Monthly Marriage Miracle: A God-Sent Weekend

Once again I’m posting a marriage miracle story. This story is true and was written by someone who remembered how she and her husband almost lost hope in their marriage. Then God intervened. The names have been changed.

I pray that this story shared courageously by Pam can bring hope to you if you are in a dark place in your marriage. If you have already received your marriage miracle, please pass this story along to someone who needs a miracle.

If you have a marriage miracle you’d like to share with others, please contact me at emcreasman@aol.com. You can write out your own story, or tell me your story, and I will write it for you. My goal is to remind others that we serve a God who heals–even when circumstances seem impossible.

A God-Sent Weekend

“When we return to the states, I think we need a divorce,” my husband said one day.

We lived in a compound with other foreign expatriates in Tokyo, Japan. Our three children, ages five, seven, and ten, attended a Christian school run by missionaries. After thirteen years of marriage with no reason for divorce—no violence, no hanky-panky, no lies, no illness, no alcohol, no nothing—he wanted to quit. It’s not as if this announcement came out of the blue.

Stresses in our marriage had been building for years. There was no lack of money, no extramarital flings, no violent outbursts; we didn’t even argue much. My husband did his thing, and I cared for the children and house with a few forays into substitute teaching. We attended church as a family every Sunday and stopped at the local restaurant for Sunday brunch. But we were not happy.  I resented having to stay home with the children, moving every year, and letting my college degree languish.

“Yes, when we get home, we’ll get a divorce,” I decided.

Then, God called.

“There’s a Christian Marriage Encounter scheduled three weeks from now,” a friend of ours said. “We’ll watch the kids if you two want to go. It’s not for troubled marriages; it’s to make a good marriage better.”

“I have an important meeting that day,” my husband said. “I’m not sure I can make it.”

“I think it’s important we go,” I responded.

“You go. If I can, I’ll show up.”

Standing at the bus station with couples excited about a weekend in the mountains, I waited, nervous he would not come.

“If he doesn’t come, then I’ll know there is no hope for our marriage,” I told the pastor.

“We need to go now,” the man in charge announced. “We cannot wait any longer.”

Crestfallen, my disappointment he had not come became resentment. It’s over, I thought.

Then, he walked in.

“The meeting ran late,” he said, “but I told them I had to leave. Hope this is worth it.”

We sat together in silence, watching the countryside, passing tiered levels of rice behind thatched homes, through forests and over hills, set below a cloudless blue sky. After an hour or two, we exited the bus onto a wooded clearing. The chilly mountain air sent us scurrying into the modern hotel-style retreat house where rooms were assigned and a schedule distributed.

“The first thing we must do,” the man in charge said, “is relinquish our timepieces. We want no distractions. No telephone calls. Time will have no meaning. There will be a talk about different topics; a question will be given, then we’ll adjourn to write your response in these notebooks, share and then discuss them with each other. After a while, a bell will ring, and we will reconvene for group discussion.”

Then he played, “We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters.

The questions, given one at a time with about 15 minutes between writing and then discussing before returning to the group, required some intense thought. Over the years, I’ve forgotten the questions, but not our responses to them and each other. We wrote but refused to speak. One question, in particular, sent me for a tailspin. “Why did you get married?” The easy answer was: “Because we were in love,” but that was not the truth. He married because I refused to live with him, and he wanted someone to cook and clean with benefits. I married because I was ready to settle down after a failed relationship. 

The next question: “Were you in love when you married, and how has your love grown?” Our answer: We thought so, but not really, and it hasn’t.

Other thought-provoking questions about our responses to each other when different situations occurred continued over the weekend. We learned to talk about difficult situations, express our feelings without blame, and accept each other for the person we were rather than attempting to change the other. Of course, these precepts didn’t happen overnight. The prayers of our friends, the openness of this meeting, and our desire to change, helped us renew our wedding vows.                 

                       Break down the walls we have built around our marriage
                       as you tore down the walls of Jericho. Send your grace and
                       fill our marriage with compassion. Rid our hearts of the
                       resentment we built and replace it with love.

Without this God-sent weekend, the prayers of our friends, and our change of heart, we would never have celebrated our fifty-second wedding anniversary last year.

This is not the end of the  tale. Over the years, difficulties, especially in communicating without blame, have sent us to counseling several times, but we agree that marriage is a life commitment. The only person we can change is ourselves. 

Note: To find out more about Marriage Encounter weekends, go to this link: https://wwme.org/

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Marriage Tips That Can Lead to Marriage Miracles

Lately, I’ve been posting a monthly marriage miracle story. Right now I’m on the lookout for more stories. If you have one, please notify me at emcreasman@aol.com. You can write out your own story, or I can interview you and write the story for you. If you know of someone else who has a marriage miracle story, please put me in touch with that person. I am looking for stories from wives who have not given up in hard times but have depended on the Lord and have received a miraculous healing in their marriage.

