This is a day of great rejoicing and celebration.
When I first started chatting with Deb, she was living in shall I say, a "difficult marriage." I watched and prayed over the months for her and her husband. There was a point where even me, the believer in marriage and the one person who believes any marriage can be restored, doubted this marriage could be healed.
Oh Praise be to Jesus because in our doubt, struggle and sometimes, hell on earth, Jesus can heal a marriage. Today it is my great privilege to share my friend Deborah with all of you. Many of you know her from our loop at 1Peter3Living on Yahoo. Many of you held her in prayer. THANK YOU.
Already, at a young age of 26, she has lived through a marriage she never imagined could happen to her yet she discovered triumph through the power of Jesus Christ. Although her marriage story is still relatively new, it should be a story that encourages all of us to believe and to pray.
So now, I give you Deb. This story is worth the read. Be blessed, Lynn
First of all I want to say how privileged I am to be able to share my story on Spiritually Unequal Marriage. I never envisioned myself in this position, mainly because the struggles I have experienced over the last three years seemed unending and at times hopeless, but wonder of wonders, here I am to tell the tale and rejoice over what God has done.
For all of you who haven't met me yet, my name is Deb and I have been married to my husband for almost three years. There were doubts in more than one quarter if we would ever make it to one year let alone three, but that would be jumping ahead of the story. : )
Following our four year engagement, (we weathered two and a half of those years apart in different countries) and subsequent wedding on September 2007, it was only three months later that I found myself Googling 'loneliness in marriage' in the hopes of finding help for my newfound struggles. This is how I stumbled across Spiritually Unequal Marriage. Through this website God has led me to a place where I have become strengthened and equipped through the prayers and support of people who have now become like family. Your posts and e-mails have kept me sane on the crazy days and grateful on the good days. I’m so thankful to know you.
To backtrack, my relationship with my spouse had always been characterized by significant ups and downs. I would attribute this partly to our dysfunctional upbringings, partly to our equally intense and opposite personalities, and also to the fact that any marriage, especially one where believers are involved, is a favorite target of Satan.
When we first met what attracted me most to my husband was his passionate love for Christ. He was absolutely radiant with the light of Jesus and I had never met anyone with whom I clicked so well spiritually. Throughout our engagement however, he had some negative experiences in the church we were attending at the time, and by the time we were married I was more or less holding onto what I had seen rather than what I was seeing regarding his walk with God. Despite this development, I was still fondly hoping that he would soon 'snap out of it', and become the spiritual leader that I had always wanted him to be. I knew that if he would only get it together in the spiritual department we would soon experience marital bliss on a near perfect scale and live out all my dreams together. I say this all with a wry smile, because you may be smiling too at my naiveté. (On a side note, I still very much believe in these dreams, but more on that later.)
Needless to say, I unwittingly placed such a burden of my expectations for happiness on him, that with his own inability to handle some of his own issues, let alone mine combined, we began having conflict that only heightened as the days and weeks continued. For the first few months he was more or less strong enough to handle my anger and frustration, but it wasn't long before he threw up his hands in defeat and retreated into his shell. His words to me at the time were that I could no longer count on his support, spiritually or emotionally, as a husband or even a friend, and that all he cared to do from then on was find his satisfaction in online gaming. He participated in an online game, EverQuest, often shortened to EQ, which is a 3D fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game. You can imagine how crushed I was to discover that everything I had wanted was now beyond reach. What doubled my anguish was the feeling that I was entitled to at least a measure of happiness.
From the age of three I had dedicated my life to God and since then my best dreams culminated in a desire to serve Him with a husband who wanted the same thing. With that as my foundation, how was it possible that things could have gone so awry?
For months we coexisted in an extremely tense and hostile environment. With the best I had I tried to cope with the new situation, but each day would find me in tears of despair. I have memories of walking the streets weeping, begging God to intervene. I still remember the nights and early mornings when he wouldn't come to bed but spent all hours of the night and morning gaming in his computer room. I can still recall his dark anger at my attempts to intervene.
What I secretly hoped was temporary became solidly worse as five hours of gaming stretched into ten and ten into fifteen and my husband's obsession deepened into addiction. The disappointment and bitterness I carried had now become a weight I couldn't bear. At this point I was asking everyone I knew for help and prayer. I was unashamed in my needs, and I know that many of your prayers are what carried me through those initial troubled days. (A quiet thank you again for that.)
