From: "suyento" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>

"It's Over."
Even My Christian Counselor Was Suggesting Divorce. Did My Marriage Have A 
Chance ?
By Rose Michaels 

That's it," my husband muttered, "I'm through."

Watching his back disappear through our bedroom door, I wondered if he meant it 
this time. We'd often been challenged by conflicting schedules and discipline 
differences concerning our two pre-teen sons. Although our marriage had 
weathered many storms, lately I'd begun to feel as if our boat was sinking.

I sat on our bed and stared out the window. The sturdy cherry trees and tall 
pines reminded me of God's protection. If he could care for those landmarks, 
surely he'd protect our family. But I recalled how a violent summer storm had 
cost us three trees-a reminder that sometimes the worst of nature gets the best 
of us.

"We're incompatible. We should never have gotten married." Shocked, I returned 
to the house. I could only pray, "God, we need your help."

Finally, I walked downstairs and found Ted* hunched over his computer-one of my 
regular complaints about him. The kids were playing next door, so we could talk 
openly. Placing an arm around his shoulders, I whispered, "I'm sorry."

Only recently had I begun to realize how my cutting words about his 
"inadequacies" as a husband and father had deeply wounded him.

Barely glancing up, he replied, "That's not enough anymore. Nothing ever 
changes."
Feeling foolish, I withdrew my arm. "That's not true," I snapped. "I've changed 
over the past 10 years. You even said so-"

Catching myself in defensive mode, I stopped mid-sentence and paused. "What 
would you like me to do?"

He sighed. "We've been through this before. If you don't know, I'm not telling 
you."

Thinking back over our married life, I recalled Ted's irritation on several 
occasions when he came home to a dark kitchen and no dinner as I spent hours on 
the phone cold-calling potential clients to jump-start a home business. Ted 
worked hard all day and wanted hot meals when he arrived home. He also wanted 
me to handle the kids' discipline immediately instead of waiting for him to get 
home, but I felt they needed his manly leadership. Slowly I was learning to let 
go of my way and trust God with his, but often I fell short, complaining 
because I had to lead family devotions when Ted was busy. Competing interests 
had drawn us away from each other. I realized guiltily that even the kids were 
uncomfortably aware of escalating tensions between us.

Interrupting my thoughts, he added, "I haven't loved you for a long time, and 
I'm not going to live like this for the next 50 years."

His words felt as if he'd punched me in the stomach. Shocked, I left his office 
in tears. It was one thing to be reminded of neglected duties; it was another 
to be told your spouse doesn't love you.

A God-ordained separation ?

Hope withered with the late summer foliage. In a desperate attempt to salvage 
our marriage, I saw a Christian marriage counselor. Youthfully zealous, she 
incited me to action.

"Perhaps a divorce is best."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. A Christian counselor was advising me to 
get divorced.
"I can't divorce Ted," I said. "That would hurt our kids. Besides, he'll start 
another life if I let him go now."
"Why not separate for a few months to clear the air?"

Though I wanted to dismiss the idea, I agreed to consider it. The counselor 
recommended I read Gary Chapman's Hope for the Separated. While I didn't relish 
the prospect of separation, I did appreciate Dr. Chapman's urging both spouses 
to work on their own mistakes rather than dwell on their partner's. I knew I'd 
acted in an ungodly manner toward Ted, once angrily kicking a trashcan down the 
basement steps and sometimes telling him we should never have married. Of 
course he'd said such things too, but I was responsible just for me.

Meanwhile, I was invited to teach at a conference in England later that fall. 
How ironic, I thought, that I, a communication expert and Christian, am 
contemplating marital separation. Perhaps God had engineered the conference to 
provide a short-term separation of his devising rather than a longer, man-made 
one. I'd be gone a week.

The day I received the invitation, I found Ted in the garage, hunting for a 
screwdriver. He barely looked up as I asked coyly, "Will you miss me when I 
leave?"

He replied far too calmly, "You better get an attorney. Mine is starting 
divorce proceedings."
"But we have to separate first!" I exclaimed.
"Whatever," he said shortly. "The attorneys can handle it."
"Is this about my criticizing your lack of family leadership?"
"We're incompatible. We should never have gotten married."
Shocked, I returned to the house. I could only pray, "God, we need your help."

Calming myself, the next day I called an attorney who agreed to represent me. I 
e-mailed Ted the attorney's contact information, too hurt to discuss it in 
person. A few days later I received a letter with the hearing date. The words 
stared at me from the page in an accusatory manner.

Was this my fault? I wondered. What would happen to our family?

