October 7, 1970
Nate continued his industrious studying, and I did my best to help him. The tapping of our typewriter was the music of our evenings. Once in a while, when we both needed a break, we’d call Cathy and John to see if they needed a break, too.
Nate and I brought up something from our Sunday school class that was Bible-based, which made no sense to either Cathy or John – who had no personal faith in Christ.
When they left, there was a new tension in the air between us. Something had changed, and as Nate and I did the dishes, we tried to figure it out. How could four good friends fail to come together by the end of the evening? We’d been pals since Nate and I had gotten engaged and had never had a break in the relationships.
We wondered if maybe they were unhappy as a married couple. They never said so and seemed to love each other, but John had quit law school and wasn’t working either. Maybe that big shift was taking a toll on them both.
We tried to recall anything we’d discussed over our cake that might have offended. One thing that stood out was when Cathy told us about her professor making a pass at her on several different days.
“Wow!” I said. “Didn’t he see your wedding ring?”
“Yes, but that didn’t seem to bother him.”
That’s when we refilled our coffee cups and began round-tabling the subject of open marriage. Nate and I had talked about this new trend weeks earlier with a different set of friends, astounded that any thinking person would condone such an idea – husbands and wives inviting other partners into their relationship. (Illustration by Ben Barrett-Forrest/The Globe and Mail)
But there we were, chatting with close friends… and they liked this bizarre idea, too. We tried to convince them it would destroy their marriage, while they tried to convince us it was the open-minded, free-thinking, modern way to live.
The chasm between our opinions widened as the hours of our chocolate-cake-break passed, and our introducing God’s Word into the mix only made matters worse.
As Nate and I covered the leftover cake and turned out the kitchen light, we concluded it was these opposing views that were responsible for the tension between us. Scripture was black and white about marriage, but our friends saw marriage as evolving into something different… to suit the times.
We worried about Cathy’s welfare in light of her professor’s advances. Though she assured us she wasn’t interested in this particular man, would she eventually say yes to someone else? And if she did, how could John really be OK with that?
We also wondered if tonight’s friction would cloud our next get-together. Would the same discussion continue where we left off? Or would we go back to being compatible by just avoiding the topic? And most concerning of all, would we still be friends?
“Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” (Proverbs 18:24, The Message)