Picking up where I left off in my previous post – A Rough Start…The Early Years. Upon graduation from college, with a little graduation money to our names, we moved to Nashville to begin our “adult” lives together. With the help of our new friends, we found a place to live and began our job searches.
As I mentioned in my previous post, he was pursuing healthcare administration and had our friend as a resource. So, he began the interviewing and networking process. However, with no previous job experience and a basic college degree, it proved a little harder than we thought to get a foot in the door.
With a dream from childhood in my heart to work for a ministry, I began the process of finding out about the parachurch ministries in Nashville and putting my resume out there. However, we only knew a few people in town and the process took a bit longer than we had anticipated. With graduation money running out, the need to find jobs quickly grew! My search widened and eventually, I accepted a job as a staff accountant.
Finally, unable to break into the healthcare field, he took a sales job for a large Fortune 50 company. So much to say about these days looking back….hindsight is always so much more clear. We were undoubtedly unequally yoked, and he had no desire to be the spiritual leader of our family. At this point, there were even questions about whether or not he was going to be a leader at all since I had supported us through college and had been the first one to settle into a job after college.
I have really been dreading writing out this part of the story….those were such dark days for me…..feeling alone and disconnected, but I did my best to remain hopeful, prayerful, and faithful to God. There is so much I could say about how he continued to form female friendships and flirtatious relationships apart from me. He really lived a dual life – a semi-married life and a single life. He never fully gave himself to the marriage or to me…or to God.
Being new to town, we visited a few different churches, and had narrowed it down to two. When we first got to Nashville, we had also connected with a young couple (a few years older than us) through the people I had worked with in college, and they attended the church I was drawn to. They seemed to really love the Lord, were in leadership at this church, and were in Christian music. Knowing my husband was not in a good place spiritually, and since he was unwilling to have a discussion about the topic and come to a mutual agreement, I decided to attend the church I was leaning toward and hoped he would join me. A decision had to be made, and he was unwilling to make it. I’m not for sure what would have happened had I not taken a stand, but I can guess that we might have gone occasionally to the other church and not really belonged or been a part of anything…..which I could not live with.
This became a huge area of contention. He did not like the church we were at, and I could not believe my worst nightmare of being in a marriage where we were not on the same page was becoming a reality. I had such a need for connection on all levels, especially spiritually, and we were nowhere near the same planet, not to mention the same page.
To make matters worse, the company he was working at was filled with young single professionals. He quickly got sucked in and started feeling left out that many of his coworkers would “go out” on the weekends. Being new to Music City, there was so much to explore and experience. Plus, he was working long hours trying to make his commission and work his way up. So….I would come home after work, make dinner, and wait…and sometimes he wouldn’t get home until 8:30 or 9pm.
Eventually, I started going to the gym right after work to kill time and get my workout in…and so I wasn’t going home and sitting by myself. If I knew he was going to be working late, it wouldn’t be a problem…I could make plans, but he would never let me know for sure, which was very frustrating.
Slowly, the months turned into years and we grew continued to grow apart.
He started accepting invitations to “go out with the guys” once every couple of weeks. At first, I enjoyed having a quiet evening at home or out with friends. But gradually, he went out more and more until it was several nights each week. He would say he was just going to have a drink with a friend…or just to a concert, but I never really knew where he was, who he was with, or when he would be home. In fact, when he went out, he usually didn’t get home until 2-3 am and had almost always had too much to drink when he did roll in.
You can imagine the frustration and despair I felt just wanting my husband home with me. I rarely slept when he was out. And the next day, he would always act like things were normal and nothing was wrong. He brushed off my attempts to talk about our relationship or admit that there were any issues and refused counseling.
And so, I got more involved at church, work, and the gym. By this point, the Lord had opened a door for me to work in a ministry. I had my dream job and loved being in ministry, but it made the disconnects in our marriage even more painful. We were truly living separate lives, headed in opposite directions. I prayed for him and our marriage regularly. I tried to be a loving wife, but I was becoming a doormat. The frustration and desperation grew. As we got more involved in a small group at our church, I slowly began to open up about our situation and seek some support.
Things continued to escalate to the point that I began finding flirtatious texts and emails on a regular basis with various women. He would get texts all hours of the night from girls asking him where he was, and so on. There are so many details I could share from these months, but I will leave it by saying his focus was partying, drinking, and girls. Things were out of control. Life was unpredictable. Often, we would just be hanging out in the evening, and all of a sudden, he would go get in the shower and begin getting ready to “go out” with little explanation. I would literally stand by and watch my husband walk out the door night after night. And often, he would leave his wedding ring behind.
Finally about five years into the marriage, I had enough. The pain of things staying the same had finally outgrown the pain and fear of change. I was terrified of losing him and losing my marriage…I was living my greatest fears in life….being in an unequally yoked and unfaithful relationship. But I was finally ready to do what I needed to do to force change. He needed a wake-up call to understand that I was finally serious about change. Up to this point, I had been all talk and no action hoping to get his attention. I was so sad that he couldn’t hear me…that he wouldn’t listen…and that he couldn’t see how much I was hurting. All I wanted was him to be committed to our marriage and willing to work on it. I wasn’t asking for much. But still, he refused.
And so…..with the support of my parents, our small group leaders at church, and just a few other key mentors and friends, I presented him two options…..to get help through the church and/or through outside counseling or we would have to separate.
In 2008, with Valentine’s Day approaching, he had planned a last minute ski trip with some of his friends.. I asked him to let me know, before he left, what his decision was.
We met for a quick lunch before he headed out of town. Of course, as was his typical way of dealing with conflict, he didn’t bring it up…and so as we walked out to our cars, I asked him if he had made any calls. He had not. He clearly had no clue or just didn’t care how bad things were, or how serious I was.
I didn’t hear from him all weekend. So, on Sunday after church, with the help of a friend from church, I gathered some of my things and was headed to stay with our small group leaders. As luck would have it, he got home from his trip as I was gathering the last of my things. He was shocked at what he found….he obviously didn’t believe I was serious or that I would ever really follow through on my cries for help…until then. He was shocked and hurt. He said some very ugly and hurtful things and told me to get out…
Stay tuned for the continuation! I have many unanswered questions in this life, as I’m sure you do too! The older I get and the more I experience, the more I know that the only solid and true foundation…the only real truth worth living for and even dying for is found in the living Word of God…the Holy Bible. While there is much I don’t understand, there are some things I know FOR SURE.
Romans 8:38-39 is one of them – “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I pray my story is an encouragement to you….of what to do in some ways and of what NOT to do in other ways! How much heart ache and pain would we save ourselves by learning from the mistakes and successes of others?!?
Until next time…