Friday, February 01, 2019


          Can you imagine learning one day, at the age of 66 that the life you have been living during the last 27 years of a 47 year relationship has all been a lie? That was the interruption that my friend, Marie (name changed) faced. 
            Although Marie was an American, the family had made their home in Paris, but the disclosure that interrupted everything took place during a five-week trip to China, where she and her husband were being shown many different parts of the country by personal guides. 

            Over lunch in a small village a dispute arose between them over the soup and Mark (her husband) flew into a rage, calling her cruel names, and making hurtful, derogatory comments about her as he stalked off and left her trying to grasp what was going on. As she sat reflecting, she realized that this pattern of behaviour was manifesting itself frequently and wondered if it might not be symptomatic of a deeper problem. 

            Thus it was that evening as they sat down to talk things over together. Mark admitted that he had a secret, but was reluctant to share it with Marie. Confidently, Marie assured him that there was nothing they could not face together and overcome. Her reassurance gave him the courage to open up. She was shattered when he told her, “There is a woman who I have known for 27 years. I love her and she loves me.”

            Their relationship had been rocky at times, but never had Marie suspected that there was another woman involved. They had lived quite independently, each with their unique expectations of what the relationship should look like and apparently neither finding the fulfillment they desired, yet both believed that it was possible. 

            It was clear they could not continue in this impossible situation. At first there seemed to be reason for hope. Mark had confessed what was troubling him and was free from the burden of the secret. He was willing to move forward and rebuild their relationship. 

            Although Marie was still reeling under the shock and struggled with absolute disbelief that this could be happening, she was willing to push through her feelings of anger, humiliation, betrayal, rejection, and misunderstanding of what she felt was a profoundly repugnant and disturbing situation and make the effort to get through this together. 

            The whole matter came to a head in a counselling session where Mark admitted that he did not want to give up the other relationship. Marie knew that she had to make her own choices and opted to rebuild her own life, imposing on them both a ban to any live contact, that is in person, by telephone or electronically (Skype or FaceTime). All business matters between them would be carried on by email.  

            While the disclosure of the double life Mark had been living was a shocking interruption in Marie’s life, the final consequences have revealed some benefits for her. Although she had to process a ton of emotions and sift through her many experiences with a new perspective to discover what was true and what was not, she now feels that she is becoming more and more who she used to be and who she really is. In the process of all this, her faith was impacted and she had to work through a new understanding of the ways of God and her relationship with Him. Having done the necessary work to explore all of this, Marie finds that she feels better about herself now than at any previous time in her life. 

         Although it seems that this story can be recounted quickly, the actual events involved are much more complex and there are many more aspects to Marie’s saga, some of which I will be looking at in the upcoming book I am writing about a variety of people who have experienced significant interruptions in their lives. I believe what they have shared can help each of us as we encounter those unexpected events in life that change the course of our personal history.  Stay tuned.
Word Guild Award

Eleanor Shepherd from Pointe Claire, Quebec has more than 100 articles published in Canada, France, the U.S.A., Belgium, Switzerland and New Zealand. Thirty years with The Salvation Army in Canada and France including ministry in Africa, Europe, Haiti and the Caribbean furnished material for her Award winning book, More Questions than Answers, Sharing Faith by Listening as well as her Award winning stories in Hot Apple Cider and Christmas with Hot Apple Cider. She co-authored with her husband Glen the Bible Study book Why? Families. Eleanor recently retired from being a pastor in Montreal with The Salvaton Army.
Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award


Peter Black said...

Thanks, Eleanor. To me this is a deeply sad story in some respects, and yet it glows with love and grace, on part of your friend. It seems that the triumph of grace has been overwriting the sad, despicable actions of betrayal that were perpetrated for so long behind her back. May "Maria' continue to move forward in the love of God and the triumph of His grace in her life. ~~+~~

Carol Ford said...

Eleanor, I look forward to your new book. What a good idea. I've been thinking of writing a blog this month entitle "Death is never convenient"

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