The year and a half that followed moving back in was the best year of our marriage. He was making an effort to be home and to engage in meals and activities together. For the first time in our marriage, he agreed to let us host a small group in our home. I had always wanted to have people in our home, and it was not something he was ever very open to.
We were both busy continuing to build our careers, and while we were not in counseling anymore, it felt a bit like a “honeymoon phase” being back together again. Although we knew we wanted kids, he hadn’t been open to discussing it until now. It was around this time that he decided we would stop preventing it from happening. I say “he” because he was rarely open to discussing these types of things or planning/dreaming together…he avoided emotional closeness/intimacy. If he did not agree about something, he would simply avoid the conversation or conflict in general. He was very passive aggressive, which was immensely frustrating for someone like me who craves/thrives on emotional closeness and words of affirmation.
Either way, I was thrilled as I had always wanted a baby! It took a few months to get pregnant, but it was an exciting time nonetheless. That following summer (2009), I had an opportunity to go to Paris for work/ministry. I felt pretty nauseous on the trip, but assumed it was just from traveling and jet lag. The week I returned, I found out I was pregnant.
And so, the preparation for becoming new parents began. However, in some aspects, the future became a bit unclear. I had a desire in my heart to stay home or work from home, and he had been raised by a working mom…in fact, she was the breadwinner and also managed everything at home. We hadn’t talked about it much since it was a bit of a touchy subject, and as I mentioned, he really didn’t like to talk about the future. I have since learned that he has an avoidant attachment style, which makes intimate relationships nearly impossible.
Regardless, I did not feel like I would be able to continue in my current job (with the amount of responsibility I carried) and be the kind of mom I wanted to be. I worked closely with the founder and president of a growing international ministry, and my job required a lot of me and my time. So, we determined that I would take an indefinite maternity leave and go from there.
I left my job at the beginning of April, and our precious baby girl was born just a few weeks later. And just like that, the thrill and journey of being new parents began.
Let me back up and cover a few details… I mentioned previously that shortly after we got back together in 2008, we began hosting a small group in our home…something that had always been a desire of mine. This went well for a few months, but as life normalized again, my husband gradually settled back into old patterns and grew tired of hosting the group and a bit resentful about it. As I have also mentioned before, he was never a big fan of the church we attended. During this time, several families had left the church as a result of a couple of different disagreements and there had also been some red flags arise with some of the leadership / church politics.
One of the families who had left the church was the couple that I lived with during our separation and who had been friends and mentors to us. I was trying so hard to build our new family and future together that I agreed to use the natural transition of having a baby and starting a new season as a family as a natural transition out of the church as well.
Since there had been some disagreements between people we knew and respected and the church leadership that caused uncertainty and doubt, I agreed the timing was probably right to leave the church and agree on one together for the first time. We gave notice to our small group and a couple of months later, we left the church. We ended up going to a church that we had visited when we first moved to town and that my husband had been keen on. They were very family oriented and had a great children’s program, so while there were a few things lacking for me, I agreed it was a good place to begin our new season.
Also, after our friends/mentors left, they went through some changes as well. He was a musician who had been traveling and touring for the past few years. The falling out with the leadership at the former church forced some changes in their lives as well. During this time, he transitioned from being on the road to opening a small business that quickly took off.
They also had a young and growing family and were in need of lots of administrative help with the business. It seemed like a natural fit. So…they offered me a part time position as the operations director as soon as I was ready to start working again.
Life seemed to be lining up perfectly. We were totally overwhelmed with love for our baby girl and our new family. I absolutely loved being a new mama…everything about it! My husband was a great daddy, and in a lot of ways, she really brought us together for a season. Since we hadn’t built a strong foundation of relationship, she gave us common ground – an incredible life that we created together and the common goal of providing her the best possible care.
I stayed home for a couple of months, and then started my new part-time job working for our friends. I was home in the mornings, and then I would go to the office in the afternoons for a few hours.
For the first couple of months, our daughter went to work with me. When she became mobile and it was too difficult, my husband worked from home a couple of days a week, so we did our best to work our schedules out, so our need for outside childcare was minimal. I would arrange a babysitter a couple of days a week to come over when she got up from her nap for a couple of hours until I got home. I arranged the sitters, the schedule and worked out all of the details, and my husband agreed to fill in the gaps where needed since he was working from home. But soon, he began to get frustrated.
I knew in my gut that the tension would eventually come out somehow. While I was certainly not bringing home the salary that I was before we had our daughter, I was still working part-time and contributing. I was also working out all the childcare details according to what we had discussed and agreed upon and was able to be home with our daughter most of the time. However, he began to resent the fact that I was working and not making as much money as he thought I should be making.
