When you make a vow to be with another person for as long as you both shall live, you are vowing to be alive in your marriage. To do otherwise is to squander God’s most precious gifts – life and time.
– Dr. Robin L. Smith
A different kind of death
Every day, two people stand in the sacredness of their love and pledge to be together ’til death do us part. If you are like the majority of us, you tend to only consider the literal meaning of this vow – the physical death which will sever the bonds of matrimony between bride and groom.
But the shocking reality is, many couples remain married long after their death. They are the “married, walking dead.” You see, the death they have experienced is a spiritual rather than a physical one.
This spiritual death occurs when a person chooses to remain in an unhappy, loveless (and often) abusive marriage. Ironically, these individuals believe they are honoring their vow to be with their spouse for as long as they both shall live, but their spirit and soul have already perished.
Unfortunately, I’ve observed far too many people who are becoming members of the walking dead because their relationship is killing the very essence of who they are.
If you look and listen closely enough, you will notice the signs: an ever-ready smile which is not reflected in the eyes. The slight hint of regret and disdain heard in the voice when they speak of their spouse. The resignation expressed when deciding not to pursue their hopes and dreams because their partner has convinced them to “face reality.”
Of course, the question has been often raised as to why people choose to remain in miserable marriages. But maybe a better question should be, why do people decide to enter into unhealthy relationships to begin with?
Why does a man select a woman who emasculates and belittles him at every opportunity? Why would a woman not pack her bags the very first time she is mentally, verbally or physically abused?
My personal feeling is somewhere along the way, self-esteem has been severely damaged. This is the only reason which can fully explain why anyone would choose a lifetime of suffering.
The violated marriage contract
When a person checks out of his relationship by being emotionally absent or abusive, he has already violated his marriage contract. Remaining in such a union will result in you losing yourself, and very possibly your life as well.
Let me take a moment to explain that I am not anti-marriage. I am just opposed to needless suffering. Ask yourself this question – at the end, do you want your headstone to read, “here lies Jill. She sure hung in there with Jack to the bitter end?!”
Finally, the truth is abuse and suffering do not equal love. It never has, never will. If your relationship is killing your spirit, you need to decide if you are going to choose self-love and preservation, or a lifetime of misery.
My deepest hope is that you will choose the former. Anything less would be a tragic waste.