling so much in the last seven years that you hadn't seen much of him? What if he were in the military? MIA? How would the situation be different if your husband were slightly more functional? What if he could hold a simple conversation? What if he were simply impotent? Paraplegic? Quadriplegic? When you were married, to whom do you believe you made your vows? To your husband? To God? To both?

Does all this make me a bad Christian?I don't think so. It sounds like the trials of life that we all must go through to one degree or another. It is what you choose to do with the cards you are dealt that makes you a good or bad Christian.

He has been a total gentleman in understanding my situation. However he has made it clear to me that he would like to take our relationship further. I can think of nothing I would like more.I'm afraid gentlemen do not become involved with married women. He is no gentleman, no matter how saintly he's acted in the past. Prior saintliness does not make it impossible for a person to err in the present.

A lot of the advice you've reported (or has been given here) which suggests you pursue a relationship with this man is from people who are not Christian or who have no respect for faith. Why would you listen to advice from them about faith?

It really sounds like you wish life were like it was before. That is a normal desire, but it can't be that way. Becoming involved with this other man now will forever leave the waters muddied--you'll never know if you were involved because you were simply seeking freedom from the burdens you're shouldering now or pursuing the kind of life you had before your husband's stroke. And you'll have to live with that uncertainty for the rest of your life. Others will also wonder about your fidelity, and you'll have to deal with that pressure. Certainly you cannot be anything other than friends with this other man while you are still married to your husband.

Deciding to remain married to your husband or not is of course up to you. I hope that if I were in your position that I would choose to take care of my wife for as long as she lived.

I believe that if your decision does not fit your Christian beliefs, you will be unable to be happy. So be sure to work the decision out in prayer and humility, and not just intellectual debate. Keep in mind that what Jesus did for us on the cross was not the easiest thing to bear either, and he didn't live out a typical life like you might have had your husband not had the stroke, but none of us could be happy if he hadn't done it.

I believe that if you continue to devote yourself to your husband and reject any other romantic entanglements, you will be able to be happy and find more meaning in your life than if you don't. Furthermore it is quite possibly the fact that you have allowed for the possibility of a romance that has caused your deepest sadness about your current situation. Hopefully you can pursue the right thing, even if it's not the convenient thing.

Linda63
01-22-2004, 07:18 AM
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Emarkp your judgmental, attitude leaves me shivering. I am sure in my heart I never what to be like that with other people, and if I thought that being a devoted Christian would do that to me, I would abandon my faith.
Your attack on a man you know nothing about, only further demeans your post.
I have been under treated for clinical depression, for the last year and since I have had the friendship and support of this man, my condition has greatly improved. I can look forward to things again and I smile every time I see him.
It is my opinion that the man I married is dead, on the chemicals that make up his body remain, and this is very tragic indeed. If he were alive and mentally intact he would chastise you to ends of the earth for your verbal nonsense.
There are many good people that answered here that find comfort and hope in the Christian faith.
But they are not radicals that have this over bearing shove it in your face, bullying way. I am sure in my heart that god cringes every time you take to the key board on his behalf.
In your post you encourage me to keep my faith, at all costs. my mental health, my happiness. In reality, your post is one that makes this decision all the easier, because I would never like to be like you.
Linda

Eveready
01-22-2004, 07:51 AM
Well it sounds like you have already made your decsion already. I hope you still have a relationship with God after this. Many people may criticize you but I would like to know this: has any of the people that are criticizing you had a diviorce for any reason? I have known many good Christians that have had a diviorce (the diviorce rate for Christians and non-Christians is the same). This seems like a good reason to get one. I hope you still go and talk with your husband from time to time.

Aldebaran
01-22-2004, 02:03 PM
Salaam Aleikum Linda63

Reading your OP I became confronted with a situation in my life that was not exactly the same as yours since no life was in immediate danger and no health was as broken as your husband's.
Yet it had the same potential to ruin our happiness and our marriage and actually did until we came to a solution.
One great difference however is that in our case we had to make a difficult choice but could come to it while keeping ourselves in line with our religion.
Despite these substantial differences I can very well imagine your situation.

They tell me this man I have as a friend is a product of the devil tempting me to stray from my faith.

Did you think about it to ask such idiots if it is the devil who inspires them to say such lunatical arrogant self-righteous things? You should try that one.

