Monday, June 4, 2007

Living With Ghosts

The children were dressed in identical orange shirts today. Stuart came home from work with his arms loaded with pool supplies. They swarmed around him like a wildfire and sounded cries of "Papa's home! Papa's home!" The fire disbanded into individual flames who went back to their play. Stuart set down his packages on the floor. He sat down on a stool at the kitchen table. I joined him...happy to see him. He was still carrying an invisible of the heart... and as we sat there he set that down too.

"I had a dream about Renee (an old girlfriend) Friday night. We were walking down a long hallway towards each other. We met in the middle of the hall and talked for a few minutes. It seemed so real."

He woke up shortly after but her spectre remained on his mind. He tried to ignore her to no avail. He tried to push her away with kisses. I was left breathless... and clueless... but still she remained in the room.

"My boss wanted to send me to Dallas on a business trip but I told him I didn't want to go. I was afraid I might run into her."

"Honey, the chances of you running into her would be almost nonexistant."

"I know but I don't feel comfortable even with those odds right now."

There is a mirror over our kitchen table. I watched our reflections as Stuart shared these things. He looked tanned and handsome in his work clothes. I was wearing overalls and yesterday's makeup. I didn't feel pretty. Especially when I compared myself to a woman who has remained nineteen for the last twenty years.

Secrets of this nature can burst into a destructive blaze when they are not shared. By choosing to be accountable, Stuart took a fire extinguisher to the hold it had over him. I am thankful for a husband who knows that this is the way to keep a marriage strong. I might not feel pretty today but I sure feel loved.

We have seen friends blanket small secrets. These snowballed into sin that tore the fabric of their marriage to shreds and left them deciding who would get the children.

We are teaching our children to wait until they are ready to be married before they begin to date. We want them to spend their time as single adults preparing for a career, preparing to be a husband or a wife and growing wise in the ways of the Lord. We are teaching them to wait until their wedding day for their first kiss. We know full well the message that our culture has to share with them. We know that there is a good chance they will not embrace our teaching but as parents it is our job to hold out the ideal for them. Who knows. Maybe they will suceed and will not spend their married lives living with ghosts.


We were washing dishes together after dinner. Stuart turned to me and used the words he often hears me say, "I feel a blog coming on." Here is the story again from his perspective.

Trading a Marriage for a Mirage

The last few days I’ve been living with a ghost. She’s a beauty, to be sure, with strawberry blonde hair and a smile that melts my heart. However, like most ghosts, she is mostly in my imagination. She is the ghost of a relationship past; a memory that faded years ago, though apparently not completely. Oh, the pain of a broken heart, twice because I’m a slow learner, is gone… but the memories of beauty and youth are very strong indeed. I told my wife about my ghost this afternoon, quite an awkward moment actually and yet liberating also. You see, that ghost in my mind, for all its beauty, had an insincere motive. In my mind, the ghost did not want to be revealed, it wanted simply to occupy some of my closet space and entertain me from time to time with sweet memories of a time long gone. It wanted me to remember my youth, and the youth of a woman who was once the love of my life. It wanted me to be discontent with the woman who IS the love of my life. The true darkness of my phantom has become apparent.

How many of us entertain ghosts like this? Worse, how many of us allow these crafty spirits to rob us of the joy of today and replace it with jealousy, lust, or a craving for a life that we believe would be infinitely better?

Now I can see clearly the advantage of remaining pure until we’re ready for marriage. One man, one woman, and no ghosts… Would life not be infinitely better if we simply followed the instructions of our Maker?


Jean 1 said...

I have to say that I am so glad you stopped by my blog today ( I felt compelled to visit yours just to see who had left a comment and found a person of like values. I appreciate the message of this post, I can so identify with you and your husband's experience. God's grace.

Refresh My Soul Blog said...

I love your realness and openness. We all live with ghosts from time to time. Praise the Lord, He can renew our minds from the thoughts of them!

Amy said...

You guys never cease to bless and amze me...thanks for being real!! You are a blessing and I love you both...really all 7 of you ;) )

Missing you!

kittyhox said...

I can totally relate to this experience. My ghost wasn't an old flame, but a coworker (before my SAHM days). The ghost part because when you don't know someone on a day-in, day-out basis, they sort of become who you want them to be, rather than a real, flawed person.

I had to take control of my thought life. It was all just friendly, but I found myself comparing my husband to this person and it opened a can of "what if" scenarios that sapped some of the joy out of our marriage for a short season.

Anyway, sorry to overshare, but I just wanted to say that I can relate and that I thnk you're exactly right. These little things can become deceptions that become bigger things.

SUCH a great post, especially the dual perspectives.

Bless you both!