Accidental Marriage Book Club: Chapters 7-8

6

Welcome to the Accidental Marriage Book Club! We’re reading Accidental Marriage, by Roger Thomas.

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Chapter seven begins with a wedding. Even by the casual standards of the County Clerk’s Office, this one was brief, poorly planned and awkward. Scott and Megan had no wedding rings, Megan does not even know Scott’s real first name and the ceremony concludes with a stiff, self-conscious kiss. Not a great start to a marriage.

We know that marriage was not really what Megan and Scott had in mind. Procuring health care was the goal. It goes without saying that they did not view marriage as a sacrament, yet as chapters seven and eight unfold we begin to see the sacramental nature of marriage manifest itself. 

Shortly after the wedding, Megan hits a breaking point at work. Already on notice to be laid off, she experiences an unbearable level of harassment by supervisors and coworkers, most of this instigated by her ex-partner, Diane. Citing the economic security she has in their new married life, Scott convinces Megan to quit the following day rather than endure a few more weeks of workplace hell.

Scott meanwhile begins to experience his own workplace problems. A workmate sabotages an important presentation with slides that mock his role as father to Megan’s child. He now knows that he is the object of ridicule in his workplace and beyond.

Scott knows that the gossip resulting from the incident has damaged his ability to cultivate and sustain relationships in the gay community.  At least he finds comfort in a home life that is calm and satisfying.

In spite of the fact that their wedding was a sham by any reasonable measure, their relationship is beginning to take on characteristics of a real marriage. A marriage entered into without the benefit of sacrament, yet taking on some of marriage’s sacramental qualities. How could this be?

Love and grace are the simple answers. It would appear that God was willing grant his grace upon their union. Perhaps because the love that has begun to characterize their relationship. Are Scott and Megan in love with each other? Not even close.  But we begin to see the formation of love in it’s simple and direct form. It’s what Aquinas would describe as “willing good for the other as other.”

Scott is the one that expresses love in this way. There was no compelling reason for him to take on Megan’s plight other that his genuine concern for her as a human being. Megan responds to Scott’s loving acts with gratitude, but resistance as well. In fact, she can not bring herself to participate in their evolving domestic relationship until Scott is able to frame it in business-like terms.  She sees herself as his “household manager” rather than wife.

I’m not finding fault with her character. It just seems she has not had much experience caring for others or being cared for. She is like a dry sponge. Have you ever tried to wipe up a spill with a dry sponge? It doesn’t work. It’s not until the sponge is dampened that it will absorb. Thus it appears to be for Megan. It may be a while before she can absorb the love that is coming her way.

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. To some degree, all marriages are “accidental.” We have no way of knowing what our marriages will be like when we enter into them. A question for the married folk: in what ways has your marriage unlike what you expected?
  2. The anguish that Scott experienced as a result of being “outed” during his presentation is due in large part to his secrecy. Should he have been open about his relationship with Megan and their marriage?
  3. Scott comes home in chapter eight to find a despondent Megan contemplating abortion, wondering what would be the purpose in having a child. Scott replies that the child itself is the purpose. Why might Scott have this insight when Megan did not?
  4. In reference to marriage, Jesus said, “What God has joined together, no human being must separate.” (Matt 19:6) Does Jesus’s statement apply to Scott and Megan’s marriage?

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week’s reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.

Next week, we’ll cover Chapters 9-11. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Accidental Marriage Book Club page.

Copyright 2014 Kirk Whitney

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6 Comments

  1. What a beautiful summary of these chapters!

    We’ve been married almost 15 years and the thing I didn’t expect about marriage was that people change. And you can either change together or separately.

    I’m not sure if sharing why he married Megan would have made a difference in the circles he traveled. Obviously, the are not the sort to be kind or give the benefit of the doubt, based on past examples of ostracizing that he recalled participating in.

    This observation is not a reflection of their lifestyle choices, but of character traits. We are blessed to have two groups of friends who are very kind and try to offer Godly help & intervention, when needed. But I know from experience that not all people are like that.

    I’ll have to think more on why Steve knows about the purpose more than she does. I wasn’t reading closely enough obviously, because it’s just out of grasp.

    What a great book for discussion!

