Chocolate was a symbol of how bad Sandy and Tom’s marriage had become.
They were in a drive-thru ordering food, and Sandy asked for a chocolate shake. Tom said “no” and forced her to reorder. Vanilla, he believed, was the better choice. He was convinced chocolate would make her face break out and cause her to gain weight.
Tom didn’t realize it at the time, but the problem wasn’t chocolate, it was control. To get the marriage he was after, Tom thought he had to rule with an iron fist. So he controlled Sandy – where she could go, what she could wear, even what she could eat.
Sandy had her own ways of manipulating their relationship. She nagged Tom to get her way. She was also a perfectionist who ran her life with clockwork precision. She had little compassion for people who struggled with her level of organization, including Tom. When he didn’t maintain her standards, she withheld love from him.
The more Sandy and Tom’s relationship suffered the more they tried to control one another … and the more they blamed each other for their bad marriage. Their relationship spiraled downward, and Sandy eventually asked Tom to leave their home.
Their marriage seemed doomed, and the future looked bleak. But it’s never about the fall. It’s about the recovery.
Tom and Sandy both submitted themselves to mentoring and began addressing what they individually brought to their marriage. And things began to change.
After some time apart and some hard work, Tom wanted to begin seeing Sandy again. The mentors all agreed he was ready to take a step forward. Sandy wasn’t so sure. Their relationship had been so tumultuous, she was fearful. She reluctantly agreed.
On their first date, Tom gave Sandy a gift – a box of chocolate. It was a symbol that better things were ahead. It was Tom’s way of saying, “I’m laying down control, and I want to serve you.” Mentoring also taught Sandy her part in building an intimate, fulfilling marriage. She learned how to humble herself to lay a foundation for a relationship.
Tom and Sandy Ralya have been married for nearly 40 years now and share with other couples how they’ve gone through difficulty and come out on the other side in a much better place.
Sandy is the founder and director of Beautiful Womanhood, a marriage mentoring ministry for wives. Tom is a successful businessman and is actively involved in mentoring men. Tom and Sandy also mentor couples together. Sandy’s book is called “The Beautiful Wife: Focused on Christ, Fulfilled in Marriage.”