Editor’s Note: In the Marriage Memo of January 30, 2012, Dave Boehi asked readers their thoughts about the choices made by a woman featured in Washington Postarticle titled, The Vow: A family learns the true meaning of “in sickness and in health.” Below are the responses that we received:
1. This story struck a chord with me. I have never commented on these forums before, but I am compelled to on this one. When a covenant is made between a husband, wife, God and witnesses, it is not transferred until certain biblical allowances are invoked. Never in the Bible is an allowance for divorce the sickness of a spouse. For a minister to make this suggestion, and the woman to move ahead despite her deep-seated conviction, speaks to the day today—a time when we conform the Bible to our lives instead of conforming our lives to the Bible. This is a direct hit to the marriage covenant and a husband and wife’s covenant before God and witnesses.
2. What would we do if God broke His covenant with us as a result of our disjointed lives?
3. “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” in Mark 10:9, and “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” in Matthew 19:6. When we redefine marriage, what we’re really doing is redefining God and His Word so that He can fit into our mold. You know, since He was made in OUR image… WAIT a minute! I think I’ve got that reversed. That’s right: WE were made in HIS image. (See II Timothy 3 as we should be seeing this ‘redefining’ of God’s Word more and more in these ‘end times’). Thy Kingdom come!
4. Totally was upset by this article from The Washington Post, but I realize we cannot control the choices that the world endorses. The best we can do is to live out our marriages as God’s word prescribes. No divorce!
5. I support Page’s decisions to divorce, remarry, and continue to care for her husband. In addition to benefiting Page, the decision also enabled the children to have a relationship with their biological dad and have a non-biological dad who was able to provide the nurturing and support that one would hope for in a traditional nuclear family. Although you make reference to her promise to care for her husband as his wedded wife, I choose to give greater weight to the caring requirement, as opposed to the legal requirement to remain married. Due to his medical condition, Robert and Page were no longer capable of interacting as husband and wife.
Being married or divorced would not change the non-legal aspects (a much broader discussion would be needed to address legal implications) of their relationship and interaction with each other. However, she was still willing and able to care for him as a devoted wife would.
In my opinion, the divorce did not result in a loss to one or both of the parties. Instead, it provides a benefit to Page, who now has a husband who was capable of loving and supporting her. It provides a benefit to the children, who now have a biological father who remains in their lives along with a mother and non-biological father who are able to love and nurture them. Finally, and probably most importantly, it will serve as a huge life lesson for the children who may one day marry and have children.
6. The story sounds sweet but I don’t think it’s the true meaning of in sickness and in health. I have not been in a situation like Page, but I think it would be more honoring to God to stay with the man she married.
As I was reading the article, I just kept thinking, I couldn’t do that to my husband. No matter how hard it is I would have to stay committed to him. I would choose to rely on God to get me through and would cherish every moment God allowed me to have. After all, if God could take on all the pain and suffering for my sin, I could take on the pain and suffering of caring for a debilitated spouse and trust Him to give me strength to do so.
7. Interesting story. I have been thinking about it for awhile. There is a glaring hole in this story that has not been addressed. What about the vows Allan made to his first wife? From the article, it appears he divorced her after Allan met Page at the school reunion. Allan and Page have made an effort to include Robert in their lives, but what about Allan’s wife?
Everyone thinks it is great that Page really hasn’t left Robert, and that she had good reason to divorce him since he cannot live a “normal” life, etc. I guess it is OK for Allan to leave his first wife because … they didn’t love each other anymore? … She is capable of looking after herself so he doesn’t have to include her in his life? … It was her idea first so he is off the hook? … The article said that Page liked seeing Allan play with her daughters – they didn’t have that kind of father figure any more. What about uncles and grandfathers? She could get that male attention for her girls without getting re-married.
I would be heartbroken if my health deteriorated to the point where I was no longer my old self, and my husband left me. I certainly won’t do that to him if he is ever in the position Robert is in. Life is risky – marriage is risky – there is no reset button on either to take away the accidents or errors that might occur. It is always best to do life and marriage God’s way and to trust Him to provide all that is necessary to care for us and bless us.
8. I take the wedding vow to mean – I carry on loving my husband the way I loved him from the day we got married – in sickness and health. This includes being his wife until the day he died. In this story, it seems to me that her husband Robert is the one who took the vow seriously because he loved her so much that he’d rather she moved on with someone who can give her more than he can. His blessing on their relationship is the sacrifice he made to make her happier.
Sometimes we would like to find a reason to help us feel less guilty, and everyone appears to live happily thereafter. The readers of the Washington Post may agree that this is the best solution in the circumstances, but it may not be the right solution in God’s original plan.
9. This is a story about true love in so many ways. I understand your question, but cannot help feeling sad for everyone in question. I read through some of the comments on the Washington Post website. The comments are all over the board. Some very sympathetic, and some downright mean and judging.
In pondering my thoughts about whether it was right for Page to divorce Robert and re-marry, I had to ask myself a few questions. Is it biblical? No. Not in the sense that we understand it anyway. Yet it is very biblical in the way both Page and her new husband are taking care of Robert. This is the ultimate in “one anothering” one another.
How would I feel if I were Page. Not sure. I am fully devoted to my husband and pray I would be able to stay committed to him regardless of the circumstances, but have no way of knowing how I would truly respond in the same situation.
How would I feel if I were Robert? I would want my husband to do exactly what Page did. I would never want my husband to feel trapped by my circumstances.
In conclusion, my thoughts are simply compassion for everyone, especially the children. No one has the right to condemn these people or judge them for their actions. It is God and God alone who will determine if judgment is necessary.
10. The story is unique. It is related in an even-handed way. I came to it with a belief in “until death do us part” and leave it with “until death do us part.”
If you look at it from an eternal perspective, not a subjective, human perspective, from a vow that is uncompromised, absolute, before God, human reason dissolves. This seems to be confirmed by Page’s own words. In truth, hard truth, neither Page nor Allan should be married to anyone but their first, living spouse. I do not state this harshly or with pride.
11. My husband and I read this together. It is unfortunate this has happened to Robert but it’s God’s plan. Our marriage vows state, “until death do we part”. I’m sure Page would like the connection from Robert but a person’s ultimate fulfillment is from knowing Jesus Christ! What if God restores Robert back to his old self? What is she teaching her children about commitment to her wedding vows?
My husband and I have gone through many trials in our marriage and like Robert and Page, we got married in 1995 and have two beautiful children. … Don’t’ take the easy road!! Our marriage is now stronger than is has ever been and I’m so thankful that we chose to work though the rough times. 13. I think Page broke her wedding vows plain and simple. God would not be pleased with this “arrangement” at all. The Washington Post article was very interesting.I think if we want to justify something, we can go to any length to make it right in our own mind. I’m worried for the new couple. This new experiment may prove to be disastrous on down the road.
I would say it’s definitely a “redefining” of the traditional marriage vows. I fear it does not bode well for the future of marriage.
12. I am certain that you will defend marriage vows in your continuation of this email. And I applaud you for doing so. However, I do believe that it is important in such complicated situations to not simply apply the general Christian stamp of animosity towards divorce. That general stamp works well in the majority of situations. And it may apply completely in this situation as well. I do believe as Christian leaders we need to approach such situations with nuances of Jesus’ teachings, not simply with the big and obvious “Don’t get divorced” teachings. As a pastor, I honestly don’t know what I would have advised Page about her marriage without having known her personally and prayed through her situation with her.
13. After reading this article all the way through, it made me feel sick. The for better or worse, and in sickness and health, mean just that! You don’t walk away and take another spouse because it makes you feel better. Page did that for selfish reasons. She needed to put more trust in God and less in humans.
Thank you for sharing this article. I have shared it with many Christian friends and they have all had the same reaction as I had. She was wrong, and should have stayed by him, ’till death do they part, not ’till I need something more. I am grateful to have a spouse who agrees with this, and I know he would never do this to me, nor I to him. God is faithful!
14. Thank for sharing this story. Often times we take our spouses for granted and wonder whether we could love the person we married unconditionally, patiently, and unselfishly. We believe we can when we make that promise, but when challenges like these are presented in a dynamic circumstance (like Page and Robert’s) we as Christians are humbled to consider the what-ifs in life. I declare myself blessed by God and by my husband.
15. We as human can redefine, but God only has one definition. “Until death do us part” Would the woman want the man to do the same to her and marry another if she became disabled? God makes no allowances for our flesh. This is still considered adultery. So sad the flesh takes over before the laws of God. He has grace to keep the flesh under control.
16. This is a very interesting and pathetic event. I quite sympathize with Page in her very challenging marriage condition. She truly passed through very difficult times. However, … Page says she felt guilty about the relationship because of the vows she had declared in her wedding—to commit herself to Robert “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.” Page says she believed in her vows so strongly that they just kept ringing in her ears. That is the gentle voice of God, reminding her not to fail.
In my view, the biblical injunction has been breached by settling in for another marriage while the true husband, Robert, is still living. Page abandoned her marriage vows, notwithstanding the tremendous sympathy and care shown to Robert by Page and Allan. I also think her minister, who told her that she was still honoring her vows as long as she cared for Robert, should have a second review of what the Bible says.
Robert in his inarticulate condition can say anything, so his saying the marriage with Allan should hold does not change a thing. Robert’s brother and father, who gave their blessing, have some questions to answer because they approved what is not biblical. There is no thin line in the biblical injunctions on marriage.
This is how God tests our faith. When he finds us faithful, He miraculously turns things around beyond our imagination.
17. I agree totally with your stance. I have only been married eight months as a 27 year old. In this time I have been sick quite a bit especially in the last four months being pregnant. My husband takes such good care of me when I’m not well. When we said our vows we meant them and even before we got married we settled between ourselves that divorce will NEVER be an option in any circumstance. We even committed to never even saying phrases like, “I think marrying you was a mistake,” or “I wish we never married” in heated or difficult moments. It’s not even an avenue we look down.
I guess though we can’t expect people who don’t know the unconditional, limitless, beautiful, timeless, relentless love of Jesus to love each other the way He has loved us. This movie does seem to show an aspect of His relentless love though, which is amazing.
But my husband and I have talked about how hard it would be to be married and have made such a commitment without God. So I guess the real issue is that people need restored to the Father’s love.
18. We ordain people into ministry way too easy … This minister did not provide sound advice to Page. Had he told Page she made a covenant before man and God to stay in her marriage, I believe Page may have made a different choice. Maybe we need to be more selective on who is leading us spiritually. We need to be in our Bible daily so we know when a minister is giving bad advice.
19. Reading that story made me shake my head in disbelief. Even for a pastor to give his blessing, I shake my head. I totally agree with you. Marriage is a covenant until death.
We are a culture that needs to be entertained. A feel-good story that makes us take pity on the wife causes anyone listening to say, “Poor wife, you deserve to be happy….” However, God is not happy. God is not glorified. How does divorcing her husband only to remarry and still caring for her now ex-husband get justified? If that is the case, then, if a husband and wife divorce we can say it is OK so long as the ex-husband pays child support. He’s off the hook for his infidelity and is justified to leave his wife and kids for another woman just as long as he sends the support money. There are too many justifications.
Black is black and white is white when it comes to biblical views from God on marriage. There is no grey. We have a higher calling in showing honor to God when a spouse falls ill and is no longer capable of caring for oneself. The true act of God’s love is servanthood. Isn’t that what we are to be in our marriages, a servant of our Lord Jesus Christ which transcends down into the love and care and servant-hood for our spouses?
In caring for a spouse, that shows the love Christ has for us. What better testimony is there than that? Instead, you have the self-centered attitude which is only masqueraded in the feel-good mentality that robs God of being glorified and our marriage to be lifted up to a higher love.
20. Don’t be fooled into a feel-good story and justify the wife’s action. Read the Bible, that is our true compass in life, not our feelings or emotions. Do the right thing, no matter what because of what God expects from us. That is the least we can do for what He has done for us.
21. I am dumbfounded at the pastor! How can he say that this is OK? We took a class with our pastor before getting married and it was made very clear to us that our marriage should be a triangle with myself, my husband, and God— or it would never work. I feel that she should have never gotten involved with the other man until her husband passed away.