This month I decided to post some marriage tips that have spoken to me. I realized that receiving godly counsel from others contributed to my own marriage miracle. For a number of years, I posted a weekly marriage tip to help others–just as I was being helped by these tips. The following are twelve tips from the past that spoke to me and helped to change my perspective on marriage and improve my attitude. I pray they will also minister to you in your marriage.

#1

“…ask yourself…what are you doing (or neglecting) that makes your spouse feel lonely? Just as it takes two to get married, it nearly always takes two to let a marriage drift. So identify your own contributions to the problem. Is your schedule so crowded with outside commitments that you’re seldom home? Have you neglected hobbies or other activities that used to draw you and your mate closer? Have you started taking your spouse for granted— failing to express thanks, neglecting to extend common courtesies? Are you too preoccupied with work, the kids or family finances to listen to your spouse? After asking yourself the hard questions, commit to making the personal changes necessary to reverse the emotional drift.”

–Tim Gardner from “Alone Together” published in the September 2008 issue of Today’s Christian Woman.

#2

“It is a far better approach to accentuate the positive and to sincerely and enthusiastically applaud whatever…progress you see in your partner. Spouses have a tendency to become what their loved ones praise in them. Speaking gentle words of respect and encouragement, whether in private or in front of others, can be extremely influential in bringing about a desire to change.”

From the book, Surviving A Spiritual Mismatch, by Lee Strobel.

#3

“Choose to complete him rather than compete with him.” — Dr. Juli Slattery

#4

“Concentrate on what God wants to change in your life, not what you wish were different with your spouse. Strive to live out your convictions before her/him, in the balance of grace and truth.”

–Kathy Norquist, from Eternal Perspectives Newsletter, Spring 2014

#5

“As we start learning how to act right when our spouse acts wrong, we will begin to see what God is doing to make us more like him in the midst of marital difficulties. We will become able to…respond wisely when wronged. Perhaps most important of all, learning to act right when our spouse acts wrong will force us to forage for a deeper relationship with Christ. For to act right with a pure sincere heart in the midst of suffering will stretch our faith and trust in God as we struggle to yield our will to his plan for our life.

The marriage relationship is a picture of the covenant relationship with Christ. He is going to be our teacher in this process, for he always acts right.

Even when we act wrong.”

–From How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong by Leslie Vernick

#6

“A relationship is a living thing—it thrives with attention and withers when ignored. To maintain a healthy relationship, married couples should regularly examine how they spend their most precious resources—their time and energy—and determine whether they are following their priorities…

As you look at your normal daily schedule, what could you change—what could you spend less time doing—to make more room for your relationship?”

–from Keeping Your Covenant; A Small Group Study to Enrich Your Marriage put out by Family Life ministry, Little Rock, Arkansas

#7

“We judge ourselves by our intentions. We judge our spouses by their actions. No wonder we think we’re better!”

–Anne Moodie, To Love, Honor, and Vacuum

#8

“Quitting is not an option. When I don’t ‘feel in love,’ I make the decision to love anyway. There is a lot of forgiving that goes on. Being married for so long, there are plenty of opportunities to drag up old offences. I have to do as Clara Barton said when asked didn’t she remember something someone did to her. She said, “I clearly remember forgetting.” I have to chase off those memories with that statement! And so does he. Sometimes loving each other feels really, really good. But sometimes loving each other means sacrificing self and the ‘right’ to be angry or hurt, and just going ahead and forgiving, letting go, and getting over it. Love ‘feels’ very different from forty years ago.”

–From LaDonna—married to Buddy for 40 years.

#9

Marriage is like a dance, and we must learn not to give up when it seems our partner has two left feet.

–Paraphrase of statement made on a Refine Us radio commercial.

#10

“…we can live as critics and bring condemnation on our spouse, or we can live as supporters, focusing on attributes we appreciate. When we choose to dwell in appreciation of our spouse, we de-emphasize their negative,… and their positives grow. When we choose to live in the appreciation room, our focus transforms our thinking, our words, who we are, and to whom we are married!”

–from Molly

#11

“Communication is the essential element to every great marriage. Getting to know another human being requires talking. It’s how we fall in love. It’s how we understand another person’s heart. It’s how we resolve problems and discuss needs…Speak kindness, truth, and positive words to each other, and watch how God will use these things to draw you closer than ever before.”

–Jimmy Evans from Marriage Today email about communication in marriage.

#12

“…The places in our personality where we deviate from love are not our faults, but our wounds. God doesn’t want to punish us, but to heal us. And that is how He wishes us to view the wounds in other people…. When we are shaking a finger at someone, figuratively or literally, we are not more apt to correct their wrongful behavior. Treating someone with compassion and forgiveness is much more likely to elicit a healed response.” 

–M Williamson

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Monthly Marriage Miracle: Restored

My husband, Sam, and I met in 1990 in the Pennsylvania Pocono mountains at a kickoff retreat for a Ministry called Discipleship Training. The next weekend we ended up going together with a couple who were friends of mine to a Billy Graham crusade on Long Island, New York where Sam had grown up.  We dated, attending this ministry together and his church in Macungie, Pennsylvania. I had moved from Clearwater, Florida to attend a seminary north of Philadelphia, in order to get a Master’s degree in counseling.

