The following is the first chapter of a short book I wrote recently entitled, Please Fix My Marriage. God did fix my marriage and I’m so greatful. My husband and I have gone from misery to near-bliss in the last nine years. And it’s all because we started listening to God.
Chapter 1 – My Story
Like everyone in this broken, dark world, I grew up with my share of hurts and heartaches. When I was a little girl, my reactions to these small traumas were sadness and fear. By the time I was in my teen years, anger had become a dominant emotion in my life. But I tried to suppress the anger because I was a Christian and I wanted to follow Jesus. It was typical for me to cry in frustration, anger, and emotional pain for hours alone in my room, at least several times a week. Why did you let the kids at school bully me like that? Why is there fighting and yelling at home? Why do I have to grow up feeling afraid? Why don’t you help me? But I loved Jesus anyway. Like Peter, who stuck with Jesus even when he told everyone that they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood (John 6:53-57), I was determined to stay with Jesus, even though I was upset and bewildered, because I knew he was the only way to have eternal life.
I desperately needed to escape my pain and fear and start over. What can save me? Everyone in our culture knows ‘the answer’. True love. And so I was driven to find a boyfriend.
When I was seventeen, I thought I had arrived. I found a Christian guy who agreed to date me. I never asked God if I should date him. After all, I had pined for him for a whole year before he even knew my name. At first, I was giddy with happiness. We were together for almost two years. But he never solved any of my problems. Instead, my issues grew. After high school, I selected the wrong vocation for myself and heaped unnecessary stress on my life. In addition to this, the boyfriend I had chosen routinely ignored me in public. Once he got very angry at me, screamed at me, and kicked me. And he refused to marry me. He said maybe he would one day but not anytime soon. I was devastated. Is this true love? By the time I was turning nineteen, my life had plunged into a deep and dark depression. I broke up with the guy. He wasn’t going to save me.
And so began the search for the next guy, Mr. Right, who would take me away from all my problems. Again, I never considered praying about my choices. As long as he was a Christian and we didn’t do anything ‘bad’, I felt it would be okay. I dated three men in quick succession. Two of them I didn’t like but the third I fell in love with. We dated for a while but then ended up in a very confusing relationship of being ‘just friends’ who held hands and kissed sometimes. The guy tore my heart to pieces. I was totally in love with him but I guess he never felt the same about me. Finally, after more than half a year of crazy longing, I confronted him and asked him if he could ever see himself marrying me. He admitted that he couldn’t. So, for my own sanity, I stopped having contact with him.
At this point, I was twenty. I was crazy-desperate to get away from all my troubles and start my new life of ‘happily-ever-after’. So I conscripted my sixteen-year-old sister to help in the cause. She had a Christian boyfriend. I asked her if she could ask him to find someone suitable for me and we could all go to the local exhibition fair together. She readily agreed and went so far as to tell her boyfriend that she wouldn’t be able to go if he couldn’t find someone for me to go with. Her boyfriend was very motivated to help! He asked several people from his church. Finally, his cousin reluctantly agreed.
As my sister, her boyfriend, and I waited for Leo at the fair, I was incredibly nervous. What is he like? Is he the one? The moment I saw him, I liked him! Tall, dark, and handsome. Oh, if only he would really love me! Leo was reluctant about having a relationship at first, but I talked him into dating me. I could tell he really liked me by the way he leaned towards me. Before a month was out, he shocked me. We were sitting in my parent’s house on the linoleum floor near the front door.
“I love you,” he professed. I gazed into his dark eyes and felt too stunned to speak. No one had ever said it to me first before! “It’s okay if you don’t want to say it right away,” he said. “I know you do feel it. I can tell.”
Do I? Do I love this man? I felt all scared and crazy inside, like a million humming birds had taken residence in my gut. Leo was a very good person. There was no reason for me not to love him. Here was what I had been waiting for, what I had dreamed of! “I love you, too!” I cried, and we embraced, clinging to each other.
November 10 and 11, 1996
We started dating in July, 1996 and, by October, we were engaged. Then, one day in November, it happened. We had our worst fight yet.
He just didn’t understand me. And I didn’t feel him helping me the way that I had thought he would. In fact, he had accused me of being a flirt, which anyone, who knows me at all, knows is just not me. I do not flirt with other guys. But I had cried and told him that I would try even harder not to be and I had promised I wouldn’t even talk to other guys at all. Plus, I already felt inadequate and like I was a failure with him in other ways, too. Maybe he’s just not the one for me.
Leo and I were at his parents’ place but I felt like, maybe, our relationship was finished. I called my mom to come pick me up. When she arrived, I jumped into the car.
“Let’s go!” I told her.
As we were slowly pulling away, she saw Leo running down the back lane after us.
