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Standing: Clarifying the Concept - Part I

By Kenda-Ruth Stumpf

Stander
A person who seeks to remain married while his or her spouse is seeking to escape the marriage; legal actions may or may not have been initiated or finalized. Some are Standers by action, while others are strict Standers in philosophy, believing divorce is an immoral action. Standing usually provides an option of conditional return to a functional marriage for the spouse who is leaving, but some Standers simply Stand by refusing to seek or recognize legal divorce and refusing other relationships as an honor to their vows.

Some people dislike and even disapprove of the label Stander, some of those people still Stand in action without the label--though each person personally chooses their own actions; it's not about rules. Some wear the label like their armor. It is a label, not a promise. It is about what you believe--and you get to define what the label means for you. Christian books and websites discuss the term as both a noun and with its active form--Standing. I borrowed the term from those roots, but have redefined it for myself. I use the term partially because I like the concept, but I also use it simply because I wanted a single word to use to refer to you, the Left Behind Spouse and it has both noun and verb forms, so I can use it to refer to you as well as to your actions. I use the acronym LBS or the three-word phrase, but it seems cleaner to me to use a single word. I thought a lot about creating a word to avoid the connection to rigid or fundamental ideas, but decided that I like the word and I did not want to let it be ruined.

Standing is about options. Though there is an implied intention of reconciliation, not everyone knows what they want or what they think they will want in the future. So instead of focusing on an intention of reconciliation; focus on keeping your mind open to the possibility without concern for probabilities. Though your mind may say No, acknowledge the possibility you may choose to change it in the future and the Standing Actions which help you to focus on your Self and learn to communicate with an MLCer can provide a safe path toward the option of reconciliation which you can accept or decline. Though Standing may be an action amidst a spouse's sins, focus instead on love, not that it is an act of love, but an act in love. As a Stander I stood for Sweetheart--the man I married and the man I believed he could and would become. I was not Standing for the MLC Monster. I stood for marriage, love, vows, beliefs...

Standing does not mean that you will remain married legally, nor do I advocate that as the end or primary goal; I advocate that you choose your own goals. There are many people who remain married in the eyes of the law and yet they no longer have a relationship as spouses or mates. How is that a marriage, you may ask? Perhaps it is not in your eyes (or mine), but someone else's marriage is not your marriage, let them call it what they will.

Is it true that Standing saves marriages?
Not if a yes answer means that Standing causes your MLCer to return. Some couples will rebuild their marriage, some will not. What causes a return? In the end, two people. Before the end, that depends. I didn't cause Sweetheart to return; he chose to return. But I could have created conditions in which he would have chosen differently, or I could have closed the opportunity for him to return. Your actions and inactions do not cause someone else's responses and reactions, but they can impact them. That means that though you have no control over someone else, you may be able to influence them; but they choose in what direction. Standing does not mean you control the outcome; you are only responsible for your half of the partnership.

Standing is not about saving your marriage; it is about not destroying your relationship--the part you control. Your MLCer will seek to destroy and may cycle between mending and destroying. You cannot control his actions, but you can choose your responses. It is about protecting your heart from hatred; often such protection requires that you limit contact. Marriage takes two and it thus separation or limited contact can seem counter-productive, but that is part of the process; Standing is lonely.

There's been a lot said about saving marriage--that it can or cannot be done alone. I want to say that the answer is both yes and no. Right now, in the midst of crisis with your spouse working against your relationship, you might be working without your partner. Later, if your MLCer chooses to return, you will work together. I use the term Standing to refer to the solitary period when your MLCer is either uncertain or running away--before a return which may or may not happen. If your MLCer chooses to return, the two of you will rebuild your marriage together.

Does remaining legally married without a functional marriage increase the probability of reconciliation?
Statistically speaking I do not know. My opinion is that an increase would be statistically insignificant; but I truly do not know. Though I have wondered, does divorce create a greater psychological barrier to a spouse who would otherwise consider returning. Again, I don't know, but it is something to think about. Should that influence your decision to Stand and contest a divorce or Stand and agree to divorce? That is a personal decision and you need to base it on your unique circumstances. Contesting does not mean you are not agreeing to divorce either, it is an action made to come to agreeable terms and sometimes you need to contest on various points for the security of yourself and your children.

I'm Kenda-Ruth and I believe in marriage.
Are you tired of hearing...
  • Once a cheater always a cheater?
  • You're better off without him?
  • She doesn't deserve you?
  • I guess it just wasn't meant to last?
  • Divorce is no big deal?
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