Since we knew very quickly that God was drawing us together, we decided to marry June 1st just after I finished my classes that school year. Only one month later I got pregnant with our daughter, and when she was seven months old, we decided to move to Clearwater to be close to my parents. While renting two houses there I gave birth to three boys, the middle boy having Down syndrome. In 2000 we were able to buy our first home and moved to a more affordable area in downtown New Port Richey where we raised our children in the same small home we still live in today and the same church.

Next, here’s some background on Sam and my upbringing, which I believe influenced our issues in our marriage. I basically had a stable upbringing with both parents.  On the other hand, Sam didn’t have that stable of an upbringing. His mother gave him up as a baby into foster care, and then he was adopted at one and a half years old. Plus, Sam was placed back in foster care until he was 18 years old due to his hyperactivity and his father’s failing health. It was good that he stayed in that foster family from 6 to 18 years of age, but he experienced physical abuse there, ongoing manipulation and control, and, also, sexual abuse.

The positives we had in our marriage was that we both had given our lives to Christ before marrying, we knew God had called us together, we were very committed to one another, and had the same overall values and beliefs. I believe all of these factors are  important to a successful marriage.

Yet, Sam carried a lot of the bad, unresolved memories from his childhood into our marriage. He had a hard time working full-time hours and experienced disassociation at times, making it hard to communicate with him. I had rejection issues, poor self-image, and a poor example conflict resolution. The conflict between him and I worsened when the kids got older since he was afraid to overreact as his foster parents had. Therefore, it was hard to be in agreement on how to discipline the kids. Sam became overweight, would fall asleep easily, and usually wouldn’t work on resolving our issues. Therefore, resentment and bitterness grew in both of us over time. All of that plus the normal stress of raising four teenagers, one with special needs, caused a wedge between us and wounds in our hearts that needed healing.

Now for the stressful events that led up to October 1, 2017 and, eventually, to the climax of our story. Our youngest son was struggling to finish high school and barely got to graduate. My husband’s business was failing and he had to close it down. He was home all of the time with no plan for future, causing me to feel suffocated and frustrated. On top of all of that stress, hurricane Irma passed through the state of Florida sending us all into a state of panic. All of this combined, plus the things I shared previously, led into the events that happened October 1, 2017. 

After church that Sunday, even though tensions were rising high between us, I decided not to leave the house for once since I was determined to make lunch for us. One of the habits I had developed was to leave and drive to our park nearby so things wouldn’t get heated in front of the kids. That day I asked my husband three times to leave and take a walk before things escalated, but he would not go which was typical. Both of us were triggered to anger and Sam ended up losing control. I ended up with a concussion and some neck damage. I was thankfully able to get to the bathroom while grabbing a cell phone, locking myself in, and calling 911, which I knew I had to do for the safety of both of us.

Sam was arrested, taken to jail for one night, and a no-contact order was put into place by the law to keep us physically separated and providing safety. A few months later I was able to go before the judge and ask for counseling so that we could work on our relationship, and the judge granted my request.

After another few months I felt ready to ask for rights to talk to him on the phone, and the judge granted that as well. I tried to get the one year no-contact shortened, and was not granted that. Therefore, God allowed us to be apart for the seven months it took for Sam to get into the Batterers Intervention class, plus another full year in the Domestic Violence program, totaling one and a half years we were apart by law. 

Our pastor shared with me that statistics say when couples are apart more than six months the marriage is pretty much doomed to fail. The “marriage miracle” in our story is that we were able to be apart three times longer than that and be restored together to have a healthy and safe relationship. All of our prayers, the prayers of our pastor, as well as a few other people who knew our story, brought forth this marriage miracle. Yet, did Sam and I have a part in this as well? You better believe we did! 

One huge reason our counselors, Pastor, and we felt it was healthy for us to get back together was because we took this time very seriously to work on ourselves and our issues individually while apart.

Sam immediately started to go to Celebrate Recovery weekly, enrolled in the Batterers Intervention class before he was officially in the Domestic Violence program, and began working out to lose weight and get healthier. I found a counselor I could afford and saw her weekly, enrolled in a life coaching program to work on myself and boundaries, and completed a 12-step program in six months. So, because of our humility, willingness and acceptance of our own responsibility, God was able to bring real healing, cleansing and change in our hearts and lives while we were apart.

Another important thing we did was to meet together in counseling weekly where we were able to slowly and carefully work on the hurts between us and regain trust by the power of the holy Spirit. Another factor of God’s miraculous hand on us was that the judge granted us to be able to see each other in counseling. I found out later that that is highly unusual for a judge to give permission to that with a situation such as ours. I also believe that God honored the fact that we submitted to our authorities to be apart for that time as the law dictated. So when we were legally able to be together as of April 18th, 2019 we felt God’s blessing on us.

