Living in a small space
“You are constantly in a small space with that individual… that leads to more issues within the household. “ Those are the words of Julia (not her real name), a woman whose decision to divorce her husband made the news last month.
Had it not been for the context in which this couple called it quits – divorces increasing during the coronavirus pandemic – we probably would never have heard about her. Don’t people get married precisely so they can be together more, even if it’s in a small space? Of course, you might say, in an ideal world. But in this world, not always. Especially in the context we are living in.
Julia’s need to part ways with her now ex-husband contrasts sharply with the Shulamite woman’s pursuing of King Solomon :
On my bed by night, I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him but found him not. I will rise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves. Song of Solomon 3:1-2, ESV
We can only imagine what may have happened between Julia and “that individual,” a man we know nothing about and whose side of their story is not reported in Global News’ July article1. He’s anonymous.
But we don’t necessarily need much detail about him in order to ask ourselves the questions that may help us avoid our own marriages becoming a COVID-19 casualty. Besides, the Bible is full of stories about anonymous men who help us think deeper about important life issues: the prodigal son, the blind man at the Pool of Siloam, the ten lepers, etc. So no, we don’t need to know his name or what kind of person he is, because we have just enough to start a good conversation about men and their relationships.
Let’s ask an honest question
For example, why is it that being “constantly in a small space with” some men leads to issues within the household? I know, this is way too broad of a question for anyone to be able to come up with a straight answer.
So let’s narrow it a little: How could being constantly in a small space with YOU lead to issues within YOUR household? Answering such a question requires honesty and humility — two qualities that will allow you to take a good look at yourself as a man and identify the character flaws that can harm the ones you love, the mistakes you need to own, the areas where you need to grow, the part you have in your struggling relationships, etc.
As men, we have many qualities, but they don’t make us perfect. We are humans, so of course, we have good days and bad days, ups and downs, hurrays and alases. But we want to be good, grow, perform, do more and be the best we can be. We love to win because we were made in the image of God.
But we are also well aware that our weaknesses may hinder us, and cause us to lose – whether it’s a business, a ministry or our marriage. Our relationship with our spouse is one of the most important endeavors we’ll ever invest in. And if on top of everything we must deal with constant pressures and outside circumstances that we have no control over — like a pandemic — we need hope that is outside of this world. Hope that comes from God, and that can enlighten our path even when our days are evil-dark.
There is hope!
King David said something really interesting in his 23rd Psalm:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Psalm 23:4, ESV
The valley of the shadow of death seems to be a place where people most certainly die. Nobody wants to go there, not voluntarily, at least. We’d much rather stay in the green pastures area, where things are good, where we lack nothing, where our souls are refreshed. But then, we don’t always have control over where life takes us, right? One day your relationship to your spouse is in the best space possible, and the next, it’s in a valley where many die, and then we ask ourselves, What in the world happened?!
Yes, something did happen, and you might not have seen it coming, but the truth is sometimes the best question to ask is not: What happened? But: How? How are we still alive after all we’ve been through? How are we not dead in the valley of the shadow of death?
Some situations literally or figuratively kill those who go through them. You may even have friends and relatives that went through a valley that killed their dreams, their hopes, their projects, their sanity, their love… But here you are, walking through it and maybe even complaining in the process, not realizing that death is not touching you. How are you still alive? Maybe because God has got you, preventing death from hitting your marriage with a fatal blow. Now that’s what we call hope from out of this world!
So, however hard it may be, please don’t be discouraged. Keep walking — with your spouse and all the help that is available — toward the other side of the valley, where God has prepared another place of rest for you.
Many marriages may not survive this historic pandemic, and we may have no clue what will happen next. But know that God can and will enter into our small spaces to give us hope again if we ask Him.
1 Olivia Bowden, Divorces have increased during the coronavirus pandemic and lawyers are expecting more, globalnews.ca/news/7188797/divorce-couples-coronavirus, consulted on August 7, 2020.