To redefine your marriage vows to suit you is not the way that God meant when he said until death to you part. It’s very self explanatory to us. I’m anxious to see others’ opinions. Our wedding vows are VERY important to us and we plan to stay that way. …
22. This breaks my heart. I have suffered severe health issues in the last six years and my husband has survived cancer. We said, “Until death do us part,” not, “until we decide it’s OK because someone else can give me what I’m looking for…”
My hubby has had so many chances to leave and I’ve offered them to him, to just leave me because of the strain I know I place on our family. However, time and time again, he says, “until death do us part! You are my wife for life!” I have so much more respect for him (yes, love, but even more so, respect)!
I am married to the most amazing man on this earth!! Praise the Lord that he understood his vows and is not conforming to culture like so many others choose to do…! The Bible gives specific instruction to be in this world and not of this world. It doesn’t tell us it’s OK to do certain things because it’s culturally acceptable. I love my husband for life!
23. It’s very sad to read about this story in so many ways…the tragic injury Robert suffered, the pain Page suffered as a result, their lives drastically altered in an instance…but the one thing that really struck me was even though in the midst of the incredible guilt Page felt, and I believe continues to experience about divorcing her husband, she has willfully redefined marriage according to the vows of “for the better”…. rather than “for better AND for worse, in sickness AND in health til DEATH do us part.”
Her justification seems to be defined by how her kids now have a new father to play and sing with … I am disappointed by her minister’s clear lack of understanding. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ suffered the greatest and most tragic death only to conquer death itself so that we all could be joined together again with our Father in Heaven which is the ultimate picture of marriage itself.
The marriage vows are a constant reminder of how a husband and a wife must die daily for each other in order that Christ Himself is exalted and that these tragedies here on earth are a mere stepping stone for understanding and knowing our Loving and Gracious Father in Heaven….Our Ultimate Wedding Day!
24. It is not easy not to get touched by such a story. Page was compassionate, and I applaud her.
I don’t want to sound judgmental towards Page because this was a very difficult time for her and I believe a difficult decision to make. But the Bible says that God hates divorce, and a man (or a woman) is bound to their spouse as both shall live. Having another marriage is committing adultery against the other. This is what I read from the Bible….any other interpretations? I would really want to know.
25. I am touched by the compassion of all involved in this fairytale in real life. It shows a lot of courage, love, and faith in a most would consider a no-win situation. Now, with all that aside, I look at this from a strictly biblical point of view and I don’t like it.
I don’t like the idea that we can change the situation to fit our needs. God designed things to work a certain way and when we bend the rules there will be consequences at some point. This has been an issue lately as we have taken marriage, homosexuality, and a host of other biblical ideas and changed God’s rules to fit what we want the new norm to be. When we start writing the rules we are then becoming God and in a sense acting like Satan and wanting the control, power and rights that come along with it.
I realize that it isn’t easy being alone having a person who was your mate and companion for many years. The implications of this go way beyond marriage and strokes but get into dementia and Alzheimer’s and the social implications not to say anything of the insurance issues this brings to light.
Jesus died on a cross (His choice) for our freedom and everlasting life. Do we really understand the love and faith and compassion that went into that act? If we did we would realize that having to put up with a spouse or family member is insignificant in light of spending eternity with them in a new and glorified body. ’till death do us part, but only until we meet again in heaven. The minister allowed her the easy way out. Our hope and our future are in Christ and no one else.
26. I read that article when it came out in the Post, and I was astounded that her minister said she was still keeping her vows as long as she took care of Robert, even if she started a relationship with another man. Our vows are “for better or for worse.” Their situation obviously took a downhill turn, but that’s where the vows were supposed to kick in. The vows do not include a relationship with another man, regardless of what his health or mental status is. This is not a praise-worthy or inspiring story, but a white-washing of infidelity.
27. As a believer, when I committed to marriage, it is in sickness and in health to death do us part. I can’t imagine being in this woman’s situation. However, I would hope and pray that I would cling to God our Father and have Him be my spiritual husband and continue to seek our Father God. For someone who does not have a personal relationship with Christ, I could see how it would be easy to break the covenant and still meet the needs of her ex-husband. Our culture would think it’s wonderful as the article reports.
I believe, as a believer in Christ with our marriage covenants taken under God, He calls us to honor His covenant, marriage covenant, and will then bless us in amazing ways that we could never ever even imagine. Who knows, at any point God could choose to awake this man back to his previous state!
Also, I would hope and pray that if I were in the situation I would seek the counsel of believers and they would encourage me to honor my marriage commitment and look to God as my helper!
28. I just read the Post article. This isn’t just about what happened five years after the stroke when Page was reacquainted with Allan… early in the story when Robert didn’t recognize her after coming to at the hospital, the author writes, “She had gone home that day and put away the diamond and emerald ring he had given her when he proposed.”
Long before she decided to redefine her vows in such a way that rationalized away the commitment she had made, Page was already having trouble with the idea of being married to someone who was no longer well.
29. I can’t imagine going through what the Meltons’ experienced in their marriage. It seems that Paige understood the implications of what she was doing and her guilt should have been a red flag that what she was considering was wrong. Unfortunately, her pastor gave her the green light to break her covenant with Robert and with God. Even though she knew in her heart of hearts that her marriage was supposed to be ’til death do us part, she decided to do what felt right. Her heart is revealed through these words: “In a way, I feel married to Robert forever,” she said a few days before leaving for St. Louis. “It’s not a traditional marriage. It’s not the marriage we signed up for. But I feel like there’s a connection there that never ends.”
No one’s marriage is ever the marriage they signed up for. We all have our ideas and our dreams and at some point we realize that life’s circumstances often change what we had hoped or imagined life would be. Sometimes life is wonderful and at other times it is truly difficult and we don’t know how we can make it another day. It is during these difficult times that I remember that our covenant is forever. I remember my God who is faithful to His covenant. I want to obey Him and honor my covenant to my husband. I remember that our battles are not against flesh and blood but against the dark forces of evil. I will not let the enemy win. By His grace I am able to do that.
My heart breaks for Robert, for their children, and for Paige. I pray that by God’s grace I am able to honor my Cary until the day when God calls us home.
30. I would like to comment that I am glad that you did not agree with Page’s choice. I do realize the compassion Allan had for Robert and Page, but as you said, the vows were “until death do us part” and while a part of Robert had died, he was still very much alive and still very much her husband. I think that while it doesn’t seem fair to Page to live a life of celibacy, many have done so under such circumstances as war, etc. This would be what I would consider….taking up your cross for Christ and dying to one’s self so as to honor the vows you have taken. My relationship with my husband was estranged in the physical area for many years and since we were not able to communicate out of fear of hurting the other’s feelings, my husband had an affair, but I remained faithful during those years of celibacy and had accepted my lot in life, so to speak.
Fortunately, the affair opened the door for communication about that area of our married life, along with other unresolved issues …
We had been married for 34 years when the affair took place and are close to the one year anniversary of it being revealed, but we are working daily at doing what God has said is right in His eyes. I don’t regret one minute of the struggle we’ve been through because I know God’s plan is to use our marriage and the struggles as a way of growing us and getting us closer to Him and as a testimony to others, as I’ve shared some, not all details, with many people and have let them know what God is doing in my life and my marriage.
31. I do not have to read the article to know that she was wrong to divorce Robert and marry someone else. Even more disturbing is the fact that her MINISTER told her she was honoring her marriage vows by just caring for Robert.
My husband was diagnosed with an incurable auto-immune disease known as Sarcoidosis in 2009. His disease is in his lungs and lymph nodes. His health goes down hill little by little every day. That being said, we are celebrating 18 years of marriage on March 4th, and celebrating by renewing our wedding vows in our church after the weekly Sunday service. I honestly cannot begin to imagine leaving my husband just because his health condition worsened and required more care than I could provide on my own.
My husband is my husband no matter what. Period. The end. As stressful as being a full time caretaker for your spouse is, love and commitment should always win out above stress!
32. I have compassion for Page and understand how difficult and lonely it must be. However, I do not agree with the divorce and remarriage even with the vow to take care of Robert. I guess we can twist anything far enough to get what we ultimately want.
33. This has me “pulled.” I feel bad for the decision she made to divorce him. I saw my sister take care of her husband for 10 years sick [when he was sick] with cancer. She did not put him in any institution. She did it all, with the help of Hospice. She took her vows seriously!
I live with TBI myself. I was in an accident in 1976, and I am married. I am 53. My husband gets very upset with some of the things that I go through because of my brain injury. I am able to do things and carry myself, and function, but I forget a lot!
If I would start spiraling downward, I sure would know that our love was strong enough, that he would be willing to “Love me the way I was.” What a testimony that would be to the people who want to throw their marriage away for a puny reason.
Now that I’m writing, I am not “pulled” anymore! … God gave us the gift of marriage, what a wonderful gift it is. Pass it on, don’t give up!
34. Wow, this would be hard, except for the fact that those vows were made before God….the fact that she was flooded with guilt, thinking on her vows, would send a red flag up to me…. the new husband is admirable in his actions, for sure. But, what does God have to say? I would hope that my husband’s love for me was not so disposable…even if he gave his blessing. The spiritual connection of rejection would surely be felt, wouldn’t it? …
35. The only reason that I felt compelled at all to write is because of the things that my husband and I are still going through even today.
To elaborate, I was diagnosed with Stage IV Cancer in 2008, only two years after another deadly disease found me in a wheelchair and walker for months. At the time I felt as if my husband should have been there for me, and he wasn’t. I forgave him then and we had a second chance, only to find out that God would send him and me through another wheel of emotions and tribulations.
He stuck around this time, and not only that, he held my hand every step of the way. He was my partner in the marriage and I didn’t know that I would be here today to say, “Thank you, Partner.” The reason for the explanation is this. If I would have turned for the worse, I would hope that he would make the same choices that she did, but not stopping his life in the process.
Yes he is here still for a reason, as God has his plans for every one of us, but that doesn’t include giving up life in the process. She kept her vows and I think that she is amazing. I would hope that all of us have the same type of love and commitment in a marriage to know the difference between still being there for your partner in vows still and leaving your vows. God is the only one allowed to judge and that doesn’t happen until we meet Him so there shouldn’t be judgment either way, just personal opinions that people may have. I have given mine.
36. I think she overloaded herself. A divorce is a divorce and you can’t have your marriage and a divorce at the same time. It might sound sweet but where the hide hits the highway it’s just not right, caregiver or not. I ought to know- I’ve been there, done the divorce thing and have the scars to prove it and I’m not proud of it!
37. Now doesn’t this sound just like society today? Finding a way to cover or relieve your guilt so you can go ahead and do what you want. This is not following God’s plan for marriage…God did not put any “ifs” in “to death do us part”. Just because something is more convenient does not make it biblically or morally correct. Our society needs prayer and God.
38. Well, it is very disturbing…I guess her vows were not taken seriously! The part of the wedding vows “In sickness and in health” and “until death do us part” is very clear and explanatory. I don’t understand where the thought or misunderstanding came in that it’s OK to get married to another person with the same vows.
I would be devastated if I was in her first husband’s position. If I took the vows and my spouse said these things to me and then divorced me just because of my health conditions, it would critically injure my spirit and break my heart immensely! I would definitely feel a lot of legitimate bad feelings (betrayal, lied to, worthless etc). Praise the Lord for Christ and His healing power though but it should not have to be that way!
39. I believe in God’s plan of “one man, one woman, for a lifetime until death.” My wife and I are separated, going on two years now, and I am standing with God for the healing of our marriage and family, since the Bible says only death ends the marriage covenant. I meant my vows 10 years ago and I mean them now. I cannot gamble with my soul that God isn’t serious when He commands, “Do not commit adultery.” To me, while my wife is alive, I cannot be with another woman.
I guess what it comes down to is I cannot judge this family. Only God can.
40. My husband just emailed your article to me, assuring me that this is not the vow he took almost 40 years ago (I’ll be with you until things go wrong). We’ve committed ourselves to each other, knowing that whatever God has in store for us, we will remain together in a one man/one woman marriage.
