A Broken Marriage Restored
Recently a photo popped up in my memories on my personal Facebook page with the saying, "God is big enough to save you, powerful enough to change hearts, & loving enough to restore your marriage. You aren't." It was sent to me by my wife a year ago along with some very touching comments. It represents a maturing of our relationship, one where we eventually came full circle.
In our marriage, we walked a hard unpaved road full of distractions and danger. From young kids that God brought together, so many things had to fall into place for us to even meet in a world that was still small without social media. To become young adults who he let stray from the path of following him, we were people of the world and we put our worldly interests before Him. As adults He let us stumble and feel the pain the path of life can inflict, before finally shining a light for us as He brought us back to the path He had for us. He was never that far away even when we could no longer see him.
During the majority of our 9th year of marriage Kim and I were separated.
You don’t arrive at that point in your relationship suddenly. In our case it was 9 years of marriage, and 6 more before that in the making. It was a thousand fights and thousands more hurtful words to one another. We wielded our words like a sword intent on injuring the other. It was the pressure of the world and expectations put on us by jobs, ourselves and each other. We were tragically over extended and we stopped putting our marriage first, we lost touch with one another. Then it all crumbled, those plates we were balancing all hit the ground in a deafening crash that I will never forget. The sound of failure and somehow I didn’t see it coming at all. I knew we were in a bad place, but I was cocky and assumed no matter how bad things got Kim would never leave.
She told me she was leaving on a Sunday, Mother’s Day to be exact. She brought along family as I am sure she was afraid of my reaction. Several quick days passed and she was at her sister’s and I was surrounded by boxes in a small 2 bedroom apartment. There is a special kind of shame that you feel while emptying a house into a storage unit and an apartment. Did I verbalize that shame, did I fight and say let’s stop this, we can’t allow this to happen? Of course not. Would it have mattered to her at that point, who really knows.
To call me crushed at that point would not properly describe it. It was as if I forgot how to breathe. Like a dream I could not wake up from. I worked but only gave the minimum needed to get by. I ate, but only shopped when our daughter, Lex, was coming over so she wouldn’t worry. I slept but only when I crashed from exhaustion. The one and only positive thing I managed to do besides work was to seek out counseling. My employer had good mental health benefits. There I would unpack a lot of stuff, specifically my anger issues. Simply put, my dad had an anger problem and I had one as well. We expressed it differently. He would punish me physically, and ignore me the rest of the time. My personal anger style came in the form of destruction of “stuff”. I had learned the pain a heavy handed father could inflict and I lived in fear of doing the same to Kim or Alexis. When I would get angry nothing (with the exception of them) was off limits. Many holes in walls, broken dishes, and even broken furniture. Somehow since it was just a possession I could justify the damage in my head. I’m not hitting my family right? I can only imagine the fear my actions and words caused for my family.
Time passed so slowly during these days and Kim slipped further away. Unfortunately I had few allies in my fight. While I still had a relationship with my wife’s family they were still her family. She also had several voices in her life that were not saying to her “fix your marriage”.
We came very close to divorce. Close enough that Kim asked me to go forward with it, she even got the necessary paperwork to start it. We were so broken, and going in different directions. I only cared about fixing us, and Kim was trying to start a new life that didn’t include me but still (at that time) didn’t completely exclude me. No matter the minimal part I still played in her life, our ship had sailed.
