Jean and I were married August 24, 1986. We started with a bang—with lots of travel, the thrill of being newlyweds, and the dreams of spending a lifetime together. While I cannot pinpoint with any accuracy the date when we reached rock bottom, the dark clouds moved in sometime during our second year of marriage. I remember that night all too well. I had stepped into the bathroom to brush my teeth as we readied ourselves for bed. When I jumped into bed, Jean was sobbing. Unsure what had provoked such deep, heart-felt tears, I asked, “What’s wrong?”
Brushing away the tears, she said, “I just don’t think you should stay married to me.” While we got off to a wonderful start, all was not rosy. I’ll be the first to say that married life is hard work. Both of us had things in our past that threatened to derail us from staying together. As she spoke, it was clear Jean was wrestling with depression, as well as a lack of self-confidence that she’d be a good mother once we started having children.
Of course, I had some of the same questions of my own, you know, whether or not I’d be a good dad especially since I didn’t have a solid example to follow. Although I loved my father, he was unreliable. He was a chronic gambler, an alcoholic who threatened to harm my mom with a hammer, and he was suicidal at one point in his life. He divorced my mother when I was just a child. Like I said, I didn’t learn the first thing about how to love, cherish, or provide for a spouse from him.
Lying next to my wife that night in bed, I said, “Jean, it seems to me that there are only two options for us, because divorce is not an option. We can do marriage one of two ways: happily or unhappily.” I added, “With all of the stuff that’s gone on in my life, I’d much rather do this happily.” That bedrock of commitment sparked a desire in us to get Christian counseling.
With help, we were ultimately able to untangle the difficulties in our background that kept us from winning at our marriage. As a result of seeking a marriage counselor back then, our relationship today is stronger than ever. We’ve been married twenty-two years and I can say with certainty that God has blessed us in ways we never dreamed. I’ll also be the first to admit we’ve still got our work cut out for us.
What couple doesn’t?
I’m not surprised that, among the score of reasons people contact Focus on the Family, marriage-related issues are consistently in the Top Ten. Thousands call or write seeking a lifeline for their marriage. With the spark of romance long gone, feeling isolated and perhaps betrayed, they’re desperate and ready to call it quits.
Others wonder whether there’s more to marriage than the day-to-day business of parenting and raising kids. They desire insight on how to nurture the physical and emotional side of their friendship with their mate. Having a peaceful, satisfying marriage is important. Who doesn’t need to be wanted, accepted, and cherished? These longings are both normal and admirable. Indeed, learning how to communicate more successfully with your spouse and discovering how to respect and romance your mate are important components of a great marriage.
At the same time, we at Focus on the Family believe there’s another, often overlooked, foundational dimension. I’m talking about God’s viewpoint. After all, marriage was created by God to be a reflection of the goodness, mercy, and unity of the Godhead. Marriage done right gives the world a glimpse of what our Creator looks and acts like.
Which is why I’m thrilled to tell you about the Focus on Marriage™ Simulcast Conference, February 28, 2009. Throughout the U.S. and Canada, five hundred churches will host this live, day-long event. Featuring biblical insight into marriage from Beth Moore, Gary Smalley, John Trent, Gary Thomas, and our very own Del Tackett, it’s one marriage seminar you won’t want to miss. Why?
We believe that when you learn to see your marriage through the eyes of God, you’ll discover the divine purpose He had in mind when He brought you and your spouse together. In turn, you’ll experience deepened feelings, better communication, and a rekindling of the romance you once shared. I’ll be on hand and look forward to learning alongside of the more than 28,000 couples who have registered to date. For more details and to register, call us at 1-800-AFAMILY.
I hope you can join us!