Thinking that one or the other of us might end up with dementia (as his dad did) or with cancer (both of my parents) or anything else, for that matter, is scary. But scary doesn’t relieve us of our commitment. We’ve already stayed with each other through some tough times, things that I think many people wouldn’t have stuck around for. But those hard times have strengthened our marriage and our commitment. People need to understand that the vows made during a marriage ceremony are a covenant … Yes, marriage is being redefined all around us. We need to remember that God doesn’t change His definition.
41. That is ridiculous. I cannot believe someone would think that’s a good idea. Maybe I’m too old fashioned, but I know, without a doubt that nobody in my family would be fine with my wife ditching me for someone else if I “became someone else.”
Page’s pastor is entitled to his opinion too, but wow, I’d leave that church in a heartbeat, and I’d be jumping down his throat about how poor of a follower of Christ’s words he was. There is no excuse to leave your spouse, apart from death. I didn’t marry with the thought that if things got bad I’d ditch her and look for some greener pastures. Like your article said, it wasn’t a friendship ceremony.
Things are tough, they are not predictable, and what is it teaching the kids if you just up and leave every time things get rough? Leave your work because your boss is mean, leave your kids because they don’t listen, leave your spouse when they are not nice, leave your God because you don’t feel you were treated fairly, leave your financial obligations because you don’t like them, where does it stop?-
It all boils down to a lack of integrity.
Now, you have got me fired up. It is a good article though, and quite an example of … what can happen if we let society be our judge. I think a lot of this stems from the “we are all winners” crowd. There is no ribbon for 13th place. It isn’t all about your feelings, and being happy everyday.
42. God’s way is unconditional love. As we are called to be perfect, as He is perfect, we are to love unconditionally. No doubt Page needs help. No doubt that Robert needs help. Alan can help both Robert and Page – by loving them unconditionally.
God established the marriage between Robert and Page. They are to stay together until death do us part. Even Allan’s love for Page is not reason enough to break the bond of marriage. Page’s love for Allan is not enough to break the bond of marriage. If Allan really loves Page he will wants her to keep her commitments with God, which is to stay married with Robert until death do them part.
If Page really loves Allan, she wants him to keep his commitments with God. He is not to covet another man’s wife (Allan’s commitment to God). Esteem others higher than himself – Alan must esteem Robert higher than himself when it comes to Page!
What if Robert is to regain full health – God can do all things, He’s the great Healer! Would Page and Allan get divorced because they made the commitment to take care of Robert for as long as he lives? What about the children and how they are affected by the compromising of God’s Word. Do we say,” yes, it is OK to compromise God’s Word if your heart is in the right place!” Who knows the heart?
Only God knows how the heart is often wicked and deceitful above all things. No, God does not give us that choice. His Word is good and it is final! The marriage bed must not be defiled! Right now, according to the Word of God, Allan and Page are in an adulterous relationship. They must repent and do things God’s way or they we will not be right with God!
43. I find this article very disturbing. Marriage is forever, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. These are the vows we take, and they are very clear. Sickness doesn’t just mean seasonal allergies or the flu; it includes stroke, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s, cancer, paralysis, etc. So often we forget that our earthly marriages are to reflect our position as the Bride of Christ. He doesn’t “divorce” us under any circumstance. We need to decide if out marriages are God-centered or self-centered. If they are in fact God- centered, we need to live as such, loving our neighbors as ourselves, loving our wives as Christ loves the church, respecting our husbands, accepting God’s Word as it is, and not changing it to meet our self centered needs.
I am so thankful that my Jesus is one who will never leave or forsake me, despite the mess I make of my life. As His Bride, my forever is sealed.
44. I thought the article was extremely well written and I agree that this story is inspiring, almost to the point of tears. I try to put myself in Robert’s place and ask if I was not able to comprehend the situation, would I want my husband to be happily married to someone else…especially when I was unable to meet my portion of the vow? That answer is Yes.
I try to put myself in Page’s place and ask, “Would I be able to stand before God and say that I had fulfilled my portion of the vow? That answer is, “No.”
This situation is most unusual and extreme…it is certainly NOT black and white. We serve a loving and compassionate God who is also just and merciful and holy…how does God see this situation? So many people break their marriage vows without understanding how it breaks the heart of our Lord. It seems that this family is trying so hard to do the right thing, but in the end the vows have been broken even if it was for all the right reasons.
45. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for nearly 30 years. We have had many joys but also many sorrows and trials. We have walked through beautiful valleys and have had to climb tall hard mountains.
… I believe that failed marriages today are primarily the result of prideful, selfish people who want their own way and want their spouse to fulfill their every need. They refuse to recognize their sin, be humbled and fall on their knees before God, seeking His ways. They want it their way! In those kind of relationships, divorce is just the easy answer.
However, as a Christian I struggle greatly when circumstances such as Robert and Page Melton’s arise. Since Robert’s mental capacity changed greatly, I struggle with what’s right in the eyes of God. Does He expect Page to live the rest of her life without a helpmate, without a companion? It would appear to me that Page’s heart was in the right place. Her commitment to love and care for Robert didn’t change. She didn’t wipe her hands of it and walk away. But in black and white, she didn’t keep her marriage vows.
My parents had a horrible marriage. My father was both verbally and physically abusive to my mother for almost 50 years. He has recently passed away. My mom is a Christian. From everything I could see on the outside, my father was not. Divorce was not an option in my mother’s mind. I watched her live a miserable life because of that conviction. My mom and I prayed for God to call my father to Him and to change his heart, many, many times. Unless it was while he was dying, it never happened. Was that the plan God had for my mom, for her to spend her entire adult life in fear and under the abusive hand and mouth of my father? I don’t know the answer to that. Many times, it seemed that divorce would have been better.
So I guess that begs the question even more. Is divorce ever acceptable in God’s eyes? Can we ever justify it?
46. I think there are so many other issues in this article that must be addressed before looking at her marriage vows. Here is a woman with two small children who did everything she could to save her husband, despite doctor’s advice. She did not give up hope on her husband, even though the odds were against him being the man she had once known and married. As an RN who cares for people with traumatic brain injury and stroke, it is unimaginable to understand the loss that these family members experience. While her husband wasn’t physically “dead,” the man she married was no more. It’s not a black and white issue to me, because “until death do us part,” would have been the day he suffered the stroke had there not been modern medicine.
Nevertheless, she did go against her marriage vows and I believe deep down inside she was fully aware of this: “I believed my vows so strongly that they just kept ringing in my ears.”
“I just could not have done that,” Page says. “It broke my heart to not be married to Robert anymore, in spite of all the good that was going to happen.”
“In a way, I feel married to Robert forever,” she said a few days before leaving for St. Louis. “It’s not a traditional marriage. It’s not the marriage we signed up for. But I feel like there’s a connection there that never ends.”
It is truly just a very, very sad story that breaks my heart. Biblically, it’s clear that she did not honor her vows of legal marriage. She is, however, living out her commitment to the man she married by caring for him. In this day and age, that is more than most people would do.
47. Interesting article, and I’m sure the world applauds her efforts, easy to see why, but the Bible says “for better or worse, in sickness and in health, til death do us part” – can’t change Gods word. Lots of us are in marriages with a partner that is as emotionally absent as her husband is, i.e., a dead marriage, but we honor it because we said, “I do.”
48. I honestly don’t know what to think about the article. As a Christian, I know that divorce is not something God desires for us, however I watch Christian couples divorce all the time.
Was Page only thinking of her fleshly needs in having someone to love and hold her when she divorced Robert and married Allan? Why didn’t she honor her vows she made to Robert – in sickness and in health as long as we both shall live? Weren’t the first seven years the healthy part and now for the rest of her marriage, it is the sickness part?
I agree that there is something not quite right with this, even though it is a very nice story and nice thing for Allan to do for Page and Robert. It shows his commitment to Page, not Robert.
Page’s marriage covenant to Robert was not there after the trauma. She may have been committed, but once Allan came into the picture, she broke her vows to Robert and married him. If she was in a covenant with Robert, she would have never started the relationship with Allan in the first place. She should have never gone where she went with Allan. He’s another man, and in marriage a close friendship with someone of the opposite sex is not be accepted. If Robert was in his right mind, he would not have tolerated his wife seeing another man and being friends with him at all! These kinds of friendships always lead to trouble and divorce.
To me this story has a very sad ending and those girls are the ones who suffer. Their mother told them with her actions, that it is OK to divorce your husband and marry someone else if he not the man mentally that you married. I’m disappointed with the minister at her church and how luke-warm he was at the mention of her divorcing Robert and marrying Allan. Page missed the mark of teaching future generations the meaning of marriage and what true love is.
I believe Page, should have said, “This is my husband and I am not forsaking him, nor leaving him.” Love goes deeper than the physical act. She should have worked harder at showing him that she loved him in all the ways possible. She should have moved nurses into her home, so that Robert could be with her and their girls, not living separately. This way there would have been no room for the temptation of breaking her vows to Robert. He would have been there, reminding her constantly of the covenant the two of them shared.
She missed a wonderful, teachable opportunity to show her girls what the true meaning of love is. That would have been a better love story, because it would be the story of true love and a shining example here on this troubled and struggling earth of how God loves us.
49. Our Lord tells us that when we are married, “the two become one flesh” (Matt 19:5, Mark 10:8, 1 Corinthians 6:16). Only God can separate this bond, even though we attempt through our own logic and selfishness, it can never be broken. She will still feel guilt even though she is “caring for him”. It was very interesting that she sought out blessings from all of those people (even her minister), but did not seek out the Word of God through the Holy Spirit. So many times we do this, thinking that if our preacher gives the green light, it is an OK thing to do. This happens all the time on Sundays. We listen to the sermon and never “fact check” the messenger. This, in turn, is being used to bring down our marriages and families by the enemy.
50. I am married to my child hood sweetheart who became ill with dementia in 2001 and has progressed to the severe stage. No, he is not the same man, in many ways he is sweeter and nobler. His spiritual life is better now. He prays all day long some days in very lucid and Spirit filled prayers. He is at home with me, I work during the day but the rest of the time I am at home with him and feel that God has chosen to teach me many things through my care of him. In my heart, even though he is basically dying each day, he is still my husband, ’till death do us part.
I am not judging, but it seems the way Page decided to alleviate her conscious by altering the wedding vows still does not make it right. If she was my Christian sister and friend and had come to me for counsel, I would have told her that. She could have chosen not to get into the relationship with someone new; we have urges everyday but because they are morally wrong, we choose to walk away, sometimesrun away. I question her pastor blessing something like this, evidently it is not a fundamentalist, Bible-following church but one of the more liberal, “keep ’em entertained and satisfied” churches that is afraid to tell people the hard truth about what God expects, yea, demands from His children. The Christian life is not for sissys but for people who are committed to their God and their spouse.
51. The Bible says it all. Matthew 5:32; 19:9 “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.” “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
52. With the assumption Page is a Christian: as lonely as Page is, Robert is still her husband. Modern medical advances often make decisions hard. A thousand years ago he probably wouldn’t have survived. But I believe the grounds for divorce are clear-cut in Scripture. If Page is a Christian, the motivating question (married or unmarried) is: How can I glorify God?
With the assumption Page is not a Christian, what is to stop her? Only with God can absolute truth be found. Without fear of God, “truth” is relative.
53. I do believe in God’s ways rather than ours which say married for life. I also believe that we are not to judge but to love one another and let God take care of the rest. This is an issue to this world of God’s way vs. the way of the world.
I also know that to judge one person or group of people is not what God wants us to do. … As we do stand up for God’s laws, we also need to know when to keep out of the judgment of our brother, neighbor and others. The two greatest commandments are:1. Love God above all else; 2. Love others as much or more than ourselves.
54. I have read your article and my first thought was that Page Melton had carefully and methodically made a great decision on her marriage to Robert. The circumstances she was ‘offered’ seemed like a very comfortable answer and “nobody was hurt” in the decision. Everybody was taken care of, to the best offerings that man could offer. Page, Robert, Allen and the children were all (apparently) very happy with the decision.
However, after doing a bit of research [attachment] (and meditation) I have come to a different conclusion.
If God (and I firmly believe He does) has our greatest interest in mind (for His purpose for us), we are to accept His decisions on our life and prayerfully ask Him to help us do His will for us whatever the circumstance. It’s not about us . . . it’s about God; He created us and he is still in charge. Our thoughts are not His thoughts and our ways are not His ways.
