Let me say up front, as a reminder, that THIS is our story. I have prayed about sharing it. I have changed my mind multiple times. But in my heart of hearts, I’ve always believed sharing about our trials of life can bring help to others. That’s my hope.
August of 2000, a month like the months before it, became a landmark in our marriage journey. At that time (as I shared last week), we pretty much were living separate lives in the same house. I worked hard in my MK business and had taken on a position as a preschool director. Doug spent nearly all of his time at work or near where he worked. He went out with buddies every day either at lunch, between shifts, or after work. I spent more and more time on the computer. All the while not completely realizing my marriage was crumbling around me.
August 25th brought a screeching halt to life as we knew it. By that evening, the love of my life had packed a bag and left. I’ve never felt so sick…physically and emotionally, so hurt, and so angry as I did that day. I can remember every tiny detail about that day, although there are times I’d like to forget. I screamed. I cried. I threw things.
Over the next few days, I had similar spells. I wanted answers. Doug didn’t have any. The kids wanted Doug at home. We couldn’t stand to be in the house with each other. We tried talking. It ended in arguing. We both said horrible things that cut through to the very core of our hearts. Nothing was right in our world, and that continued for the next month.
Advice came from every angle for both of us. And honestly, from the world’s perspective, that advice was what “should have” been followed. Everyone we talked to said it was not fixable. Start over! Live a new, better life! I had a friend tell me that maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. That stopped me in my tracks.
Could I really believe THAT after all these years of believing God had brought us together? It was at that point that I knew I would forgive and fight to have my marriage restored. God didn’t bring us together to allow our selfish worldly choices to break us apart. I spoke to our pastor (even though we were not active in church at the time), and he suggested Doug and I seek counseling with a Christian counselor that knew neither of us. Doug agreed to go…not for our sake but for our kids’ sake.
Man! Those were hard sessions. It was the hardest work I’d ever had to do in my life. Some sessions we faced our issues head on. Others found us tip-toeing around the problems. The counseling helped, but it was what “accidentally” happened because of those appointments that led to a major shift for both of us.
We started dating. Now understand, neither of us would have called it that. We had a standing weekly appointment. Our counselor suggested we arrive and leave together if possible. It became a matter of timing. Our appointments were in the evening, so either on the way there or on the way back we would stop and get supper out. It was during those suppers that we started to talk, really talk, for the first time in years. And one evening while having supper out, we decided together that our love was worth the work, that our marriage was meant to be, and that our family deserved both of us.
Our marriage wasn’t magically restored. It was redeemed. You see, we were both deep in sin when our life came tumbling down. It took BOTH of us…EACH of us…realizing our mistakes, owning our part, confessing to each other and to our God, and openly repenting, running away from those sinful choices.
MAJOR changes had to happen. Doug quit his job and started a new job. I stopped working MK like a maniac. We both stepped away from the computers. We made lots of other mistakes along the way. In some aspects, we traded the separate bad choices for mutual bad choices, even to the point of compromising our beliefs in the name of rebuilding our marriage. But God even used that to bring us back to each other and back to Him. None of this happened overnight. We spent most of the next year in counseling. The road to healing was long and hard with many potholes along the way.
Nineteen years later, we continue to work on our relationship. We came out of what was meant to destroy our love more in love than ever before. In Genesis 50, in the story of Joseph meeting his brothers after they had left him for dead, he says, ” 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…” And Romans 8:28 tells us, ” And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” God used what was meant to sever our marriage to accomplish good for us. We did not save our marriage. God did!
Let me end with this…I know many marriages are not saved the way ours was. I realize there are times when one person tries and the other does not. I know that there are times leaving a marriage is a literal life-saver for someone and even their kids. I’m also aware that many see me as weak even though my every decision was a choice to fight for my love. My prayer in sharing our story is to give someone hope that God CAN heal sick hearts. He CAN mend shattered trust. He CAN fix broken relationships. He is in the business of making beauty from ashes. Whether that is a marriage, a parent/child relationship, or a friendship, God is able!