Four years ago, my marriage was in crisis. I never saw it coming.
I was in my bubble of being a happy homemaker, church going, loving wife. I kept a clean home, homeschooled my children, had a healthy dinner on the table every night, and tried to always look good for my man when he came home. That world I thought we all lived in came crashing down pretty quickly. My husband got home from work late one night, he had been drinking, and he had forgotten about going to church. This wasn’t the man I knew. A fight ensued and it was then that I learned about the bitter resentment that was in his heart towards me. The hatred spewed from him. I was devastated.
I wasn't a saint, don’t get me wrong. I obviously overlooked a very serious issue in my marriage. I had created my perfect world and expected my husband to think it was perfect too, never acknowledging his needs or wants as important. I was so disillusioned that I never saw the signs right in front me.
We went through a year of terrible arguing, silent treatments, bitterness, and many, many hurts. One little thing could set the land mine going again.
Our early years in marriage were very difficult, and I thought I had forgiven those things, but this crisis brought it all to the surface again. I looked at the man I had been married to for 14 years and I wanted out.
I couldn’t imagine how God could want me to stay in this marriage. My husband had walked away from the Lord and in his heart had walked away from me. Wasn’t that a good enough reason to leave?
So I packed up our 3 children and left.
And for once in a long, long time I felt happy and free.
I knew deep down that God didn’t want me to do this. But I had been hurting and struggling for so long, I couldn’t see any other way. My husband let me leave. He never chased me down or begged me to come home, which made it even easier to walk away. The longer I was gone, the less I wanted to go home. We would meet up a couple of times to try to talk things through, but I would end up so frustrated and hurt with him again, it seemed like it was beyond repair.
One day, I was talking to a very dear friend on the phone. I was telling her how happy I finally was. She didn’t pat me on the back. She told me to go home. That night. I didn’t like it but I knew she was right. God didn’t want this for our family. And truly, neither did I.
I went home.
And it was one of the hardest things I ever did. I decided to rebuild our marriage, even if I was the only one willing to work on it. And for a while I was.
I had to humble myself and accept the mistakes I had made.
I had to learn to turn the other cheek and remain silent when challenged.
I had to love even though I didn’t feel it.
Slowly, over time, we found that spark.
The hurt and the resentment eased, and happy times were once again. Our walk with God and love for each other grew stronger and fuller than at any other time in our lives.
It wasn’t long before our new found love and happiness was to be tested again. A year later, my husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness. He was given 3-5 years to live. This disease, called ALS, will paralyze my husband a little more each day, causing him to be unable to walk, talk, eat and eventually breathe. There is no cure. There is no treatment.
I thought our marriage crisis had us in the deepest darkest valley there could be. But this is deeper and darker than I ever thought possible. I am so glad that this time, we aren’t walking on opposite sides of the valley.
This time, we are walking it hand in hand.
I love my husband more right now than I ever have. He never did chase me down and beg me home. He didn’t have to, because God did it for him.
All I had to do was say yes.
I am so glad I did.
Question: Has God ever asked you to be the first one to forgive?
Stephanie Glidden is a homeschooling mother of three and primary caregiver for her husband Scott. She writes at www.walkingthroughthevalley.com , a blog based on Psalm 23, where she shares her journey through her husband’s terminal illness.