Demise Of A Marriage: A True Story - Chapter 2 Part 3 Lost And Found

Posted at 01:20am on 26th November 2009

Catch up with the story so far in Part 1:1 The Inner Yearning. It will be posted, in parts, two or three times a week, with a link from one to the other. For a free prompt to follow the story to its conclusion click the Subscribe button on the right.

SCHISM

During the months that followed my second visit to hear Billy Graham, my faith deepened and widened as I became more aware of God in my life. At the same time, I came to a better understanding of what my commitment meant. I’d been supplied with plenty of reading material at the rally, and I was filled with excitement: astonished to find what clarity I was now able to bring to my grasp of the bigger picture of life; amazed to think of the depths of ignorance in which I’d previously existed.

It was not all positive, however. Whilst it would be wrong to say that my new faith introduced an element of schism into my life with James, it certainly brought to the fore the existing double standards by which we lived as a couple.

CHURCH LIFE

On the one hand, I became more involved in church life. The services at St Mark’s were a revelation to me. Traditional worship took place each Sunday, for those who wanted it, but preceding this, at ten o’clock, there was a Family Service, geared to the needs of parents and children.

The simplicity and liveliness of the format was in stark contrast with the Convent Mass of my schooldays. At St Mark's we sang choruses with joy and gusto; sermons gave way to simple talks with visual aids; the atmosphere was welcoming and informal. All Charles’ sermons seemed to be relevant to my own life, and I often wondered, uncomfortably, if he were the proverbial fly on the wall in my home.

Young Wives meetings, alternating between spiritual and secular issues, gave another new dimension to my life. I was asked to give my testimony, to share with fellow members the details of how God had led me, and drawn me to himself.

LACK OF CONFIDENCE

Despite having occasionally performed in amateur dramatics at school, I found the experience quite daunting. Hanging onto a chair for support throughout this – my first taste of unscripted public-speaking – I found my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth, and wondered at what point my knees had turned to jelly, and why the Lord had not given me stronger joints?

It was to be a problem for years to come. Even when, as secretary of the Young Wives, I had to open the meeting and introduce speakers, my shaking knees proved uncontrollable. And as regular church Bible studies and open prayer led me into new friendships, it was only shyness and lack of confidence which prevented my deepening them.

AN ALCOHOL-FUELLED CONFIDENCE

On the other hand, the life James and I lived as a couple continued in much the same way as before my conversion. We were still in our early twenties and many of our friends were not yet married. There was always a party, somewhere, a dance or a function to attend and, once there, we all consumed vast quantities of alcohol. Although unable, after my pregnancies, to tolerate even the smell of spirits, I still drank wine. A glass or two was all that was needed for my inhibitions to be loosened and my lack of confidence concealed.

It was alcohol, after all, that had brought me into James’ orbit! This slightly inebriated Megan was the one he’d found worthy of his notice. So if an alcohol-induced gaiety was what would keep me there, then so be it. The truth was that I was desperately afraid that without this prop, he would find me a ‘kill-joy’. And any loss of regard he might have for me was not to be contemplated. Even as a Christian, I found this a sacrifice too far!

I was aware of the hypocrisy. And it was largely for this reason that I resisted intimacy and openness with my new friends at church, believing that they would be shocked were they to see how we lived. But this double life took its toll on my inner resources! I understood the need to put God first in my life if I was to grow as a Christian. But I was still too enamoured of James and the excitement he offered to displace him as the centre of my universe. It was, I convinced myself, best for all concerned if I were to keep a foot in either camp.

We were two sides of a coin: he the play-boy extrovert in need of an audience; I the introvert in need of a celebrity on whom to lavish my adoration.

MARRIAGE: TETHER? OR TOGETHER?

Never quite at ease with women, at all social events James made a beeline for his men friends. Often, when we’d been out for an evening, we would return home having exchanged no more than a few words together. Hurt and humiliated, but unable to overcome my shyness, I stuck, like a limpet, to his side. Despite resolutions to the contrary, my petulance invariably spilled out.

“What’s the point of going to a party together and ignoring one another all evening?” I demanded on the return journey home.

“What’s the point of going to a party and spending the whole evening with your wife?” James countered. “You might as well stay at home.”

With only my parents’ marriage on which to base my definitions of love, this reasoning was beyond my comprehension. Though each had their own hobbies and interests, my mum and dad preferred one another’s company to that of anyone else. Even the household chores were shared in order that they would have more time together.

“Who better to spend an evening with when you’re so rarely at home,” I retorted.

Fuelled with alcohol, I began to flirt, though not in the outrageous way of my teens. At least some men seemed to enjoy my company, I told myself, in an effort to soothe my wounded pride. At least someone found me desirable enough to ask me for a dance!

James appeared to be indifferent. If it was jealousy I’d hoped to provoke in him, I was sadly disappointed. I began to doubt that he even noticed my behaviour. Having ignored me all evening, he would be as amorous as ever in the bedroom. Hungry for love and affection, I found his charms irresistible. At the same time, I began to feel used. Despising myself for being so clinging, so dependent, I was constantly in need of reassurance.

“Do you love me?” I demanded, plaintively.

“Sometimes,” came the reply.

What was lacking in me, I wondered, that it could not be a simple “yes”?

Now read on: Demise of a Marriage: Chapter 3 Part 1: The Tug of Two Loves. Megan sees parallels in the imminent birth of her third child, and James role as father, with a new understanding of her commitment, and desire to be confirmed.

© Mel Menzies - All Rights Reserved

Author of a number of books, one a No 4 Bestseller, Mel Menzies is also an experienced Speaker at live events, as well as on Radio and TV. Book her here for your event.

All proceeds from Mel’s latest novel, A Painful Post Mortem, are for charities benefiting children worldwide. Buy a copy here and help raise cash for children like Rachel, who, at 13 is mother to 6 kids orphaned by AIDS, or this project, drug-proofing teenagers in the UK

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