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Why do women stay?

This past weekend I was reading about Senator David Vitter and the brou ha ha concerning his sleeping with prostitutes in a brothel. It appears we have yet one more high profile person who lauds the importance of family values who is then either exposed as an adulterous, prostitute visiting, meth addicted, massaged by a homosexual, or you fill in the blank here leader. The revelations never cease to amaze me and sicken me as well.

I go through this little ritual every time they happen. I review the news report clip on You Tube or AOL, I watch Larry King Live or read the paper, and I take a look at these men's wives, and hear them talk or see them stand by their side loyally at the very least. Then I take a look at the women (or men) they committed these sins with and I go, "um, okay..............."

I know sin doesn't make sense. There is no good reason for it. But for the life of me I can't get a grasp on any reason, not even the slightest as to why these people would step out on their wives for this. I remember when Swaggart was exposed. I used to watch his preaching telecasts and truthfully I thought his wife was such a beautiful, sharp lady. I remember her perfectly coiffed hair and suits she wore that were so elegant. She was sort of the Jackie Kennedy of evangelist's wives at the time. I mean she was an elegant lady, someone you would do a double take when you saw her. And she gave so much for the ministry. I remember seeing a front cover of their ministry magazine one month in their heydey and there was a crowd of thousands, maybe millions, and Frances Swaggart was in one of her suits dressed to the nines, with her blonde hair all shiny with not a strand out of place, and she was kneeling at the edge of a stage packed with people who were surging forward for prayer at their crusade, with her hand stretched out over the crowd, praying for people. I was in bible college at the time and I really admired her. Well, a short time later when everything came crashing down, I opened the newspaper and took one look at the prostitute her husband was with. This woman looked like she was pulled out of a sewer. What was the man thinking? Was the sex with his wife really that bad? I would think he'd rather spend some extra time in the shower than go down to a brothel and pick up this more than likely disease infested or at the very least skanky looking ho. But we all know he didn't. And neither did Senator David Vitter. It makes no sense to me.

It also makes no sense to me that their wives stay with them. They give these men who are completely led around by their lower halves a second chance.

I was recently talking to a friend about another friend who is being abused by her husband. Not only has he been a cheater but he has actually taken a swing at her. From all appearances they live in a model Christian home. For years she would brag, "my husband better never take hit me! It would be his last day alive!" Or she would boast, "My bags would be packed that day." Or, "if he cheats, he's written his ticket out of here!" Here is something I've discovered - 99% of us say those things. Rare is the woman I haven't heard that from. But when it happens, these statements often end up to just be empty threats made by someone who wasn't really faced with the choice of such a tremendous loss overnight. As they say, "until it happens to you..."

My friend hit the nail on the head when she said, "when women say, 'I would never let him do that to me! I'd leave him!" what they really mean is, "i would never let your husband do that to me." When they think of your husband doing it he seems like a total scum bag and someone they could just kick to the curb without so much as a second's thought but when it happens with their husband who they've been married to and have 3 kids with, and a house and two cars, and a bank account, and someone they've shared all those years of memories and all that stuff...well, it's more than just a split second decision. All of a sudden they think, "maybe I should think twice about staying and trying to work this out."

I'm amazed at what women will put up with when it's their husband, and not someone else's. I do a lot of ministering at other churches and conferences, and pray with thousands of women. When you are a guest speaker you learn that people will tell you things they would never tell their pastor. That's a scary thought for me as a pastor, by the way! The issue is that often people are afraid of the ramifications of loss of ministry and consequences of telling their pastor. And quite truthfully pastors must take action when they hear things like this. It's only right.

Well, one time I was ministering at a conference and among the many I prayed with was a lovely woman at the altar just sobbing and wracked with grief and when I asked what was wrong she shared with me the tremendous burden she had been bearing for months. She and her husband are very faithful members of their church, serve in ministry at the church and have children and grandchildren. They live an upper middle class life with a beautiful 4,000 square foot home. They have many friends and enjoy travel and everything an upper middle class life affords. Yet one day this woman's world was shattered when she came home a little bit early from shopping with a friend, opened her bedroom door and found her husband there on the bed...having sex with a dog. No, I'm not kidding. Amazingly, she is still with him. All I could say was, WHY? She said, "First it would devastate our children and grandchildren's world. They could never ever handle the exposure of this. Second, it would cause so many ramifications in our church and I can't handle the embarrassment of people knowing. And third, I'd lose everything. I've always been a housewife. I have no income. So I leave here and what...get a little bit of alimony? For many years I have been able to have the lifestyle I currently live and enjoy. Am I to lose all this and move into a tiny apartment and struggle the rest of my days just to survive?" She had terrible fear of what leaving her husband would cause. So she stayed, knowing her husband had these horrible issues. It is unfathomable to me.

