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Excerpted from I Will Never Leave You: How Couples Can Achieve the Power of Lasting Love by Hugh and Gayle Prather. Copyright 1995 by Hugh and Gayle Prather. Excerpted by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 


"These two definitely loved each other, and they loved their children, but weighed against the advice they were getting from their friends and separate groups--that above all, they must not give in--love was not enough."

Hugh and Gayle Prather, I Will Never Leave You, Part 3

At the time we met them, they had basically everything that couples long for: wonderful children (two girls), successful careers (Mary was now a prominent hydrotherapist for the physically disabled, and Ben periodically gave expert testimony before Congress on the legal issues affecting the elderly), good health, a beautiful home, and a normal, if not above average, sex life.

At any other time in history, the issues that had arisen between them probably would not have threatened their marriage. Neither of them had ever had an affair, not even an emotional one; neither was abusive to the other or to the children, not even verbally; neither was addicted to anything; they had no in-law problems; they had no money problems; they shared common political and religious philosophies; and they liked most of the same activities. Above all, they had one of the deeper bonds we have seen between two people.

Basically their issues with each other arose out of the new selfishness in which they had both become steeped, primarily through the books they had read and the separate groups they regularly attended. (Mary went to one of the twelve-step spin-off groups, while Ben attended a large men's group.) To enhance their sex life, to be "a better physical example" to their children, and to avoid "embarrassing" her, Mary wanted Ben, who was prematurely gray, to dye his hair and lose twenty pounds. This Ben refused to do. He said that if Mary truly loved him, she would accept him as he was.

For Ben's part, he wanted Mary either to quit her job or to stop bringing home the "wrenching stories" of her handicapped patients and the soap-opera politics of the hospital where she worked. Mary insisted that she had to have a partner who would listen to whatever she had to say.

We have never worked harder with any couple than we did this one, nor have we ever felt our failure to keep a family together more acutely. These two definitely loved each other, and they loved their children, but weighed against the advice they were getting from their friends and separate groups--that above all, they must not give in--love was not enough. Or to state it more accurately, although love was unquestionably present, they chose to heed their "emotional needs" (Mary) and their "integrity as an individual" (Ben) rather than the bond between them.

When Ben found himself back on the singles market, he lost a total of thirty-eight pounds and dyed his hair, his beard, and his eyebrows. Mary found that the stress of the divorce, added to the stress of her job, was too much, and within three months of their separation she had left it. Their oldest girl now comes to us for counseling.

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