In the seventh year of our marriage my husband and I were contemplating divorce.
We had reached a stage where we were finding it difficult to be civil to each other and all pretense of praying together or caring for each other had fallen by the wayside.
Ours was a marriage that had been prophesied over and prayed into existence. It was a marriage that had been based on God.
We were still going to church on a regular basis and both of us deserved Oscars for our acting abilities. Nobody had any idea how badly our marriage had deteriorated as we were so good at pretending, in front of people, that we were a happily married couple!
The only reason my husband finally agreed to go for counseling was out of fear. Fear that he would only see his daughters on a part time basis. Fear that his children’s lives would be torn apart if we separated.
Our daughters were aged four and two at the time and my blood turns to ice if I think at how close we were to breaking up the family. If we had divorced our third daughter would never have been born.
Have you ever considered how many children are not born because their parents got divorced?
If the marriage had ended in divorce, only one word would have been needed to describe the reason for it. The word: resentment.
I would never have admitted it. To be honest, at that stage of my life, I would not have even realized this was the reason my marriage was failing. I would have found many other guises to explain its failure.
I resented almost everything – the fact Steven had to work such long hours and I was left on my own for a great deal of the time. Steve and his brother were in the beginning stages of starting their own business and there was very little money. And boy, when the children came along, my resentment went through the roof!
I resented the fact Steven could walk out of the door in the morning and have the freedom of doing whatever he liked while I remained at home with the children. The combination of his incredibly long work hours, no family in the area, and not much money contributed to me literally spending all my time by myself with two young children at home. On the weekends when he was home, Steven was so tired he spent most of the time sleeping. I resented that I had agreed to give up my job to stay at home with the children. It felt like my life had been reduced to cleaning the house, ironing the clothes, cooking the food, and being on call twenty-four hours a day.
I was only living to be at the beck and call of everyone else. I had no time to myself and life had become very boring and frustrating. There seemed to be no point to anything anymore; my future seemed very bleak. I felt I had lost all sense of my own identity. The loving, caring, sexy woman my husband had sworn “to love and to cherish’ had turned into a bitter, angry, selfish, and overweight shrew!
Proverbs 19:13 certainly applied to me: “A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping”.
I was so wrapped up in myself I failed to see that Steven had lost all his freedom and his own identity as well.
He went from a bachelor who answered only to himself to being a man with a mortgage, wife, two children and a dog he had to support.
He still had the mind set of being single, but knew the sole responsibility for our welfare rested firmly on his shoulders.
I had lost sight of the fact that I was a child of God and needed to act like one. I had forgotten the maxim found in 1 Thessalonian 5:16,
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I had stopped giving thanks to God for a husband who worked so hard, healthy, beautiful children and a lovely home.
We went for counselling and discovered there that divorce was not an option for us.
All we needed was someone to intervene in the vicious cycle of ingratitude we had fallen into, someone to remind us that we needed to talk to one another civilly instead of reacting all the time.
More importantly, we had to start listening and paying attention to each other. We had to learn to forgive each other and start praying together again on a daily basis.
Henri Nouwen says that resentment is the opposite of gratitude,
Resentment and gratitude cannot co-exist since resentment blocks the perception and experience of life as a gift.”1
We had lost sight of the fact that the marriage God had given us was an amazing gift.
We had to kneel in prayer and trust God. We asked God not to simply restore our marriage, but to make it a happy one! He has honored this prayer – a cry from our hearts – so faithfully.
The following question was once asked of me: “When or where have you recognized Christ?”
My answer: “In my husband’s forgiveness of me and my forgiveness of him.”
We have now been married for 22 years and I can honestly say being married is wonderful!
1. Nouwen, Henri J.M. Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World.
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