We are not here on earth for God . . . as much as God is here on earth for us; to help us fulfill His purpose for us, to train us as He knows is best for our upcoming time in eternity.
God alone is in control. We only think we are in control of our lives . . . and in good times it may appear that we really are in control of our lives. However, in trying times we are, most of the time, simply out of control (of our lives).
Page is probably missing out on some of God’s blessings. Yes, it’s more comfortable to be married to someone that can function on the role of a loving and “functional” basis. The children may feel that their step-dad can help them grow up and learn of life better than their own father (and this may appear very true to all of us) but is it true in God’s eyes?
If I had a similar choice to make . . . I would probably opt for the more comfortable life too. I think careful prayer and really listening to God for an answer is the more correct decision we can make. Maybe, just maybe, God was giving Page the more “direct route” to where He wants her to be.
It was expressed to me a long time ago something like this: If you were in London and God wanted you to get to New York He would give you opportunities for the trip. If instead of taking a ship from England directly to the United States you, in your ‘infinite wisdom’ decided to take a world cruise . . . you would still end up in New York . . . it would just take a longer time to get there. That’s not to say that God couldn’t use the time on the cruise to allow you to learn some valuable lessons. Remember, God is very patient . . . but He has many other attributes that one must take into consideration too.
In my thinking I feel that Page should have stuck with Robert and allowed Allen to be a good and helpful friend. I’m sure it was a very difficult decision for all to make, but without God’s input in deciding this change of life situation the waters of decision may have been very murky.
55. The Washington Post article that you discussed did indeed bring up some interesting questions. What Page did in her situation with Robert by continuing to care for him after choosing to move on with her life and marrying Allan is admirable by the world’s standards. But it is certainly a commentary on how the world views marriage.
God created the concept of marriage and it was intended to be a covenant that is not entered into lightly, a covenant that reflects the relationship of Jesus with His church. We are not to be commended on our compassion in continuing to still care about a former spouse who is debilitated. We are to vow to stand by their side regardless of the circumstances, as part of the definition of what it means to be married.
56. To suffer through such a devastating event as in the case of Robert and Page is indeed a tragedy, however it offers the opportunity to truly live out the wedding vows that were spoken in earnest the day they were joined in marriage. We are not entitled to only the one half of those vows. Our love is called to be unconditional. However the world has decided to redefine the concept of marriage, in that it is no longer “In sickness and in health, for better or for worse…” but essentially it has become “In health, for better, for richer, and as long as you keep me happy and life is easy”. We are not to look to our spouse for happiness and fulfillment, but rather to Jesus.
The sadness of caring for a spouse who has suffered a stroke or an illness that leaves them a different person, although certainly not easy or ideal, creates the opportunity to rely on Christ and also for personal growth in a way one could never imagine. In this life we are not guaranteed anything, and marriage is an institution where we have the opportunity to learn to die to ourselves and become more like Christ. In true love, Christ laid down His life for the church, an imperfect church, and we are called to lay ourselves and our selfishness down daily as we learn to love our spouse through relying utterly on Jesus.
57. Although I have never been in a situation like this and I realize that I have not “walked in her shoes” I have been married for 37 years. I got married willingly at the age of 15 yrs old. I understood my vows then and even better now.”Forsaking all other” meant the same then as now.
She is indeed “redefining the meaning” of the most precious vow we as humans make.She has rationalized her actions by including her new man in her present marriage……….This is really a perversion and very sick.
As with the subject of abortion, there is and always will be “A story”—a reason “why it’s OK for me to do this, even though I know it’s fundamentally wrong to kill (even the most precious- a baby human)….but….I feel it’s right; therefore I’m going to do it anyway.”
You can’t trust feelings… That’s why we make vows. They are meant to be permanent… When the waves [of hardship] begin to hit, the vows keep us rock solid. It is sad that her pastor affirmed her in her affair with another man and then counseled her to divorce her ill husband. That’s when the “In sickness and in health begins.” That’s when her real husband needed her the most.
We all need to be “teaching as we go by the way” these “First Principles of Life” to keep them sacred.
58. I teach people how to work with people with illnesses and disabilities. in their homes. I am faced with the “what ifs” every day that I teach. Plus, I have been thinking about and observing the admiration Mark Kelly has for his wife, Gabrielle Giffords after her injury.
Unfortunately, I am one of those people who don’t “get it” until I am experiencing it. My husband and I have been married going on 24 years. They haven’t always been pleasant years and I blame a lot of that on myself. But my husband stuck it out with me. I can honestly say during the first several years of our marriage I had an ‘illness’. My illness was called selfishness. I expected marriage to be this or that way….that he would make me happy……blah blah blah. It wasn’t until God reached down and pulled me from the hole I had dug for all of us that I realized this isn’t about me at all. Not one part of this life is about me. It’s about God and what He has put me here to do.
When I said “I do,” I believe I was letting God know that I will…….I will take care of this man for the rest of my life to the best of my God-given ability and focus on his needs not mine. So, if my husband were to become ill or injured, I pray that … I would turn my face to God….thank Him for the life interrupted and ask Him what it is He has for me to do. … Kind of like how we are taught “Love the sinner not the sin” …. I will love the man not the illness?
So in regards to the article…..I think it’s a nice consideration to make Robert a part of their lives but I still disagree with the decision. My first thought was “What is she doing going to a reunion without her husband anyway?”We need to be more interested in meeting others needs and not our own.
59. Wow – this is a moving story. A while back I believe there was a similar post, but the couple was elderly and one of them had Alzheimer’s. I brought the topic up with my husband and asked what he would do. To my sadness he said he would always care for me but would most probably move on at some point. His logic was that I was no longer the person he married and shouldn’t he have the companionship that God intended for us.
Now reading this I found myself rooting for Page. I couldn’t imagine looking at the man I married and having him not recognize me, or have any ability to communicate in a meaningful manner. Something in this story made me realize that a person doesn’t have to physically die to leave someone a widow. Page for all practical purposes is a widow; just because the stroke didn’t kill Robert, it left him without any ability to love and serve his wife.
We as Christians support widows finding love after losing a spouse, right? Page isn’t abandoning him, she looked to his family for their support, is continuing to provide care for him, and her new spouse is very involved and supportive of their relationship.
If Robert had known what was going to happen to him, I think he would have given Page his blessing to find love again. Talking about these types of scenarios really forces you to realize if your love for your spouse is for your fulfillment or to serve your spouse. I am proud to say that I have come around on this topic. While I value my vows, I would not want my husband to live without a companion because I was unable to provide that for him.
60. As a 35-year-old male, who’s experienced divorce involving children, I’ve submerged myself in spiritual growth and have developed a compassion for the marital covenant and the very essence of being a man, spiritual leader, husband and father.
During the years since my divorce, I’ve come across a number of FamilyLife Marriage Memos and daily devotionals that depict an “old fashioned”, and seemingly forgotten, approach to marriage. Among those are…
-A similar story of a man who’s wife was in an unresponsive state, and despite the nurses informing him that his daily visits to feed her, wipe her down, brush her hair, etc… were not necessary; he reiterated that he made a vow until death do [them] part, and so he will continue to visit and care for her.
-Another, being a true story from October 2011. An Iowa couple married 72 years… Died an hour apart, holding hands.
Such inspiration from generations before my own, that still honor and obey the covenant they made before God, family and friends.
I think about some sermons from my senior pastor that convey that being a Christ-follower (and having a biblical based marriage) isn’t a part time thing. God wants all of you, not excluding the parts of your Christianity (or marriage) that you want to control…. he wants all of you. Why shouldn’t our marital covenants be treated with this same mindset?
Knowing that marriage vows can be custom-written for a ceremony, I’ve researched “standard marriage vows” for my location, which is Denton Co., TX. They read: “Will you love and comfort him/her, honor and keep him/her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her as long as you both shall live?”
What part of that is unclear? “…in sickness and in health…” “…forsaking all others…” “…as long as you both shall live…” Or as I believe I’ve heard, “…until death do you part.” To my knowledge, there are no clauses or exhibits that allow deviation from this marital covenant that allows us to do marriage our own way.
I’m not perfect… I’m divorced for a reason… But through my faith in Jesus Christ, God will be the center of my future marriage and my vows will be central to our relationship with God.
61. I appreciate your point of view, a biblical one that does not allow us to justify our desires to forgo our guilt. We cannot customize our marriage vows to accommodate our will but must live them to the fullest, regardless of the hardship. In turn, God will remain alongside us every step of the way; He will bless and enrich us by growing our strength and faith beyond measure. Our committed lives will give glory to the God who created the sanctity of this union between man and wife.
I’ve been fortunate enough to see this example of a committed marriage in my parents who were married nearly 64 years. Three of those years my mother spent lovingly caring for my dad who was stricken with cancer and dementia. During his debilitating suffering, which often caused uncharacteristic anger, he would still turn to her and call her “the love of my life.” I know that he was torn by leaving her behind but ultimately yearned “to go Home,” and be with his Lord.
62. I have been with my husband for over 40 years, I don’t know anything else or anyone else. I love him, and I do take my vows seriously, in all ways. Yes, this is a story about the age that we live in…But God’s law doesn’t change, and what He expects from us regardless where we are in history, is keeping our marriage promises. They are representative of Jesus’ love for his bride, the Church. And the promises He made.
A covenant is a covenant. If a person can’t be counted on to keep a big promise, he/she is just as likely to break any promise … . Actions speak louder than words. Just because everyone does it [divorces], doesn’t make it any more right.
As much as I hate hearing the “What would Jesus Do” phrase that my mom always spouts when we are in doubt about our actions, it’s relevant in all walks of life. Jesus promised to lay down His life for us. If He had found … that it was too overwhelming to keep that promise, too hard, there were just WAY too many sick people, mean people, you name it, where would we be now? I could not imagine.
Live and love your life the way God gives it, and He will make a way to work all things out to His good pleasure. We were not put on this earth for our comfort and happiness, those things are a byproduct of obedience to the Living God and doing your best, relying on Him in all things, in all ways. Apply the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit.
63. My dad is far from what I would call nice, easy going, gentle, or kind. Nonetheless he did have a relentless commitment to being a husband, being a dad, and in relationship to God. He was, and continues to be committed to me— that means faithful. He never left my mom, his kids, nor cursed God in any of our crisis.
My mom had cancer which spread throughout her body, starting out as breast cancer, to the lymph nodes, spinal cord, and then brain. Needless to say, every type of medical procedure was done to save her which left her a completely different woman. She began to regress into childhood then in the final stages motionless for what seemed for so long. He never found comfort in another’s embrace except the arms of Jesus. He never lost his eyes of faithfulness towards her, despite her being more like another daughter than wife. We never worried regardless of all circumstances that he would leave my mom.
After she passed several relatives asked him if I could live with them to have a mother’s touch. He never allowed it for more than visits during summer because he was committed to being a dad. A family has weaknesses, and we have many, but one thing my dad showed my brothers and I (and to this day we hold on to it tightly) is we are a family committed to God no matter what. We are committed to each other, and my brothers and I know how to be committed and faithful to our marriage vows … My dad never remarried. To this day he has eyes only for my mom. I do hope still he would remarry but that is just like him.
64. Wow Dave that is crazy hard to get your head around!
If I were Richard, there is no question I would want my wife to do exactly what Page did. Clearly the essence of who Richard was died, and I would not want her bound to my empty shell for the rest of her life. However, if I were Page, I can’t fathom a scenario that I would have divorced Richard including that one. There is no ambiguity and no exceptions for health in Matthew 19 or Gen 2. It is what it is and there are no options for both men in there.
I’m OK with what Page did. I’m a strong, serious, conservative, charismatic, Christian. I almost see your point, almost. Why judge? Leave it alone. You’re splitting hairs way too thin.
65. I haven’t read the full article, but wanted to quickly respond to your invitation to comment on the article. I have a great deal of empathy for Page, and it’s hard for me to imagine what I would do in a similar circumstance. It’s easy to think we know ourselves and what we would do, but impossible if we haven’t walked in the same shoes. Human beings were created to be relational. We need one another. Sexuality is another distinct need for most people. This does not mean that without another spouse, Page would wither up and die. However, it is quite normal and natural for her to have fallen into another relationship, no matter how guarded she might have tried to be.