“Did Leo know that you called me? Did he know that you were leaving?” my mother asked.
“Well, that doesn’t seem very nice.” Mom stopped the car.
Leo caught up, opened the car door, and jumped into the back seat. After driving around for a while, we made up. So I went with Leo, in his vehicle, back to my house.
I was studying for University midterm exams that were coming up, and Leo was keeping me company. We were lying on my parents’ living room floor, me looking at my binder and him looking at me, when, suddenly, a funny thought popped into my head.
“Hey, Leo,” I said, pushing my books aside, “wouldn’t it be funny if we secretly got married tonight?”
I expected him to laugh but, to my shock he just said, “Yes”. I continued to study for a few more minutes. Then he asked me, “But who could we find to do it?”
“I don’t know,” I said, sitting up, an incredible excitement beginning to bubble up in me. “We could look in the yellow pages.” Finally, here was someone who really loved me, who wanted to marry me and spend the rest of his life with me. ‘Happily-ever-after’ would be mine! Finally, I’d be able to get away from all this stress and unhappiness and make my own family with the man of my dreams!
So we looked in the yellow pages and found someone who could perform a wedding ceremony right away. It was already dark out. We were so excited as we drove towards our new life together. On the way, we prayed, holding hands, asking God to tell us if it was okay. And we felt He gave us His blessing.
It was a beautiful ceremony. I made sure the Justice of the Peace said, “Until death do us part” in the vows, and we used our engagement rings as our wedding rings, temporarily, because we didn’t have gold bands yet. He talked about how the circle of the ring has no end just like our love for each other would have no end. Then we signed the papers. I was so happy and excited as I looked at Leo. My husband.
After driving around for a while, we finally found a hotel. We weren’t planning to stay too long but we fell asleep in each other’s arms and we slept the night away. When I opened my eyes and looked at the clock, it said 7:00 a.m. I realized, with a wave of guilt, that my mother must be terribly worried. After waking Leo, I called my parents’ house.
My mom answered, “Hello?”
“Guess what, Mom?” I was giddy and grinning like crazy as I held the phone to my ear.
“What?” she asked, grave worry in her voice.
“You guess,” I insisted.
“You got married?”
My New Life
And so began my new life of happily-ever-after. Or so I thought. I wasn’t one of those foolish people who thought married life would be instant bliss. I was prepared to work at it. I was in University, getting very good grades. I knew how to be diligent.
As weeks progressed to months and then to years, the light in my eyes dimmed. I didn’t know how to make Leo happy and, sometimes, he acted like he didn’t care about me at all. He made me feel like everything I did was wrong, even things I did specifically because I thought he would like it. I was absolutely failing as a spouse. Leo told me, “You’re a waste of a wife.” My depression deepened and I didn’t want to live anymore. During this time, we did and said many things that were hurtful to each other.
I never stopped trying to make my marriage better but, finally, I came to consider it hopeless. Although I knew I’d never experience happiness in this life, I continued to try to bring Leo happiness, though that, too, seemed futile. Secretly, I had come to believe that we weren’t right for each other. That’s why we couldn’t be happy together.
One day, Leo and I were cleaning up our house in Winnipeg, getting ready to sell it. We had the radio tuned to a Christian station. I was upstairs in the kitchen and Leo was down in the basement. The song, Untitled Hymn by Chris Rice came on. The haunting melody echoing though the house made me break down in tears. I begged Jesus to let me come home to Him. God spoke to me in the midst of my distress. I made Leo for you. I was shocked. It seemed so clear that we were unable to bring each other happiness. How could it be that He made Leo for me?! I rushed downstairs and found that Leo had been crying, too. God was speaking to him through the same song! I told Leo what God told me. We embraced and held on to each other. Was there hope after all?
It was sometime shortly after this when the first real breakthrough came in our marriage. I was having a little nap on a Sunday afternoon when Leo came into the room. Tears were streaming down his face.
Alarmed, I asked, “What’s wrong?” In our seven years of marriage I had seen him cry only three times.
Leo came and enfolded me in his strong arms and wept into my hair. He could hardly speak through the tears. “God likes my music.”
We clung to each other for a long time. The vast chasm between us was beginning to close.
God was beginning to fix our marriage. Over the next few years, our marriage went from misery to near-bliss. Leo is such a beautiful partner now. I have moments of feeling like I can’t believe I’m so lucky as to have gotten Leo. And then I remind myself that God made him just for me. It was God who fixed our marriage. And, as long as we keep putting into practice the things we have learned, we will stay in-love. I’m so incredibly thankful.
I want everyone to be able to experience what we have. And you can! Jesus wants to fix your marriage, just like he fixed mine.
Write down five things that made you fall in love with your spouse. Write a note of fond memories, include these five things, and give it to your husband/wife.