A wise woman once told me, “Pray down blessings on your husband’s head even when you feel like killing him.”
She told me this at a time when I didn’t feel much for him at all. We had 6 children at the time, and the oldest was almost exactly 10 years older than the new baby. So I was in full-time Mommy mode, and my relationship with my husband was almost an afterthought. He had his own life and didn’t seem too concerned with the heavy workload I dealt with every day. He seemed to think that his only responsibility to the family was to bring home the paycheck. I was the one who had to cook, clean, do laundry, buy groceries, change diapers, dress the little ones, feed them, and homeschool the older kids. He didn’t even know how much I did.
My mother-in-law could tell that we were struggling. She suggested that we talk to a couple from Nigeria, because they seemed to have a good understanding of relationships. The wife is the wise woman I referenced above.
We were in a strange place in life. Gary had gotten laid off, so he was home every day. But he spent his days out in a separate office building working on a business plan. Even though he was home every day, he still didn’t spend any time with me or the kids.
I was feeling very frustrated with him. The couple from Nigeria who began to mentor us could see what was happening. The husband talked with Gary about making sure that my needs were met before he tried to take care of anything else. Even the kids. He was supposed to make sure I was okay, because if I was okay, everything else would be okay.
He would call Gary every day, and the first thing he said was, “How is your wife?” Gary would come looking for me and ask how I was. At first I was annoyed and just brushed it off with a quick “I’m fine” and a quizzical look. But I started to realize the purpose of that question. And I started to answer honestly and frankly. I was tired, worn out really. I needed help. I couldn’t do it all. I wanted him to start helping me with stuff around the house and with the kids. There, I said it.
So he gradually started to get it. He started doing the grocery shopping. Then he picked up the cooking. He finally demonstrated the great cooking ability he had always insisted he possessed. Things got way better between us and in our family in general. It’s a good thing he learned to help when he did. I became pregnant with twins soon after that. When they were born, I sure couldn’t do everything I had done before.
So Gary learned how to really integrate into our family, and I was much more content. Thanks to our Nigerian mentors, our relationship was restored.
We Hit Another Rough Patch
Fast forward seven years or so. Gary and I had been through the wringer in almost every way. We had lost our house after 4 years of unemployment, we had lost two babies to miscarriage, we had been through so much stress and anxiety that it almost caused each of us to have a nervous breakdown, and then bankruptcy.
We survived all of that. Then the tension relaxed some. God changed everything for us. We found ourselves with $20,000 in savings (provided supernaturally), a job that paid more than we had ever made, and a nicer house than we had ever lived in. The pressure of poverty was relieved.
Even though things were better financially, and we felt more secure than we had been before, my husband’s faith had been damaged by all that we went through. He no longer knew what God might do next. He stopped trusting Him, talking to Him, and studying His word.
He got mad at God, and I got mad at him.
I wanted him to be the high priest – the spiritual head of our family. And he was doubting everything he ever believed about God. Not a good situation.
When we arrived in Texas in 2012, we were reunited as a family (after a year’s separation because his job took him to another state), but our hearts were far from united.
We had to readjust to each other after a year apart. I did not have my usual amount of patience with him. When he said or did anything that I found insulting, offensive or insensitive, I left no holds barred. I told him what I thought about his insensitivity or impatience or anger or whatever fault I found with his behavior. That was a new thing, and he seemed rather surprised but not too perturbed by it. I think he was too numb to care. Or he was too stressed out to notice. He didn’t seem the least bit affected by it, and that made me even madder! Nothing I said was penetrating his consciousness, and it felt like he didn’t take anything I said seriously, so I started to lose hope that anything was ever going to get any better.
He had adopted the attitude that if anything was going to happen for us, he would have to make it happen himself. He didn’t trust God to provide for us anymore. He took the reins. He got laid off after only being at his new job in Texas for 5 months. Boy, was he mad! So he started spending all day every day applying for jobs online. He wasn’t talking to anybody or doing anything with any of us.
I have never felt as alone or hopeless about the future of our marriage or our relationship as I did then.
