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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.