A few months after our divorce, I began to hear bits and pieces about Charlyne’s “stand” for marriage restoration. Our children told me that she attended some meetings, listened to cassette tapes, and read books constantly. Once or twice she even told me personally that she was “standing” for our marriage to be restored.
I began to hear about another couple with a restored marriage. They seemed to have become her role model for ruining my new life. There was something about a “yellow book” that seemed to have become a “how-to-do-it” manual for this “standing.”
Once I “accidentally” found her yellow book when I was picking up the children. I skimmed through it, but it did not make any sense to me. After a while, I thought I had this “standing” figured out. In an attempt to even the score, Charlyne had made an intense effort to ruin whatever happiness I had hoped to find with another person. No, she wasn’t making threatening phone calls to the other woman, or even to me, even though at times I deserved them. My guilt might have been lessened had she become vindictive toward us.
She had become the most peaceful person I had ever known. It was impossible for me to ruffle her feathers. I used to pull one of my old stunts on her, just to try for an emotional reaction. The adverse reaction never came.
My ex-wife (or so I thought) had a never-ending smile. I figured she must have joined a cult, after attending all those meetings and listening to tapes. They had programmed her to be a smiler, even when her home had fallen apart.
No, she had not joined a cult. In fact, she was far from cults. She was developing a personal relationship with her Lord Jesus Christ that was far greater than anything I (or the enemy) could throw at her.
When God began working in my life, first gently nudging me to make the wrongs right for my family by returning home, I began to really understand the stand for our marriage she had taken. As the battle for my soul and for our home intensified, I began to appreciate her stand.
Charlyne’s mission was not to ruin my new happiness but to pray me back to my God and my family. Those are the only sources of lasting happiness. She realized this truth and loved me enough, even though we were divorced, to stand and pray for me until I, like the prodigal son, “came to my senses.”
If your absent mate has been standing for you and for restoration of your marriage, God has blessed you in a mighty way. Thank Him for loving you so much that He led your mate to not give up on you.
As the time of restoration drew closer, I began to appreciate her stand even more. My wife did not throw in my face what she was doing. The Lord just allowed some things to reach me. For example, one night I had taken our youngest son out for hamburgers. When I asked what his mom was doing for dinner, he replied in his childlike innocence, “She’s fasting for you.” The hamburger didn’t go down very easily that night.
Charlyne had developed an ever-increasing unconditional love for me. This came into focus for me when I realized that’s exactly the way our Lord Jesus Christ loves each of us. She, just like the Lord, may have been disappointed in my actions, but continued to love me.
How could a wife possibly love a middle-aged overweight, balding, abusive, and unfaithful husband? She couldn’t, but her Lord could love through her. If you have ever asked how your mate could love you, that’s the key. They are showing you the love that our Lord has for you.
As my life in the far country came to an end, my pig pen grew quite smelly. I began to call on my wife to pray for me. She listened to details about another mess I had gotten into and then quietly assured me that she would pray. Never once did she show disgust or anger with me for what I was doing.
I used to think that Charlyne must be a really strong person. By this time, I was dumping on her some heavy-duty pig swill from out in the far country. It wasn’t until after I came home that I learned, and continue to learn, just how fragile and weak my wife is. That super strength I had been observing was not her own, but instead the strength of Jesus. As I dumped on her, she quietly took everything to the Lord in prayer.
My friend, I have shared some details of my life so that you might realize how fortunate you and I are to have spouses who would not give up on either of us, even though the rest of the world was telling them to do so.
Where do you go from here? Realize that your spouse is a wounded vessel. Accept the fact that you’ve done most of that wounding. Sincerely asking God and your mate to forgive you will erase the blackboards of Heaven. Your spouse’s wounds will take time to heal, but once forgiven by God, He will guide you.
What if you hurt too much right now to accept responsibility for what has happened? That’s all right. The Christian life, as well as marriage restoration, is a daily walk. What’s important is that you take even steps in the right direction every day.
In my marriage, I can compare that concept to dieting. After all, I’m an expert on that subject. Not an expert by success, but an expert by experience. I’ve started diets that last until the first afternoon. One cookie is followed by a handful. Soon I’m saying, “What’s the use?”, and there goes the diet as well as the rest of the bag of cookies.
I suffered a stroke that left me temporarily paralyzed on an entire side and unable to speak. The Lord healed those problems, but that stroke changed my outlook on dieting. Now I’m on a diet for my life. I may fall back once in a while (such as at wedding times), but I pick myself up, brush myself off and go right back to my diet. Adopting an attitude of “I can’t do it” will result in my death, due to ongoing medical problems.
A few days ago, my neurologist sent me a copy of his office notes for an insurance form. I had never read it before in a physician’s note, but he had included the term “death” in his dictation. My problems, if ignored, might result in my death.
The Great Physician, our Lord God, has already dictated His notes on both our marriages. That same distressing word is used for both of us. Our former ways in marriage, left unchecked, could result in the death of each of our marriages.
I’m not dropping five pounds each day, but rather making healthy eating a lifestyle. Losing weight is a natural reaction to sensible eating.
If you blunder in your marriage today, ask God to help you. Make wrongs right and go on with your new healthy lifestyle of marriage. The weight of a bad marriage will soon start falling off.
Your mate at home might have received help and support during his or her stand from a marriage ministry group or from their material. Encourage them to continue to seek personal support.
I did not come home perfected; the Lord had more work yet to do in my life. Honestly, He still has much to accomplish in me, but we’re making progress each day. My wife needed all the support and prayer she could receive. After all, she was attempting to love me at a time when I wasn’t very lovable. Encouraging the one you love to attend Bible study, and listen to teachings as well as reading marriage books is important.
In South Florida the landscapers use several boards to hold up a newly planted palm tree until it takes root and can support itself. Your fractured marriage may be existing without any roots right now. Both you and your mate will be helped right now if each of you takes advantage of every opportunity for a board of biblical truth to help shore up your marriage. There will be a day when you’re rooted and the boards come down. That’s the day you can offer those same boards to another couple in trouble.
Although it’s difficult to understand, many who have a newly restored marriage go into spiritual hibernation. A wife who has been faithful in Bible study attendance, suddenly stops attending after the prodigal returns. “He prefers me to stay home,” is commented about a selfish spouse.
Some even ask us to remove their names from the mailing list after the prodigal returns with the comment, “She doesn’t like those reminders of our problems coming here each month.” Deal with your problems or they will deal with you. All too often, that same stander is calling us to pray again after a while when the marriage continues to suffer the consequences of never having healed properly.
Friend, you and I are blessed by God to have had a standing spouse. Remember to thank Him and your mate often. To God be the glory for what He has done.