Demise Of A Marriage: A True Story - Chapter 3 Part 1 - The Tug Of Two Loves

Posted at 14:45pm on 29th 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. For a free prompt to follow the story to its conclusion click the Subscribe button on the right.

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Rom 12:2


“Well? What d’you think?” James leaned against the French windows from the conservatory, awaiting my reaction.

I surveyed the garden which looked a small park.

“Oh James, it’s lovely! But are you sure we can afford it?”

“For goodness sake, Megan!” He pushed himself away from the window, the movement abrupt and angry. “That’s for me to worry about. Of course we can afford it. All you need to concern yourself with is arranging the furnishings.”


I suppose I should have felt reassured, but I did not. James had a profligacy which both alarmed and delighted me. Having money to spend was a guilty pleasure, as far as I was concerned. In the four years since we’d married, I’d never quite managed to shed the thrifty outlook with which I’d been raised; nor the notion that prudence was a quality to be admired. Yet it seemed to be a bone of contention to James. My main aim in life was to please him; instead I seemed to do nothing but annoy him.

He must have seen the tears well in my eyes because he put an arm around me and pulled me close for a moment.

“Come on, love,” he said, with a smile. “We’ll take the key back to the estate agent now and tell him to go ahead. With vacant possession, I see no reason why completion shouldn’t take place quite quickly.”

Basking in the warmth of a little affection, my tears dried instantly. Nevertheless, there were issues to be addressed about the proposed purchase of this large house and garden: not least the fact that I had been suffering acute back pain since Victoria’s birth.

“There’s an awful lot to be done,” I said, doubtfully, eyeing the vast acres of solid wood flooring in need of restoration, the high ceilings and panelled doors. “The decorating will probably be beyond me.”

“Just do what you can and we’ll get Lee & Morris in to do the rest,” he said, with a look of satisfaction. “We’ll certainly have some envious friends when we move in here. Imagine what Sheila will have to say . . .”


We wandered back through the lounge to the dining room – big enough to hold a banquet, I thought – then on to the kitchen and study. James’ excitement and enthusiasm were contagious, and though the house had been unoccupied for over a year so that the former splendour was marred with damp and grime, my mind raced, pleasurably, ahead. Perhaps these filthy, blackened hardwood floors would respond to a little elbow grease and TLC – we had nothing like enough carpeting; but few of our existing curtains would fit these windows without alteration – perhaps a border to add length and breadth? I thought of the gorgeous brocatelle I had seen in the shops last week, a rich, glowing bronze which would look sumptuous in the lounge. Better not to mention it yet to James, for fear it might be another point of dispute. . .

My third pregnancy began as we moved into our new home, and I was subjected to the usual cliché from friends and family: new house, new baby. James, for once, appeared to revel in family life and domesticity, hosting parties, arranging outings, even gardening! Filled with new hope and confidence, I began to think we had turned a corner in our marriage.

There was plenty to fill my mind, but I missed Eileen, my best friend, and the ease with which we’d dropped in and out of one another’s homes. A car journey now separated us and, though my circle of friends widened as James spread his net, few of our new acquaintances were Christians, and there was no one with whom I felt I could share my innermost self.


My third pregnancy proved a difficult one, exacerbating my existing back problems and causing me much discomfort. A slipped disc after Victoria’s birth had necessitated intermittent periods of bed rest, alternating with the prolonged pain of sciatica which reduced me to tears at times. The more arduous domestic chores became increasingly beyond me as I awaited the birth of my third baby but, James, delighted with the prospect of an addition to the family, rallied around willingly, and became more loving and attentive than I had ever known him.

Delighted to be demoted to assistant, I watched, lovingly as, for the first time, James took an active interest in the decoration of our new home. The joint pride in achievement and the companionship we shared, which had previously been so lacking, drew us closer than ever before.

Despite the distance, I continued to attend Sunday Services at St Mark’s and, with Charles’ urging, I joined the Confirmation classes he was running. Sadly, I recalled my father’s disappointment years earlier when, in my teens, I had refused to be confirmed.