We decided to seal our reunion by going to a Weekend to Remember in Jacksonville, Florida in May of that year and renewed our vows to each other there. We have been doing well every sense, even through the trauma of losing our daughter in March of 2020. Again, let me emphasize through all of these circumstances we should have been a divorce statistic. But God. All things are possible if only we believe and obey! He is truly a restorer and redeemer!

A verse that helped me along the way is Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” NIV

The above story is true, but the names have been changed. This story was written by “Jane” with minor editing on my part.

I pray that if you have a marriage miracle story to share that you will contact me at emcreasman@aol.com. You don’t have to be a writer to submit your story. I can interview you and do the writing for you. If you are waiting for your marriage miracle, I pray that You will continue to believe in God’s healing power. Sometimes miracles take time as ours did in our 45-year marriage. Somehow the waiting and clinging to God as I waited made the miracle sweeter. May God draw you close to Himself as you believe Him for your marriage miracle.

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Hearts Set Free Monthly Marriage Miracle: Putting My Hope in God.

Once again, I’m posting a monthly marriage miracle. This month the story is from my life. God has worked many miracles in our 45-year marriage. This one has to do with God giving me the insight that I needed to stop putting my hope in my husband. Instead, I needed to put my hope in God alone. As I did that, my heart changed. Also, my relationship, not only with my husband, but with the Lord, changed. Here’s my story that I wrote years ago. I pray that this will help you to put your hope in the Lord rather than in your husband.

PUTTING MY HOPE IN GOD

One day I wrote down some of what I hoped for in regard to our marriage: 

I hope my husband changes.

I hope my husband meets my needs.

I hope my husband will embrace deliverance.

I hope my husband becomes all God has called him to be.

I hope my husband becomes an excellent spiritual leader for our family. 

            I reread this list, and saw God wasn’t at the center of my hopes.

            As I studied the Word and looked up verses about hope, I gradually understood the error of placing my hope in my husband, a fallible man who failed often. I needed to put my hope in God. When I put my hope in Him and His unfailing love for me, I found myself more joyful, with fewer ups and downs in my emotional life in regard to marriage.

Waiting, Hoping, Enduring      

            Once I took my mind off feeling hopeless because my husband didn’t express his love to me in the way I wanted to be loved, I determined to learn to truly love him. As I studied 1 Corinthians 13 in an effort to learn how to do this, I discovered three of the “love is” statements—“Love is patient,” “love hopes all things,” and “love endures all things”—are tied together. 

            Isaiah 40:31 centers on waiting, hoping and enduring. While many versions give promises to “those who wait upon the Lord” others like the NIV say: “those who hope in the Lord.” The Amplified Bible connects the waiting and the hoping. “But those who wait for the LORD [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] will gain new strength and renew their power; they will lift their wings and [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not grow tired.”

            As I saw “the wait-hope-endure interconnection,” I realized when I made statements like “I’m sick of waiting for something good to happen,” or “I just can’t endure this anymore,” this led to hopelessness and showed I once again shifted my focus to my husband changing, instead of keeping my focus on the Lord.

Putting My Hope in the Lord

            On the way to a counseling session one day, my husband accused me: “You have lost hope in me.” After I thought about it for a few minutes, I realized when I put my hope in him, it created a problem.

            When I feel overwhelmed by disappointments—typically based on something other than what I expected, I easily give in to hopelessness, especially when I expect God to do something extraordinary in my marriage when I pray, but instead it seems He does nothing. As I put my hope in God, marital disappointments no longer overwhelm me. Here’s what Romans 5:5 says about the matter:  “…hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (AMP)

            In his book, The Surprising Grace of Disappointment; Finding Hope When God Seems to Fail Us, (Moody 2013,) John Koessler helped to convict me as to why I often felt hopeless: “…we can grow irritated with Jesus when He seems unresponsive to our requests. We appreciate the encouragement of His Word, but would like something more substantial. Specifically, we want Him to get with the program—our program—and comply with the agenda we have set for Him. But the God who hears us when we cry also acts in His own time and in His own way. He is a God who makes promises. But He is also the one who determines how He will keep them. This is the chief difference between faith and presumption. Faith and presumption both expect something from God. Presumption wants to call the shots. Faith bows the knee.”

Hope and A Future

               A favorite verse I like to recite is Jeremiah 29:11: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”  For years I failed to apply it to my marriage. But these days when I feel I’m losing hope, I look at the verse. This is how I pray that verse for my life with Steve: “I praise You, Lord, that You know the plans You have for me and Steve as a couple—plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Plans to give us a future and a hope.”

            Not long ago, God gave me an insight on this verse: Satan has a plan too. If Satan had a verse of his own it would read like this: “I know the plans I have for your marriage, plans to keep it from prospering and plans to harm you. Plans to cause you to believe you have no future in this relationship, and there is no hope for you and Steve and your life together.” I discovered if I’m feeling hopeless and that “the love is gone,” I know from where those thoughts arise. Certainly not from the Lord. 