I believe that woman is a very rare case and I do believe if most women's husbands were having affairs with dogs they would be gone. But how many women stay through beatings and affairs with women or flings with prostitutes? In my opinion, way too many - yet unless you have "been there" how can you fully judge?

All I know is this - I won't make any rash statements about leaving....however...just my two cents for what it's worth...

1) The intimacy factor in my marriage is very important. A total trust is essential to be fully open to your partner spiritually, emotionally, physically. The Bible speaks in Ephesians 5 of the depth of this bond being a mystery. It's so amazing, it's not even explainable. One of the reasons it is so is because it is holy. It includes an undefiled marriage bed. (Many people think an undefiled marriage bed means you as a couple only do certain things in bed. That's not true. It means that you do not BRING ANYONE ELSE into it. You are set apart for one another...your union is unblemished because your bed is reserved for each other.) A cheater violates that beautiful facet of the relationship in such a profound way. Once that trust is broken, my fear would be that true intimacy could never really be achieved again to the degree it was, and I don't know that I'd be willing to settle for less than everything. (Refer to song by Sugarland - "Settlin") Am I willing to settle for a relationship in which I could never totally "let go" again? Probably not although I'll never say never.

2) If it happened to me and I did stay, there would be a whole lot of making up for the rest of our lives. I would never have to pay Eden Spa on Rt. 54 for a massage ever again on my birthday. I'd be getting those every single night for free without complaint or he'd be sleeping face down the rest of his life. (Actually he'd have to do that anyway...) Jewelry stores would know my husband by his first name. JC Penney's might report 4th quarter revenues that haven't been reached in the past century. Compromise would never be a word that is used in our marriage ever again - it would pretty much be my way the rest of our lives. He'd lose his voice saying, "yes, dear." He would forget who Stan Savron is because he would never watch him or Sports Beat ever again. Lifetime TV might as well be considered our default channel. Some other man would be praising God for the donation of his Callaway clubs thinking, "HOW GENEROUS!"

I might not have to say, "I'm leaving". He would probably decide on his own that his staying comes with too high a price. Forgiveness? Yes. Consequences? Yes to that too. Forgiveness doesn't mean absence of consequences. It's not a matter of revenge, it's a matter of restitution. When people commit a crime, they still pay restitution even if they find religion in jail. And such they sh0uld. Restitution is just the right thing to do. Sometimes restitution lasts longer than anyone would ever imagine. If a Christian girl gets pregant out of wedlock the baby doesn't just disappear unless she commits another sin. We all make choices and we pay the price. As my husband says, sin will take you further than you ever wanted to go, keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay, and cost you more than you ever wanted to pay. People might think, "no matter what a husband does to make it up, he never could truly make it up no matter how hard he tries." Yes, that's true, but shouldn't he spend a lifetime trying?

Leaving? I don't know.

An astrononical price tag? That is a sure bet. In fact, you can take it to the bank.


Sista Cala said…
I have had this post marked in bloglines 'keep new'. Looks like no one was willing to speak out on the post. So, I'll leave a small part of my mother's story.

My dad became an alcoholic about 6 years into their marriage. He was violent at times and verbal abuse was common. There were 3 of us children. At times we would beg her to leave him. Other times, we would say, "where's daddy going to leave? Who will take care of him?"
I guess that all added to her struggle. Many times she was asked, "why do you stay w/him?" Her standard answer; "I love him and that's got to make a difference one day." She sometimes would add stuff about how she couldn't support us alone. And she would frequently site his good points.
We had a dysfunctional family alright. But by the grace of God and the prayers of saintly grandmothers and mother- the 3 of us turned out alright. We are all grown, married, and still living for Jesus.
Why did she stay? She was convinced that her love- God's love in her, would bring change in daddy's life. Eventually it did, but it was near the end of his life. But he was saved when he took his last breath.
Was she right or wrong to live in 'hell' for almost 30 years? I don't really know, but her faith saw her through.

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