I think the thing that bothers me most is the more time I spend with devoted Christians the less I feel I want to be one. They are condescending, judgmental and lack perception and understanding. I spoke about this to a PHD friend of mine at the university and his reply was “devoted Christians love to suffer, it makes them feel righteous. Don’t fall into this game, no form of worship should make a person unhappy”

I think you should make here a distinction between "devote Christians" who practice the teachings of Jesus and "devote" Christians who are convinced that they are God's Chosen Ones to judge people in God's place.
There definitely exists a type of Christians who "love to suffer" because they are educated in a religion of guilt - sorry about this :) - which is based on the suffering of Jesus who "had to die for their sins".
It is inevitable that among the people who mirror themselves as this example, there are a lot who feel that they always come short in "paying off" for this sacrifice. Thus they find suffering almost an obligation (you see the same behaviour in the glorification of poverty as a way to heaven).

Life is the clearest example we can get of the magic of God's creation. It is not a gift of God to make you or anyone else suffer. Whomever claims the opposite is in my view a masochist and commits blasphemy at that. (sorry about that too :) Muslim speaking here)

So my problem is keeping a promise to my husband who I promised to love and obey, or keeping a promise with god of “till death do us part “

When reading your posts..... I think you give enough proof that you love him "till death do us part". Thus I don't see why you would have a problem with the above.

From your description of your husband's condition it is not clear if he is aware of your visits or not. But even if so he shall not witness you in any encounter or situation with the other man, which could hurt him. Or not. All depends on how he perceives such a situation.
My guess is that you won't do your husband harm and you won't do something wrong in the eyes of God. Since your only "crime" would be to make an other man happy with your love and give him the occasion to make you happy with his.

For a Christian who has been teached that God is love, how can such a thing be a sin?


Salaam. A

Super Gnat
01-22-2004, 09:56 PM
It doesn't seem like you trust God to take care of you.

Joe Random
01-23-2004, 12:27 AM
It doesn't seem like you trust God to take care of you.I'm an agnostic/atheist, so I'm not speaking from personal experience here, but...

Should "[trusting] God to take care of you" be limited to waiting for a miracle? Wouldn't it be feasible that God "arranged" for her to meet this gentleman, and that this is His way of taking care of her?

I wouldn't suspect that many Christians (other than a few radical sects) would shun all medical attention on the grounds that they were "trusting God to take care of them". There comes a point where you have to take care of yourself instead of waiting passively for God to intervene.

Flash-57
01-23-2004, 02:14 AM
Linda,

As others have said, it is obvious that you have already made your decision. But, unlike most of those folks, I will not say that you have madean incorrect choice. You have been put in an awful situation and have endured more than any one person should have to.

I say that you should still respect your husband, visiting from time to time, but move on with your life. I'm sure he would have wanted it that way. Those so-called Christians that tell you that you are bad for doing this are dead wrong. If they insist on being that way, drop them as friends.

PS, though. Be sure that you have completely sorted out all your emotions. For example, what will you do if he suddenly recovers after you become serious with this other guy? How will you handle your husband's actual death?

Best wishes.

emarkp
01-23-2004, 03:16 AM
Emarkp your judgmental, attitude leaves me shivering. I am sure in my heart I never what to be like that with other people, and if I thought that being a devoted Christian would do that to me, I would abandon my faith.

Your attack on a man you know nothing about, only further demeans your post.So if my so-called attack further demeans my post, which part was judgemental? Most of my post was questions, which I think you should sincerely ask yourself but I didn't presume to dicate the "right" answers. Keep in mind you posted in a forum called "Great Debates". You posed a moral dilemma, and really should expect people to make moral judgements and challenge some of your statements. I really can't tell what you're objecting to. What precisely was so judgemental of me? Was it my not calling you a bad Christian because of your desires? Was it my pointing out the false dichotomy? Was it my expressing my beliefs about the consequences of your decision? Please elaborate.

As for the man in question, I am sorry if it sounds harsh, but one cannot call one a gentleman if the man in question makes ungentlemanly advances. Telling a married woman he has nonplatonic interest in her is ungentlemanly, period. Especially when she is wrestling with what her role as a wife should be (including whether she should continue being a wife).