  2. Through the story to this point, Scott and Megan have (clearly) been simply acting out of the postmodern assumptions in which they’ve been indoctrinated. The way they conceive of relationships, sex, even children all reflect the utilitarian, highly individualistic worldview of their time.

    But life, and the God behind it, has something deeper for them. Because no matter how blithely they parrot the secularist creed they’ve bought into, their relationship is touching deeper and deeper levels of their own personalities – levels that are formed by who they are as humans, and as a man and woman. These levels are untouched by their modernist assumptions. Scott’s chivalrous instincts are triggered by Megan’s distress, and he is more and more willing to sacrifice to protect her and the child she’s carrying. She begins to respond in kind, sensing Scott’s deep pain over the fragmenting of his relationship with his sister Lisa and reaching out to touch his heart in sympathy. True com-passion (literally “suffering with”) starts to manifest in their relationship, as each of them becomes more willing to sacrifice for the good of the other.

    Kirk’s comments are very insightful, especially about Megan’s inability to either receive or give true love. Later in the story there’s the briefest glimpse of her history, but it’s clear that she only understands human relationships in terms of economic transactions – giving something to get something. (e.g. She was obviously simply being “kept” by Diane for her utility, and once she started costing more than she was worth, that relationship – if it could be called that – evaporated.) Megan is indeed like a dry sponge, not even knowing what it means to be loved. This is why she nearly bolts when it becomes clear that she won’t be able to “contribute” to the relationship in an economic sense. She not only cannot understand Scott’s love for her simply as her, she can’t even conceive that anyone would think like that about her.

    Megan’s near-departure precipitates the first serious crisis in their relationship, and Scott scrambles to try to not only express what she’s come to mean to him, but to find a way to keep her near. Even in the absence of romance, the simple mechanics of their common life have bound her to him in such a way that he cannot bear the thought of living without her. Here we get a glimpse of how their relationship is working at levels of which neither of them are aware.

    Something to notice: as more of Scott’s history emerges, his actions toward Megan become more explicable. One of the most influential “off-stage” characters in the book is Lisa. From Scott’s traumatic recurring nightmare about the day his father left to his fond memories of his childhood, it’s clear that he saw himself as the one who had to protect and care for Lisa. But in Chapter Eight we learn of the abrupt and tragic severing of that relationship. Do you think that Scott’s history with Lisa in any way colored how he viewed Megan? What psychological and emotional triggers do you think Megan’s distress hit in Scott’s psyche, given his history with his sister?

  3. Kirk I will answer your questions later in more detail but for now I just want to say BRAVE on the sponge analogy and the Aquinas quote. Your reflection here is brilliant. Thank you for leading me into a deeper consideration of these chapters.

  4. Kirk, great reflection – very thought-provoking.

    When I contemplate your question on Megan and Scott’s difference of thought on abortion – what comes to mind is state of mind. It has been my experience, that the clarify of our decision making is often clouded with our circumstances. People in dire situations, or what they perceive as such, are not always open to the grace God has for them to weather the difficulty or make the harder choice. Of course, also at work would be evil – happy to see cease the moment of a weak soul.

    I wonder how many abortions would be — aborted — if there was just one countering voice bringing God’s message of hope? Scott (if my memory from this chapter serves me) does not frame his thoughts even in the context of faith or religion, yet he is still able to dissuade her. The truth (human life at every stage matters) – opens hearts and , at least in my humble opinion, lifts the veil to allow in God’s amazing grace.

  5. Something I haven’t yet heard much commentary on: the spectre of abortion breathes its deathly pallor over the entire story. From her earliest days in her mother’s womb, Grace lives under the threat of death – and, as it turns out, she isn’t the only one who has been so threatened.

  6. Question #3 really sticks out in my mind…the fact that Megan is so despondent and contemplating abortion while Scott says, “The child itself is the purpose”, demonstrated Scott’s wisdom. His back story of being abandon by his father plus helping raise his sister gives him an insight into the family he wished he had and the love that a child needs. His commitment to Megan and the baby is admirable. His desire to do the right thing is contagious because that is why Megan has the baby. I believe he has this insight because of his past– his love for his mother and sister, and the void he feels from his father’s departure. “The child itself is the purpose… could also be referring to his father…. the father should have stay (maybe not married to Scott’s mother) to be a father to his children as they should have been his purpose, but he choose differently and Scott never understood his father’s choice.

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