Here's something they don't prepare you for in seminary.
They were one of the first couples to come to me for marriage counseling. I figured the man to be mean and selfish because of a couple of things she told me. Once, when he was mad he took some hot pepper sauce and doused her underwear with it—this was decades before that beauty contestant story came out. Then she told me that he was kinky in the bedroom and was insisting that she invite a friend over for a threesome.
Quite a scoundrel, I thought. Then the woman tells me of children in her extended family who may have been sexually abused. I heard enough that I had no choice but to call child protective services Turns out there was no evidence of such abuse and she was using me to hurt some in-laws with whom she was in conflict. The family I reported was angry with me for reporting them. Btw, I no longer trust state agencies to keep my name confidential.
Then the wife left her home for an affair with her stepbrother. They'd been involved for some time, she finally told me.
Her husband called me late one night after she left and threatened to kill himself. I couldn't get him to calm down before he hung up on me so I traveled seventy miles to get to him. I rode my motorcycle because my old car had quit running. It was dark and rainy and I almost got bogged down in the dirt road that led to his home in the country.
While I struggled to get my poor bike through the mud it occurred to me that I might be at risk. What if this guy was suicidal AND wanted to take someone, like me, with him? What's more, with my wife out of town, no one knew where I was. This was before cell phones, where I could notify someone quickly. I could have just disappeared from society that night.
I take a few more precautions these days.
The man was was better when I saw him. He was enormously grateful that I had gone to the trouble to check up on him.
The couple got a divorce. The woman took her hot underwear and went to live with her brother/boyfriend. The husband lost weight, got control of his life, met and married someone who actually liked him, and started attending church.
Two people were hurting each other. Which was the bully and which was the victim?
Beats me. It's probably not even a good question.
But I do know that the husband became better. And by better, I mean nicer and more successful in his relationships.
Wanna hear another story? Stay tuned. I got a million of 'em. Or at least a hundred.