Does it matter that when the Bible was written, medical care would not have been able to save the life of this man and it would not have happened this way? I don’t know….
The marriage vows are words created by people, and “as your wedded wife” and “forsaking all others” may or may not be something that God would have us say. Vows of any kind are supposed to be for life, and although the legal side of things has changed, Page has kept her vow to “love, honor and cherish in sickness and in health,” and has a partner to help her. I’m not sure what God thinks of the situation. But God is a loving God and since he created us in his image and knows of our need for relationship, I imagine, hope, and believe (based on his character as revealed through Scripture) that He is pleased with Page’s choice never to leave or forsake her husband even as she finds companionship and love with another man. The most important thing is to let God do the judging.
66. Justified adultery. Page redefined her “vows” with Robert. It saddens me to see how creative people can become to satisfy themselves. She should be ashamed of her choices.
My situation is a bit different….my husband just walked out! Legalized his adultery with the other woman….But, I stay true to the vows we made …We were given 10 laws to live by (10 Commandments) people are always trying to make justification of their wrongs with #11!
Too, this story doesn’t reaffirm a faith in humanity….it just reaffirms how choices are justified in the secular realm of life! Throw Robert another bone…see if he’ll sit or stay! This story is shameful! Good boy, Robert!!
67. Reading this article made me so angry, I actually had to take a few minutes to pray and pull myself back together…
You see, my husband and I were married in August of 2007 and in May of 2010 my husband was in a very serious accident that left him with a severe brain injury. Much of the impairments mentioned in the article we face daily. It’s a good day if my man recognizes me and can remember my name. He often has no memory that we are married or memory of the life we shared together before his injury.
When my man’s injury first occurred I was told, if he made it through the first 72 hours (he was given 10% chance), then he would probably be a vegetable the rest of his life, unable to speak or understand language and most likely he wouldn’t be able to walk on his own. I boldly told the doctor that my God was bigger than my man’s brain injury and only He could determine what Adam’s prognosis would be. I began this incredible journey of knowing and trusting that God was in control. I can see how the entire year before Adam’s injury happened that God was preparing us and equipping us for such a time as this.
I have been honored and blessed that God has chosen Adam and me to be His vessels, to walk our faith … And I have been even more blessed to see God’s continued hand in healing my man every day! With God’s grace, Adam has begun speaking and is walking on his own and I continue to stand in anticipation of seeing God fully restore my husband.
Early on in this journey, God gave me the Bible verse Jeremiah 31:4 “I will build you up and you will be rebuilt” Then God showed me that when you a remodeling a house, and you gut it from the inside out, you don’t rebuild it the same as it was before. I believe God is rebuilding Adam and I know he won’t be the same as before, but then again… neither am I. I do know that God has plans for us and that this is part of our faith journey as husband and wife. Through prayer, God has given me a new love for my man every day.
I am my man’s wife and for me my vows include taking care of my husband. For better or for brain injury. I’m not saying by any means that this has been an easy journey, but what I am saying is even through pain and sorrow, with God directing each and every step, there is so much joy.
When giving my man my covenant vow on August 26, 2007, that was just the starting point. I can truly say, I am more in love with my man today then I was on that day nearly five years ago. I thank Adam nearly every day for choosing me to be his wife, what a journey this has been and will continue to be. Both my man and I know that we are unable to walk this journey on our own, we both need God for every breath we take, for every step forward we go, and for His help in giving us a renewed and cherished love for each other.
I’m not sure why I wrote all this, other than to say that I totally disagree with the article and the disrespect to the covenant vows. We don’t just take our vows with our spouse we give God our promise and vow to uphold the institution of marriage that He designed for His greater purpose. Just because we may not like the circumstances that is delivered in doesn’t give the right dishonor our vow to God.
68. Let me start by saying I feel Page was terribly misled by her pastor. My husband has a close friend whose mother has Alzheimer’s and is in a care facility. She apparently is at a fairly severe stage, although I only know from the story her son tells. His father, like this lady, developed a relationship with another female friend because of the “lack of relationship” with his wife. Since many Alzheimer patients still have their long-term memory, I wonder if she is aware of what her husband has done to her even though she may be unable to communicate it with him?
…Interestingly his son previously has been twice divorced (first in the early 80’s without children, marrying the younger woman he had an affair with and then about 10 years ago from her with now having two teenaged children) and now is in a non-married relationship with another woman – one of a succession. During college days he had professed to be a Christian … I believe that over the years he has “developed” his faith to fit his lifestyle from conversations we have had with him on other areas of faith rather than molding his life/ lifestyle around his faith and deepening it.
I contrast that with a lady from the nursing home in our town, who recently passed away, that my husband (who is a Family Practice Physician) cared for over 20 plus years – a time during which he says he never carried on a meaningful conversation with her. I believe that in at least the later years she was not communicative with anyone. During all those years her husband faithfully visited her daily even when my husband who is 30 years younger said he never would have been out on the winter roads. This husband is a perfect picture of the couple talked about in the contemporary song… is it by Mark Schultz? I believe it is something like “Walking You Home.”
I only pray that my husband uses him as a role model and not his friend’s dad if someday I am in that situation. I don’t care about how quickly he remarries – just don’t do it while I’m still living!
69. When I was eight years old (and my brothers were nine and five), my father had an operation for extensive skin cancer. After several months in the hospital and coming close to death, he came home and returned to work but he was a different person.
I remember asking my mother to divorce him, but she never did. My brothers and I grew up, moved out, and started lives of our own. My father then had a long distance affair with another women and caused great distress in my mother’s life. But my mother stayed in the marriage until my father’s death.
I know God’s hand was upon our family throughout my childhood. He kept us safe when my father drove us in the car while intoxicated, he protected us from physical abuse, he surrounded me with wonderful role models, he brought loving friends into my mother’s life. He opened up my mother’s heart to accept Jesus as her personal savior when she was in her 70’s.
My mother was a pillar of strength and perseverance which set a wonderful example for me as a wife and mother. And when life gets difficult I often think that it is not as difficult as what my mother endured and I thank her for living a life of honoring her vows.
70. I was heart broken to hear that Page divorced her husband. That’s a slap in the face. Even though her husband could no longer fulfill her needs physically and could not be the husband and father he once was, that doesn’t mean you have the right to just throw in the towel and call it quits. I just wonder what her husband would think if he was well.
And what kind of example does that set for her children? How sad it is to see how she rationalized her guilty conscious. That was Satan at work indefinitely. Marriage is the first place he attacks. I would be heartbroken if my husband chose another woman over me because of an illness or impairment.
71. I think that in today’s times, marriage is not the sacred commitment it once was. I think this story is something that should be brought up in pre-marital counseling so that people can decide if they love the person enough to be totally committed to “in sickness and health.” My husband had an accident 18 months ago and he will never work again, cannot walk for long periods without his legs swelling, has a bad back, and because of his health issues he now suffers from depression. He is only 49 and I am 41. This is not how I imagined our lives would be, but I love him with all my heart and could never abandon him with the selfish thought of “a better life for myself”.
72. So hard!! I lost my father four years ago and my mom went through a depression within months. She then started a friendship with a man whose wife has Alzheimer ’s disease. They have comforted each other. But…how do you define friendship and affairs? I never thought a predicament like this would happen in my family. My mom has lost friends, ministry leadership positions, family, and relationship with a church she had been a part of for 40 yrs. ~but she has gained an intimate friend…and new ones and a new church. In the process she has had two mental breakdowns that required hospitalization. The doctor said, “Severe depression leading to a psychotic break”. It is plain hard. I don’t know what to do, except love her. But how?
73. I can’t say I would have made a different decision myself, but let’s call it what it is. She chose her own happiness over keeping the vow she made before family, friends and God Himself.
74. This brought me to the point of absolute sobs. … After my husband and I were married, I suffered a serious back injury (I am a nurse) We were to leave on our honeymoon the next day (which did not happen). It has been 6.5 years and 5 surgeries later. I have not been able to return to work and things are far different than either my husband or I ever expected. My husband is still with me, although I know that there was a time that he thought of leaving me (perhaps more than one) Somehow, through prayer and God’s grace, he has remained true to his word.
I think people romanticize “til death do we part,” until something really happens to test this commitment. We say, “I would stick by you no matter what.” What if that “what” means that life and your spouse will never again be the same?”
My heart broke to read this story. I wonder if my husband would stay with me if I was like Robert. In addition to this, would I have the strength of character to stay true to my commitment if my husband were Robert? Only with God’s help and strength. I am grateful that my husband has been true to his vows and I hope that I could be as strong as he has been even when tempted.
75. You’re correct that it’s hard, at least from a purely human standpoint, not to feel for Page in the situation that occurred. I’m sure that, to many people, this does feel like a positive story, even inspirational in some ways. Feelings, of course, are often problematic. Many will certainly point to the fact that even Robert blessed the new union as confirmation that the new marriage was an acceptable outcome. The thing that kept popping up in my mind as I read the latter parts of the story is that the commitment Page made during her original wedding ceremony was not just to Robert, but also, and more importantly, to God.
In speaking to struggling couples in the past, I’ve heard individuals say things like, “I just know God wouldn’t want me to be this unhappy.” My response to such a statement is that I don’t feel it’s my place to make presumptions about how God intends the details of my life to play out. My wife and I went through several years where I repeatedly trampled on my vows in various ways, including infidelity. It would’ve been easy for her to conclude that God wouldn’t want her bound to such a degenerate, and nearly 100% of the people in our lives would have agreed.
The “me” she spent those years with was certainly not the person she thought she married a few years earlier. She even had biblical license to shed herself of me, but she didn’t. I often say that she took God at His word in Jeremiah 29:11 and believed, despite all the heartache, that He has plans to prosper her and give her hope. Today, we stand together much stronger than we ever were before. We work together to help couples build stronger marriages and families. All that hardship is a shining testimony to God’s ability to redeem broken relationships and heal broken people. I’m also saddened by the counsel Page received from many of those around her. My wife received similar advice.
76. This article was painful to read. We cannot redefine the vows in order to take away the pain of a sad situation. Life is not always beautiful and wonderful. In fact, God calls on many of us to bear great burdens. We don’t “deserve” any happiness, and yet God does give us many moments of love, joy, and peace. If He takes that away, it is our responsibility to prove our love for Him by accepting what He has given, and praising Him for it. I have to believe that if Page had committed herself to helping Robert, she would have not just learned to “accept her situation,” but would have instead received many blessings in ways she never dreamed. I am not surprised, however, that the world thinks this is a great solution to a difficult problem.
77. I have been married for 15 years and take my vows seriously. However, I cannot judge this wife. I applaud her new husband’s commitment.
78. Although medical science has been a blessing to so many families, it also presents ethical challenges that families struggle to deal with. Does momma need a pacemaker to prolong her life when she doesn’t even know who her children are? Do we try to prolong our child’s live with horrible chemo drugs, even though the doctors tell us that’s it’s only going to give him/her a few more months? There are no easy answers and every family has to make these decisions on their own.
To me, it is very clear in the story that all of the people who love Robert and who have come to love Robert, have struggled to make peace with his new limitations and new strengths. Love is about actions, not feelings. Robert’s family has shown by the considerable time and money put forth towards providing him with the best environment to meet his needs and by the time spent with him that they love him. And by all accounts he seems to be very happy. Robert is loved.
When we marry we make a promise to God and we also make a binding agreement under the laws of the state in which we marry. As you will agree, there is a huge difference in being married legally and being married with God at the center of one’s relationship. It certainly appears that Page still feels very married to Robert in a religious sense. Unfortunately he is no longer able to be a partner on the same level he once was.
I personally see Page as being married to two men. She seems to be providing what each needs while also benefiting from what each man has to offer. In the Old Testament it was common for men to have more than one wife. Sometimes it was because a woman was infertile. I’m not suggesting that I would think that is appropriate today, but am only using it as an example in how marriage has been defined and redefined over the years.
It may be with the advances in medical science and people living longer and living after injuries (that in the past would have ended their lives), that we have to redefine marriage once again. The greatest commandment is to love.