Beauty and loss

Just days before my conference, news spread around the world of Princess 
Diana's death. How could a beautiful young woman with the world at her feet 
suddenly die, leaving two young sons without a mother? Boarding a jet just 
hours later, the pain and worry of leaving my sons disheartened me. The four of 
us had prayed before I left, Ted's voice tense and unfeeling. As my plane 
soared into the sky, I wondered what the next several weeks and months would 
bring.

Headlines about the Princess's death cast a pall over London, settling a little 
more heavily each time I picked up a newspaper or passed storefront tributes. I 
kept thinking of her sons, and then mine, all close in age. Losing a mother or 
father was a serious burden for teenagers. How could I bear to watch it happen 
to mine?

My presentation on gender communication went well; too bad it wasn't helping at 
home.

On the last day of the conference, I watched Diana's funeral on television, 
then joined thousands of mourners on Finchley Road to view the hearse. 
Glimpsing the flag-draped coffin a few feet away, a profound sense of loss 
swept over me. If only she'd worn her seatbelt. If only Ted and I could try 
again.

If only . the two loneliest words in the universe.

The sorrow of death and the joy of living urged me to fight for my marriage. On 
the return flight I prayed earnestly, "God, thank you for showing me beauty and 
loss, joy and pain. Help me respond to Ted as I should. Life is short, and love 
is precious; help me savor both."

When God moves

Arriving home at midnight, I peeked in on the sleeping boys. As I crept into 
bed beside my husband, he briefly stirred to mumble sleepily, "Glad you made it 
home okay."

My heart raced to think that his heart might be softening!

The next day after Ted came home from work, I found him in our bedroom changing 
clothes.
"Can I talk to you a minute?"
"Go ahead," he said indifferently.

"I had time to think about us when I was in England. God helped me realize how 
much you and the boys really mean to me. I don't want anything to tear us 
apart."
"I don't know-" Ted began.
"Look," I interjected, "Philippians 4:13 says we can do all things with God who 
gives us strength. I'm committed to a fresh start in honoring our marriage and 
you. I'll do whatever it takes. But you have to work with me."

Shaking his head, Ted replied, "I called the marriage counselor while you were 
gone, and she told me about your concerns."
"She's not supposed to do that! That's confidential," I gasped.

"I know, but I guess she could tell from my voice how desperate our situation 
is. I didn't realize how much our struggles hurt you. I thought you really 
didn't care."

Taking a step toward him, I said, "We loved each other once. I apologize for my 
mistakes. I haven't respected your needs, and I've complained too often. I want 
to be a good wife."

After a moment, Ted said, "I'm sorry too. I've done and said things to you that 
I'm not proud of. I've made a lot of mistakes too. But what makes this time 
different? We'll just do the same things over again."

"Only God can make it different," I said. "I know I need to focus on 
strengthening my faith first. I plan to read my Bible every day, and I'm going 
to join a women's Bible study."

He started to move, and just when I thought he'd leave the room, he drew me 
into his arms. We cried as we clung to each other several minutes.

"I'll find a men's study," he whispered. "Maybe if I grow in my faith too ."

We canceled that divorce hearing seven years ago, and Ted and I joined Bible 
studies as we promised. It's been amazing to see how much we've grown-both in 
our faith and in our marriage. Ted is a church deacon, while I help coordinate 
women's ministries. Working closely with other Christians has brought us 
greater intimacy with God, which has helped us learn to love each other as God 
loves us. Now instead of looking for things to criticize, I focus on areas to 
compliment-such as when Ted mops the kitchen floor for me or pitches a backyard 
tent for the boys. I realize that he's showing me his love. And I make hot 
meals a priority, knowing that's one way to make him feel loved.

To strengthen our relationship, Ted and I enjoy "talk-time" several times a 
week. Over coffee, we share ideas and catch up with each other. And we've made 
a commitment to attend church as often as the doors are open. As a result, all 
of us have become more grounded in the Bible and bonded to other believers in 
our church. We even host a home Bible study. And yes-we're in love again. We 
learned that Philippians 4:13 holds truth: we can do all things through Christ 
who gives us strength.

As Ted and I approach our eighteenth anniversary, I'm grateful neither of us 
"bailed" during the rough seas that threatened to drown us. God is good. Only 
he can use trials, disappointments, and even sorrow to reunite two stubborn 
people in a ministry of hope now shared with others.

* Names have been changed.

Rose Michaels is a pseudonym for a writer living in Ohio.
Copyright  2004 by the author or Christianity Today International/Marriage 
Partnership magazine.  Fall 2004, Vol. 21, No. 3, Page 58

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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