Holding to God’s Promises

               God gave me this acronym for hope: Holding Onto Promises Expectantly—not my husband’s promises, but God’s. My husband makes promises and breaks them. I do the same to him at times. Only God is the perfect promise-keeper.  If I hold to my husband’s promises, I lose hope. As I hold to God’s promises, my hope soars, and I see how God has intervened in countless ways as I put my hope in Him, but it’s in His way and in His time.

            Delving deeply into God’s Word restores me to peace and to hope as I trust in Him and realize my husband cannot be trusted. None of us can. But the good news is: God can be trusted. He, not my husband, is my Rock, and if I hold to that and to Him, I will have hope, no matter what difficulties we face in marriage.

Lord, I praise You that You are my hope, and You can rescue me from the pit of hopelessness.  Help me to stop hoping in my husband. Let me place my hope fully in You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen. 

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Monthly Marriage Miracle Story: Two Transformed Hearts

Thank you for coming here to read the latest marriage miracle story. The story is true, but the names have been changed. God has worked a major miracle in my marriage. I’ve written about it again and again, so now I’m determined to also share other couples’ marriage miracles. If you have a marriage miracle story you’d like me to share, please contact me at emcreasman@aol.com. God bless you with a mighty marriage miracle. He is able!

TWO TRANSFORMED HEARTS

Trudy has been married to Frank for 34 years. These days she says, “I couldn’t ask for a better gift than him.”

It wasn’t always that way. Early on, Trudy found herself losing hope in her marriage. She described it this way: “not trusting my husband, not believing in him, not seeing him as a full person—not loving him unconditionally.” She explains, “It was hard to learn to trust him and forgive, especially in the area of pornography. I couldn’t stand the pornography in my home, the loneliness, the isolation. I felt so disconnected from my husband, so I left and filed for divorce.”

But God brought her back home.

Two of Frank’s problems were pornography and gambling.

Trudy was into drugs, the occult, and “looking for love in all the wrong places.” She came from a background of sexual, verbal, and physical abuse—“daily beatings, daily sexual abuse.” She reports, “This brought on so much rage inside, and caused me to have hatred toward men.”

Early in her marriage, she was violent toward her husband and even threatened him with a knife. She tells of hitting her husband, but says, “he never hit back.” She admits to being sexually unfaithful after five months of marriage.

Trudy came to know the Lord in the first year of marriage. She was in church, and the Lord whispered, “I will turn your marriage around.” Once she was saved, it took her some time to understand and apply her marriage vows, but God started changing her heart. Frank also came to know the Lord shortly after, and God began to transform him.

They both started serving the Lord, and were delivered. One area of deliverance was unforgiveness. “Forgiveness was so hard, but it brought my husband and me closer,” Trudy stated.

Trudy saw that her husband was gentle, quiet, and sweet-spirited, and stated, “God uses him to quiet me, and he uses me to get him to speak up.”

Along the way Trudy was diagnosed with bipolar and is grateful that “he never left me. He never gave up on me through it all.”

Trudy said, “I couldn’t see my husband’s love for me because of my own pain. Because of all my brokenness and messiness, I went through years of therapy. I couldn’t see God’s love. He used my husband to show me unconditional love. The Lord used him in mighty ways to help me.

Trudy admits God isn’t finished with her yet. “God is still working in me, healing me layer by layer.”

What does Trudy say is the secret to her lasting marriage? “Never go to bed angry. Always put God at the center. I also tell women, ‘Love him anyway.’”

Here is a verse that Trudy has applied to her marriage: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV).

Here’s more of what Trudy has to say these days about her husband: “I am thankful for him. He’s the love of my life, who also is my best friend. I am richly blessed in the Lord to have a beautiful, wonderful man.”

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Monthly Marriage Miracle Story: Who Gives In First?

Here is another Hearts Set Free Monthly Marriage Miracle Story. The story is true, but the names have been changed. I pray God will bless you with your own marriage miracle. Open your heart to all God has for you. And remember that often what He has follows obedience.

Here is another Hearts Set Free Monthly Marriage Miracle Story. The story is true, but the names have been changed. I pray God will bless you with your own marriage miracle. Open your heart to all God has for you. And remember that often what He has follows obedience.

Give me what I want, and then I’ll give you what you want. Too many spouses have this attitude. If both have it, this can lead to continued unmet needs, increasing unhappiness, and even divorce. Mary learned that meeting her husband’s need, even if her need wasn’t being met is the right thing to do.

Your issue may not be about romance and sex, but about other areas of need. Maybe he needs you to listen to him talk about his work day, and you want to communicate about your feelings.

Not everyone will have the quick or positive outcome Mary did, but blessings of some kind always follow the action of showing love first.

Maybe this story doesn’t apply to where you are in your marriage. Pass along to someone who may be going through the battle of “he/she is not meeting my needs.”

Who Gives In First?

