While reading a book today for a blog tour next month I came across a quote that I found very alarming:
“”If I’d have met his family before we married, I’d have been the runaway bride.” She discovered alcoholism and a history of abuse as well as mental illness. “I’m not saying my husband has issues with those things, but dealing with his family is a nightmare because of those things. I love him, but I’m not sure I’d do it all over again .””
For those who are somewhat aware of my life history and family background , it is not difficult at all to understand why this statement would alarm me. According to most definitions, the large amount of alcoholism in my family would qualify me as a “dry” alcoholic. My struggle with mental illness and early childhood abuse is still more alarming yet. Considering that this wife was sufficiently discouraged from a marriage because of dealing with a dysfunctional family background, even if her husband had managed to avoid those evils, one can easily imagine my alarm seeing as I seek someone to love me considering that I personally struggle with some of these issues. While I am aware that this sort of background and personal history certainly makes it a lot more difficult for me to be loved, and places a heavy burden on any young woman who would seek a serious relationship, it does not in any way reduce my own longing for love and affection.
To know that one’s life history is a major liability when it comes to the successful search for relationships does not in any way make such longings easier. In particular, I find myself caught in a very difficult bind. For one, my life history is rather well known even by those who may not know me well in person. A lot of this is my responsibility, in that I have been very open about my life. Of course, a great deal of that openness is the fact that my life history became spread by enemies, forcing me to choose between telling my own story myself or having it twisted by those who were unfriendly, neither of those being particularly desirable options when one is trying to get to know people and enjoy their company and have fun without being a total killjoy bringing all kinds of unpleasant matters into discussion. These sort of matters have made the beginning of relationships a particularly difficult process, since it is a difficult matter for a young woman to walk into a relationship with eyes wide open with someone who struggles with heavy burdens. Given the choice, few young women would choose to willingly wrestle with those issues. I cannot imagine that I would have wrestled with such a heavy burden myself if it had not been forced on me entirely against my will.
Yet part of the bind as well is that as a painfully honest and honorable man, I would not wish to deceive or defraud a young woman and charm her into getting into an attachment with me under false pretenses, in the hope that she would feel strongly enough about me to be willing to accept what it is I wrestle with in life if and when the truth inevitably comes out. Perhaps it would come out after months of courtship, perhaps during engagement, perhaps after marriage, but at some point the life I have lived and the difficulties I have wrestled with would eventually seep out through gossip or observation. Then what would happen? Would such a young woman become a runaway bride herself? Would the burden of encouraging and supporting me become too heavy bear, leading someone to feel justified in leaving, having felt defrauded and deceived. How then is one to be honest without placing too much of a burden too soon on those who are not nearly committed enough to desire having anything to do with such struggles.
How to begin well is a mystery to me, and one that I have not often been particularly successful at. Yet success is greatly aided by starting well. When one starts poorly, one has a lot of ground to make up before one can even get back to where one was at the start. Certainly this is true about our lives as well as our relationships and our endeavors. Certainly a great deal of compassion as well as resilience can be learned from the efforts required to overcome terrible beginnings. That said, the scars and difficulties and struggles one endures in such a situation do not necessarily increase one’s desirability as a boon companion or as a potential partner in marriage. Still, if someone is not so scared by the intensity and seriousness of what someone like myself has to wrestle with, one could at least hope that they would have enough love and compassion to make them a fit partner for one such as myself. Let us have hope, at least, that not everyone would be scared away by seeing me as I am, with all of my scars and all of my struggles. For surely I do not struggle alone.
 Deb DeArmond, Related By Chance, Family By Choice: Transforming Mother-In-Law & Daughter-In-Law Relationships. (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2013), 100.
 See, for example: