I can't even begin to tell you how much I love and admire today's Friend Friday guest. I have used her story many times in counseling other women. She is one of my modern day heroines, quietly living a bold faith despite the valleys. Oh, the valleys she's walked!
She sent me this prayer this morning, "I pray women will be encouraged, strengthened, and that their faith will increase after reading this post. It helped me see more clearly what God has done after putting it all into words. This is a reason why journaling is so helpful."
One more thing, to protect her man, she's posting anonymously. God bless you, friend. Praying for you.
I guess you could say that I’m the perfect example of a “goodie two shoes” gone wrong. Having grown up in a respectable Catholic home, I took pride in my strong morals and good character. I was the last girl you’d expect to fall for a blue-eyed, blond-haired bad boy, but when you're in “love,” crazy things can happen. Like getting pregnant right before your senior year of college.
Of course, my life wasn’t the only one that got turned upside down. Remember that bad boy? How do you think he felt being a footloose freshman one minute, and a dad-to-be the next? We were both young, scared, and in way over our heads, but at least we had each other.
Except it wasn’t quite that simple. We both wanted to be a part of our daughter’s life, but we had different opinions about what that should look like. I wanted him to marry me. He wasn’t ready for that, but I didn’t really give him any other option. He could choose to get married or risk losing a relationship with his baby girl. And so we said, “I do.”
Clearly, our circumstances weren’t exactly the ideal foundation for a lifetime of love together. In fact, I can say with certainty that we were well on our way to being just another divorce statistic. Until God stepped in.
Through a gospel mailing sent by a local church, God opened my eyes to understand Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection. The truths I had heard and seen many times before were suddenly so clear! God saved me that day, the first of many miracles He would work in my life and marriage.
But fixing all of our relationship dysfunction was not one of them. My husband worked all the time. We argued about money and the hours he spent away from home. He wanted me to get a job when our daughter was still young, and I wanted to raise her at home. Because he was gone so much, I just started making family decisions without him, which created even more division between us.
We had both done a great job making a mess of our marriage. Yes, we. I certainly bore my fair share of the responsibility. I didn’t realize back then how important it was to honor my husband. To encourage him and let him know how much I appreciated his hard work to support our family, flaws and all. But a Titus 2 woman I was not.
And then it happened. Over the next 15 years, my husband was unfaithful to me on three separate occasions. Even though I didn’t fully understand why at the time, by faith I stayed with him—and that’s when God really began working a miracle in our marriage.
We went through Christian counseling together and began to heal. I started studying God’s word and caught a vision of the kind of godly wife I could be for my husband. Yes, he had wronged me, but I was not without blame. I knew I had to change my attitude toward my man before things could improve. 1 Peter 3:1 gave me much determination and strength to persevere during that painful time:
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.”
Just when our relationship seemed to have turned a corner, my husband was once again caught in an inappropriate relationship. Though it was not a physical affair, it was still wrong. And it hurt. Badly. I struggled so hard to understand how this could have happened, again. Our marriage had grown stronger. I had honored him. I had respected him. The really hard part was that he knew I had changed, and yet he still chose to make more poor choices.
I didn’t want to deal with the heartache anymore. Surely it would have been easier to just not care at all, right? I could let him go live his own life away from me. After all, I didn’t really need him. Our daughter was newly married and out of the house, and I knew I could take care of myself. Everything in me told me to leave, and no one would have blamed me if I had.
But God had other plans—another miracle for our marriage. My husband agreed to meet with my pastor, whom he had known for years and had a good relationship with. It turns out a big piece of the puzzle that had been missing was having a godly man get in his face and challenge him with biblical truths.
My hubby and I have been empty nesters for about twelve years now. I can’t say that I’m 100% past the hurt I’ve experienced. I still struggle with trusting my husband, but I have learned to respond very differently to that feeling than I used to. Now I look to the Word for comfort and strength when I need it the most. By faith, I made my marriage about more than whatever moment we were in. As my now-grown daughter, who is wise beyond her years, puts it: “You made Dad’s soul more important than the expectations you had of marriage.” Maybe so, but the truth is, I really can’t take credit for any of what has happened. I can only marvel at the kindness of God that has held us together for all these years in spite of the odds.
Little by little, He has chipped away at my husband’s heart. We don’t fight about finances anymore, and he was the one who encouraged me to stop working so that I could help care for my aging father. In fact, my husband was so committed to this task that he was willing to move out of our cozy house and into my father’s basement.
And then there’s the care and affection that has blossomed inside my husband’s heart. He shows me that he loves me more than he ever has, and I am so encouraged by how he tells me when he’s sorry and sends me random texts to tell me how much he cares for me. And you ought to see how much he adores his grandkids! The look on his face when he watches their Facebook videos is nothing like I have ever seen before from him.
Though God has answered many prayers about my husband and has worked countless miracles over the years, He has not yet chosen to do what I most desire: open my love’s eyes to the truth of the gospel and draw him to a saving faith. But there are clear signs that He is at work. My husband works on Sundays, but he very willingly listens to sermons from both my pastor and our son-in-law every night before bed. And I don’t feel uncomfortable sharing about the Lord with him anymore because he so willingly receives what I say.
Of course, in the midst of all of this, the Lord continues the oh-so-painful work of conforming me more to the image of His Son. There is still much that I have to learn about honoring and respecting my husband, but I press on with joy, knowing the holy task that lies before me: I have the privilege of reflecting the Father’s love for me—imperfect as I am—to my beloved, imperfect as he may be.
If you had all of this figured out a long time ago, praise God! May He use you as a vessel to point others toward your same Christ-centered path in marriage.
But if your current reality sounds a lot more like what I’ve been through, take heart. I can’t guarantee that all of your problems will disappear. Or that your husband will change overnight…or that he’ll change at all. But I can offer you hope and a reminder that God is faithful and powerful and that no one is beyond the reach of His grace.
P.S. Last night I asked my husband to share with me again how he felt about the night I asked him to marry me. He said he was shocked at first because “that’s not how it’s supposed to go.” When I reminded him that I had trapped him, his response was, “You did me a favor.” Of course, I teared up. Perhaps soon I can finally say with confidence that in his wife, my husband has “found a good thing” (Proverbs 18:22).