Title: "CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE CONTEST ENTRY: No matter how bad it is, don't give up!" Author: Unknown
Last year my husband told me he was going to leave as soon as he could afford to and that I had better start thinking of how I was going to support our three children and make the house payment. The passion was dead; he didn't care for me; the excitement was gone. I think it was partly a mid-life crisis, partly an expression of fatigue - tired of the life he was living and wanting to change something - anything - and it seemed that marriage - being a husband and father - was the only thing he could control. That was another part of the problem - he felt he had no control in his life. He was in a very dark place and was dragging me and our children there with him. He was certain that leaving us would improve his life and he frankly didn't care about how it would affect his children - he didn't seem to like them very much at the time, either. He wanted a new start in life and wanted to get us our of his life in order to pursue it.
I love my husband very much. I know that nothing I do can change him - that has to be God's work alone. But I also knew that I wasn't going to let him leave without fighting with everything I had. I didn't beg and plead, I didn't tell him not to leave. I could tell by the way he shared this with me that it would do no good. He was emotionally dead and pleading would have fallen on deaf ears.
However, I told him I wasn't going to just let him walk away and that I would fight to save our marriage. He was skeptical - and in fact told me not to bother because his mind was made up. There were no theatrics - it was very calm and civil on both sides. It was terrible. After this revelation, he withdrew even further. He didn't do anything affectionate at all- no kiss good-bye in the morning, no cuddling when the alarm went off, no holding my hand or even sitting by me on the couch at night. He existed in a dull routine of work, eat, sleep and nothing else.
My life had become a nightmare. I vowed that although I couldn't change him and although I couldn't keep him from leaving, I would do everything I possibly could to be the wife he needed. I realized, too late, I thought, that I had taken him for granted. He was feeling overlooked and neglected, among other things. I had shifted my focus from him to our children. He had become an afterthought. I made him one of my top priorities. I changed the way I did things around the house. I realized that much of what I did was my preference for no real reason and that changing little things here and there to accommodate his preferences would not hurt me.
I started doing little things that mattered to him - like looking nice when he got home from work instead of looking like I'd spent the day on the couch all day and had barely run a brush through my hair. I lost weight. I started wearing make-up again, even when I wasn't going anywhere. I started dressing differently - not badly, but more attractively. I got rid of my denim jumpers and oversized sweaters and t-shirts that screamed lazy housewife and mother and started wearing things that appealed more to him - nothing sleazy - but attractive.
I thought back to the things I did before we were married - what was it about me that appealed to him? I tried to recapture some of that. Most of it was about making him feel cared for and wanted. Bringing him a cold drink when he came home from work. Waiting until he had relaxed a bit before trying to discuss something with him. Listening to him vent about his day at work when I could be preparing dinner. Making sure the house was tidy and peaceful for him when he returned from work. Planning date nights with just the two of us. Caring for his physical needs even though he said they had nothing to do with me - they were just physical needs - in other words, just physical gratification with no intimate feelings for me.
I did these things because even though I knew my husband might still leave, I needed to be able to say that I had done everything I possibly could to restore our marriage. I had to be able to say that I had done everything I could to be the wife my husband needed me to be. At least, if he did leave, I wouldn't be wondering if things would have turned out differently if I had only... I would realize the problem was entirely his and had nothing to do with me.
I did a lot of praying. A lot of praying - not that God change my husband, but that He reveal to me where I was at fault so I could change. (I know that he was at fault, too - but again - I cannot change him, just myself. So I focused on my faults and not his.) A lot of praying that I not become bitter by my husband's indifferent reaction to the changes I was making. A lot of praying that I do these things as an act of service to God, not seeking my husband's approval, but God's.
My husband and I talked about his decision several times early on. At one point, six months ago, he told me that he would give it six months but that he wasn't really going to do anything to improve our marriage during those months because he was done trying. He didn't expect to feel differently at the end of those six months and that I shouldn't be disappointed if he was right. I hated the timing - the six month period would end the week of our anniversary.
Our anniversary is tomorrow. We will be celebrating 19 years of marriage. God, in His goodness, has restored our marriage! My husband is a different man than he was 6 months ago. He has no desire to leave now and our relationship is better than it has been in years. I cannot claim credit for the changes - God alone could have pulled our marriage from the depths to which it had sunk. I only sought to be the wife I should have been for years and God graciously allowed my husband to respond to the changes he saw in me.
No matter how bad your marriage is, don't give up! It can be restored. Nothing is beyond God's ability. My husband was an angry, impatient, uncaring, bitter man. Our marriage was DEAD. He has been transformed into a caring, loving, patient, understanding man and our marriage renewed, by God's grace. We have a happy home, something our children haven't witnessed for years. It has not been an easy road to walk, but it was the right one, even when I had Christian sisters counseling me to let him leave - to encourage him to leave. I made a vow to God when I married my husband and I couldn't allow my marriage to end without working harder to keep the vow I had taken. I am so looking forward to celebrating our anniversary tomorrow. It is so much more precious than the 18 that have preceded it because of what we have come through this past year.
Don't look to change your spouse - you will never succeed. Instead, ask God to reveal to you the ways you have contributed to the state your marriage is in. Honestly ask yourself if you are the husband/wife your spouse needs. Then do what you can to become that person. You were that person at some point - you can be that person again. Make your spouse a top priority - let him know how important he is to you through your actions. Pray for your relationship and for your reaction to your spouse when things seem hopeless. Hope is not lost. Do not despair.
My husband is being deployed in two months. When he volunteered last fall, he did so as a way out of our marriage and told me if he was deployed to not expect him to return when the deployment ended. We learned of his deployment two weeks ago. He will go and will serve his country but when his service is done, he will joyfully return to his wife and children (by God's grace), who will miss him dearly while he is gone. Instead of anticipating this deployment as a way to escape a dead marriage, he has shed tears over having to leave us. God has wrought a miracle in our lives! Praise Him for His goodness!