God at the Library
One day I was at the library, and I happened to be in the aisle that had books on marriage. I wasn’t particularly interested in reading about marriage. I was in the sulking stage of not caring since he didn’t seem to care. Honestly, I didn’t FEEL much of anything about him or about our marriage. I think I was looking for “Wild at Heart” by John Eldredge. I wanted it for Patrick. My eyes fell on another book written by John Eldredge called “Love and War”. He wrote it with his wife, Stasi.
It looked kind of interesting, and for some reason I felt compelled to check it out. I halfheartedly started to read “Love and War” which was subtitled “Finding the Marriage You’ve Dreamed Of”. I read through most of the book and started to feel a little bit of desire to work on my relationship with Gary. I was at least convicted about all of the yelling I had been doing and the short fuse I was exhibiting for my children to see. Then I got to the last part of the book, and I started reading about spiritual warfare and how to fight the enemy when he is trying to mess with your relationship. BAM! That hit me between the eyes. I had forgotten about spiritual warfare. I started to bind the enemy that was trying to destroy my marriage.
ADHD Can Make Marriage Difficult
I started to see some changes in Gary. He had been talking to a woman at work who said that her husband was a lot like Gary. The things that she said confirmed the things I had been saying to him. She wanted to meet me, and she wanted Gary to meet her husband. So one night we went to visit them. From our conversations with them, we came away with more desire and motivation to work on our relationship than we had before. We started to work together and talk about changes we needed to make.
I see some ADHD tendencies and behaviors in Gary. These were the things that his coworker noticed in him and wanted to tell me about. Some of these things have hindered communication and have been magnified since we came back together after being apart for a year. She told me that her husband has been doing much better since he started taking medication for ADHD. I didn’t want to go that route, but I thanked her for sharing with me.
Gary started to acknowledge some things and try to change his angry reactions and impatient, impulsive tendencies.
God Set Me Up!
I also started attending a marriage class at church just to have something to do while I waited for Anna while she had worship team practice. God set me up! We watched the movie “Fireproof” and started praying for our marriages. We started reading “The Love Dare”. I asked Gary to read it, too, and he said he would. I was shocked! One night he brought me flowers!
Things are much better between us now. They have been steadily improving.
Another thing that helped me get on the right track was the book, “Keep Your Love On”, by Danny Silk. It helped me to start seeing some things that I definitely needed to improve in, especially concerning communication.
I Stand Corrected
But the thing that has been coming to me lately is that even at the worst, I really had no right to even think about giving up on our marriage. I should have been keeping at the front of my mind that I made a commitment before God and family and friends that we would stay together until death parts us. I had made a covenant with God, and that is never to be taken lightly. I fully repent of the thoughts I had and the low value I placed on that covenant I made with God and with Gary.
In the movie “Fireproof” they talk about the difference between a contract and a covenant. In a contract, one person agrees to do something as long as the other person does what they have agreed to do. But a covenant is different. In a covenant, each person vows to do what they say they are going to do, no matter what the other person does. In the movie, they use the illustration of a salt and pepper shaker that are glued together with super glue. Nothing can tear them apart without damaging the salt shaker or pepper shaker or both. Marriage is a covenant, not a contract. And the covenant is between the man and his wife and God. So it is more binding, and more sacred, than a contract.
So I should have been thinking about the covenant I made with God, even when I was not too crazy about Gary.
Now I’m able to pray for him while he sleeps. I pray with genuine love in my heart again. I pray with him while he’s awake. I’m not so impatient with his impatience or inconsiderate, impulsive behaviors anymore. I pray down blessings on his head.
The Lord gets all the glory, because I, in my own strength and my own love, was ready to throw in the towel. God led me along the path back to “felt” love for my husband.
If things are dicey between you and your spouse, remember the covenant you made with them and with God and ask God to help you get back to your first love. It may take a while, and there may be several steps along the way, but I am sure that He will lead you back to a relationship that is honoring to Him and is edifying to you and your spouse.
Hold onto your covenant.
Proverbs 5:18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth.
Malachi 2:14 Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant.
Malachi 2:15 But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.
What God has joined together let no man put asunder.
Matthew 19:6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Remember your vows. Even when it’s hard to remember them.
Hold on tight to your covenant. He will carry you through.
This post first appeared as part of a marriage series on https://www.angelpenn.com/hold-on-to-your-covenant/ Angel Penn’s site.