“I’m leaving her, John,” Mathew said over lunch.
John stopped eating his favorite, Jollof rice with salad on the side. He put down his fork and stared at his friend. Mathew refused to do the same, and that confirmed John’s fears.
Mathew had been complaining about Rhonda, his wife, for some months. He grumbled about her laziness and how she had failed to support their children during the COVID-19 lockdown period. Their education had suffered.
She didn’t seem to care about anybody but herself, sometimes forgetting to prepare dinner or instruct the help on what to do. She didn’t look after herself or wish to talk, and worst of all, it had taken a toll on life in the bedroom.
John had suggested the couple talk through their problems. He didn’t believe there was an issue without a solution; however, Mathew kept insisting that he had tried and Rhonnie, as her friends call her, kept shutting him down.
In their last conversation, they discussed inviting Mathew’s Pastor into the mix. John felt the couple needed counseling. Mathew believed Rhonnie alone needed the Pastor’s guidance. After all, she was the one who needed help.
John felt winded by Mathew’s statement.
“How? I thought we discussed counseling. How has counseling traveled to separation?”
Mathew looked up at him and lifted the side of his mouth in a sad smile. “She refused to see the Pastor.”
“Okay, let’s look for another option. Separation shouldn’t even be mentioned, man, do you understand?”
Mathew chuckled. “This advice from my friend who has never ventured into the marriage market, not to talk of picking a wife.”
John leaned back in his chair. Underneath the laughter and mild jab, there was an edge in his friend’s voice he didn’t miss. He calmed himself and waited for Mathew to speak, praying for wisdom.
“Marriage shouldn’t be so hard. I go to work to ensure I provide my family with everything they need, but is she grateful? No. She sits at home all day, parading around the house, unable to help herself and the children, and for what, bouts of depression? I try my best, my Christian best, to ask, to persuade, to know what the heck has gotten into my wife, and all I meet is a brick wall. My guy, I am tired of it. I’m done.”
John nodded. “I hear you, and you are right. I don’t have the right to give advice. What do I know? I want to ask a question though, if I may?”
Mathew nodded as he sipped from his water glass.
“Is separation the right approach?”
Mathew smiled. “What other alternative do I have? John, think about it and tell me, what are my options here? I believe taking my kids away from that woman is the best course of action.”
“By whose standards?”
Mathew’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean by whose standards? I don’t need anyone’s approval to do what I believe is right for my family.”
John smiled. “Oh, but you do, my friend, you do. We don’t hang out for lunch, day after day, month after month, only because we’ve been best buddies for years. We do so because we believe the same things. Are you telling me you believe the God both of us serve will approve a separation?”
Mathew shut his eyes.
“Come on, Mathew, that’s why you are talking to me about it. If you were looking for support, I’m sorry, but you should have known I’d be the last person to give it. Mathew, for crying out loud.” John said, his tone low, and urgent.
Mathew opened one eye. He knew John was upset for him, and he didn’t wish to make such a friend his enemy.
John smiled at the playful gesture, using the opportunity to calm himself.
“Bro, in all this time you’ve complained and sought options to save your marriage, have you sought for God’s will or guidance in the matter?”
“You know I pray. I have prayed for a long time, waiting for a change, and till now, nothing has happened.”
“Do you believe that because nothing has happened, God is tired and has approved the separation?”
“That’s not what I’m saying. I’m tired, John, exhausted. I need to do something about the situation at home or go mad.”
“Mathew, you are my friend, and I will tell you this. We may try as humans to do right, but the only righteous being is God. You’ve listed out all the ways you’ve wanted to do the right thing, but God alone can lead you on the path of righteousness in this matter. If he does not show you His way, you are being led by your flesh. Your judgment of the issue has inadvertently become the noose on your neck, cutting off air.
“I may not be in the position to speak on this matter, but I know and believe one thing-we are all to be led by God or face walking in darkness. You have the life of a woman and your three children to consider while you decide the path to take, and I urge you, in the name of God, to take the right one.
“Seek God, and remain in His presence until He answers. Let this be the last thing you do for your marriage, wife, children, and yourself. Before you take any last-act decision, be assured you’ve done the best you can and that God approves your choice. Only then, bro, will you be able to move on.”
Mathew was rolling his middle finger around the rim of his water glass as he listened. He knew in his heart that his friend spoke the truth. Mathew shut his eyes, praying for strength to endure, as he waited for God to show up. He looked up, and John was looking at him.
Mathew smiled. “Will you be praying with me?”
“Of course. Don’t depend on yourself at this time. Lay all your burdens at the feet of our Lord, and stand in faith. Forget all the should be’s and should look like’s and start to draw the right picture from the throne of grace.”
Mathew nodded as he stood. “I’ve got to go back to the office. I’m sorry I made you abandon your rice. Lunch tomorrow is on me.”
John nodded, smiling as he gave his friend a thumbs up. He watched Mathew walk away, pushed his food out of the way, and sought the face of the Lord for his friend and his marriage.