God Can Save Your Marriage, More Than You Can Imagine, part 2
Last week, I shared the first part of a very personal story about Bert’s and my marriage. It is our hope that our story will encourage you.
Picking up from where I left off, although I knew I wasn’t completely responsible for our problems, I also knew I wasn’t guilt-free.
And since my first marriage ended in divorce, I really wanted to “get it right” this time. Therefore, I prayed asking God to help me become the wife I desperately wanted to be.
“God, please change me!” It was the only prayer that came to mind.
One morning, after I had my devotions, I opened Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ book Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs and read several testimonies from ladies who described their disrespectful behavior toward their husbands. I felt shame as I saw myself in many of their stories.
The more I read the book, the more I could see how my constant criticism (including the tone of my voice and rolling of my eyes) undermined my husband.
During this time, I also read R. T. Kendall’s words in his book Total Forgiveness regarding the rewards for totally forgiving those who hurt us. Thankfully, he went on to remind me that I, too, am in need of mercy and forgiveness. I cried into my hands as I repented again for my angry, spiteful and self-righteous heart. Before the day ended, I made Scripture Memory Cards (SMCs) with verses on forgiveness.
As I began to practice the principles presented in Dr. Eggerichs’ and Mr. Kendall’s books, I started to behave and think differently. I treated Bert more respectfully and, with God’s help, I chose to forgive Bert for his failures and continued to take responsibility for mine.
I didn’t do any of these things perfectly, but my repentance was real. As I prayed constantly and meditated on God’s Word every day, I could sense God’s presence penetrating my innermost being.
Indeed, He was changing me, and I was finally becoming the wife Bert thought he married.
(To be concluded next time.)
What about you?
You can use a pseudonym (fake name) when commenting.
- What is your story on ways God dealt with your sinful/bad behavior, especially regarding your relationships?
- How can we pray for you?
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I think maybe I need to read that book, Total Forgiveness. While I admit that I am often disrespectful to my husband and say horrible things, it always seems to start because he found some fault in me or in something I’ve done, and he says terrible things to me.
We recently came home after having evacuated for many days for a hurricane. He worked in the yard, and I cleaned out the spoiled food from the refrigerator, did laundry, and unpacked clothes. I felt so good about what I’d accomplished, and I was so sure he’d be pleased.
He was not.
He came in and started screaming and shouting because I had left the shelves of the refrigerator in the sink drainer to air dry, and he wanted to wash his hands. (We have two other sinks). Then he was furious because I had not quite finished unpacking his clothes. He said I was slow, and that my method was stupid, and that he’d been outside working while I’d been sitting around on my fat ass all day.
This crushed me totally. I had worked so hard! And I had not taken any breaks at all. So I lit into him with every angry word I could think of. This escalated things, of course. By the end of the afternoon, I was packing my car to leave, with no clue where to go.
In the end, he calmed down and apologized, and I stayed …. because I was too tired to drive off into nowhere, with no plan.
I’m not going to stay silent as he verbally abuses me. I pray that God makes my husband less volatile toward me. I also pray that he help me avoid falling into situations that will make my husband yell. I keep praying for God to help me be a better version of myself. But in the back of my head, I keep hearing, “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I can’t change my husband. And I can’t live with his verbal abuse. I guess God just has not given me the courage to change what I can — to leave. Yet. Or maybe God has some other plan in mind for me. I don’t know. But I wish to God that He would give me a clue, because I can’t take much more.
Phyllis, thank you for sharing your heart – and your pain. I’m so sorry for all of it, especially when you try so hard. I’m sure any wife reading your story would not judge you since we’ve all been there.
I will be praying for you and for your husband.
I so strongly (and lovingly) recommend both books. In fact, I can mail both of them to you, if you like. Bert and I bought a few to give away. The Love & Respect book explains why men and women behave the way they each do – and practical ways to get off the “Crazy Cycle.” Total Forgiveness helped me a lot, also.
I am FAR from perfect and neither is our marriage. However, I (and our marriage) is a million times better than it was. And, yes, Bert still has some growing to do, also.
I love you, Phyllis. And care deeply. Thankfully, God loves and cares for you even more.
Would you consider making some Scripture Meditation Cards of some verses that you can lean on? Looking at them throughout the day can really help. I’m glad you realize that you can only change yourself. Rather, allow God to change you. Slowly, it can – it will – happen, with God’s help.
PLEASE keep in touch. And thank you again for sharing with us, Phyllis.
God has helped me to change by sending me binding the wounds by the Rockies. Both Psychologist and very much Christian. He has opened my eyes to the very pain I have received as a child and now passed that pain onto my wife. We are so hurt but I feel he is mending us. I’m really not sure of the outcome of my marriage but God sure does. I really don’t want to lose my beautiful bride but if that is God’s way then I ask that I stay faithful to him and my wife finds his peace and maybe she might be able to fully forgive me and heal her mind. Thank you for your devotion to this blog and please pray for Sheila and I as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
Tom, I will continue to pray! I thank God for your heart and willingness to see your actions honestly before God – and before Sheila. Press on in Christ. He is powerfully faithful.
Also, thank you for your compliment. I am always praying for God to use my writing for His glory and purposes.
Please let us know how you are doing, Tom.
Forgiving others is sometimes very difficult especially when they continue to hurt us, but I have learned that I am not responsible for other peoples behavior, just my own. And God will hold me accountable for my actions and reactions to other peoples hurtful comments. A kind word turns away wrath. I have been party to ongoing and long term relationship problems because I was wounded and felt justified in my rebuttals. I could give examples and many might say I was justified, but I now understand that I was not justified. In fact, my behavior may well have been a serious stumbling block for less mature or even non-believers. We are not to be abused or allow our children to be abused, but there is an appropriate way to deal with this when it arises. We certainly need to set up boundaries. If we are married to a spouse who we cannot sit down with and discuss our concerns and needs with, then we are talking about a whole other issue. But if we are talking about a spouse who we believe cares about us even though their behavior may say otherwise then perhaps talking to them when we are not angry and letting them know how these words harm us, they might hear us. I hope I am making sense here. What I am trying to say is that we can only change our own behavior. We cannot change anyone else, as Phyllis so rightly stated. We need to forgive others and not hold their faults against them. God said we are forgiven as we forgive others. I know I need LOTS of forgiveness. At one point and in a very difficult situation for me I had to ask God to help me forgive someone because I felt so wronged by this person. I excused my behavior due to the situation. It went against everything in my being to forgive in such a situation, but I did know in my heart that God was bringing me to this place. It was truly breaking me. I also knew it would be a miracle if I were to be able to actually apologize to this person for my behavior without bringing up that other persons serious (in my opinion) disrespect towards me. I prayed and asked God to make a way for me to apologize and acknowledged to God that I could not do this except through Him. He made a way that very day and things drastically changed, in me. I was forgiven but the other person still did not ask me for forgiveness. But God showed me there is more at stake then what is on the surface. I needed to be the mature person in this situation regardless of who was right. God is still working in this situation and I am still growing up and learning to be more humble. It is all about God changing me, not God changing the other person. And it is all about accepting God’s correcting my inappropriate behavior and submitting to His changing me into His image which is certainly a much needed death to self.
Wow, Barbara! Well said. And very challenging.
Perhaps all of us (you, too, Tom) can pray for each other to ask God’s help to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. And watch was He does in our own hearts – and in our circumstances.
Count me in! I know I need lots of prayer and Paul seemed to believe prayer was important as he was continually asking the saints to pray for him. We are exhorted to pray for one another and to confess our sins to one another. None of us are without fault. But He is remaking us in His image. We just need to submit and die to self. 🙂