Our Marriage StoryTuesday, August 25th
Josh and I are both very candid about some of the issues we have dealt with in marriage. I really don’t know how to begin or to explain why/how our marriage got to the horrible place that it was. It just sort of ended up there. I don’t really want to go into great detail about that, but the main point is that it was horrible. I hated Josh. I really did. I don’t think he really liked me all too much, either. I was miserably sad. Never, in a million years, did I ever expect to be in such a loveless marriage. I can remember laying in bed and crying at night. Heck, I can remember crying during the day, too. We had both lost ALL hope. The things we said to each other….the mudslinging….the disgusting way we behaved….it literally makes me cringe to even type this. I think that’s part of the reason I haven’t shared a lot of our story. Sometimes, it can take me back to a really dark, sad, lonely, isolated place. I just feel like some of this needs to be shared, though. People are hurting. Some of the people that you think look the HAPPIEST on Facebook, out in public, or at work might be MISERABLE inside. You just never know. We faked it…until we just couldn’t anymore.
I’ll never forget when we actually started talking about separating. Even as the words slid out of my mouth, I can remember thinking….wow….I can’t believe we are really talking about this. I can’t believe it has really come to this. My threats meant nothing anymore. Josh’s words meant nothing to me. It breaks my heart to see how SELFISH we both were. Now, I’m not going to sit here and act like there weren’t some things that were really going wrong. There were. There was a lot of sin. But….at the end of the day, we were just both being selfish and it was all about getting our own way. We said we wanted to be together and make things better, but I would say Josh was kind of just doing his thing, living his life, and I was living the Holier than thou life. The one where I was perfect and self righteous and possibly the most annoying person to be around for him back then. You can look at it any way you want….it was all sin.
So, I got an attorney and I filed for divorce in January 2014. Again, I just couldn’t believe I was actually having a discussion with an attorney about sharing our son and how we were going to work this out…how we were going to divide him and divide our home into two. It stung. I don’t think I’ve ever felt worse about a situation in my life. I also don’t think I have ever felt CLOSER to God in my entire life. He carried me through that time. He truly sustained me. He brought amazing people into my life who spoke into me. He blessed me with the most amazing parents and brother, who were also heartbroken but always spoke God’s word over my life. Every night, I would cry and be angry and sad and bitter, and I just remember my mom quoting scripture to me. I can remember her endless prayers and how there was nothing left BUT the scriptures. You can only talk about a situation so much. You can only badmouth someone so much. You can only hash out the same story and conversation so much, when finally, it just starts hurting you and filling you with bitterness. When I was finally done venting, I became immersed in the Word. God’s Word was the only thing that quenched me.
Josh was wrecked at this point. We had been separated for about 3 weeks, maybe a month. We would try to talk from time to time, but other than coordinating switching Fen around, we really weren’t in a place to have a sane conversation. But finally….God began to soften hearts. It was crazy how He started to move. It was almost too good to be true to me. I had major fears of getting back together and then just regressing right back into bad habits and verbal abuse toward each other. I was petrified to work things out. I knew that if we were going to try this again that we needed a GAME PLAN. We both weren’t strong enough in the long run to just do the right thing.
We had been told about a ministry called Live the Life with Dr. Richard Marks. One of the amazing tools that this ministry provides is “Hope Weekend.” This type of Hope Weekend is really for anyone, but we have seen that it is designed for marriages at the end of their rope. We had been told about this ministry months before things got really bad, but we never took the initiative to go. We had been in and out of counseling for 6 months. Counseling didn’t work. No offense to counselors, but for us, it was a one hour a week “venting” session where we both tried to jam pack in tattling on each other and then barely had time to go through solutions and left frustrated. We would smile at our counselors, and then get in the car and be mad at each other for what we said. I’m not going to lie…nothing sounded appealing about going to another “marriage retreat” for 3 days, fall back in love, go home, feel good for 2 months, and then go back to your old life of cussing each other out and hating each other. We both didn’t really believe that anything could really help us. In fact, I think we both believed that we had made the wrong decision to get married all together. I think it’s safe to say that up until this point, Josh and I never loved each other in the way that marriage was truly intended. Even when we got married, it was fast and furious and crazy and amazing, but I’m not even sure we had the capacity to really love each other back then.
