“Don’t you think we should try again?” My tear-filled eyes asked my husband, his eyes avoiding my own. “I feel as if we have barely tried.” Yet, inwardly, I knew this was it. The truth was, we, or at least I, had tried almost everything--to seemingly no avail.
Our problems began on the honeymoon. I was so excited and enthralled in his arms. Yet my husband, Doug, just did not seem interested--he stayed up late watching TV, avoided intimacy, and even suggested we had made a mistake. Finally, our conversations centered around what my ‘problem’ was with intimacy, and trying to figure it out. Those words pierced my soul.
A mistake? A problem?
After we returned from the honeymoon, we started seeing a Christian counselor. That helped for awhile, or until Doug decided he wasn’t a Christian anymore. Piercing arrow number two, to rock my faith and my ideals of a Christian home and marriage. I continued counseling, all the while praying hard in church, with my small group, and at home for our marriage.
Things improved incrementally at first. Or, rather, we learned the behaviors to please each other. I avoided talking about church, God, and the things closest to my heart. We developed a business partnership of sorts--I worked, Doug worked part-time, while preparing for graduate school.
Underneath the problems continued. My relationship with God fizzled into a prayer here and there, and then, not at all. I still attended church but had lost the connection with Jesus. Soon my work and home life became mere shadows again of life. Not depressed shadows, but a black-and white life where vivid colors had existed before.
We continued this uneasy dance on eggshells for a year and a half. For me, it all changed one fall evening when Doug, after having a little bit too much to drink, held me down and wouldn’t let me go. I asked him to stop, but he didn’t. I should have, could have called the police that night.
That night changed everything. I became withdrawn and started planning the end of our relationship. Fear, once planted as a seed, grew into a mighty root in my heart and our home. At first I blamed myself, but then, through my counselor and scripture, God showed me my own worth as His child. I told Doug if that happened again, I’d call the police.
Things got better again, for awhile. As it is in the circle of abuse, an event happens, then the abuser feels sorry and apologetic,and then all to repeat the cycle again. He was sweet for a bit, buying my things I liked, cooking dinner, and even going to church.
But as I prayed for truth, it came in small bits. One night a few months later, I checked his internet history on the computer and found pornography sites. Not just any sites, but live chats. It was an outward confirmation of my inward instinct. When we talked about this, Doug promised me and our therapist he would stop.
Stop he did not. Porn, plus the lack of respect for my boundaries, and the fact that Doug had quit three jobs in the space of nine months, left me ready to ask him to move out. This was a month or two of struggle for me. Here I was, a Christian girl bound to be a missionary who did not believe in divorce, asking for a separation. I talked to my pastor, who explained that ideally marriage is a life-long commitment but, in the case of abuse and infidelity, God does not require us to stay.
I asked Doug to change one more time. I explained what I was doing to work on our relationship, and I asked him what he thought he could do. He said it was pointless to work on it, because we had tried and it hadn’t worked. So this was it--the end. I asked him to leave, and in three weeks, Doug did.
Watching him carry his stuff down the stairs, I felt immense relief, sadness, and triumph. While Doug had made wrong choices that hurt me, I had allowed myself to attract that kind of a man to take my money, dignity, and respect away from me. Times of loneliness, crying, and new life followed with great joy. Joy does come in the morning.
I was out of the storm.
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This is a story that needs to be shouted from the rooftop. I have a similar story as well. If by telling our stories, even though they are deeply personal, helps at least one person from traveling down a similar road, then Praise God for turning something horrible into something that shows with God's help one can find shelter from the storm. Thank you for being so brave; you helped me feel less alone.
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