This post went through a lot of changes, as I developed the thoughts than formed its basis. It took me places that were surprising...and some places I didn't want to go.
Distancing oneself from a dying mate...or parent, or friend...is a natural way of coping with an oncoming death. It's protective of the heart, a way of saying goodbye and emotionally moving on while still having the 'comfort' of the loved one's presence.
Makes it easier. But the problem is that love, and marriage, and life aren't supposed to be easy.
There are two operative factors that work specifically against distancing. The first is general, and is informed by ethics that are both secular and religious. The second is specifically Christian.
Marriage is the most basic compact into which we enter. It's legally binding, but its moral strictures are far more important, both for the couple and society at large.
Distancing is the breaking of part of this agreement. It takes away a degree of promised closeness and intimacy, and in so doing becomes a form of theft. Just as the transfer of emotion in an affair removes something that was one's partner's by right, so too does the distancing dilution of promised affection.
Yes, it's part of trying to survive for a future in which one will be alone...but a guarantee of survival is not part of the wedding vow.
The Christian argument against distancing is that this was the failure of Peter. He promised solidarity, and thrice in one dreadful night put Christ at a distance to save himself.
Very natural...and who among us can say with certainty that we would not have done the same?
But who among us would want to follow Peter's example?
If we have entered into a Christian marriage, we have accepted an explicit command to treat the relationship as a sacrament.
We are enjoined to treat our spouse as we would treat Christ.
Distancing is seemingly not an option, under those strictures.
We are promised much by marriage. We will have a place where we can always go, a heart that will be - in the vow - always open to our hopes and dreams and sorrows and cares.
But we're not promised a shield against heartbreak.
Heartbreak is indeed the price of love.
We're linked to Wedded Wednesday at www.messymarriage.com.