What happened next is the story of a marriage that was already falling a part and a woman crushed by memories.
My husband and I had already been having trouble and were going to a marriage counselor for a year or so. In June, the counselor told us both that I was not asking much of my husband and if he did not respond to my requests by Christmas that I would have my answer as to whether or not he wanted to be in this marriage. That alone was a struggle for me. I met Ralph in first grade, we started dating when I was 16, got married when I was 21. He was my first for everything. And my marriage, the family we created and my four beautiful children were supposed to be my happily ever after… my fairy tale ending to the spirit-crushing, eggshell-walking childhood, my reward for making it through and being a good, godly person. I thought I somehow earned it. After-all, everything I did was to be the opposite of my mother and offer my children the childhood I never had and my husband the wife I never saw other than on the Brady Bunch. It was my fairy tale. Unfortunately, my quest to be the opposite of my mother created a marriage much like my parents’…one-sided and apathetic. This alone was breaking me. I so desperately wanted to be loved, to feel needed, respected and wanted. Did I mention to feel loved? So needless to say, I wasn’t doing well with even my marriage falling a part. I was losing part of my identity which I so proudly wore… “Ralph’s wife.” I cried a lot… at home, at church, at school, whenever I was alone. I thought about my marriage and wondered what I did wrong to make him not love me anymore. It was already a tenuous time for me because as the months passed it became increasingly clear that he wasn’t going to make the effort.
So, now we fast forward again to October. What does an apathetic husband do when his wife is sobbing on the floor in a ball in agony? Well, he is wonderful. He wasn’t heartless. He took care of me for hours. Asked if I wanted to stay home from work, which I didn’t cause I thought the distraction would help, so I could stop crying. He called my best friend, whom I’ve know since 7th grade, to tell her because I had never mentioned it and was physically unable to do it now. He came to have lunch with me, stayed during my plan to help me grade papers, went to the hospital with me to see my new nephew, joked with me, took me to dinner. It was all I could ask for. But then the first 24 hours were over and then nothing… no more care, no more help, no more talking. He didn’t even ask how I was ever again.
Thank God for my best friend, Renee. She called me every day. She insisted I see a counselor. She cared for me while I focused on surviving moment by moment and taking care of my kids and teaching. She was my rock.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” – Eph 5:25 (NIV)
Footnote: As I look back at this now, one of the fatal flaws was where God was placed in our marriage. The Bible clearly states that in order for a marriage to survive and work it must have all three parts: God, husband, and wife. I don’t think that was the case for my husband. That is his part. My part was that in my life: it was Ralph, my children, and then God. The Bible is very clear on this. God should always be first. If that had been the case for me, I would have been able to handle my rocky marriage better. I would not have been crushed and devastated to the degree I was if God was first. So I am urging those reading right now to check where you have God in your life. I am speaking from experience now and can say with 100% certainty that I am able to handle everything so much better now that God is first in all I do.
“In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” – Proverbs 3:6 (TLB)
Song: First by Lauren Daigle