(Also, regarding the last sentence of my post, I realized after posting it that it read harsher than I intended, and wanted to add that "Hopefully you can pursue the right thing, even if it's not the convenient thing" should have read "Hopefully you can pursue the right thing, even if it's the difficult thing". Unfortunately, the board chose that moment to stop working and I went to bed.)

Note that my opinion on this is not primarily motivated by religion. Hence if you want to blame something for a disagreeable analysis, you'll have to pick something other than Christianity.

It is my opinion that the man I married is dead, on the chemicals that make up his body remain, and this is very tragic indeed. If he were alive and mentally intact he would chastise you to ends of the earth for your verbal nonsense.I don't believe you really believe this, or else I don't know why you'd be so ambivalent.

There are many good people that answered here that find comfort and hope in the Christian faith.I counted one who clearly identified himself as such, so I don't know how you found many. Here's what I did read (before posting): opacis magi: I must say I'm not a christian Voyager: I cannot imagine a god worthy of your worship... dangermom: [no statement about her religion, but I know she's a devoted Christian because I'm married to her] Meatros: My beliefs aren't very similar to yours, but I'd have to say that you should move on. FriarTed: I'm a conservative Christian [the only person who identified himself as Christian] Aeschines: Prayer is also good: I pray to the beings of Light, Goodness, and Power. Plus your Ph.D. friend who doesn't seem to think too highly of Christians.

But they are not radicals that have this over bearing shove it in your face, bullying way. I am sure in my heart that god cringes every time you take to the key board on his behalf.

In your post you encourage me to keep my faith, at all costs. my mental health, my happiness. In reality, your post is one that makes this decision all the easier, because I would never like to be like you.Do you not think it a tad hypocritical to refer to criticize me for being judgemental and then posting this?

I did not state that you should keep your faith even if it costs your happiness. My point is that I believe your best chance at happiness is to rededicate yourself to your faith and your husband. My point is that you can find happiness and hold to your faith at the same time, but if you pursue what you believe will make you happy at the cost of your faith, you will find only doubt and unhappiness.

On preview, I'm not the only one who thinks you've already made your decision. It appears that your post may have been at least partially motivated to either solicit responses that say you're okay to take up a relationship with this other man, or find a reason to be offended by a comment and hence reject your faith and the requirements you feel becaue of it. I hope that's not the case, because I've seen too many people descend into bitterness (and hence destroy their happiness) because of a similar attitude.

Flash-57
01-23-2004, 11:59 AM
My point is that I believe your best chance at happiness is to rededicate yourself to your faith and your husband.


It sounds like Linda has already tried quite hard at keeping her faith and her happiness. It just doesn't sound like it is working for her.


if you pursue what you believe will make you happy at the cost of your faith, you will find only doubt and unhappiness.


She is already filled with plenty of doubts and unhappiness caused by following her faith to the letter. Why you would encourage her to continue with the doubts and unhappiness is beyond me.

Sometimes you need to wake up and smell the coffee, emarkp. Linda has dedicated 5 years of her life to trying to resolve the situation the traditional, religious way and it is just not working for her. She definitely needs to try something else. If she comes back to the faith in two years, or five years, or ten, she'll be much stronger for the experience.

Linda63
01-23-2004, 12:52 PM
Thank you all for your advice and observations, it has been very helpful. I spoke with a new minister today, for almost two hours. He is much more understanding of my situation, and helped me understand that relationships with god are different things to different people.
He told me problems like mine are occurring, on a more frequent basis, due to modern medicine. He hugged me and told me that the fact that I will not abandon my husband fulfills my “till death due us part” vow. I was told not to abandon my faith in god, but to pursue my happiness. After all the Christian faith is one that is meant to bring joy to ones heart, not sadness.
I am sorry if my post was seen as confusing, or pointless to some, but most here understood what I was talking about and I appreciate their input. I didn’t want anyone to solve this for me, just their observations.
Emarkp I apologize for calling you a radical, you are entitled to your opinion ,as I am entitled to disagree. I will say your hard line inflexible views represent a small percentage of the views here and the views of the people in my church. That of course is fine, you are embracing Christianity at a level comfortable to you, I wish you all the best.
Once again thanks to all ,, I am going to my new church this Sunday , and this Sat night I am going dancing ,, and now I must go shopping ,,for the first time in years I am happy ,I almost forgot what smiling felt like.
Bye thanks and god bless Linda