It was only eight months after we married that I left home and took up residence elsewhere. This was decided upon after explaining my situation to pastors and friends who agreed that our situation had become so volatile that it was no longer safe. What I never conceived could happen was now a reality and I was separated from the love of my life and desperate and alone. From that point followed a year and a half period where our relationship fluctuated from okay to ugly and I was barely coping from day to day.
Looking back it puts a lump in my throat to see how tenderly God cared for me over that time. I was extremely blessed to have an excellent church which gave me a lot of support and help. At every point I needed help, Jesus provided a friend who would send me a letter at just the right time, or a text when I thought I was going over the edge. In every possible way He was saying to me - 'I am watching over you. Don't despair.'
Of course, being Deb, I did despair, even many times a day, but I also clung to Him like I never had before. This period, for me, was characterized by an intense and painful learning curve. Through it God was revealing to me areas of my life that He wanted to heal and transform. I didn't realize how imbalanced I was in my perceptions and thoughts about marriage, myself and even God. It wasn't until I was separated from Dans that I was able to see how needy and insecure I was and how much I had relied upon him to complete me. I had gotten to the point where I blamed him for all the unhealthy ways I expressed my frustrations and felt that if it wasn't for his lack of spirituality, I would be making better choices.
God didn’t let me stay there too long however, and my anger with my husband began giving way to acknowledgement that he was not wholly responsible for our marriage breakdown. I began attending regular counseling with my pastor’s wife Connie, who walked me through inner healing and forgiveness. Together we asked God to reveal the root issues as to why I had become co-dependent and why I felt trapped no matter which way I looked. In answer to the most tormenting why question of all - 'why me?' God revealed that sometimes He allows wounds in our life to heal even deeper ones, and this was certainly true in my case.
What broke my heart most regarding our situation was that my husband had renounced God and cursed Him to his face. I judged him in my heart for this, without realizing that God’s command for us to love our enemies and bless those that curse us (Matt 5:44) means that He also acts according to that same standard of behavior. This means that any of our spouses, no matter if they have never known God, or have known Him and then turned away, are still loved by the Father and blessed regardless. (Matt 5:45)
About a year into our separation my husband began attending counseling with me which was in itself a huge miracle. He had become so resistant to any kind of help that I wondered if he would ever reach out again. From there we began to dialogue about our differences and slowly came to understand and forgive each other, bit by bit. Even the tiniest steps were huge, as we had so much ground to gain. I think because the progress seemed so slow, months later I was beginning to lose faith again that things would really improve.
In January this year, however major things started to happen. I believe that as a result of many people's prayer and intercession, he lost the desire to play computer games. For those of you who don't know about gaming, for someone like my husband who played upward of 16 hours almost every day for two years, this is the equivalent to a heroin addict suddenly deciding they don't need the drug anymore. This decision was the catalyst for a completely brand new season for both of us. From that point on we have continued to heal and just two months ago we found a lovely apartment and moved in together!
Thank you Jesus.
Even more amazing is the continued newness that we are now experiencing in our relationship. We have actually had times of praying together, sharing our hearts about life and where we stand with God, and are finally discovering the ability to talk over even the toughest of issues without becoming enemies.
You have to know how hopeless it seemed for two and a half years to grasp the fullness of how amazing this is. I know that we will continue to have our battles, but God has truly done amazing things in my marriage.
By no means am I intimating that our struggles are over, or even that we have come through everything. In a real sense we are only just starting. What I am saying is that God restored hope where there was none, took us out of a muddy pit and placed our feet on solid ground.
I hope this story blesses you as much as I have been blessed to recount it. Through it I have gained a knowing that I never had before: no matter how tough a situation can be God will see us through it stronger than before.
~DebBio: Hi I'm Deb. Born of Greek parents in sunny Perth, Australia, I now live and work in the not-so-sunny but gorgeous state of Washington. I met my husband in the Old City of Jerusalem in 2003 while completing the second year of my BA in English and Jewish studies. Following a lengthy four year engagement Dans and I were married in Tulsa Oklahoma on September 2007. I currently work for an airline which provides plenty of drama and 'scope for the imagination. Some of my best loves are traveling, reading classic literature, taking long road trips and eating chocolate.