“It’s just a ritual,” I’d said, dismissively. “And I can see no purpose in communion. People just like to make a lot of pomp and ceremony out of something that, to my mind, should be simple.”


Brought up in the Baptist tradition as a child, my father was no longer a church-goer as an adult. Nevertheless, he had a strong moral ethic which he had instilled into me and my sisters.

“I promised when you were baptised that you would be confirmed,” he said. “Are you going to make me break that promise?”

I’d been adamant!

Now, however, watching James’ response to the imminent birth of our third child and his role of father to our two little girls, I saw things differently. Coming to faith was like a new birth, with God the Father welcoming me into a new life. Consequently, I longed to make public my commitment; to belong to Christ’s church; to receive communion. The blessed sacraments of bread and wine which I’d once perceived as ritual, I now saw in a personal context as the symbols of his body broken, for me; his blood shed on my behalf.

There were a few other adult candidates as we knelt before the Bishop, but none as conspicuous as I, by this time eight months pregnant and somewhat large with it!


James’ delight in our home and the imminent arrival of another baby seemed to break down many of his barriers. He had always been vocal in his discussion of business, politics, or pleasure, but had never been able to express his emotions. In a strange way, this had been part of his appeal! Discerning his hidden vulnerability, my instincts had been to enable him to bring them to the surface.

It had proved no easy task! On one occasion, early in our marriage, his utter insensitivity had so incensed me that I had called him names in an effort to rouse him to anger – any emotion being preferable to me than the implacable façade I normally encountered. But James had merely agreed, quite calmly, that he was a ‘selfish pig’ and it had been me who was roused to anger – so much so that I had thrown Sarah’s full feeding bottle at him. The bottle had hit a door, exploding milk in all directions, and leaving me the added frustration of having to clear it all up.

Now, however, whenever we conversed, James would give a carefully thought out reply instead of his usual facetious response.


“Were you ever confirmed?” I asked him one evening.

I leaned against the door frame watching him hammer tacks into the newly laid bedroom carpet. Having just returned from one of my Bible studies, I wanted to share with him all I had learned. He removed the unused tacks from his mouth and swivelled on his haunches to look at me.

“It was the tradition in public school. Almost compulsory, I’d say. Certainly the expected thing to do when you reached a certain age. Rather a farce really. We were herded in like a lot of sheep!”

“So there was no personal commitment on your part then?” Large and ungainly I knelt laboriously beside him to help with the carpet.

“Good Lord, no! Mind you, the communion service was very moving. But as I’ve told you before, I don’t need God. What would I ask him for? I have everything I want?”

Fondly, he leaned towards me and gave me a peck on the cheek.

Years later, reading a Readers’ Digest in a doctor’s surgery, I was to recall those words.

‘For what should I pray?’ enquired a wealthy businessman of his dinner companions, a Jewish Rabbi and a Roman Catholic priest.

‘For gratitude and humility,’ came the priest’s prompt reply.

With the benefit of hindsight, I wished that had been James’ response!

Now read on: Demise of a Marriage Chapter 3 Part 2 - The Tug of Two Loves. Bankruptcy forces Megan to confront the question of her faith and where it is rooted.

© Mel Menzies - All Rights Reserved

Heading 4 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.

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

Now read Chapter 3, Part 2 in which bankruptcy forces Megan to face up to the reality of her faith.

Your Comments:

30th November 2009
at 11:56pm

Confirmation: I often thought of it as just something that had
to be done. I got by for years as the church I was attending
allowed access to communion despite not being confirmed. When going
forward for a more formal role in the Anglican church I suddenyl
had to be confirmed. Arranged very quickly but - what an important
part of my spiritual development.

Some very wise counsel given by the Bishop about the church
being were one breathed in and outside where one breathed out -
needing to be rooted in our faith but also very much part of the
real world. If only breathe in you explode, if you only breathe out
you die - both are essential.

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