Happily Ever After
… and we lived happily ever after… At least that’s how it’s supposed to go, right? Find the man of your dreams, get married and live happily ever after. I’m pretty sure that’s what every fairy tale ever told me was supposed to happen. But that’s not how things went.
Almost immediately after getting married, my new husband and I started having some problems – and they manifested in a lot of different ways. Sure, there were a lot of things that were going well, but they were always overshadowed by some underlying issues between us.
We had just moved to a new city, halfway across the country from our families. We both had new jobs and were doing our best to start making friends. It wasn’t long until we had a pretty consistent few people that we hung out with – mostly from my husband’s job.
We started having a pretty active social life with these new friends and very quickly found ourselves in the common rat race that plagues so many of us. We ate at nice, fancy restaurants, we had nice clothes and nice cars, moved into a nice house… we went out to clubs and visited the “party beach” almost every weekend with our new jet skis. It seemed like we had everything we could want.
Somewhere along the way we fell into a pretty consistent pattern of arguing with each other. It might be over the smallest things, but anything could set us off. And once we got going, it would escalate quickly. We would scream and yell. I would do my best to mentally catalogue and tally up all of the things my husband did wrong and then explain it to him in the best way I could – to try to help him understand just how wrong he was. I was sure that if he could just understand that he was wrong, he’d apologize and change…
But that didn’t happen.
The more I explained it to him, the more he explained it to me (if you can imagine, he thought I did some things wrong, too!). We’d get to a point where we would stop listening and processing what the other one was saying because we were so convinced that our own case was justified. We would stay up until all hours of the night fighting – it was exhausting!
Most people who know me now have a hard time picturing this about me, but I was the aggressor most of the time. I would scream at the top of my lungs. I would get in his face. I actually threw a remote control at him once.
It got so bad at one point that I packed a bag and went to stay with a friend for a weekend… And just like when we were dating, we couldn’t stay away from each other for very long. I was back home within just a few days.
It’s hard to say how we got to this point, but the “D” word was lingering above and around us for a couple of years. Our fighting would ebb and flow – our love was still there, it was just so hidden by all of the hurts we had inflicted on each other at the surface.
In a final attempt to try to save our marriage, my husband asked me to go to a marriage counseling weekend retreat with him. I reluctantly agreed (at first) – I wasn’t even sure I wanted to save our marriage. Then I became eager. I was sure that the marriage counselor would see my side and help my husband to understand how horrible of a person he was.
Shockingly, that is NOT what happened! I was floored to learn that I actually had issues of my own! For the life of me, I could not listen to and understand what my husband had to say. It was a really difficult thing for me to learn. I also started to understand how closed off I had been to my husband. I had my mind made up about certain things and that was it. I didn’t have an ounce of compromise or empathy in me – even towards the one person I was supposed to love most in this world!
If you remember from earlier posts, we both had a relationship with God in our earlier lives – and had even attended church together while we dated. After we got married, we visited many churches trying to find a home, but we just never found the right one – so we basically didn’t go. We didn’t have any active spiritual life whatsoever… Unless you count the dark spirits who so eagerly encouraged our relational sabotage and move towards destruction.
The marriage counseling retreat didn’t fix all of our problems – but it did prompt our move towards reconciliation. That weekend started to soften us. It helped me to understand that I was more of the problem than I cared to admit. It opened my eyes to the fact that I had a husband who wanted to stay with me and work through what our mess of a marriage had become.
We still had a long road ahead of us. We still had many more fights ahead of us, too. But that weekend opened a door that we chose to walk through. We very quickly found a church that became our church home. We used some of the communication techniques we learned from that weekend in our daily lives. We were open to having God back in our lives and our relationship.
Looking back on that time, it saddens me to think about how close we actually came to the “D” word. There were times when I desperately wanted out of our marriage. I’m sure there were times that my husband desperately wanted out of our marriage, too. Who could blame him – I certainly wasn’t the peach I tried to make myself out to be!
We had done so many things the wrong way. We hadn’t truly invited God to be a part of our relationship while we dated. We “played house”, living together before we were married. We certainly didn’t invite Him in during our early years of marriage. We were caught up in the glamorous life that South Florida had to offer – going out all of the time and trying to have the best cars and toys we could get. Nothing made us happy – not even each other.
It wasn’t until we opened our hearts to the Lord that things really started to change for us. And it could only have been Him working in us because I had very little desire to work things out with my husband. It didn’t happen overnight and it took a lot of hard work – it STILL takes hard work – but our God is faithful and He restored us to each other and to Himself. I am so grateful for that.
Also thinking back to that time in my life, I’m so amazed at the amount of anger that I held within me. The smallest things could set me off – but it wasn’t those things that caused my anger. The anger that revealed itself actually lived within me. I didn’t know it at the time because I didn’t care to try to understand it. I had so much anger stored up from my previous life that it lurked just below the surface all of the time.
It would be a few years later that I started to understand my anger and deal with it, so that I could ultimately release it. The hurts and pains that I had experienced over the years were all buried deep within me and anytime I came close to feeling vulnerable or there was a hint of trouble to come, I would reveal my anger – in an attempt to shield myself from any additional pain. I’ll share more about releasing the pain in future posts.
Today I am extremely happy with my husband. We still have our share of problems that we work through, but the difference now is that we actually work through them. We allow God to lead us and work in us to keep us in close relationship together and with Him.
Although it wasn’t happily ever after from the day of our vows, I think we’re well on our way to an everlasting happiness with each other and our Father.
To my Best Friend and Love: I am so grateful for where we’ve come and I couldn’t imagine my life without you. Thank you for always holding on. I love you.
What I’ve Learned:
- Our marriage was doomed to fail without the love and foundation of our God in it.
- I have a really hard time listening and understanding my husband when I already have my mind made up about something. (I’m still working on this!)
- I tried to protect myself from any hurt by unleashing the anger that I had stored up from previous hurts and pain in my life.
- God can work a miracle with even the slightest hint of an opening in my heart.
- Only God could save my marriage when I wasn’t willing to.
- Have you ever found yourself in a destructive cycle within any of your relationships? How did it play out?
- How did you contribute to the turmoil of the situation?
- What factors might your past circumstances have played in the situation?
- How can you or how have you been able to reconcile this relationship?
- How can God help you to move towards reconciliation?
- Do you need to invite God into the situation to foster reconciliation?
If you are in this situation today, I pray that you will find a way to open your heart just a little and ask God to help you. He will step in and He will foster healing and reconciliation. It may not play out exactly as you anticipate, but it will play out according to a greater purpose.
If you want to talk or need prayer, please contact me privately. As always, I would love to pray for you.