79. I read the article about Page and Robert. The circumstances that they faced in life were extremely difficult and I empathize with the decision she made to marry Allan. However, God’s Word does not change and marriage should be until death do us part, therefore her decision to divorce and marry again goes against God’s Word. I wonder how things will be in 10 to 15 years. Will it become more difficult or tiresome to have Robert in their lives? What if Robert recovers more fully and really understands what has happened to him and his family? There are a lot of “what ifs” that could cause more distress in the future as a result of this decision.
80. I found the story troubling when I read it in The Washington Post magazine, particularly when I read her minister and family members signed off on it. At that point, she received the validation to do what she already knew she wanted to do. I’m not surprised at the “positive feedback” because we are living in an age where people feel they can define marriage as they choose. As I read the article, I kept wondering what about “in sickness and in health.” People don’t realize that this may mean denying oneself of certain needs for the sake of the other.
I watched my mother care for my father after several debilitating strokes left him in need of constant care. Even after he went to live in a nursing home, she kept her vows. Now that my father has gone home to the Lord, she misses him and honors his memory.
Such situations are never perfect or ideal. I imagine it must have been very difficult for Paige because her husband was not the same. His intelligence and demeanor were completely altered. I don’t judge her choices. But reading this story made me reflect and conclude that the vows I took before God with my husband are vows I intend to keep by His grace and divine help. In everything, God is our only true help. I wonder if Paige asked God what to do and if she heard an answer. Was it this choice or would it be different. Not a judgment. Just a thought.
81. I do not agree with the decision Page took. In the Bible, it states that a woman must not divorce her husband unless he/ or she commits adultery. The only reason to re-marry in a marriage is if either one passes away.
82. I don’t think that there are any excuses to Page’s actions. She vowed : “In sickness and in health,” not just “In health.” It’s unfortunate what happened to Robert, but it was Page’s responsibility and covenant to God to remain faithful, care for Robert, and remain in that marriage until the very end.
83. I have to agree with you. I believe 100% in the Bible and the only permission God gives for a divorce is sexual immorality (Matthew 19). Sexual immorality doesn’t mean, “My husband/wife cheated on me so I’m getting a divorce.”…It means a consistent habitual sin and that the spouse is unrepentant toward and doesn’t have a change of heart.
84. I was very moved by your article and completely agree with your “take” on it since my husband and I have faced major medical “surprise” issues after our wedding in 1998. We had no idea what those vows would mean until 2003. While pregnant with our only child, I learned that my kidneys were failing. I went from an independent, strong, healthy woman, to a bed-ridden unemployable, and angry mess. What had God done to me, and why?
Someday I hope to give a more detailed testimony, but suffice it to say that by the miraculous will of God, my daughter and I survived the pregnancy when we came within inches of death’s door! My husband also found his life turned upside down as well. He went from provider to number one caretaker in the blink of an eye.
After the birth, I needed a transplant. We found ourselves trying to care for a premature infant, with a now chronically ill body of my own, and two jobs to hold down. I went through one visit to the hospital after another, constantly leaving my child with my husband. I got a transplant from my heroic brother in 2006, but that did not solve problems. I would be ill on and off for the rest of my life, I ended up out of work for 1 1/2 years, and worst of all I felt that I had lost my identity. If my husband was now the caretaker too, then what is my purpose?
The strain on the marriage was big, and both my husband and I came from broken homes so we had nothing to go on here. We attended a Weekend to Remember in 2008. We learned that marriage is not a 50/50 proposition, but a constant giving and sacrificing of ourselves. Through our experiences, God has taught me to be humble about making future plans, allowing others to help me without my pride getting in the way, and to have empathy for those going through similar challenges.
I am inspired by the amazing man I married, who, in spite of all this, grew closer to God and has led our very tiny family through it all with courage and conviction. I would like to one day write a book with him about the lessons God taught us and to share them with other Christians going through this. The one thing I would tell everyone is this. This is your refining process. God is looking for the gold within. It hurts. It may not seem fair. But if you stay with it God will reveal beautiful things to you that can only be seen by those who have gone through the same fire. …
85. I have a friend who is in a similar situation, however, he is just trying to get her into a facility to care for her (progressive Huntington’s disease) and because he has a job (a very low paying job) he can’t get assistance for her to get into a facility unless he would divorce her and she becomes indigent. He is staying with her, but it’s taking a toll on his health to try to work and care for her too. He relies on friends to help and sometimes takes her to work with him, but that could jeopardize his job. This is certainly a dilemma for him, but he will not divorce her as he vowed to be faithful until death. It’s a tragedy that our system works like this.
86. First let me say her pastor needs to be removed from his congregation and barred from ministry for the sake of all. There is no basis for a righteous divorce here. It goes against God’s Word and the sanctity of marriage. I would be greatly interested in finding out how he reached his conclusion of his counseling to Page. I have yet to find such a passage in Gods Word that I would reach this/his conclusion.
Page is living in adultery and is somehow distorting in her mind the Word of God. She is living in the flesh and not of the Spirit. She had no righteous release as her husband was not dead, in unrepentant sin, or abandoning her as an unbeliever. He is sick and deserves so much more than being cast away for self serving interests.
The biggest concern I have is this pastor’s advice though. We as Christians, and especially those in leadership roles, must quit bending and distorting the Word of God based on worldly acceptance and self-serving interests. Passion for Christ sometimes means sacrifice and suffering. It is but His will be done and not of our own wills.
My heart goes out to Page for many reasons other than her husband’s tragedy. I pray for her now that she lives in daily sin in a marriage that is not sanctified. She will one day pay the disobedient price. A tragedy all on its own.
87. You said it…..”Until death do us part.” The Bible says nothing about “Until sickness we do part.”
88. Page broke her wedding vows.
89. This is a sad true story. I do not know what the wise answer is. I do know that if it were me, I would not have divorced her husband. I believe in vows exchanged “before God and all who are gathered here.” I have not been well since the third year of our almost twenty year marriage. Part of our vows were “to be there in times of trouble” My husband does not know what that means, because he went on a deer hunting trip when I had major surgery. He made a choice, and I was not it.
There have been other surgeries as well. My husband was the one to flush out the pick line in my arm after an infection that I was very ill and almost died from. One day he was about to flush out the vein and I asked him how he was doing with his certification, he was playing solitaire instead. I made the big mistake of saying that while I was lying there with the meds flowing in, it would be a good time to do it [get his certification]. He threw the saline syringe on the bed. Yelled at me, and I had to wait until he could calm down , because if there was an air bubble, he could have killed me.
He is a around but is not a loving supportive understanding Christian husband, this brings up lot of hurt for me. I am unable to get through. …
90. I read the story of Page and Robert and I agree with you wholeheartedly. When I got to the part of her falling in love with Allan and feeling guilty but not guilty enough to stop her actions, repent and return back as the “wedded wife” that she said she would be…. For better or for worse! It was not a friend covenant but a covenant that she made to God and her husband. I don’t see her second marriage as a wonderful love story……. I would see her staying married to her first husband until death do them part as the real love story!
91. I am agreement with you and was shocked that the minister told her it was OK to marry another as long as she cared for her first husband. That is nowhere is my Bible….it says “until death,” not “until catastrophic illness.” Where does her true commitment lay? I can imagine it would be extremely hard to be in her situation, but God is able and His grace is sufficient no matter the situation.
92. This is a perfect example of a self-absorbed, “good” person and a post-modernist mindset. We can feel good about keeping our vows, because as you said they are redefined, and chase our own selfish desires. A husband and wife make a covenant before God to forsake all others even in sickness, poorness, and for worse. That is even if they used traditional vows and didn’t redefine the covenant from the beginning. Forsaking all others is a form of self-denial, being married means I no longer chase after my own happiness, but forsake it for my wife.
This is a sad example of where blatant sin and covenant breaking is celebrated in our culture as good. Isaiah 5:20 says: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” And, 3 John 11 says: “Do not imitate what is evil but what is good.”
93. I can’t imagine being faced with a challenge like what Page went through with Robert. However, I found myself unsettled after reading their story. It’s great she felt relieved, but that doesn’t erase the underlying truth she promised herself on her wedding day to one man…Robert.
I think her decision was wrong. What message does this send her girls and other young women? “It’s OK to divorce your spouse when they are sick and impaired mentally.” What about the clause, “in sickness and health?” I think this is exactly why this clause exists. God said it not the minister! Care for your spouse in sickness and in health. I’m sure if Robert hadn’t suffered the way he did and was his old self, he would be very sad and heartbroken to learn his beloved had divorced him. I would be!
94. This story made my stomach turn. It is disturbing how Page redefined her vows to fit her desires. It is really sad that she set such an example for their children. I wonder if she and Allan vowed to remain married “so long as it is convenient” as “until death do us part” clearly means nothing to them.
No one should be surprised when the marriage between Page and Allan does not last. They have no understanding of what commitment really means.
95. I am sickened by this story. I believe marriage means until death, not death of relationship as Page chose to define it. A covenant should not be broken just because the circumstances are not what you desire or get tough. Is it fair? No, but it is a commitment that should be meant for life!
96. I don’t support her decision. I don’t think I could ever do that to my husband and would never want my husband to do that to me. My vows were “’till death do us part,” so regardless of what happens, that’s the vow I took.
Think of how the first husband must feel even though he is not in his full mental state – he still has emotions.
97. As you stated, this behavior is a twist of the marriage vows, really only meant to relieve guilt feelings by the wife. She received “permission” from a man who is clearly not able to give it to relieve her guilt. While we can all feel for her unfortunate situation, clearly the biblically correct thing would have been to stay in the marriage and model to her children and peers what a Christian woman/marriage looks like. This is not it.
Sometimes the little deviations from God’s Word are much more dangerous and significant than the large, obvious ones. In fact, she is an adulterer who left her husband in his greatest time of need, modeling to society that it is OK to pursue your own happiness at the detriment of all around you. And she knew it all along—she just looked until she found validation and support by misguided people, most unfortunately even her minister.
98. I found this story heart breaking. I believe that wife did not intend to abandon her one-flesh mate, but truly she has. I understand totally about feeling alone when your spouse changes in a split second. I deal with that situation in a different way but I vowed to God that we were married for life, regardless of what circumstances presented us in life. This is not just about our temporary comfort, it’s exhibiting the love of Christ for our spouse and to the world around us.
To me this is not upholding in sickness and in health, or until death do us part.
99. I think the part, “as his wedded wife” is the key…she committed to her husband, and to God that she would do those things as his wedded wife. Maybe she should have brought him home. Maybe she could have a friendship with her long lost friend, Allan. She needed to stay “wedded” to the man she married no matter what the circumstances, I believe.
100. Wow. Thanks for bringing this article to my attention.
This seems to me yet another example of justifying one’s actions to please oneself instead of God. I understand Page’s desire to have a “normal” marriage again. I’m sure I would feel the same way. But. as our pastor said just the other week, “God cares less about our circumstances than our responses to them.” We need to make the right choice, not the selfish choice. It doesn’t come naturally, but it does come supernaturally, with His help.
I cannot judge Page, but I hope and pray that in the same situation, I would stay with my husband no matter what.
101. Wow! Very interesting article. Judgment is only in the hands of our Lord and Savior. I can only recite what the Bible has instructed us as far as marriage. From the very beginning God never meant there to be divorce (Mark 10:1-12).
In today’s society we are a people of wavering convictions; the majority rules. We have gone from homosexuality being sinful to morally acceptable, from marriage is sacred, to cohabitation is equal to marriage. This is one of the reasons the Israelites spent all that time in the wilderness. At the least little uncomfortable feeling, they were ready to toss everything and go back to Egypt. With everything God had done and shown them they were not committed to what glory He (God) was bringing them to.
Marriage can be, and is, a wonderful institution when going into it with the right reasons and mindset.
Today’s culture believes everything and everyone is disposable, discarded or recycled which is why we want to cohabitate, instead of making a life-long commitment. All of this leads me to believe we lack real commitment. We lack commitment in our beliefs, in faith, in the difference between right and wrong and what we stand for. We are committed to everything at any given day or time, until someone comes along with something that looks better, sounds better, and works better for us. Then we are committed to change at any given day or time.