Do you ever feel like you’d be nicer to your husband, if he deserved it—but he doesn’t?  I was feeling that way. 

All I wanted was a date night.  Once a month even.  It didn’t need to be elaborate; I just wanted him to plan something special.  The price tag didn’t matter either, but the effort did.  If my husband had picked some flowers out of a field and brought them to me tied up with love notes, it would have sufficed.  His effort would say “I’m thinking of you.” And I’d feel loved.  

I was not seeing the effort. But I was feeling his demands.  One frustrated evening Doug spouted, “You’re never available for sex.  You seem so uninterested, but it’s a real and legitimate need I’m having!”

“I’d feel a little more amorous if you’d take me out more than once a year,” I retorted. 

He shot back: “You’re such an exaggerator, and you are never satisfied.  We took a walk on the beach yesterday.  That was romantic.”

“It’s not romantic because you put no effort into planning it.  We just happened to be there.”  My cheeks grew hot “You want sex,” I fumed, “but you do nothing to create the mood.”

“You just don’t get it,” he muttered as he shut the door, shutting me out.

“YOU don’t get it.” I shouted through the door as tears began to sting my eyes. 

A dull ache swept through my chest. My brain told my heart: It’s hopeless.

When my friend suggested we do a women’s Bible study about sex, I sputtered incomprehensibly, “Why would I want to do that?! And a Bible study for women about sex just seems weird.” 

Undaunted, she explained that this study was about improving relationships and was highly recommended by people she respected.

I prayed about it, and felt a peace. We started the study.  I learned that sex is a gift that I had the power to give or withhold, and that it was God’s idea to bring oneness into a marriage.  I was encouraged to meet my husband’s needs. 

“Unfair!” said myself to me—especially because he’s not meeting my needs.  But I had to admit the stalemate wasn’t getting me anywhere.  It was time to grow up.

I forgave, and then I gave—passionately, whole-heartedly, with a desire to please him.  The next night I gave again, and even enjoyed it.  The next night he asked me where I’d like to go because he wanted to plan a special romantic date for me.  The next morning, he brought me flowers.

Had I waited for him to give me what I wanted before I gave him what he wanted, I could still be waiting. Or worse, by withholding I could have added more layers of hurt and rejection onto him, while his response would pile more hurt and rejection onto myself.  And all of it would have been so unnecessary. 

I was damaging our marriage because I wanted my needs to be met first.  When I finally gave up my “right to romance” and met his needs first, I gained the very thing I longed for.

A wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands (Proverbs 14:1).

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Hearts Set Free Monthly Marriage Miracle: Waiting for A Husband to Be Saved

At the end of this difficult year for all of us, I’m thinking of those I desire to be saved. I’ve prayed and prayed for these souls, and I’m hoping that 2021 is the year that they open their hearts to the Lord. As I bring my requests for salvation for loved ones to the Lord, I think of wives I know who are waiting for their husbands to be saved.

One of those wives is Leslie. Some would say of this miracle story, “Where’s the miracle? He’s not saved yet. The miracle is Leslie’s ability to wait. I know many wives who leave their unsaved husbands to find a man who knows the Lord. They ignore what the Scripture says about the subject, “And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him” (1 Corinthians 7:13 NIV).

Maybe you’re not waiting for your husband to be saved, but you’re waiting for God to deliver him from a sin habit or stronghold that is having a destructive effect on your marriage. I know what that’s like. But God has been faithful to give me grace in the time of waiting. He even gives me strength to do what I heard in song “Worship in the waiting.”

This year we’ve been doing lots of waiting with Covid 19. We’re still waiting to stop wearing our masks, stop social distancing, and to move freely about the country and our communities.

I pray the following story will help you as you wait for God to answer your prayers concerning your husband. It can be hard to understand why He seems to take so long. One day someone told me, “God has a different clock than we do.” Be encouraged by Leslie’s story, and pray along with me that 2021 will be the year that her husband, Brad, will be saved. Here’s her story:

Waiting for A Husband To Be Saved

Note: this story is true, but the names have been changed.

One area where Christian wives are challenged to wait is when their husband’s aren’t saved. My friend, Leslie, and her husband, Brad, have been married for 43 years, and he is still an atheist. Leslie got saved 19 years into their marriage. She said it was difficult that she and her now grown children went to church without Brad, although he would go to the children’s church programs.

Leslie states, “I do my own thing with the church,” and she admits, “It’s lonely, because I can’t share this with him.” She also states, “I do go to sad places, but the Lord helps me, and it also helps to pray with friends.” 

She is encouraged that her husband is friends with Christians from the church. What she has done to deal with the waiting is: “I keep it low key, I don’t nag, I pray, and I avoid ministries with men.” She also admits, “I apologize to my husband when I’m not a good witness; I am so aware of my testimony.” 

Leslie said that one day, “The Lord allowed me to experience again what it was like not knowing him—to let me remember that.”

This helped her to have empathy for her husband and see things from his perspective.

