Love is most fully defined/expressed when it gives the beloved the freedom to even not reciprocate, yet continues to love afresh and lavishly in the private set of the soul. That is the kind of love Christ modeled for us. He gives us enough rope to hang ourselves—and He never jerks on the cord. The marvel of the story of the prodigal son in the Gospels is that after the father has given the son everything, the father waits. He waits for the son’s own thirst to develop. He says nothing; he sends no messages; he doesn’t shed his own flashlight upon the path. The son himself rises up—in the counsels of his own heart. And when the son loves, the father then can do no wrong (in the son’s view of things).
A spouse who drops his marriage for selfish reasons vainly imagines that he dances with high thought, when actually he is staggering through low delusion. What such a person doesn’t reckon with is that while he lives in a fantasy reality, the actual reality doesn’t go away. Real reality sits there in his world like concrete, and he will repeatedly turn and stub his toe upon it. Until and unless he bends, he banks on there being no relational fallout as a consequence of any of his actions or his thought life. He counts on still receiving the same kind of affection from his children (in the world of reality), the honor of his parents, etc. He will be the last to know that real esteem for him has gone south.
What such a person doesn’t see is that he has exchanged private personal integrity for the hollow praise of an eventually fickle public. Instead of a quest for personal identity, he will wake up to relational failure. He simply has no idea what relational “work” is all about. Rather, he wants to skim relationships—like skipping rocks. Doing so, he will discover that he will do that even with new relationships. He doesn’t know it in the early phases of this dissolution of his key relationships, but he has embarked upon a sea of ever-shifting relational expectations with everyone he interfaces with (both old and new) from there on out. He will thenceforth encounter no satisfactory relationships anywhere. Oddly, he desperately wants the other person to have enduring relational character (most especially, his children in their regard for him) while he possesses none toward them. He will restlessly dump new “better” relationships as easily as he dumped the old ones. Such a person has thus entered a cauldron of relational dissatisfaction.
A spouse who willfully spurns his marital commitment is like a young child trying desperately to cram a square block into a round hole. Outside of the Lord he (or she) is doomed to furtively dart from one fantasy to another—and they will never deliver what he (she) hopes for.
What is the lesson? Life is all about expectations. “If you expect it to be a five-star hotel it is awful, but if you were only expecting a reformatory it isn’t half bad” (loosely paraphrased from C. S. Lewis).
Life is fixed and designed, not for temporary and fleeting assorted happinesses but for sanctification—for us to grow in love of God and in trust in His big plan through it all.