So, part of the stipulation with Fen and me moving back home was that we were going to attend Hope Weekend. Again, I can’t reiterate enough how scared I was to do this. I knew I was a ticking time bomb, and all it would take was one thing from Josh for me to pack up my bags and be out the door again. He knew it, too. We were both so scared. But….at this point, I think we both put our money where are mouth was, and we were ready to give it our all and really fight.
So, we went to Hope Weekend. Josh and I both believe this was HANDS DOWN THE BEST THING WE EVER DID FOR OUR MARRIAGE. We both agree that if we hadn’t gone to Hope Weekend, we would be divorced. We have been to marriage retreat type events at church. We have sat through marriage sermons. We have listened to sweet, Christian songs. Again, no offense to all of those amazing tools, but for the low, low place we were in life, Hope Weekend was IT for us! Praise God! Josh and I still talk all the time about the amazing coaches we had that weekend and how we both have no clue where we would be without them and their faithfulness to minister to us. I don’t like to give anything away about the weekend, because we both believe that you need to go check it out for yourselves. We don’t want to ruin any expectations or any of the exercises/tools you learn. What I will say though, is that you definitely LEARN the tools and skills needed to be a functioning, mature adult. We didn’t just learn to put God first, put your marriage second, kids third, then work, etc. We’ve all heard that 1,000 times. I mean, don’t we all technically know the right thing to do? What is so amazing about this program is that there is scientific evidence that backs up so much of the research. Even if you aren’t a believer, there is so much backed up by science and so much you learn about the brain, it is incredible. The skills learned will not only help you in your marriage, but in friendships and professionalism. Without effective tools, you just learn concepts of what you should do, and that just doesn’t last in the long run (at least not for us).
As I already stated, I had filed for divorce. There was a couple at Hope Weekend who was actually already divorced and living apart. There were a few other hurting couples in there as well. When we all went in there on day one, we couldn’t even look at our spouses. There was so much pain. You could feel it THICK in the air. At the end of that weekend, everyone was smiling and so thankful. I am happy to say that the couple who was divorced actually got REMARRIED and are still together. I am also happy to say, that Josh and I stuck it out and have never been the same. WE ARE FAR FROM PERFECT. I must say that. We have moments where I can’t see straight due to my anger. We have moments where Josh thinks I act like a 5 year old. I won’t ever sugarcoat anything about our marriage. For some it may be easy, but for a lot of people, it is WORK. BUT….we have seen the fruit of marriage now. I can’t tell you how many people have heard a thing or two about our story and who have come to us now. We are able to use this as our ministry. I never thought I would say this, but I even thank God for it. As much as I hate it and it makes me sick, I am so thankful for what we went through. I’m so thankful that God chose to redeem us and that we are growing up together. Josh is a crazy person. He is so fun loving, and he is a goof as most of you know. I am also goofy, but I’m more serious and get annoyed with his antics at times (LOL), but seriously….the love that we have for each other now is so deep. I’ve had to drop some of my expectations. So has he. That’s part of growing up together and juggling this crazy life.
I just felt like it was time to share part of our story. Not because I want people up in our business, but because this IS our ministry. There is HOPE. I never ever ever ever thought Josh and I could or would love each other again. I never thought that there would be true trust or restoration. I always thought I would walk around a skeptic. God reveals all truth, We have nothing to fear when we walk with Him.
I encourage you to check out the Live the Life website at https://livethelife.org/programs/marriage-programs/hope-weekends/. I am NOT paid to talk about this. I wasn’t asked to write a review. I just believe in its effectiveness, wholeheartedly. I am so thankful and grateful to God for putting Dr. Rick on this earth!
We love him and think the world of him.
All the glory to God! His mercies are new every morning….great is Thy faithfulness!