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Monthly Marriage Miracle: Betty’s Battle to Show Respect

Betty, who came from an abusive background and battled depression, discovered she had great difficulty showing respect to her husband.

“Everyone in my neighborhood has loved and respected my husband, but I felt I couldn’t,” she said.

The insight the Lord gave her one day helped to set her free from this.

“Resentment blocks respect,” Betty said, “God talked to me about how I needed to forgive. I couldn’t do it on my own, but I could only do it through Him, so I asked for His help. I didn’t want it to be just words; I wanted something to happen in my heart, because I had said the words before.”

As I talked to Betty, I realized how all of the attributes of a loving wife go together. They are all interconnected.

Betty went on to tell me, “I had resented my husband for twenty years.”

She expressed that the root of her resentment was that her husband wanted her to do something sexually that she felt uncomfortable doing. It wasn’t his request that hurt her so much but that he said, “If you won’t do it, I’ll find someone else who will.” What he wanted wasn’t necessarily a wrong thing, but Betty had been sexually abused.

This act “seemed dirty to me,” she said, and “his attitude triggered deep hurt.”

“I cried,” she said. “And for a while I slept on a chair. I felt dirty.”

She related that she knew she had to let it go. She said they talked about it a year after he made his hurtful statement and came to a compromise.

“Before that,” Betty said, “I laid in bed with tears coming down my face, and when he asked ‘What’s wrong?’ I said, ‘nothing.’”

When Betty realized she still had resentment over this whole issue which blocked her from showing respect, she discovered at the core of her hurt was this: “I wanted to be his lover, his sweetheart and not just his wife and someone to have sex with when he felt like it. He was not meeting my sexual needs—my need for tenderness. He just didn’t get it.” Betty realized, “He loves me in other ways. I don’t dwell on it like I used to. God gave me peace.”

As Betty let go of feeling hurt over her needs not being met, her husband became more affectionate. She said, “He kisses me every day.” 

What helped Betty to forgive and grow in respecting her husband was to touch him tenderly even when he found it hard to do that for her.

“Touching him helped,” she said, “things like rubbing his back. Now he rubs my back and feet.”

Another thing that helped Betty to learn to respect her husband was this: “I took my eyes off him and put them on me and my need to change. The Lord helped me change.”

Now Betty reports that her marriage of over 40 years is better than it’s ever been.

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Hearts Set Free Monthly Marriage Miracle: Maintaining Hope In Hard Times

Tara is an example of a wife who didn’t lose hope. Four years into her seventeen year marriage to Thomas, he lost his job which plunged him into deep depression. They both came from well-to-do families, so dealing with financial hardship proved to be foreign to them.         

Her husband, Thomas, a college graduate and computer scientist collected unemployment for over two years.

Through this trial, Tara let go of her focus on materialism and dependence on things to feel happy. She learned, “God knows what will satisfy our souls.”

 She admits, “I used to get $75 hairdos,” which she gave up. She also said, “No more expensive make-up. I started to use the fireplace to keep our home warm and hung my clothes on the clothes line to dry.”

“Although at the time it was hard,” she said, “the difficult times made us shift our stance—shift our focus onto the solid Rock.” Before that Tara admits she wanted her husband to be her rock. She learned, “We are not to see our spouse as an idol. My spouse is not my rock; God is my Rock. I kept hoping in our wonderful God.”

 Here is more of what Tara also learned during that difficult time: “If we reach out to God, he’s faithful and powerful. I learned to give him our requests and our concerns. God showed me so much in the hard times.”

Although it would have been easy for Tara to go out and get a full time job, God didn’t let her do that. She learned when a husband loses his job, there can be an increase percentage of divorce. God showed her that in the work setting there would be negative influences. One woman she knew who was going through hard times went out into the work force and found a new husband.

 “I kept thinking I should just get a job,” Tara said, “but God didn’t lead that way.” One issue was, “I didn’t want to make more money than my husband…God did not call me to get a full-time job, but I continued my writing and took odd jobs. My husband also took odd jobs like detailing cars.”

Tara continued to attend her Bible study where she was surrounded by godly women. She said, “I needed someone to pray with me and fight for my marriage with me. We prayed together and realized there was a spiritual war going on.” She discovered that the key to winning that war was to “push through, look to God, and draw close to Him.” At times “I felt I was pushing against an immovable stone. He wants us to push to develop godly character.” The outcome was that “My faith was being refined and coming forth as pure gold.” 

A quote that lifted Tara up was, “A friend is one who sings back your song to you when you have forgotten the words.” She found women like that in her Bible study.

One thing that helped Tara so she didn’t lose hope was “getting away time—taking a drive and going into a meadow to meditate.”

Tara took seriously “marriage vows we said at the altar.”  In fact, she kept the words of her marriage vows close by

During this time when her husband was jobless and depressed, they had no insurance. Her husband took no medications. “We plowed through it.”