Life had knocked me down where I could no longer stand, so I kneeled. I talked to God a lot then. We spoke at length and often. They say that you can’t bargain with God, but I made a lot of promises during those days. God heard those pleas and showed me grace. Surely it was all part of his plan. God granted me humility to admit the things that were wrong in my life. He put in my path a counselor who led me in the direction of healing. He also didn’t allow the spark that had started so many years prior to die in Kim’s heart. So much pain I had caused Kim, and now it was me suffering. So many years of her holding on for me and it was now me holding on to her, fighting for us. Along the way reality set in, I was neglecting everything else, especially my job and finances. Soon the job was gone and with it the finances. Then I loaded what was left of my life into a second storage unit and a few boxes that would come with me. Of all the people you would assume I had been taken in by, the person turned out to be Kim’s Mom. She had always treated me like her own and now even with her loyalty assumingly being with her daughter she took me in. She offered me a refuge, a safe place to finally let go and crumble. The divorce conversation finally came soon after Halloween. I had gone with Kim to shop for a costume for Lex, and was aware she had gotten herself a Red Riding Hood costume. I was so desperate to connect with her that I went out and got this really elaborate Big Bad Wolf costume. It had the opposite effect. I had created a couple’s costume and I was missing the couple to pull it off. It was humiliating. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around I had very little to be thankful for. Everyone urged me to move on, Kim’s Mom even offered to help me financially with the divorce.
Christmas was then around the corner and Kim had taken Alexis with her on a trip with friends to snowboard. Lex was smitten with it and wanted her own gear. We would have to join forces for Lex’s Christmas present, that meant shopping together. I had given up hope and was trying to move on with a life that I was convinced would not include Kim. I don’t know what changed, maybe she saw I had given up, maybe she began to see a different man standing in front of her. Most definitely God moved in the situation. We were able to talk (often, very frankly) during those shopping outings. By the beginning of the year there would be reconciliation and we started planning to move back in together. Within a few months we found out we were expecting which came as quite a surprise to us. We had tried to no avail to become pregnant before (we adopted our first daughter, Lex) and no one could tell us why we couldn’t. Clearly God knew we were not ready. Soon our second daughter Addison was born. It was a blessing from God. She represented so much. From the fulfillment of a dream Kim and I had for years and years, to the answer from God that perhaps now He saw in our relationship the tools necessary to allow us to increase our family. Addison was followed quickly by our third daughter Avery. You may ask (and I did), 3 daughters God? Haven’t I been thru enough? The reality is that I think God has a very sharp sense of humor. More importantly He was saying He believed that I could be the man to show those girls a view of a godly husband and father. Thankfully a couple years ago God gave me a son to share the lady madness with (he and I hide a lot). Someday we aspire to have a man cave to escape all things girly.
We celebrated 25 years together (not married, but still credited for time served) this past April. We have seen a lot of ups and downs, we grew up together and we hardly have the conventional marriage. We are here at this place only with the help of God. How else do you explain a guy born and raised in Tennessee meets a girls from Arizona who just happened to have moved 1800+ miles to a city 30 minutes from his own and they have one friend in common. God’s plan, He chose us for one another. We didn’t make it easy for Him, we seldom do.
No marriage is perfect, no matter how much love there is. It is not hard to wake up one day and realize the person brushing their teeth next to you has become a stranger. But God put them there for a reason, he doesn’t make mistakes. A wiser man than I once told me... “God is never late, seldom early, and always on time.”
If you find yourself hurting and falling a little short of loving the one you said your vows to, it is never too late. Only God has the power to heal a broken marriage, you simply do not have the power to do it alone. No marriage is irrefutably broken, it can be repaired. God will allow you to carry an enormous amount of weight on your shoulders, but He will gladly help you carry it if you ask Him. He can make you whole again, He can make your marriage whole again and He has the power to bless you beyond your wildest imagination.
IF this resonates with you, if you and your spouse are in a bad place with one another. Reach out to your pastor or find a couple who display the type of marriage you aspire to and make them your mentor. If neither of those exist, reach out to me. I will do everything I can do to help you. If I can’t, I will help you find someone who can.
-Joe, The Bearded Dad Blog
Joe and his wife Kim reside in Arizona. They are high school sweethearts, and have been married for 25 years. They have 3 beautiful daughters, and one adventurous son. You can read more of his writing on his blog here: www.thebeardeddad.com You can follow him on FB: @TheBeardedDadBlog IG: @thebeardeddadblog and Twitter: @TheRealBeardDad.