Many of you are aware that my wife of 12 years decided that she would be happier in life without me, moving out last summer. This has been a difficult time for a variety of reasons. Several of these reasons I would have expected, others not. The following are three challenges that I face in my new role in life.
1) Unsolicited advice. One thing that has surprised me has been the increasing amount of unsolicited advice that I receive. I realize that most people offering advice are well-meaning and want to help me deal with the situation - it's just that often it would be nice to have a few more Queries rather than Advices.
A major issue of unsolicited advice is the topic of the remarriage of divorced persons. Ohio Friends can have strong opinions on the topic. Some Friends remind me about the words of Jesus regarding this, while others quote the passage that if an unbeliever leaves a marriage, the believer is no longer bound. When the topic comes up, I try to clarify that I am not looking for someone new in my life - which satisfies most people.
2) Changing relationships. A surprise for me has been that my circle of friends has been adjusted. Some people have been noticeably friendlier over the past six months. Two Friends in particular have been faithful to inquire about my welfare. Even though I spend large blocks of time alone now, sometimes I really like to be alone. Other times, the phone call lifts my spirits during a low time.
Not all relationships have grown closer, though. Two people in particular seem more distant than before – though whether that is a result of events in my life or theirs is sometimes unclear. Some people appear to believe that God brought this to pass to punish me for something, with the associated conclusion that now I am a second-class (third class?) Christian.
3) Handling responsibilities. Over the years, I have been appointed to a limited number of committees and positions of responsibility. One of these positions has never been held by a divorced person. Given the diversity of opinion among Ohio Friends, I sometimes wonder if I should hold them. Last summer I wrote to two weighty Ohio Friends and told them that I was willing to resign from two certain positions if that would make things easier for everyone. They both immediately urged me not to resign from either.
In the meantime, I am finding myself able to get caught up on some things that I needed to work on. I also recently came into possession of a microfilm reader, which I have used to read some old minutes of Ohio YM. I have also been completing some small projects that have lingered for a while, some Quaker-related. These various projects have been useful in occupying my mind during this painful time, which is remarkably similar to the death of a loved one. The therapeutic effects of the projects are not as strong as the knowledge of my mother’s love for me – nor my Father’s love for me.