As usual, communication about things we didn’t completely agree on became challenging. He was growing more resentful of having to fill in the gaps with our daughter on the days she would wake up early from a nap before the sitter would arrive or if anything would not go perfectly according to schedule, and the fact that he didn’t feel like I was getting paid enough for what I was doing.
I will be the first to admit there was some validity to his concerns, as I am the type to put my whole self into whatever I do. I did have more work than I could fit into my hours at the office, so I was increasingly answering emails, etc. at night after our daughter went to bed. However as was the pattern in the past, he would refuse to talk things through and resolve conflict in a healthy way. He was unwilling to work together to create a budget for our family or problem solve. He would only passively express frustration, which just made me feel like nothing I did was good enough. It was also his pattern after a long workday to fall into his chair and checkout into his various TV shows most evenings. It was a challenge to get him to engage in any type of conversation or activity after the baby was in bed. He just wanted to zone out in front of the TV (which had been an issue before the separation). So, I would sit with him, but if I wasn’t into a certain show, I would turn on my computer and try to get a few things done while he was watching TV.
Since we had hit some areas of tension that we couldn’t seem to make in progress in, I suggested we get back into some counseling. After all, we had been out for a while, we were parents now and our family had had been through some major life changes, communication seemed to be a bit of a challenge in this area, so it made perfect sense to me to go ahead and get some help getting back on the same page before things got worse. There were no major problems…we had just hit some communication bumps and needed help working through our differences before they escalated. Seemed perfectly logical to me. Plus, while I mentioned above that it was nice for us to have our daughter to connect over, it had gotten to the point that she was our only connection. I wanted and needed more.
The first couple of times I brought counseling up, he reasoned that we were fine and that was really unnecessary. I brought it up a couple more times, and he finally agreed to let me look into it. So I made a couple of calls to the counselor that had worked with us through the separation. I found out he was no longer working at the same place, but had taken a job as the counseling director at a local church. I made a couple of calls to the church, only to find out that his caseload was full and we wouldn’t be able to get in to see him easily at this time. So for the time being, I figured things weren’t that bad and decided to begin the search for a new counselor, although I knew it would be much more difficult to get my husband to agree to go to someone new.
Looking back, there is so much to be gleaned from this season. I have learned that we can never ignore our instincts – or what is also known as the “still small” voice of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us as Christians. The Holy Spirit is one of the most awesome and mysterious gifts to us as born again believers.
In John 14:26, Jesus said, “But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.”
What an awesome promise! When we look to Him and depend on Him, the Holy Spirit is the ultimate comforter, counselor, strengthener, helper, and guide…..but He also bridges the gap between us and God – He intercedes for us 24/7…check out this next verse!!
Romans 8:26-27 says, “So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance. And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.
When we cannot see, when we don’t know what to pray, when our perspectives are limited or we are hurting, He searches our hearts and helps connect us to the heart and will of God. That is almost beyond my comprehension.
And what’s even crazier is the next verse in Romans that I cannot seem to get away from:
Romans 8:28 – “We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.”
Please read the rest of chapter 8…it is so good, I really can’t comprehend it!! When we are in Christ, we really CAN’T fail.
I so wish I would have leaned into the Holy Spirit in complete trust and dependence during this season of my life, fought for counseling, and even been willing to go alone. But what’s unfathomable is that even in failure, God is constantly at work on behalf of those who love Him, weaving ALL things together for good, even our mistakes.
I have deeply grieved not obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit during this and the following season of my life….mainly the loss of what He could have done and what could have been had I obeyed. I have also grieved and continue to grieve the loss for my children, who now come from a “broken home”. However, in so many other ways, I would not trade what I have been through and the character it has developed in me and the opportunities it has created for redemption, ministry, and ultimately knowing Him more intimately and trusting Him more deeply.
There were some deeply broken places in me as a result of coming from an alcoholic home and simply from living in this fallen world that I’m not sure would have been reached any other way. And although I don’t fully understand, I praise God that I have been delivered from a miserable, unequally yoked, and emotionally abusive marriage. I have truly been given a second chance. I trust God with my future and with my children….because I know without a doubt that He is a good beyond all comprehension. He is a Redeemer and He delights in restoring His beloved….me and you! Here are just a few of literally thousands of promises found in His Word…the depth of His love for His people is truly beyond comprehension….and I am HIS!!
Isaiah 54 –
Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth.
The Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer he is called God of all the earth.
“With everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer….”my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace removed,”says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.
Isaiah 43 –
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.
Isaiah 61 –
Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.
Zephaniah 3 –
Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.
Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.