One afternoon, after sharing yet another, “About ten years ago,” story, my daughter asked me, “Why did everything terrible happen when I was young?” (Yes, we’re saving for therapy bills now.) But I considered her question honestly. Sixteen years ago, my husband and I were $24,000 in debt. Eighteen years ago (or so), we lived in constant turmoil, our marriage characterized by pride, selfishness, and constant fighting. Twenty years ago, we said “I do” and promised to love and cherish one another, forsaking all others, till death do we part, and embarked on what we believed to be a fairy tale life of moonlit strolls, giggling children, and stress free living.
Then reality hit, and suddenly we were confronted with issues and circumstances we were ill-equipped to deal with. But God was faithful, and step-by-step, year-by-year, problem by problem, He has removed faulty thinking and negative behaviors that threaten to destroy us, continually showing us His better way. It hasn’t always been easy, especially when we’re chin deep in a mess of our own making and know it’s going to take some heavy, throat-clogging pride-swallowing to get us out. But one thing I’ve learned, no mess is too big, no circumstances too dire that we can’t begin again.
About sixteen years ago, after a rather brutal verbal fight, my husband looked at me with a stone cold face and said, “I don’t love you anymore.”
My world ended that day. I can’t quite describe the feeling. I wanted to hurl, to cry, to beg him to take it back, but my pride was stronger. Things quickly spiraled, and before we knew it, we were sitting in a lawyer’s office talking about alimony and child support.
When we got home, I packed suitcases and stacked them by the door. I held our daughter in my arms. My husband followed me, and I still remember the look in his eyes–it mirrored the cries of my heart. “Stop me! Tell me you don’t want me to leave! Please, don’t let it be over.”
In that moment, as I watched my husband reach out for our daughter, I knew I couldn’t take her daddy from her. Tears choked my voice as I turned to my husband and said those words I should have said on battle night, “I don’t want to go.”
The next few years weren’t easy, and there were numerous other “line in the sand” moments, where we had to choose God’s way over our own and cling to our commitment. We had to unlearn negative habits, rebuild shattered trust, but now, years later, I’m so very thankful I spoke up that day. Today, I love my husband even more than the day we wed, and he often tells me the same.
Marriage is tough, and through the years, there will be countless reasons to walk away, but may our resolve to stay be greater. Because love is worth fighting for, and it’s never too late to turn around and begin anew. It might be hard to make the first step. We’ll have to swallow our pride, and fight our strong yet destructive fight or flight tendencies, but it will be well worth it.
I know, because I’ve been there, and I’m reaping the benefits of a love that remains. That stayed.
About Jennifer Slattery
Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.
Visit with Jennifer online at www.JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte
Abandoned by her husband for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator often finds herself in tense and bitter moments. After an altercation with a doctor, she is fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters her old flame Nick. She walks right into his moment of facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both have learned to find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, it doesn’t take long to discover that their lives are intertwined but the ICU is no place for romance….or is it? Could this be where life begins again?
Intertwined, part of New Hope Publisher’s contemporary fiction line, is a great reminder of how God can turn our greatest tragedies and failures into beautiful acts of love and grace. Readers will fall in love with the realistic characters and enjoy the combination of depth, heart-felt emotion and humor that makes Jennifer’s novels so appealing. Readers will be inspired to find God in every moment and encounter in their own lives!