(The following is a true story of marital success. Names and some details have been changed to protect the couple's privacy.)
Hi, I’m Cindy. When I walked down the aisle 37 years ago and said “I Do”, I was in no way prepared for the “I Don’ts” of marriage. “I don’t want to spend my life living like this.” “I don’t know you anymore.” “I don’t feel like being married to you anymore.” “I don’t love you anymore.”
“I don’t” can pack a powerful punch.
I had heard these words before, in times of trouble and arguments.
However, on one particular day approaching 30 years into marriage, I
heard them in a way I had never heard before.
My husband, David, and I had a disagreement that escalated with words. He ended the argument with all the “I don’ts” mentioned above. But this time there was an element in his voice that I did not find familiar. There was a certain tone attached that had an ending, and it wasn’t a happy ending. I saw a totally different man before me. Everything about him was foreign. There was a coldness that had come over him.
At the time, my 89-year old mother was seriously ill after a botched surgical procedure. The hospital actually told us to prepare her funeral arrangements. How could this be happening to me? My husband wants to walk out of my life, is talking about selling the house, and here is my mother just clinging to life. I was totally taken back by how this man I loved could be so cold.
Was David having a mid-life crisis or an affair? No one could put their finger on it. It was like he unexpectedly snapped.
In the days and months to follow, I spent my time working my job, hiring people to come in and stay with my mother, taking care of her after work, and just trying to stay focused. At this point she could not walk, talk, or eat on her own.
After a conversation with my husband, he agreed to hold off on putting the house on the market while I was going through this with my mother.
I had two serious crises on my hands - an ill mother and a broken marriage. I felt very alone in my pain.
For eight months, David and I shared a house with no conversation and no interaction the entire time. And I really do mean no conversation!
I will never forget one night when a close friend and his wife took me out to dinner and told me it was over, and there was no hope. I looked him squarely in the eye and said, “You know, it isn’t over until God tells me it is over.” I know my friends thought I was in denial and foolish, but I just could not let my thoughts venture into an area that I knew in my heart was not where God wanted me to be.
I have a very strong faith in God, and through my prayers I knew David was the man I was to be with. If I felt that strong in my spirit that God had joined us together, then only God would be able to convince me that my marriage was over.
In the eighth month of this bizarre ordeal, my husband agreed to go hear a person speak on the problems many marriages encounter. When it came time to split off as couples and talk to one another, he got up and walked out. Again, his friend approached me and said he had never seen my husband like this and that I needed to accept that it was over.
A few days later, when I felt I could speak without being rejected, I asked David if he would consider counseling. Much to my surprise, he said yes. Keep in mind we belonged to a church family who had been praying for us and our marriage, not to mention I was on my knees every day in prayer. Somehow something was penetrating his heart, but on the outside he was still very cold and abrasive towards me.
When we first started counseling with our male counselor, it was every bit “he said, she said.” It was very frustrating for the both of us. Especially for me, because I felt it was our one and only shot at talking to one another, and it was going nowhere. I also have to admit I felt the deck was stacked with two male mindsets against one female, but I was just grateful that my husband committed.
After a few sessions, our friend, the same one who told me to cash in my chips, shared with us a marriage program that may be beneficial. It was called a marriage intensive. We agreed to do it.
Intense is right! In approximately 4 days we went through what counseling, in my opinion, would have achieved in a year. It was like a marriage boot camp. However, it was spiritually based and guided with the utmost care and concern. Through the help of these counselors, they took us through our personal needs, our backgrounds and upbringing in such an eye-opening way that we both had a heart to listen and be receptive. We found out what makes us tick and act a certain way. Things in our past that find their way in so subtly and trigger reactions we were not even conscious of.
To put it mildly, God showed up!
The transformation that happened in those few days with David was incredible. God gave me back the loving man I married. But I do not want you to think it was entirely my husband. I did add to his frustrations, and I found out areas where I was lacking in fulfilling his needs. We have to be open enough to examine ourselves, and most of all be truthful. God brought us to a place where we both were willing to do just that.
How has life been since? As I mentioned above, we just celebrated 37 yrs. We are a lot more aware of each other’s needs and feelings when we talk to one another.
Only God knows what tomorrow will bring, but whatever that brings, God will show up one way or another!
Cindy always had a deep belief that she and David were "meant for one another." It was not just that they were compatible or that their relationship felt natural. It was much more. Over time, Cindy came to believe that God had blessed them by giving them each other. Their marriage had God's approval.
And it was this belief that gave her the courage to face the challenges of married life, and especially the one that nearly tore her marriage apart.
In our correspondence before Cindy wrote this, she said,"We are not promised tomorrow, so it will always be a day-to-day walk in my marriage, and in my faith. Anything could change at any time. Especially when you have two personalities involved. No one has the forever after. It is a matter of living in the present."
Your marriage is also a day-to-day walk. God will be with you, as He is with Cindy and David, if you allow Him. God can guide the two of you, though He will not force you into any actions or behaviors because He allows you free will.