“When my husband was in this deep depression, he doubted the existence of God,” said Tara. She added, “I battled my own doubts. It seemed there were no results to my faith. I felt disillusioned. My husband was not meeting my emotional needs, but God was my enough.” One thing that kept her going was “five generations of Christian heritage.”

Another thing that kept Tara from losing hope in her marriage and in her husband was this: “I learned to praise the Lord—no matter what was happening. The power of praise helped me to focus on who God is. If we can lock into who God is and who He wants to be to us, it’s life-changing.”

Tara had many ups and downs during those years. She learned, “At low points, draw close to God.” Tara wrote in her journal to draw close, being transparent with God. She expressed that it’s important to “tell Him exactly how you feel—even anger.” 

Tara knew this fact: “In my marriage, there’s a story. If we continue to embrace the cross, we’ll come to resurrection morning. We’ll have a story to tell.” Tara learned to “hope in God, not circumstances” and “the key is to refocus on God and have a heart that says, I believe; Lord, help my unbelief.” 

Tara’s troubles did not go away completely in the years since her husband got a new job. They still live in a modest house and have financial issues at times, but she continues to hope in and put her trust in the Lord.   

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Monthly Marriage Miracle Story–Remaining In His Love

Once again I am posting a marriage miracle story. The story is true, but the names have been changed. I pray that Dianna’s story will encourage you to love your husband, even if he has difficulty receiving God’s healing. This is only possible as we love with the love of the Lord and as we “remain in His love.”

A friend of mine who has encouraged me often to love my husband and allow God to heal my soul when he hurts me has troubles in her own marriage of 35 years. Here is what Dianna writes:

 “God has sustained me for this very long journey of walking alone emotionally. I believe Dave came to salvation about two years ago, and that has made a difference!  He is alive in Christ now, but he has so much emotional wounding he never dealt with because he didn’t want to see it and feel that horrible pain of trauma all over again. I have been able to often enter into God’s sufferings as I felt the distance of Dave’s heart and his not caring and not even trying to connect. Isn’t that just what agony the Father feels as we ignore His heart reaching to us?

 “It takes a person who is willing to allow God to show them what’s under the memory cloud—to lift the ‘lid.’ For me it’s to be a wife who can help him feel safe to lift the lid of his own pain. It feels often like I am playing a mother role with the broken-hearted little boy who got stuck at age five emotionally where he was first abandoned.

“What that looks like in a conversation might be like this:.

 “‘Dave, you said you have felt judged by me for the last 20 years or more…’

 “Even though his belief systems about me is a projection of his own mother’s volatile temper, yelling, screaming, never ever affirming his worth, not even touching him. Dave grew up with no tenderness and I am through his lenses, a copy of her. (This friend is one of the most tender, loving people I know.)

 “‘Wow, Dave that must have been a very sad and lonely experience for you. It would be very hard to love someone that you believe is judging you.’

“‘(Dave’s reply) ‘Yes, it’s been 20 years of rejection from you. And I have not loved you either. You are impossible to love.’

 “Hearing that I could launch into all the pain I’ve experienced, but of course Dave cannot see or feel my sadness—only his own. Narcissism is so normal for wounded people who don’t trust or praise or respect anyone. Pain internally causes such a personal disassociation from others around himself. This is challenging. I could not love this little boy apart from Jesus!

“Now I am supposed to ask forgiveness from him for my part in not being able to see his fragile heart (of course I can’t say fragile.)

“‘Dave, I am so sorry that I made you feel alone…( taking the blame even though I know I’ve been doing back flips to try and reach him and that his anger and extremely disconnected behaviors have been traumatic for me. (the trauma of neglect)

I feel like a barren desert except I do have water from Jesus, and His love sustains me.

“And I have come alive to my emotionally charged being, aware of my sadness and loss, so I must apologize to him and respond to his pain as though I didn’t have any of my own. (Help Lord!)…I need Jesus continually to empty out the bitterness for all the disappointments in my soul. I married 35 years ago not to be alone. But I have been so alone…

“This last weekend Dave and I went to a marriage communication intensive… I believe it will be next to impossible for Dave to ‘cross over’ to me when he is so captive to his own pain. He is yet in prison over his own non-dealt-with childhood pain…As Dave can face, embrace and release his own pain first, then his spirit can be filled with a different message.

I’m compelled to put my hope in God’s rescue–that He will turn it all around,

that God will bring everything in our marriage into alignment with Him!”

Dianna also wrote these practical things she has done: “God has showed me that my husband has an impaired judgment of me—that God has to show him who I really am.” She added, “God has revealed I need to have an attitude of ‘I don’t receive that’ when he belittles me. And I try to see where he does good and speak to him about that.”

Not too long after my friend wrote the above, she sent me this little note: “I have such a big praise report about our marriage! The Lord gave Dave a new understanding and revelation about our marriage as he prayed with a prayer warrior (who specializes in helping to release people from the effects of trauma—my words here). It has been a God turn around all the way! Hallelujah! I have a kind friend/husband, and I’m amazed at the miracles happening in our prayer life.”

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