We have a cousin who has somewhat the same situation as Page, only in reverse. They lived together and then after he got sick they were married. I do admire her devotion and commitment to her husband. To see her interact with her husband who cannot walk, talk or move is to see my God in action. It’s amazing to see the love she has for that man and the love he has for her. Through all of that, I see God at work.
I will admit Page in the article had some tough decisions and some rough times, and her convictions and resolutions are entirely hers to deal with. However, I do not believe she fulfilled her promise in the vows, “till death due you part,” since the Bible does say you are no longer two but are as one. I am not sure you can bring in a third party (if it is not God) and make one. (Too many at the party). I wonder if Allan had not come along, who at the time was not divorced, just on his way to divorce, if she would still be married to Robert? Huh?
Page has found a way to live with herself and make it work for her. I am just not convinced that is the way our Father in Heaven meant it to be. I am not saying Page will not get to heaven since a sin is a sin and we all have sinned. Who knows what one would do in any situation. I read that Page talked to Robert’s father and to his brother, Will, I just wondered if she talked to God. There could be a reason why she was not comfortable dating Allan.
102. I, too, read about the new ceremony and thought, “But three’s a crowd!” (Yikes!) It’s hard enough for two to agree with each other and strive to obey God’s commandments. Given our family’s history with folks who have special needs and challenges, perhaps God had given her an opportunity/vocational calling or special order to step into a new ministry in God’s Kingdom. But she ran away from it back to her past.(Yikes, again!) And because God still performs miracles, what if Robert should regain memory, cognitive thinking, and reasoning? How crushed would he be to learn that while in a compromised state, his family and his wife supported a divorce that he didn’t approve of? That may be enough to make a healed man suicidal!
What did the children think? How could she face them after deciding to divorce and remarry? What message does that send to the children? And…let’s not forget about the audacity of Allan to propose marriage! His dishonorable actions prove to me that he is not to be trusted. His flirtations with women who are married to someone else reminds me of David from the Bible.
One of the mistakes women seem to make and remake is to expect their husband to fulfill all of their needs. And maybe Page thought once Robert became ill, “Who will meet my needs?” But the reality is that spouses are only on the hook to meet some needs and the others are to be met by the Creator. Sadly, perhaps Page’s relationship with God was not strong enough to experience that.
103. My story is very similar to the one printed in your article. My husband Tom became very ill in 1996…his speech became very difficult to understand. His gait became “off”. He was in continuous pain. He could no longer work. We went to many doctors and hospitals in the hope they would figure out what was happening to him. I worked three jobs because Social Security hadn’t kicked in for two years…it was difficult at best. The only diagnosis they could come up with was that his brain cells were dying and there was no “reason” why. So I kept going trying to make his life as comfortable as I could. At one point the doctors thought to put him on Hospice. Six months later he was alive and out living the Hospice part of the policy. Please allow me to give all the kudos to the hospice nurses. They knew exactly how to help his pain and get him to feel well enough to continue living….
My friend and I would go on weekend junkets to Cape May, New Jersey. Just to get away, see things ,breath different air. In 2003 I met a man on the Cape May Lewis Ferry. … From the beginning I told him the truth. ” I come here to escape.” I told him about Tom, I held nothing back. From that moment on Mark and I became friends, then lovers…..I moved with Tom to Cape May. Eventually I had to put Tom into an assisted living nursing home…Mark and I married. I still go and visit Tom, I bring him whatever he wants or needs. Mark and I go shopping for things for him…there are no secrets…
Please understand, this is such a condensed version of a lifetime….but Tom needs us in his life and I will not “throw him by the wayside.” I made a promise and although it is not what most people think should be it is what it is….We’re living a life…
104. My husband and I had a very difficult, stormy, and destructive marriage from August 1992 until January 2000. We are both believers.
We divorced in January 2000, but I firmly believed the Word in 1st Corinthians 7:10-11 about reconciliation. From 2000 until 2010, my ex-husband and I remained in contact. He became gravely ill in February 2010. He developed a staph infection in his blood and it compromised the Dacron graft he had on his descending aorta (from an accident at age 25). Long story short, God allowed this situation. It was one of the most difficult times of my life as I became the “caregiver” for my ex-husband.
We had talked on and off about reconciling and remarrying, but we both, at different times and for different reasons, kept dragging our feet. He feels God allowed this illness to wake him up in many ways. It was definitely a time of testing, perseverance, iron sharpening iron, bringing the dross up from inside my heart and allowing God to remove it.
Through this experience, we learned what real love and commitment are….never easy but definitely worth it in the end. We remarried October 9, 2010, before many family and friends who has seen our destructive relationship before and were now able to praise God with us seeing how He healed our marriage.
Saying we believe the Bible is easy until we are severely tested and our faith is put into the fire of affliction. God’s Word stands forever and obeying Him brings fruit beyond measure. It was scary to think about re-committing to this marriage after all the pain and conflict we had endured in the past. But I kept hearing from God…..”Wait on Me,” and as Charles Stanley always says….obey God and leave the consequences to Him.
Marriage should not be a compromise. This life is so short and we need to trust God so we can be a witness for Him and His glory.
105. At first, I thought maybe the new love/marriage would work, that there was some good in it. People in general are very selfish, and resistant to marriages where kids are already present. How much more loving is this, in a practical giving way, to marry with a commitment to the former spouse. But then, I realized that through God’s eyes, it was absolutely against His precepts. But then again, doesn’t He know how frail we humans are?
Ideally, there would be no divorce. But look at our great spiritual leaders of the Old Testament, the ones that Paul and Jesus told us to esteem because of their faith in following an invisible God. But didn’t they screw-up royally? Didn’t Abe and Moses have more than one ‘woman’ in their lives. Sure we’re still reaping the consequences of Abe and Sara’s choice to use Hagar to create a family, but God didn’t abandon them. And I think He will draw close to the family noted in the article, if they draw close to Him in their hearts.
I agree with you. It may not be easy or fun or the popular answer, but she did redefine her vows to slip out of a lifelong commitment for her own personal benefit. We often don’t choose what life deals us, but we don’t know what gems we’re sacrificing in the name of comfort or convenience. God always enables us to do what He calls us to. It’s only after our choice to obey Him that we get to immerse ourselves in His power, His wisdom, and His true knowledge of our best and how His Kingdom works. Those are true gems that increase our faith and our joy in walking with Him. We strive to what He calls us to for the highest privilege of bringing Him glory. Not to us be the glory, but to the One who is worthy!
106. I am very sad to hear of Page’s decision. Her situation is devastating, but the Lord is still in control. It seems that Page has forgotten that truth. Robert could be healed or become more aware of things. She doesn’t know how much he understands even now.
How hurt he must feel if he does understand! Robert gave his permission, but I’m sure it’s because he wants the best for his wife. I wish this story had a different ending, an ending of staying faithful to vows. That would be an exceptional story and one of hope and courage!
107. I read the article and was very disheartened by so much of it. The level of acceptance from so many different people, from her minister to the doctors caring for Robert. I couldn’t stomach reading any of the comments on the article. I had a hard enough time with the article itself. Especially at the end when the doctor was quoted as saying that she was showing what true love was all about. By divorcing her husband and marrying another man? I was also disturbed by the picture they paint of the new, happy, blended family holding hands around the dinner table to say grace.
While I certainly can’t minimize the challenge and difficulty Page must have encountered all of those years, I also can’t discount the selfishness she eventually gave in to. Both of them had “sick” feelings, but chose to ignore them in order to satisfy their flesh and own selfish desires. I’m not sure either of them knows the true definition of commitment and/or true love. While many are looking at them as compassionate and caring, all I see is the selfish desires they gave in to by quenching the Holy Spirit that was clearly bringing conviction.
108. As a born-again believer in Jesus Christ and His Word, I find it very odd/strange to marry someone else when one’s husband is alive (even if in vegetative/deteriorating state). I thought the vows we take before God Almighty are to stay faithful and committed to one’s spouse till death do us part. I would not dare to judge Page Melton for divorcing her husband and marrying someone else and then re-including her former husband in the “package deal”… but I am saddened to read the story.
I pray that the Lord Jesus would give us strength as wives to endure through tough times and to stay loving to our husbands, even if they are unable to reciprocate/understand. Since when did the Lord say that we could opt out when marriage gets tough?!
But then, if not for the grace of God, there go I.
109. This is such a powerful story that hits really close to home. As a young wife and mother of two young children whose husband is diabetic, I have real fears about the health challenges we may face. But I am cognizant that we are in this together and I made a covenant not only to my husband but to God back in 2007 when we got married.
I really empathize with Page’s situation. However, from where I stand at this point, I do not believe it was the right and godly thing to do. My Bible tells me God hates divorce. I would hope that if I were in the very same situation as Page, I would have the faith, strength, and courage to stand by the covenant made in my wedding vows.
110. This is Page’s version of serving Christ, but not really being committed to him in her heart. It only looks good to the world from the outside. We tend to forget we reap what we sow.
111. My husband, too, is different than when I married him. He had to go back into the military due to the economy which effects his personality, aggressions, and he struggles with alcohol which he uses as a “stress reliever.” We have considered divorce on numerous occasions because we just aren’t happy like we “used” to be, but we made a vow and I just keep growing in my faith and hoping and PRAYING things will someday change for the better.. Robert changed too, due to his medical problems, but the end result is still the same in one way or another. In addressing a “changed person”, Is it really easier to stay married to someone who CHOOSES to be “different”.. a BAD different at that, than to stay married to someone who suffered a medical complication as Robert did? Honestly, if I was going to justify it, I would say that I have more right to divorce and start over because my husband COULD be the person I married but just makes bad choices! God didn’t put provisions on “’til death do us part”, so if you are going to divorce someone then that is a person’s choice to make, as all our sins are, but justifying it with yourself and especially God is just an excuse; a vow between God and man is a COVENANT, not a contract to be altered by creating loopholes.
112. I was very saddened to read your article and the article it came from. I still hold to God’s ways are better, 1 man and 1 woman, for a life time. As much as I feel compassion for the situation, it seems we make so many of our own problems when we try to bend God’s clear instructions.
113. If I was Robert, I would prefer to be euthanized and allow my wife to marry another. Modern healthcare has blurred the lines between life and death, and has far stretched out the process of dying. Page’s decision is acceptable to me.
114. It is a very sad but moving story, and that is why it has received such coverage. But It would be a vary rare situation, and not one that is likely to be widely used as a template for others to follow into divorce. A much more damaging story for Christian marriages is the way Amy Grant divorced her husband – for no good reason other than that she had fallen in love with another man. But it was noteworthy that it was at a School reunion where Page connected with an old school friend. Studies – such as by Nancy Kalish – have confirmed the danger to a marriage that school reunions can bring. www.smh.com.au/news/world/burnt-by-old-flames/2007/06/03/1180809319400.htm It is a known risk factor, and Page’s connecting with Allan falls into that category.
While the marriage vows are to be taken seriously, I’ve come to the conclusion – very reluctantly – that a woman who is unhappy in her marriage is unlikely to allow the vows to influence her to stay. Last month a friend of mine called to say his marriage was in trouble. Nine years ago his wife left him for 16mths, reverting to her maiden name. But the husband believes that God answered his prayers and brought her back. I can’t argue with that.
But now she is wanting out, and it seems she has huge anger. In a Jan 24th email he wrote , ” I have never seen my wife so easily angered and unreasonably agro, except in the previous breakup.”
This anger towards the husband is a feature of nearly every marriage I know that has ended in divorce. When this level of anger exists, it obliterates a wife’s committment to her vows. It blinds her, and the anger replaces all her feelings of love. The reason she is angry is because she is in pain, and her anger is because she sees her husband as having caused this pain. Every time she is near him, this anger overwhelms her, making any attempt at reconciliation almost impossible. This anger scares her. She does not know how to deal with it. Her only recourse is to escape from her husband.
Unfortunately for a husband, praying seems ineffective. I’ve known several Christian men who have prayed desperately for their wives to return, but in vain, the divorces went ahead. Their praying was a disconnect as well. It reinforced the belief that if only their wife would return all would be well. Mission accomplished. The prayers diverted their focus from the need to deal with their own bad behaviour, and led them to think that her leaving was the problem. It’s not, it’s the symptom of something wrong. Brandishing a copy of the vows under the wife’s nose is more likely to add to her anger, rather than trigger a serious consideration of those vows.
My conclusion is that it is too late. The husband has been hurting his wife for years, albeit in ignorance. He just does not know what he has done to bring his wife to this point. Yet she can recite every detail of his misdemeanors going back years.
A Christain marriage book author said today that he meets men all the time who tell him ” She said she was going to leave me, but I didn’t believe her.Now she has”. He adds that there comes a point when a wife cannot take any more, even Christrian women.
Recent studies of the brain difference between men and women go some way to explaining why wives become so easliy upset and want to quit.
No amount of reciting the vows will make her come back. And these are Christian wives. They meant their vows on the wedding day.
I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that husbads have to take action in order to preempt their wife from becoming disillusioned. Husbands hold the key to their wive’s staying. If through ignorance they neglect to nurture their wife, eventually she will opt out.
I wish it were otherwise, but it’s that brain wiring.
Every man, before the wedding, at the wedding, and in the years following, needs to be repeatedly taught to nuture his wife, not be overbearing, not belittle her opinions, etc. It is years of neglect and put-downs that bring a wife to divorce. A loved and nutured wife will not be thinking divorce. That was what the marriage vows were all about anyway. It’s time for men to learn to honour thier vows to love. Then the marriage certificate won’t need to be brought out in order to convince a desparing wife to stay.
115. It’s not a popular position among my friends, but I don’t think the changes in life change our sacred vows to God.
I think many pastors spend way too much time telling people what they want to hear instead of what’s biblical.
Maybe my vision is clouded having received papers to dissolve our 25-year marriage because my wife feels that we’ve “grown in different directions”. But I did on many occasions, when she felt insecure, remind her that I’d never leave her when things got tough… that I didn’t make my marriage vows to her or to our pastor…I made those promises to God.
No, that’s a really touching story, and the pastors at my church always give divorcees who have remarried acceptance and approval… but I don’t think that Page’s pastor should have encouraged this divorce. Or given her the green light to remarry – even if this new guy says he’ll include her first (only) husband in the equation. It’s until death do us part – not until I get tired of caring for you.
116. Wow, the article about Robert and Page is a very tough topic. I would like to say that I would be loyal to my husband and our vows. However, I am not faced with this situation. I am faced with the sickness of drug addiction, alcoholism, and depression that my husband suffers. It has been a battle for going on 35 yrs. of marriage. Two yrs. ago, I left. We got back together and then he left. We got back together again almost a year later. We went to counseling separately and then together. We have decided to try things differently and to have a different marriage. I was told by my pastor that divorce might be all that I could do in my marriage if the alcoholism did not get better. I am grateful to God that He is putting our marriage together in His way. From my trust in God and His faithfulness that I have experienced through this trial, I believe that God would have heard her tears and found a way to resolve her problems without divorcing Robert. Page did not know how faithful God can be if you are obedient to Him.
117. As I read your article and summary of the Washington Post article, considering my response if I were in Page’s or Robert’s shoes, I found myself a bit confused but continually heart-broken – first with the debilitation, and then with the realization of their divorce. My father-in-law had a stroke in his late-40’s, shattering the dreams of my husband’s parents for their life as younger grandparents, and it has caused me to really think about what my response would be to such a change in our life together. So, this article particularly caught my eye.
Page was certainly not showing love and care to Robert by not protecting the boundaries of her marriage in seeing Allan and eventually divorcing Robert. Although he may not be able to verbalize his thoughts, and maybe he doesn’t even comprehend what has happened, but at some level, Robert must know what has happened if he was able to give such a reply to Page. Can you imagine the weight of disappointment Robert must feel for not being able to care for his wife, and then just letting her go? And as for Page, getting a blessing even from Robert and his family to ‘move on’ would be like getting permission to disregard promises – my first emotion is of guilt of an unmet obligation, not relief. If Allan truly cared about Robert and Page, he could have provided help to Paige and her family while maintaining boundaries to protect the marriage relationship, not destroy it.
I am so glad that my husband and I have talked about what if’s such as this, and it is so reassuring to hear each other confirm how we would always take care of each other, and do our best to never leave the other to struggle on alone in this life as far as we can prevent it.
118. There’s a saying among lawyers: Hard cases make bad law. I doubt there are rules for future behavior to be drawn from Robert and Page’s tale. This story tugs at the heart, but the heart is wicked and unreliable; yet to subject it to the mind seems very cold and hard, because analysis is dispassionate.
And analysis may not yield much anyway. Jesus said, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:8-9). Is there a point at which marriage vows are no longer binding between a man and a woman because illness or injury has robbed one of their “personality?” The question begs definition: What is “personality?” Is marriage between “a man” and “a woman,” or “THIS man” and “THIS woman?” If the latter, how much can “personality” stretch before “THIS man” becomes “another man?” All people change over time; if gradual change is not grounds for divorce (and it is not), then is sudden change so different from gradual change as to demand a different result? If the man becomes “another” in some psychiatric sense, is the marriage vow legitimately called into question? The line of questions that stretches out after these is very long, very legalistic, and probably not very illuminating.
In the end, I commit the question to God. Faced with the same facts, I would ask for God’s guidance and help to persevere, but after years, would I choose differently? If my Christian brothers and sisters drew alongside with support and encouragement, perhaps; there is no evidence Paige was blessed with such support.
Page and her new husband need our prayers, as does Robert for quite different reasons. God willing, we will not face such circumstances or, if we do, what we should do then will be clear and God will give us the strength to do it.
119. There seems to be little compassion for a woman who must stand by and wait for her husband to die – as we Christians all gather around and bar the doors and windows preventing any kind of release. We do not provide allow them any of the marital companionship she married for, we insist that she suffer and we stand in judgement should she seek some respite. Our reactions to the reality of life and marriage, as we sit with our own very loving spouses, (or in jealousy saying “I can’t leave neither can you!”) yet we have few of the similar problems and often serve merely to deliberately glorify the suffering of our hurting brothers and sisters who are genuinely miserable – no worries, the marriage lasted though. We can rest easy – they endured “matrimonial misery” and didn’t divorce. We went home to a loving, faithful, well adjusted spouse with a few hiccups (who may even be getting rid of those) while we DEMAND or brothers and sisters cross some desert. I say if you are led to stay and endure – then do so with the strength God has given you, but do not make your cross someone elses.
This happens with abused spouses too – Christians of all people “bar the doors and windows” of escape. I know of women who were about to get their peace orders and work towards getting free and saving their lives – who hear the rhetoric of “stay no matter what”, and sure enough they do, often to their own destruction. Some marriages are minor inconveniences – stick those out, weather the storm. Many are toxic, dangerous, diseased and literally DECEASED (dead) – yet we somehow take great pride in the fact that though the marriage has not improved, shows no sign of improvement (statistics show they do not) – the big “D” was stayed. It is no wonder that infidelity occurs – we ignore their pleas beforehand to be set free. WE encourage them to stay trapped, then fault them when they grasp the one tangible straw they encounter.
I am disappointed and believe our resolve is in the wrong area – “stay no matter the damage or desperation”. I say go to the Lord, take the peace you find – let your brothers and sisters find their own in their marriages.
120. About the article I don’t agree with Page’s solution because Genesis 2:24 says “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” and Jesus confirmed this pasage in the new testament, so is not as easy as I get divorced, I get married with another man but I care to my husband -and everybody lived happy forever-.
I knew a man that lived with his wife totally paraplegic for almost 25 years. I think that Christ gives us the power, Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me Sorry about my English but I’m Mexican, I live in Mexico but I love your web page.
121. I completely agree with your questioning the validity of ‘redefining marriage vows.’ Truth doesn’t change just because our circumstances do. When we take marriage vows in the presence of witnesses and God, we vow to ‘love and to cherish in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” It doesn’t say, “. . . until incapacitated do us part”, or ” . . . until rejected do us part.” ‘In sickness’ includes all levels of affliction, not just the curable ones. While Page showed great compassion for her disabled husband, she was very vulnerable and at risk for seeking/accepting loving male companionship. She needed comfort and encouragement, but not in the form of male attention. On the other hand, Alan should have respected their covenant marriage vows, and honor their marriage by keeping his distance. If God intended for Alan and Page to be united in marriage, He would have taken Robert home, and made Page eligible matrimonially. Methinks many people connive to carry out their plans according to their own wishes, assuming that God wants them to ‘be happy’, and not necessarily entrust their lives to the One Who “knows the plans [He] has for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you . . .”
122. I have yet to find a reason in the Bible for divorce. Yet I find myself praying for one in the case of this woman. The Vows are two way so what does happen when one can not fulfill his half?
123. God cares more about our Holiness than our happiness..
If we follow God, seek Him first, then happiness will ultimately follow.
If Page had been seeking God through all the difficulties with Robert, then God would have been enough. The article mentions her meeting or reacquainting with someone at the high school reunion.. well. If she had been seeking God and putting God first, then that man she saw again after all those years would have been blown away at what a godly woman she was for caring for and for loving her husband through this. He would not have even thought about pursuing her as a future wife, because it would have been clear that she was married.
What is Page’s relationship to God?
Has this tragedy brought her closer to God?
Has her shuffling her guilt under the carpet of redefining the vows actually made her a liar to God?
Jesus said that following Him was simple, but He never said it was easy.
124. That was an interesting article. I believe that in a situation like the one described, it is disloyal to divorce and marry someone else. I don’t like disloyal.
125. My wife and I have been married for 40 years this May. She is one person who believes her vows when she said them. When we married, I was basically an easy going, thoughtful man. It took a lot to make me angry, but in 1988 I had a brain tumor removed and it was located in an area of my brain that effected my memory and other areas of my life. One of which was my emotions and an increase in sexual desire. The least little thing since that time causes me to lose control, luckily most of the time at just myself and not to where I would physically abuse anybody, but I have, to some extent, been mentally abusive to where I would say things I normally would not have thought of saying. Unfortunately, some of it was directed to my children and around my children.
The reason I am writing this is my wife has stood by me and nursed me through an enormous amount of surgeries. Not counting the brain surgery, I have had four joint replacements, a total prostatectomy (which has been difficult on our marriage due to erectile dysfunction and the increased sexual desire from the brain surgery and the prostatectomy which can also cause an increase in the desire for sex even though you are unable to perform). My wife has to endure the frustration I feel from not being able to perform sexually as well as having to deal with my frustration over losing my coaching job due to all of my surgeries (I do still have a job as a principal). She has to drive most everywhere we go due to me not being able to remember how to get places. I had gall bladder surgery and an appendectomy. I had elbow surgery and a hernia removed. My wife had a hysterectomy and a severe rotator cuff replacement in her shoulder due to a skiing accident. As you can see most of our marriage has been spent in sickness. We both believe when we said our vows we not only said them to each other but to the Lord. Our marriage has been a 100%/100% not 50%/50% proposition. If I had to summarize our vows, as I often do in life, I would put it to some words I either heard in a movie or a song. This time it would be the movie Phenomenon with the movie starring John Travolta and Kyra Sedgewick where he asked her:
“Hey, would you, uh, love me the rest of my life?” and she replied, “No. I’m gonna love you for the rest of mine!”
‘Til death do us part, in sickness and in health, for better for worse. This was our promise, our pledge, our vow!!
126. My husband is going through a Bipolar disorder. He has episodes where he says hurtful things, rushes of energy, random thoughts racing mind, and some aggression. Thankfully his family and mine have been more than supportive and have been there from day so I am not alone. It is very difficult and I pray for complete healing everyday. I often have times of weakness and think, “is this how the rest of my life is going to be? , “Will I be able to stay with him through it all or will I have to relive my life?” I always stop myself though. I remind myself I made a promise to God that I would be by his side no matter what til death do us part. I remember all the promises that God has kept and continues to keep. I love my husband I promised him forever no matter what. So I will and I am. I love him and my marriage means everything to me. With the strength of thw Lord we will come out of this and truly believe Daniel will be healed. I believe in my vows so I when I read this article I didn’t completely agree with Paige. Thanks for sharing I enjoy the emails.